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Macrobiotic Community Center,

Oakland, California.

September 21st - 24th, 1989.

Thursday September 21st.

The gathering together of participants from diverse places took place for the welcoming dinner at 5.00 PM at the Macrobiotic Community Center, in Oakland. After the meal everyone present introduced themselves and then we had the agenda setting session for Friday.

People came from far afield including Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Washington State, as well as the length and breadth of California. At the fullest attendance of the conference there were 60 people present, as not everyone attended the full conference. It took place in a room upstairs at the center which was cause for some dissension at the beginning of the proceedings as some present thought it would be too small and we would have to split up into two groups and it was put forth that this would cause a split in the conference.

As it turned out, the room we used was big enough, even though it was a bit of a tight squeeze from time to time. This physical closeness in turn appeared to lend a sense of intimacy and focus that made the conference as a whole a very rewarding, if demanding, experience.

The weather was mostly clear, dry and warm throughout the conference.After we had decided on the agenda for Friday we all dispersed to our various abodes for the evening.

Friday September 22nd.

Morning Session:

1.) Is there a macrobiotic practice? & Can macrobiotic practice heal every person of every illness?

2.) "Macrobiotics" as a stigma.

3.) AIDS.

Afternoon Session:

1.) Social Development and Future of Macrobiotics.

2.) Curriculum for a center/ Training of Teachers.

Saturday September 24th.

Morning Session:

1.) Body Weight/Nutrition.

2.) Raising a Macrobiotic Family.

Afternoon Session:

1.) Emotional Aspects of Eating.

2.) The New Macrobiotics- What is it and Why?

3.) Summer Camps Review.


Friday September 22nd 1989.

Morning Session.

Is There a Macrobiotic Practice and Can It Heal Any Illness?

The first half of the morning session was conducted downstairs at the community center and then we moved upstairs for the remainder of the day.

This topic was suggested by Kaare Bursell in that the participants were asked what they thought a macrobiotic practice entails and ideas about it and whether the practice would in fact heal any disease in any person. Is it possible to elucidate a macrobiotic practice, and if so, what is it? This question came out of an article in which the writer suggests that the problem with medicine today is that it views the human being as merely a physical body to which ailments occur that have nothing to do with the person in the body. Thus modern medicine directs its attention to removing the ailment by means of various agents directed at the supposed cause of the ailments, these causes lying outside of the control or even awareness of the person who has the ailments. The writer says that in actuality disease is the manifestation in the physical of disturbances of the soul or psyche of the human being and, moreover, a lot of so-called '"holistic health" practices still operate under the same materialistic assumptions of modern medicine.

Among the remarks that were forthcoming included suggesting that the aspect of the soul seemed to be as important or more so in leading a healthy life in that many people eat what we call "junk food" and yet appear to be very well and vital, whereas many people practicing a macrobiotic way of eating do not appear well or vital. That the real essence of a macrobiotic way of life lies more in the work on one's inner development than in the dietary practice. Also it was suggested that although in many areas of today's culture there are practices that people do that are very well defined and about which there is no argument, such as teaching, or engineering, or construction, this is not the case with macrobiotic practice, and this may well be because it is still relatively new.

What is interesting here is that we may fall into the error of assuming that we know what a macrobiotic practice entails, i.e., the dietary practice, whereas this is only the first step of macrobiotic practice and may indeed turn out to be a very small part if we realize that we are at the beginning of something which is far from being well - defined. As one person suggested we are all, whether we are conscious of it or not and whether we are eating red meat and sugar or not, leading a macrobiotic way of life, it is part of being human. And the crucial issue is that we become conscious of it and then begin to explore and discover what a macrobiotic way of life entails. Of course there are those who suggest that this is precisely what we should not be doing, i.e., defining it!

