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PACIFIC MACROBIOTIC COMMUNITY.
Thursday March 24th.
As is our normal practice we began the week-end's proceedings
with the welcoming dinner at 5.30 P.M. After the meal all those
present gave a brief introduction and we discussed what we all
wanted to have on the agenda for Friday. We again had substantial
participation with people attending from as far away as Nevada,
Massachusetts, Vancouver,B.C., California, Oregon and Washington
State from where the majority of the more than 100 people attending
the conference hailed.
On this occasion we held all the meetings at rented space
at the Urban Horticultural Center for part of the conference,
and the Visitor's Center
at Arboretum for the rest, which appeared to work well. The agenda
for Friday having been set by around 9.30 PM, everybody retired
to various places for the evening.
Friday March 25th.
Morning Session: 9.30 AM - 12.30PM.
During the lunch break several tables were set aside for discussion
of several topics of interest to few so that those who were interested
could get together and discuss Case Histories of AIDS, Candida,
Think Tanks and there was even a 'silent table'.
Afternoon Session: 2.30 PM - 5.30 PM.
Dinner: 6.00 PM - 8.00 PM.
Evening Session: 8.00 PM.
The evening session is devoted to welcoming new participants,
brief introductions, and discussing the agenda we want for Saturday.
We also had a personal message and report from Michio and Aveline
Kushi delivered by Haruo Kushi.
Saturday March 26th.
Morning Session: 9.30 AM -12.30 PM.
d.) Charging for counseling.
e.) Ways to stay connected.
Lunch: 12.30 - 2.30 PM.
Afternoon Session: 2.30 - 5.30 PM.
Evening Session: 8.00 PM - ? Party
Sunday March 27th .
1.) Summary Remarks.
2.) Closing Ceremony.
Farewell Brunch: 11.00 - 1.00 PM.
SUMMARY AND HIGHLIGHTS.
FRIDAY MARCH 25th.
I need to reiterate that these reports of the conference
can only at best give a hint and perhaps capture some of the flavour
of the conference proceedings because there is so much going on
both visibly and tangibly as well as in the realm of feeling and
the spirit of the meeting that it is virtually impossible to give
a true and thorough account.
NEW FRONTIERS AND BLACK HOLES IN MACROBIOTICS.
We began the day's session in the Urban Horticultural
Center on a grey, cold windswept morning, the weather remaining
cold, rainy and bleak throughout the course of the conference,
even snowing on occasion! For those of us from the south it was
bracing and invigorating weather for the week-end. The room was
large and well appointed and the arrangement of the chairs in
concentric circles accomodated the largest attendance of these
semi-annual meetings to date.
Robert Wambaugh lead off the morning session on the subject of
"New Frontier's and Black Holes in Macrobiotics", in
which he suggested that there are perhaps definite limitations
to macrobiotic thinking and we would be better off if we went
outside of macrobiotics if, for example, we want to go more into
relationships, psychology or spirituality. The other side of the
coin was to discuss whether or not there had been any recent break
-throughs in macrobiotic practice or thought. For about an hour
or so the floor was open and various points of view were aired,
all fundamentally within the two schools of thought that
1.) macrobiotics in America is still in its infancy and is
developing and looks everywhere for ideas, concepts and techniques
which may be incorporated into a macrobiotic lifestyle.
2.) macrobiotics has everything in it and that everything and
everyone is macrobiotic.
The session then proceeded according to the mood of the moment
which turned out to be participants giving their own personal
interpretation of what macrobiotics meant to them individually.
These ranged from a characterisation of macrobiotics as a way
of life where one is learning to live in harmony with the order
of the universe, macrobiotics being fundamentally a programme
of dietary hygiene or purification, to seeing it as a process
of individuation incorporating a lot of depth psychology. What
really came out of the session was the tremendous range of individual
expression of what macrobiotics means to each person and one
could see that for everyone it is largely a liberating and positive
experience. There is two sides to this that are immediately apparent,
that on the one hand there is little danger of macrobiotics becoming
some sort of monolithic dogmatic programme but on the other hand
there is the possibility that it will evaporate into the ether
because there is not sufficient clarity and depth of thought being
brought into it.
No summary or synthesis of the session was forthcoming from
anyone and we were all left to continue reflecting and thinking
about what macrobiotics actually is.
Then Donna Wilson brought forward the subject of think tanks
as a resource for the community to indeed develop our level of
thinking in order to raise it up from our normal low-level habitual
reactive thought patterns.
