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21st PACIFIC MACROBIOTIC COMMUNITY CONFERENCE.
September 20th - 23rd, 1990.
Friday September 20th.
1. Connecting with MD's.
2. Public Image of Macrobiotics.
3. Practical Yin and Yang in Daily Life.
4. Is there a philosophy of macrobiotics.
5. Discuss a macrobiotic response to the Middle East situation.
1. Review of the PMC process.
2. Abortion and Birth Control etc.
Saturday March 24th.
1. Reports from Centers.
2. Reports from Camps.
1. Discuss Mens and Womens Groups.
2. Macrobiotics as a way of healing and/or as a spiritual path.
3. Macrobiotics in the USSR.
4. Living Networks in Communities.
SUMMARY AND HIGHLIGHTS.
On a relatively balmy week-end a gathering of 33 people attended this conference at the Macrobiotic Grocery and Learning Center in Oakland. The conference itself was held across the street from the center in a refurbished garage at the back of the white house which is used for counseling, shiatsu, lectures and yoga and do-in classes. The sessions were interesting and lively for the most part. There was some concern raised that there were so few people participating in the conference. So it was decided that the letter reminding people of the next conference, to be held in San Diego in March, should be sent out to all past members and we shall see what happens with regard to attendance in San Diego.
Connecting With Doctors.
Joya Sexton introduced this subject saying that it is becoming more and more evident that doctors are more open to wholistic healing approaches and whether they were coming to this openness more on their own or because they have to; she also mentioned that there are several doctors that are very active in macrobiotics such as Dr. Martha Cottrell and Dr. Sherry Rogers. She said that she would be generating a list of doctors in her area that appear to be open to macrobiotics and suggested that each of us who are active in counselling might do this. Donna Wilson suggested that there may well be many doctors who are sympathetic but for reasons of their own do not wish to be publicised as such. In the general discussion that followed it became evident that many of us have informal or professional relationships with doctors and do work through the people we work with these doctors.
Another resource in this area is a medical information database service in San Francisco called Planetree, who have collected a vast library of information on medical conditions and you can call them and ask them for material on any medical subject and access the material.
The caveat to all this positive dynamics with us developing personal contacts with various doctors is that officially and institutionally it is an entirely different picture that is presented to us. In Congress over the past few months there has been an ongoing review process of the various alternative health modalities ( Kaare Bursell related this information which he received by getting ANTHA, an anthroposophically oriented newsletter) and the story of this review process is that the review board has generally laughed out of court any papers being presented on behalf of alternative modalites even when these papers have demonstrated the efficaciousness of these modalities in the most stringent scientifically approved manner. And we all know the Dieticians are attempting to monopolise the giving out of nutritional information, having succeeded so far in 20 states.
Then Kaare was asked to recount his experience of a pathologist at the Childrens Hospital in San Francisco attempting to entrap him into giving out medical information without having a medical licence. So, the suggestion is to be very careful that we do not step on the toes of the medical profession even as we cultivate personal contacts with individual physicians.
Richard Janopaul suggested that because there are these moves afoot within the institutional arenas to attempt to quash any and all modalities that are not under the aegis of the medical profession that it means that progress is being made; similar to the fact that because so many commercials are being shown these days to promote milk, eggs and beef, we know that those products are not selling so well as they used to!
The National Health Federation is an organisation which we should be aware of as they work as advocates for alternative approaches to medicine than those of the AMA. Their telephone number is 213/357-7181.
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Public Image of Macrobiotics.
Marc Teitelbaum brought this subject up because he feels that whether macrobiotics in general is perceived as quackery or as something valid and substantial depends upon how it is perceived generally. So he feels it is an important question in general terms and was asking this meeting how we feel about the question.
Generally in macrobiotics there are those who feel that the question is irrelevant and don't concern themselves with it; on the other hand there are those who feel it is a valid concern and are working on promoting a positive and constructive image of it.
Richard suggested that food is a very deep issue in the life of the culture and has been so since the beginning of human culture. Since ancient times even up until very recently, human cultures have placed a great deal of importance to the agricultural, seasonal cycles, with rituals, sacrifices to and worship of the gods and goddesses of the various seasons, grains, foods and animals being central to the life of the community. The olden way of growing and producing and eating and therefore living was a devotional, sacred activity, and it was bound up with the whole human perception and understanding of God, the Mother/Father, creative wellspring of human existence
And, in Richard's opinion, modern culture has become removed, cut off from that sacred round of the earth's seasonal cycles and we are therefore sinners, if being cut off from God as expressed in the earth's yearly round is taken to mean being in error, that is, sinful. This is way down deep in the modern psyche. Now macrobiotics is a modern echo of that ancient appreciation in that the spiritual, religious element is recognised as being a substantial element of the necessity of daily nourishment. So when modern people are exposed to macrobiotics they are in effect, psychically being reminded of their sinful state and this they do not wish to be reminded of, so the response is usually hostile.