Additional comments included that if a person comes into the macrobiotic way of eating and doesn't want to change then the change of dietary patterns to whole grains and vegetables probably won't affect any changes. The desire to change to a macrobiotic way of life in a conscious way is at the heart of the macrobiotic way of life. It was suggested by Patrick McCarty that many of us present did not need to have our arms twisted to change our dietary practice to the macrobiotic way whereas today many people are discovering the macrobiotic diet who are coming to it because they are afraid of illness, pain and death and they have bet there money on the macrobiotic diet to change their condition whereas they don't care anything about macrobiotics as a way of life. Thus for those of us who were grabbed by some inner quality in the macrobiotic way it is up to us to find out what a macrobiotic practice is for us individually and to work at it so we are continually re-inspired and remain entirely enthusiastic about developing it. So Patrick suggested that we came to macrobiotics in an entirely different frame of mind, or even as different kinds of people, and the transformational processes we underwent are not transferable to people who come to macrobiotics merely as one of many alternatives available to deal with their illnesses.

The discussion elicited a lot of comments and as is usual at these Pacific Macrobiotic Community gatherings it is impossible for me to capture all that goes on and is said at each discussion. One of the chief difficulties is that not everyone speaks clearly and loudly enough to be picked up by the tape recorder! Among other comments was that although macrobiotic practice is highly individual in that it is perfectly appropriate that no two people do it in the same manner, nonetheless it is also a practice of community and one needs, to a greater or lesser extent, the support of others to help one do it. This comment lead to one that suggested that there are many levels of healing and also many kinds of nourishment in addition to food, including attitude, thoughts, feelings, emotions and relationships. In other words diet is not an isolated phenomenon and food is does not have healing properties.

It was also suggested that disease is a guide to help us find flexibility and spontaneity in our day to day lives; that healing is a particularly individual process and not a definite goal with well defined criteria on some plateau which needs to be achieved by everyone before they can be considered healthy. Macrobiotic theory and practice give people tools which are there to study in order to make use of the tools there in helping them discover what and who they are.

We also need to widen our understanding to include the possibility that people dying of one disease or another is also an aspect resulting from, or is a dynamic, of the healing process.

In summary the morning session really focused on and issues were generated around the central question of 'what is it that we are talking about?' About macrobiotic counseling, macrobiotic practice and what it entails, what are the needs that are starting to emerge in our lives that are more to do with community and those that are more individual needs? And what we really are beginning to see are those questions arising out of the demands, pressures and exigencies of the time in which we live which go beyond the question of food and eating itself. On that note we left this topic, took a ten minute break and went upstairs.

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The term "Macrobiotics" being a stigma.

This subject was brought up by Ed Steinbrecher. The problem is familiar in that in many mainstream media articles macrobiotics is portrayed with very negative connotations and the question is what can we do or what can be done about it. This was actually a very amusing session in that at the outset it was said that there really was nothing we could do about it because the word itself is unpronounceable. Gil Friedman suggested that if an ad agency had spent twenty years researching the worst word to use for so-called "product recognition" the winner would be "macrobiotics". Meredith McCarty read an article that appeared in 'Vanity Fair' which is an amusing account of the hip and upwardly mobile stars of New York getting into macrobiotic diets. On the other hand 'US News and World Report' had a recent article on cancer and diets and under the heading "What Not To Do" emphasized that one should not do "Michio Kushi's Cancer Diet" as one would inevitably end up with severe nutritional deficiencies!

Other aspects of this question brought up included the massive propaganda put out by the beef, egg and milk industries. The consensus response was that we can only be effective in changing people's received opinion about macrobiotics on a one-to-one exchange and that the only effective "advertising" is by personal example.

Then a discussion arose on the whole question of advertising. In summary the question of there being a stigma attached to the word "Macrobiotics" will not be answered by trying to come up with a new word and that we can deal with the negative reporting on a personal level most effectively. Of course, if we wish to write to the editor of a journal or newspaper in which something negative or plainly untrue has been said about macrobiotics, then we are free to do so.