A think tank is an environment set up so that individuals from
many different disciplines address a specific issue. The idea
has been incorporated by Donna along with her husband Al, and
Kaare Bursell for the last three years, and in the last six months
David Jackson of the San Diego East West Center and Joya Sexton
of Santa Barbara have been participating.Donna brought it up in
order to urge everyone in their own localities to begin having
think tanks. The marvellous possibility of participating in a
think tank is that at some point it develops into a "group
mind" whereby insights and ideas and synthetic understandings
and integrations of the subject matter can occur which are not
possible with the individuals thinking on their own.
It is necessary, in order for a think tank to occur that the individuals
concerned commit themselves to a certain time period, such as
one morning a month and keep doing it on a regular basis without
having any expecations that anything is going to happen. From
the experience in Woodland Hills one can say that it is an enriching
experience as well as being a tool to develop one's level and
clarity of thinking.
SHARING OF HINTS AND INFORMATION.
Patrick McCarty brought to our attention a magazine called
"The Freeman". The magazine is free and you can send
them money if you like the content and wish to support it. Patrick
said that it had a lot in common with macrobiotics and if you
are interested you can call him or write.
Patrick also informed us as to the existence of the International
Macrobiotic Shiatsu Society, founded by him and Shizuko Yamamoto.
Meredith McCarty talked about the World Society of The Prayer
for Peace and their 'Peace Pole' project which is world wide and
their 'Global Link' Newsletter which may be of interest. She shared
that they have a Peace Pole planted in front of their East West
Center in Eureka.
David Jackson announced he was distributing seasalt.
Jacgues de Langres told us of the growing of a wheat which produces
a superior bread than that to we have been accustomed, that he
hopes to develop a relationship with the growers of the wheat
and further announcements will be forthcoming. [Various tables
were set aside at the periphery of the room where items for sale
were set up for those of an entrepreneurial bent. If people were
interested in these items they could talk about them during the
breaks so that the conference itself doesn't degenerate into a
Patrick also announced the Three Creeks Summer Camp.
NATURAL LIVING DIRECTORY.
Carl Ferre of the Vega Macrobiotic Center talked about changing
the PMC Switchboard and incorporating it in the Natural Living
Directory as an enhanced listing in the Directory which comes
out every four months, in the pages of 'Macrobiotics Today'.
However, there was some feeling that the Natural Living Directory
better served the community if it came out every month, but that
people who list themselves in the directory need to update their
listings at least once a year if they wish to remain on it.
"BOILING ENERGY" - HEALING THE COMMUNITY.
Renee Holmes gave us a presentation on the subject of a tape
she had heard on the radio of a talk given by a Dr. Katz entitled
"Can Doctors be educated to heal?" The talk came out
of the experiences the doctor had had while researching the I
Kung tribe of the Kalahari Desert. "Boiling Energy"
(Community Healing among Kalahari Kung) is the title of the book
Dr. Katz has written about his experiences and what he learned
from the tribe with regard to healing in community. The present
cultural model we have in the west is one of the individual paying
the expert for information and/or medicine concerning their illness
which isolates both the expert and the individual seeking help
and leads over the course of time to a definite powerlessness
and helplessness with regard to health and how to heal which impoverishes
the culture as a whole. Further, that the human being is a social
creature who needs a community context in order to function as
a healthy bio-spiritual organism. The suggestion of the talk was
that we as a culture would be a lot better off if we shed our
arrogance of knowledge about illness and learnt what we could
from this tribe living in the ancient, traditional way, and incorporate
what we see fitting into our cultural context.
Renee was inspired particularly by the idea that we as a community
gathering together twice a year might consider coming together
in a ritual celebration on the Saturday evening period, or at
least those of us who have listened to the tape and feel there
is something of great merit in the idea of a ritual celebration
as a healing activity both for the participants in the ritual
and the members of the community. We discussed this further on
We completed the morning session with a ten minute silent
The entirety of the afternoon session, which actually
went on for four hours, was given over to each participant giving
a brief biography of themselves. The reason we did this was we
had done it at the previous conference in Oakland and it had worked
very well. On this occasion it didn't seem to work so well, at
least not for everyone, and that probably had to do with the much
larger group of people present this time than last. Of course,
there is not any possibility of giving a summary of each person's
biography here, for if I did so this report would become a book!
My personal feeling is that the exercise of giving a brief personal
biography is a wonderful community building tool, but that it
needs to be done in smaller groups than the hundred or so present.
Also we all need to develop the skill of speaking relatively briefly,
pertinently and to become our own chairperson when we have the
SATURDAY MARCH 26th.
EDUCATION AS TRANSFORMATION.