Richard said that to talk to them about macrobiotics when they do not want to hear anything except that their mother's food is good, you better not be against God or Motherhood. People are so committed to it, with people being told in every classroom in the US to worship the four basic food groups. This the context in which macrobiotics is operating, that is with public opinion having enormous vested interest in psychic terms in the four food groups.
The real problem is, as Donna Wilson said, that the public image of macrobiotics lies in the literature and the literature is for the most part appallingly badly written, badly edited and badly presented. So, it not so much that we have a problem with macrobiotics but that we are immature in our expression of macrobiotic ideas on paper. The only books that are relatively free of flaws are the cookbooks, even though some may argue that these are somewhat disposable. The problem is really a matter of macrobiotics being young.
Also many people are writing macrobiotic books who have no connection with macrobiotics and as it was asked what books could be recommended then tell people to read, for two examples among many, "The Unsettling of America" by Wendell Berry and "Diet for a New America" by John Robbins.
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Practical Yin and Yang in Daily Life.
Gwen Staats brought this up and was interested in knowing how the knowledge and developing understanding of yin and yang affected our lives physically, emotionally or intellectually. So what followed were several anecdotal accounts of how yin and yang had affected people at the meetings.
David Jackson gave an ammusing account of how his discovery of yin and yang lead to him being able to attract members of the opposite sex much more readily than had been the case prior to his discovery of yin and yang in one of George Ohsawa's books.
Gwen then mentioned that she had been struck by the comment of David at one of his lectures that driving on the freeway in heavy traffic is a yangising experience. Kaare Bursell continued discussing this line by recounting how he had always been puzzled why John Mann, who used to publish Solstice - it now has ceased publication - got so heavily into blue-green algae and came upon an interview with John in the Cell-Tech publication where John had been asked how he had gotten into blue-green algae. John describes how he had had a heavy workload one day of counselling and lecturing and a lot of driving and that evening when he had gotten to his friend's house he was in an extremely tired, worn out frazzle and his friend had suggested he took some blue-green algae. John then describes how refreshed and re-energised he had felt after taking the blue-green algae; Kaare remarked that on reading this he thought that John would have gotten the same effect if he had taken anything more yin - a cup of coffee, a glass of lemon or orange juice, or freshly made raw carrot juice all would have had the desired effect of balancing his overly yang condition.
Donna recounted the sixties where many of the younger generation were full of 'love and peace, man' whereas their fathers were telling them to go and get a haircut. She also noticed that those individuals who became more and more passive elicited a more aggressive response than those individuals who were less passive. She said that was a very useful observation to bring to her running a retail operation with customers in varying conditions of yin and yang, if one could remember to be awake enough to observe them during one's interactions with people.
Richard made the observation that emotionally many feelings come up as a result of going on the diet that many people had no idea they were holding. In fact he feels that the emotional 'discharges' that one experiences is one of the reasons why many people cannnot maintain the practice, because they are of a nature that is too much for people to handle, or are unwilling to handle. His opinion is, in terms of yin and yang, is that when the overly yang foods of the normal diet - meat, eggs, cheese, etc. - are substituted for the more balanced grains, emotions, which are more yin and therefore 'trapped' in the body by the excess yang, tend to get released and this can be a difficult problem for many people. Richard suggested that this is a common phenomenon which is not addressed in the macrobiotic books.
It was also pointed out that it probably takes at least two and half years of daily study to begin to get a grasp of understanding the dynamic of yin and yang. We finished up the session with several amusing anecdotes giving wonderful illustrations of personal experiences of yin and yang.
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Is there a philosophy of macrobiotics?
Donna Wilson brought this subject up and we first established that the word philosophy derives from two words, 'philo' - love of, and 'sophia' - wisdom. So philosophy means love of wisdom. Donna then recounted that in human thought a watershed period was 500 BC when the new idea developed that there was order in the universe whereas before the main idea was that gods were involved in the affairs of humanity and they acted capriciously and arbitrarily. In the case of arbitrariness then there was little chance of knowing anything for certain, but if there is order then there is the possibility of knowing the order and how it is orderly and ordered. Thus the idea that there are laws governing the order of the universe is one that has dominated human thought for the past twenty five hundred years. Donna went on to say that in this century that idea is beginning to disappear rapidly. It is beginning to disappear in quantum mechanics, physics and the new idea is that the universe is governed by probability and what follows probability. This idea is mainly in the field of the physical sciences.
A philosophy, very basically, would mean a system or a method by which you could know the world we find ourselves in, you could know how to live, and have something to guide your life. So Donna wanted to know whether, when people come to us and ask us, after having read the books and want to know about macrobiotics and they ask us, is it a diet, and most of us answer no; so, is it a philosophy, we are asked. How do we answer that question? Its a religious diet, Richard answered, and we all laughed.
Joel Huckins suggested that it is not so much a philosophy but a set of principles about diet which are, fresh, local and seasonal. Richard said that when he came into macrobiotics he saw that it had a strong eastern influence and when he asked someone who was practicing macrobiotics whether there was a belief system involved the answer was yes, and this belief system was tied in with taoism, shintoism and buddhism.