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This question arose in the context of what had recently occurred at Vega. A person who was HIV +ve had applied to work in the kitchen at Vega and it brought up a lot of issues with the staff with their responses varying widely. Some of the staff were very concerned about it and didn't want the person to work in the kitchen because they may cut themselves and this might transmit the disease to other members of the staff; whereas other staff were relatively unconcerned for they felt that the disease is mainly self-generated rather than transmissible. The main issue for Herman was the concern on how the community in Oroville would respond if they found out that someone who was HIV +ve was working in the kitchen.

A lot of hard work has gone in to bringing the Vega Center to where it is today with the services and programmes it offers and if the news that a person with an AIDS-related condition was working in the kitchen got out into the Oroville community, which has in the past given a lot of opposition to the center, it would probably make moves to close it down.

The question is resolved by keeping in mind what we perceive that we are doing and when it comes to questions that deal with public issues then there are certain rules we need to keep in mind. Of course, every one makes their own decisions if we are running an operation that interfaces with the public.

The discussion then opened up into wider aspects of the AIDS question and Nancy Kelly mentioned a book called "AIDS Inc." which has since been removed from circulation. This book is an eye-opener and if you wish to get hold of a copy you can't get one. It was suggested that the AIDS question is one that is a challenge to the entire world in that it poses problems which cannot be solved through the normal habitual ways of viewing and thinking about life, humanity and the cosmos. In essence, that it is another example of an occurrence which brings into question the validity of our scientific - materialistic-technologically ruled-acquisitive culture. AIDS originally meant and still stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and until the so-called AIDS virus was discovered and identified, all research was directed to enquiries into how the human immune functions could become so compromised that the symptoms of the syndrome became manifest.

Now all efforts are directed toward finding the so-called causative agent, identifying it and finding means of combatting it through drugs and developing a vaccine. And why? Because it is a simplistic answer to a very complex question, which also will, if any of these modalities are found to be successful, generate enormous revenues for various individuals and corporations.

The discussion then went into the complexities of the origin and cause of diseases which in this day also includes low-level radiation from military installations, nuclear power plants etc. Many people requested that I give the source of the article alluded to in the first session. The article is entitled "The Illusion of Infection" - A Cultural Psychology of AIDS by Robert J. Sardello published in SPRING, A Journal of Archetype and Culture, 1988. Available from Spring Publications, PO Box 222069, Dallas, TX 75222.

This concluded the morning session and we had lunch.

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Afternoon Session.

Our macrobiotic condition and the social development of macrobiotics.

Donna Wilson brought up this subject and she opened with the remark that we should stop trying to change ourselves but should rather begin by learning how to observe ourselves as the first thing we need to learn in order to begin changing ourselves. When we talk about trying to teach others in any field of endeavor it is crucial that we know how to make an assessment of the people we are teaching. She said that although this is crucial we don't have a lot of help in this area - about the only attempt that has been made in this area is I.Q. tests of which most of us have a low opinion.

The question is, how can we begin to assess the person we are training or ourselves . Moreover, this can help us assess where the macrobiotic endeavour generally is at this point in time in North America.

This framework consists of three different worlds:

1. What one does- the functions we perform or carry out.

2. What one is- the old-fashioned expression is 'character' as in development of one's character, and has to do with being as distinct from doing.

3. What is one's will, which is probably not trainable. Because the use of will in this context is not to be confused with desire or ambition.

In the matrix diagram, the left axis from the bottom up can be seen in the development of a human being with the child initially being completely identified with his or her surroundings. As we grow and develop we gradually begin to differentiate ourselves from our surroundings and this is the I-It stage and after that we hope to get to the stage where we get into a 'dialogue' with the things and events of the world and we become more conscious and then, for a very few human beings in history, the stage of being totally at one with everything, the 'creative' stage is reached.

Donna said that for most of us most of the time we are asleep, that is we are functioning on the automatic level, so that, for example, although most of us present would be at the 'sensitive' stage if she reminded us that we were all present in the room at this particular time listening to her, within thirty seconds we would all be off into our own individual 'automatic mode' and hardly be aware of where we were or what we were doing, that is, we would be absent even with our physical bodies being present. It is actually rare for people to reach the 'sensitive' stage for any sustained period of time.