We began the morning session, in the Visitor's Center
at the Arboretum, with a brief meditation after which we spent
half an hour listening to the tape of Dr. Katz's talk, "Can
Doctor's be educated to heal?"followed by a discussion of
the ideas he aired. The talk recounted how Dr Katz had visited
with the Kung in order to learn what they did as healing for the
community. In essence they had a healing ceremony/dance fairly
regularly - about once a month - in which the entire tribe (numbering
500 odd souls) participated. The ceremony consisted of dancing
and singing during which what the Kung call "boiling energy"
is activated, and this acted as a purifying agent for the whole
community effecting physical, psychological, social and spiritual
healing in its members. This is a healing resource for the community
which the Kung understand to come from outside the tribe which
is renewable, and accessible to all. There are "healers'
in the community who are regarded as "trustees" of this
healing spirit and they are selected from the population according
to their moral character, expressing active courage, commitment,
and service. If you wish to get a hold of this tape please contact
Renee Holmes (her address will be found in the Pacific Macrobiotic
Community Member List accompanying this report).
We then had a small group session
where the company broke up into five groups by topic/subject as
a) "Macrobiotic Shaman"
b) Explore ways we can help each other in our avocation.
d) How we can stay connected.
e) Charging money for counselling.
f) Healing in community.
This session lasted for an hour and each group elected
a spokesperson to convey to the larger company a synthesis or
summary of what each group had discussed.
Mim Collins-Drewry presented the summary which is that the
group discussed all the various elements of ritual and had come
up with a simple form for a fifteen minute closing ceremony at
the end of the conference on Sunday.(For description see Sunday's
events). She also said that the members of the group had pledged
to research and work on a ritual for the Fall Conference, and
reiterated the idea that for those participants who are interested
at each conference a ritual will be undertaken on the Saturday
Robert Wambaugh gave the report that there are three elements
in a healing: that a relationship of care and compassion be established
between the provider and receiver; that both parties were in touch
with their own healing power, and that there was a method or technique
that was used which is both beneficial and effective. And Joseph
Trinh read a poem from "A Course in Miracles" about
the attitude one should adopt when in the relationship of helping
and being helped:
" I am here only to be truly helpful
I am here to represent Him who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or
what to do
Because He who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes,
knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."
KEEPING IN TOUCH.
Richard Turner presented the summary which was that he and
Kristine had been visiting with John Shultz and Alexa Singer in
Mount Shasta and they had been keeping connected. Unfortunately
I couldn't hear everything he said on the tape except that the
four of them gave a moving and spontaneous chanting and singing
extempore performance together.
Carl Ferre said that times had changed from the days that
George Ohsawa had not charged and went on to dicuss reasons for
charging because it was practical if people were going to be able
to provide a service. The group also discussed various fee structures.
HELPING EACH OTHER.
The person who gave this summary spoke so quietly that I
could not make out what they said, but as I remember it the idea
is that those of us who are active in some way in macrobiotics
should be listed in a directory so that we could all know what
our various talents and services are in a form that could easily
be tapped into if any local community need or wanted to tap into
Pat Poggi summarised this disussion in saying that all of
us as individuals should acknowledge that we are healers and that
it would be of help to every local community if all the members
involved would commit themselves to come together on a regular
basis to pool our experiences and knowledge.
Florence Yuen then read a passage from a book channelled
from a spiritual entity called "Lord Michael" to finish
up the morning session.
Nancy Crowell related how in Southern California there is
a growing feeling in the Los Angeles area that a major earthquake
is imminent in the next few months and we had a short discussion
on the implications of this premonition. In essence the feeling
is that whether is actually going to be an earthquake or not in
the visible, tangible world, there is an 'earthquake' taking place
in the psyche or soul of many, many people in the Los Angeles
area and that this upheaval of the soul is a symptom of the undeniable
reality that the modern, materialistic, consumption oriented culture
is over with, and people are becoming dimly, subconsciously aware
of this. Therefore, those of us who are aware of this reality
should be looking forward to, and working for, the "post-industrial
society"; in essence, we are the seed-bearers of the new
culture. And the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is one of the many
endeavours curently active which is involved in finding our way
to the 'new age'.
IDEAS FOR THE SEATTLE COMMUNITY.
Pat Poggi lead a discussion which was essentially to
pick the brains of the participants with regard to our experience
in organising or participating in our various macrobiotic communities
up and down the West Coast. So we gave of our experience with
various points coming up including every locality is unique in
its climate, weather and topography and that necessarily what
may work in one area may not work in another. As an example, the
contrast between the Los Angeles area and the East Bay of Oakland/Berkeley
was brought up where the center in Oakland is very successful
because it is within easy access of many towns and cities; whereas
the center idea doesn't work in Los Angeles as evidenced by the
collapse of the center five years ago, and where the idea which
seems to be more fitting for that sprawled-out city is that of
a local neighbourhood network. Here, the local areas in Los Angeles
have each their own activities operating out of people's homes
and they keep in touch via weekly or monthly meetings and share
resources and ideas.