Then Donna went on to describe each of the four stages in their sensory/motor, emotional, intellectual and interpersonal aspects which one can derive fairly readily from studying the diagram.

After her description she then suggested that it would be interesting to see where the macrobiotic practice as we do it and think about it today fits into this matrix, collectively. For example, we have craftsmanship in macrobiotic cooking. Obviously we have lots of people at the lowest level, but how far have we in macrobiotics reached in these levels. For instance someone suggested that George Oshawa was at the inspired leader on the interpersonal level but that we didn't have sufficient information about his life to evaluate his emotional level, whereas his intellectual development seemed lacking in that he made some rash statements, such as "you can heal yourself of cancer in 10 days".

It is an interesting exercise to look and see where you think macrobiotics is today. So in discussing the future of macrobiotics we discussed family issues, raising children, sending them to school, and larger social questions of community and what is happening socially in America. And as we discussed these questions various solutions, or actually more questions about the possible solutions to these problems came up. The subjects brought up in the discussion included forming intentional communities, extended families, co-housing, and the question of the care of the old and aged. Also discussed was the opening up of many more opportunities in macrobiotic businesses with these forming part of the social development and distribution of macrobiotic practices. And the latter will be supported more adequately by us developing more intentional community based endeavors.

One of these included an idea of Donna Wilson and David Jackson for addressing the problem of child care in large cities. As we know, the nuclear family is under siege (I personally do not agree that the nuclear family has failed, I think that the materialistic culture in which we live has merely given lip-service to the support of the family with the conditions necessary for a materialistic culture actually undermining the family). So we have single fathers and single mothers and mothers and fathers in nuclear families being economically unable to have either one at home to take care of the children. And if the children are at school then when they come out at 3 o'clock there is no-one at home.

Thus the idea is to provide a child care service that can take these school-children and look after them until the parents get off work. Now, since the parents are by this time fairly exhausted, when they come to pick up the children then they, as well as their children, are provided a meal before they go back to their homes. And when they get home the parents and children can have some 'quality time' together before the children go to bed. Donna was looking at this from the entrepreneurial point of view. In other words, there is a perceived need for this type of service, and no-one is doing it, and therefore one could make a living at it. Cynthia Cutting also brought up that old people could also be well-served by a similar service.

There was a lot of discussion of the so-called "tightening of the spiral" in the next twenty-five years which is supposed to end around 2017, and what that means and Ed Streinbrecher brought it up that astrologically the end of the spiral has just recently occurred and the next twenty five years will show a certain unwinding or unraveling of the spiral. Of course, no-one can be sure what all this means except that it will be interesting!

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Curriculum for a Center/ Training of Teachers.

Patrick McCarty suggested this topic which was hypothetically put as to what would anyone need to do if they went to a town or city in which there no macrobiotic activities and they wanted to get something in the way of a center started. What does it take to feed the needs of the perceived macrobiotic community you are trying to reach.

We discussed how to assess the needs of the people where they are and question them as to what they want and then fit your center to meet the needs they have expressed. Also it is necessary to take into account what type of people there are in the community. If one is going to a town one has to first integrate oneself into the community in which one is wanting to start one's center, and that may mean joining the Rotary Club and Toastmasters.

Also the other important aspect is that those of us who are teaching need to acknowledge that we need to develop our teaching skills as we are teaching. So we spent time discussing the different points of being better teachers and what is needed to be able to give better presentations.

The whole question of teaching so as to train more teachers was the central theme of the discussion. The question was to address the need for some type of organisational structure or framework to help meet this need. Then, immediately, came up the problem that although we could see the need for an organisational framework, most of us are anti-organisation. There is also the problem that it is fairly obvious that of every 100 people who are willing to change their way of eating to the macrobiotic approach perhaps one is interested in actually learning.

The discussion was a wide-ranging one in which we talked about the possibility of starting a teaching center on the West Coast and the question is do we want to initiate such an endeavour. And as is usual it boils down to a question of money and the individuals who are willing to shoulder the responsibility of getting a teaching center going. The general consensus is that we are not ready at this time to start a school because the teaching as such still needs development. But we could foresee that in ten years from now there may well be a need for quasi-formal school on the West Coast.

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Saturday September 23rd, 1989.

Morning Session.

Body Weight, Nutrition, Food Allergies.

We discussed the issue of some kinds of people losing weight when they begin macrobiotic practice, and what to do about it. We talked about the psychic problems of becoming thinner when starting the macrobiotic way of eating and giving people careful guidance in order to make sure that while people are losing weight they do not lose vitality. One of the most significant things one can do if one is practicing macrobiotics is to do some strenuous exercise in order to help blood circulation and put on some muscle weight. The whole question of exercise routines to help people put on weight and how to tailor the exercise routine to the constitution of the individual.

The opposite problem was also discussed, where people, especially women, have trouble losing weight on a strict macrobiotic way of eating. In this case, physical exercise was also recommended with the emphasis on sweating.

Then the question, which always comes up in dealing with people coming into the macrobiotic way of eating, of whether we are getting all we need in the way of the proper amount of nutrients. If a person is getting whole grains, beans, sea vegetables, and a wide variety of vegetables and this is properly prepared, then the macrobiotic way of eating more than adequately meets the daily nutrient requirements.

Another aspect which came up and is rarely considered is that when one eats a certain food one is not only eating a physical substance, one is also consuming the vibration or spirit of the food. During the whole conference one book frequently mentioned as being requisite reading for everybody is "Diet for A New America" by John Robbins.

With respect to allergies the main information was the research work of a scientist, I think called Barbara Cunningham, who has found what she calls the 'secretory immune function' of the cells lining the inside of the intestinal wall. This consists in part of the mucus secretions containing substances that break down molecules to a certain threshold size so that by the time the food reaches the small intestine these molecules are of the proper size for appropriate assimilation into the blood.

Dairy food consists of the largest molecules that human beings ingest and these therefore, over a long period, gradually exhaust the capacity of the secretory immune function. When this happens then larger molecules than are appropriate gain entry into the blood stream and there initiate the sequence of events that lead to the manifestation of allergy symptoms.

The allergies will gradually disappear as one practices macrobiotic eating and the intestinal lining gradually restores itself and the secretory immune function returns to normal.

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Raising a Macrobiotic Family.

This discussion was initiated by Chrystine Bailey and the central theme of her presentation was she felt that was a lot more we could do together and share our experiences in terms of raising children and being a macrobiotic family. As the discussion went on it evolved into the whole idea of community and what that involves. This was a two hour discussion and a very stimulating one. Actually, the whole conference was very stimulating and I think this can be in large part attributed to the intimacy of the setting. I cannnot possibly hope to get down in print what was said in this discussion of all that was said, and this is true of all the conferences.

There simply is no adequate substitute for being present and participating in the meetings for so much is conveyed by the tone and mood of the spoken word that is absent from the printed page.

Chrystine spoke to the situation of families living macrobiotically and bringing up their children and the differences that become apparent when children are going to school. They children begin to realise that they are confronted in the school environment with a different set of values than they are accustomed to at home. And yet the children while they are at school naturally want to be involved with what their peers are doing at school and so this can bring up conflicts within the child which have a tendency to be suppressed within the child. And the child, being in an inner state of conflict without necessarily having the tools to be able to resolve it. She suggested that if this is the case in our family life that we need to be aware that children find it much less easy to live with compromises than we do as adults - or that as adults we are more adept at not paying attention to the compromises that we engage even though the effects of making compromises is probably just as damaging for adults as well as children. And so we can help our children deal with these conflicts and they can help us with seeing how we are making compromises and help us take steps to minimising them.

It was also suggested that as people eating macrobiotically there is set up in our being a certain vibrational quality which means that we find it difficult to have an inner shared feeling with other people who are not eating macrobiotically. And this is also something children feel more acutely than adults. So the need was expressed that we pay attention to giving both our children and ourselves contact with other macrobiotic families.