The people in each locality will have to find out what works
and what doesn't but the fundamental requirement is that there
are one or two people in the area who are committed to developing
or furthering intentional community, because that is what is required
if macrobiotics is going to have a social dimension. Actually,
many of us were under the impression that the community in Seattle
is fairly cohesive since we receive a bi-monthly newsletter brimming
with news of activities. We hope that the Seattle community got
something of value out of the session.
PMC MEMBERSHIP vis-a-vis "MACROBIOTICS TODAY".
We finished up day with a session clarifying the relationship
of "Macrobiotics Today", the newsletter of the George
Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, with the Pacific Macrobiotic Community.
Originally, back in March 1985, Herman Aihara offered the members
of the PMC a free subscription, along with two pages, called the
PMC Switchboard, in his newsletter. At that time we accepted the
offer and each member received a monthly issue as a member and
any member could have 40 words of free publicity announcing their
activities each month in the Switchboard. Then in March 1987 we
were asked to give $5.00 of our membership fee toward helping
defray the costs of publishing the newsletter. This was at the
XIVth Conference in San Diego. We didn't actually come to a decision
at that time, and we aired the subject again at the XVth, in Oakland
in September 1987 when a vote was taken and it was decided that
we should give $5.00 of each $20.00 membership to G.O.M.F.
On this occasion the subject was aired again because of philosophical
considerations and also because it was evident that members were
not making full use of the Switchboard. The philosophical principle
is, in a nutshell, that the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is trying
to embody, as a loosely organised company of people in a common
endeavour, modes of behaviour which have nothing to do with the
prevailing atmosphere in which bodies of people get to-gether.
For, the general institutionalised organisation is founded and
exists to foist its particular point of view on the unsuspecting
public, embodying impulses of authority, legality, and faceless
irresponsibility. And one can cite any number of organisations
in every city, all very prestigious, acting under these impulses.
The Pacific Macrobiotic Community is trying to embody impulses
of an altogether different tenor, non-hierarchical, non-authoritarian,
seeking no recognition, with each participant being entirely and
personally responsible for their every thought, word and deed.
In this context, some participants felt that even agreeing to
have a free issue of "Macrobiotics Today" could be construed
as an endorsement of the newsletter by the Pacific Macrobiotic
Community. And since giving an endorsement is an act of authority,
this ran counter to what the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is
striving to embody.
This session was probably the most difficult of the conference
because a lot of people felt that not wanting to have "Macrobiotics
Today" was a sign of disrespect to Herman. This is not what
is intended because as individual members we can do what we want,
to the extent of becoming G.O.M.F. members or supporting the magazine
by buying it. But as a community, or body of people, we want to
avoid any relationships with the particular economic endeavours
of the members of the community. (We need to avoid degenerating
into a trade-group).
Also it was the last session and we needed a complete consensus
by all members present if this was to carry, that we do not wish
to continue getting "Macrobiotics Today", free or not.
(Incidentally, many people left the meeting for this session,
and there was a current of tension between those who feel that
thinking and philosophising is 'not their thing' and those who
are not so artistically or poetically inclined which is actually
counter-productive to the spirit of this endeavour.) Well, a consensus
was reached and as of this meeting, we do not as a community receive
'Macrobiotics Today' as part of our membership, and the 'PMC Switchboard'
is removed from the newsletter.
That was the last session of the day and after dinner people
engaged in various social activities.
SUNDAY MARCH 27th
In this session we had a summing up of the meeting by various
individuals who wanted to have a say, and then we spent some time
debating where to have the next meeting. At the session it was
decided to have it back in the Seattle area again, but events
have transpired since then that have resulted in the site being
changed to the East West Center of San Diego, on Thursday September
22nd through Sunday September 25th. Everyone wishing to come must
make their reservations with me at (415) 849-0386.
If you wish to have a topic or subject up as a possible candidate
for discussion at the conference, please send it or call.
We then finished up with a brief 15 minute ceremony in which
we had a altar set up which was a table covered with a cloth and
bedecked with various offerings the participants had brought at
the beginning of the session. Candles were placed on it and lit,
and then Kaare Bursell said a brief prayer, which was followed
by a circle 'dance' to the beat of a drum lead by Gabrielle Kushi,
and then a more spontaneous dance in a counter-clockwise motion,
followed by a period of silence after which we had the farewell
brunch. As the ceremony ended, the sun broke through the clouds
and we saw blue sky, flecked with great white cotton clouds, for
the first time during the conference. After the Farewell Brunch
we all departed for our various homes.
July 12th 1988.
Thanks are due to Blake Rankin and the folk in Seattle for
hosting the conference, and to Helaine Honig and the people involved
in preparing, cooking and serving the meals.