People who have children talked and it became apparent that there are a wide variety of expression of how different people deal with the situation of living and eating macrobiotically when confronted with the nature and style of life of the vast majority of the population amongst whom we live. It was suggested that making food choices is so personal that as children grow up they are going to make their own food choices so the question is how one approaches this aspect of raising children.

Among the suggestions was that we are serving our children well if we simply educate them as to the effects of food so that when they grow up and express themselves as individuals they will at least have sound knowledge of food. Of course, one can expect that when the children enter adolescence they are going to eat everything under the sun due to the need to experiment, due to peer pressure, media pressure etc., etc. Yet, if they do happen to experience sickness later on they do have the knowledge and experience of eating macrobiotically during childhood to fall back on.

Then the discussion moved to the theme of the fact we are moving as a human species out of an epoch, of 2000 years, in which we have made the individual per se as being very important and that we are perhaps moving or hopefully evolving into an epoch where the individual subsumes consciously his or her own needs to the good of the whole community. And we are presently at the crux or transition of moving from one epoch to the next. So, although the impulse toward to community is real and obvious, the major problem is that we have no realistic guidelines by which to move into the new epoch, that we have to do all this by means of the "bootstrap" method.

The next 2000 years will then be the epoch of the human race learning as we go along how to really change ourselves. And it is interesting to note, and this is something we should all meditate on, that within the parameters of any system change can only occur in that system if it comes from outside the system. When we talk about change, we are not referring to adaptation or manipulation or cycles or alterations, the word means something fundamentally new and truly innovative can only enter into a system from outside the system. In this context, a book was suggested as essential reading - "Needs of a New Age Community" by J.G. Bennett.

Then the discussion moved on to the idea of financing and here Jean Richardson revealed that she and her husband, Carlos, and a small group of people are gathering together to discuss this with the purpose of buying some land in order to start a land-based community on the West Coast. She and her friends are opening this endeavour to more people and there will be more meetings and they are raising money. If you are interested you can contact her at the address on the enclose list of members of the Pacific Macrobiotic Community. Also suggested was that a land-based community is only one example of community. We need therefore, because it was clear that the whole subject of community is one that really sparked all the participants and everyone readily agreed that the entire population is yearning for community, to really start working on this as a project.

If we are truly committed, we need to do two things. One is we start working on and developing a vision of the future of human society that is truly and fundamentally new, not reformations and alterations of "business as usual". The other is that we develop a sound mechanism for raising the finances for funding this vision so that it becomes a reality.

This latter suggestion sparked a lively debate and we talked about tithing, or donating or starting a seed fund for the future. At any rate we decided that this was too important a topic to deal with right then and no doubt it will come on the agenda again at a future conference.

We realise that we are still very infantile with regard to being able to work and live together in a spirit of community. However, we are not going to learn the skills necessary to live in community (and it should be noted that not everyone's ideal of a community is necessarily a land-based one, although that could be incorporated into a wider vision of community), until we actually start working on it as a project together. And of course we can learn from other endeavours toward community that have been tried in the past or that are being tried now. Obviously, there is a lot more to discuss.

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Afternoon Session.

Emotional Aspects of Eating.

This subject was a brought up Sean Brennan in the context of having problems of applying the practice of eating macrobiotically in daily life. In other words one can intellectually understand why one should be eating these foods, and why chewing and not overeating are important, but emotionally we cannot necessarily fulfil the directions of the intellect. The necessity for not being rigid or, more accurately, that we who are engaged in the 'social distribution' of macrobiotics need to strive to overcome the rigidity that has set in to macrobiotics, or at least is perceived to have set in, over the last decade or so.

One technique discussed to help people who do need to be relatively narrow in the dietary practices is that one can give oneself "permission to fail". In so doing, one realises that one is going to make mistakes and that one cannot possibly learn if one doesn't make mistakes. Thus coming out of the discussion was the repeating of the critique by Donna Wilson that the real macrobiotic books haven't been written yet. In other words the specifically American experience of living and eating macrobiotically is so young and therefore immature that we are only beginning to have enough experience with it that we can articulate it.

Another aspect of the emotional problems surrounding eating is the apparent fact that people have problems with food irrespective of macrobiotics. We need to be able to identify the long-buried sources of emotional trauma, poor self-image, poor role models, etc., etc that lead people to behave in self-destructive ways. It was suggested that one possible way to begin identifying these is to recall what it was like as children at the dinner table.

It was also suggested that when these traumatic emotional events occur they are often 'vibrationally impressed', for want of a better description, into various organs and tissues. When people begin the macrobiotic practice and cleansing begins to occur then together with the physical cleansing the memory of these emotional traumas surface as images or pictures of the event involved - in other words, that physical diseases may often times have their origin in emotionally traumatic events. Of course, what many times happens is that when these events, long suppressed, begin to surface, people have the tendency to not look at them because of their overriding traumatic emotional content.

Sean suggested that we cannot and would not wish to package macrobiotics to make it easier - God knows, many people have tried - because the nature of its fundamental intent, or rather that the real reason that one undertakes it, is that we are aspiring to 'know thyself'. This is necessarily a difficult undertaking and so the drift of the discussion was to open ourselves up to being sympathetic and compassionate with people when they have these types of problems. And to also offer more relaxed advice including sharing with them the fact that we occasionally eat pizza, or chocolate cake, or drink cappucinos! For example, it was well known in the macrobiotic community in Boston that Michio occasionally eats much more widely than the so-called "macrobiotic diet" and has been known to advise people to eat dairy food etc.

In so saying, there is a gap between what is written in the macrobiotic books and what we, as people practicing a macrobiotic way of eating actually eat on a day to day basis. So we should teach not only the theoretical basis of a macrobiotic practice but also how we actually practice and to understand that we use the 'conceptual tools' of the macrobiotic way of life to find out what works for us.

And we went on to discuss the fact that among the aspects that people deal with when they begin to practice is that we are all to one extent or another the children of dysfunctional families, and in many cases we have what are now called, interestingly enough, "toxic parents".

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The New Macrobiotics - what is it and why?

This is speaking to the new spirit coming through in macrobiotic circles of being more flexible and relaxed in our practice. An example of this new spirit is the Pacific Macrobiotic Community itself as in the instance that we had a session in San Diego about eighteen months ago. We had what we called "True Confections" where we all stood up and talked about what we actually ate on a day to day basis and it was very interesting and amusing. However, some people present reacted very passionately in saying that we had gone against the whole spirit of the macrobiotic way and had "substituted a light bulb for the light of the sun".

We also discussed Lima Ohsawa's comments about how the American practice of especially macrobiotic cooking was too weak. Essentially we thought that we needed to interpret her statements in the light of the differences in world view of someone born in Japan in 1890 and Americans born in the USA in 1950. We also thought that this egregious mystique around macrobiotic cooking having to be a certain style without which it was not 'strong' cooking is totally unfounded.

In other words, the essence of the way of macrobiotics does not lie in the food but in how our bodies respond to the food and this depends on our attitudes, emotional state, way of thinking, spiritual practices, our upbringing, family life etc.

In summary, what is going on with macrobiotics in America is that it is being developed in the light of our actual experiences throughout the years.

Review of the Summer Camps.

All the summer camps were reviewed in the last short session. All of them were succesful and interesting with the main news that there may not be a Three Creeks Camp again. Meredith seemed fairly adamant that there was not going to be one this year, although it wasn't completely settled yet. Any way, all I can say is that if you haven't been to one, you are missing a unique experience. The Mendocino Woodland Camp went off very well and will be held again at the same site this year and of course, French Meadows will be on again.

On Sunday we had the final wrap up session when we decided that the next, 20th, PMC Conference will take place in San Diego from Thursday March 22nd through Sunday March 25th, finishing with the Farewell Brunch. And we finished this one with the usual Farewell Brunch! Many thanks go to the staff of the Oakland Macrobiotic Grocery and Learning Center. I will be sending a letter out to everyone about a month before to remind you all again.

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