David Jackson said that he thought that the word macrobiotics means 'a large view of life' and is a set of tools which we use to order our daily existence from that large perspective. Roseann Farhner said that although she uses yin and yang in her daily life, not everything in her life can be understood exclusively in terms of yin and yang. There are other tools such as number which can be used. So, if we look at number we can see that there is more than two, and if we look at numbers one, two and three alone, then yin and yang is very descriptive of the number two, but when we look at three and the higher numbers we need additional tools.
Hugh Tinling said that much of macrobiotics has its origins in far eastern philosophy especially Taoism. The principles of thought and practice had their origins long before Lao Tse who was a revivalist of these ideas and his famous statement is 'from the one came two, and from these three come the ten thousand things'. In some of the taoist schools where they teach children they ask "what is the largest number" and the answer that is given is that the largest number is one, with all the other numbers being oneness divided into so many parts. And that twoness has a special configuration of bi-fold duality between one and the 'ten thousand things' which we know today to be much more than ten thousand. And that threeness also has a special quality.
Hugh went on to say that in western thought threefoldedness has played a much more prominent role, whereas in the eastern thought duality has dominated. Our culture has become much more diverse and differentiated materialistically and therefore for us to move toward understanding the world in which we live in terms of threeness or twoness is a unifying experience for us.
Richard said that in terms of Donna's question, he thought that the kind of discussion we were having was a philosophical discussion and he personally gets lost somewhere along the way but that another way to try and get a handle on this question was to talk about belief. One thing that meant a lot to Richard was a sense of community, which we talked about a lot at the Mendocino Summer Camp, and experienced, and when he thinks of local, organic produce he thinks of all the people who grow and produce it and that is a community of people, and we are grateful to them for doing that and all this is a connection and he has always had the belief that practicing macrobiotics in isolation is sort of not practicing macrobiotics. This may not come into the category of philosophy but it is so basic that to think of macrobiotics without a community is not possible. Richard believes in what he calls a 'village mentality' which means that for us to make sense of the world full of diversity and an apparently chaotic materialistic obsessiveness, we need to gather and live in a community of like-minded people who literally and figuratively have their roots in the earth; and the belief that there is survivability in that orientation.
It was pointed out that the world is a community and the world is experiencing a level of population that has never been experienced before and the world population of several billions consists of many different kinds of community. The question is whether or not humankind can find a sense of mutual cooperation and common direction so that the future of the earth and humanity is assured.
Joya pointed out that with regard to the characterisation of a philosophy being a set of practices and principles that guide that practice which at the same time gives order and meaning to the world we live in, then macrobiotics does have a philosophy. So it appeared to Joya that macrobiotics does have a philosophy and she asked Donna what she thought was lacking in macrobiotics. Donna's answer was that macrobiotics does not have a philosophy yet and she says that it has not been verified. If any practice is to continue for any length of time then it has to articulate three steps - an injunction which is a set of instructions to follow which will give you certain verifiable results. Then there is the apprehension stage which is collection of data. Then there is the stage of consensus which is comparing the data and come to an agreement about what that data means. And what Donna wants in the macrobiotic community is a community of dialogue where it is recognised by the community that it is legitimate to have arguments about whether a statement made, for example, in "Solstice" that 'Michio Kushi has replaced the theory of gravity' is in actual fact a verifiable statement, or whether the statement is bunk.
Donna was nominated to be the editor of a new journal in which we submit articles and essays and data about our experience and learn to welcome criticism of the ideas we put forward without the dialogue degenerating into character assassination.
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Is there a macrobiotic response to the Middle East situation?
Richard brought this topic up because it appears to him that the world is potentially on the verge of a very chaotic situation. To give some perspective on the current situation, it was not so long ago that 'peace was breaking out all over', and people were talking about the peace dividend. Yet here we are, only a few months later and discussing going to war with Iraq who are being characterised in the training of the military personnel as evil people. Then we have to factor in the religious element here, because the war will be against a people that practices a different religion than ours, the Muslim religion and this becomes a holy war.
The result then may well be a groundswell of terrorism and hooliganism in the United States. Is there any macrobiotic response to this portrayal which Richard acknowledges may be his imagination getting out of hand. It may be that what is being contemplated, a war with Iraq, is the right response to the invasion of Kuwait.
Joyce Kenny said that she lived in Morocco many years ago and she said that there was no doubt in any of the Arab population that she met that there was going to be a war at some point with the United States: it was simply inevitable.
Donna said that she thought that like a symptom of imbalance in the body takes some time to show, that there had been some kind of imbalance building up in that region for a long time that led to the invasion. She felt that there was some aspect of that region that makes it so volatile. Joel said that the problem is that we all have in our psyche a pathological need to have an enemy, an ingrained desire to be polarised against something outside our immediate circle. For instance, macrobiotics against the medical system! This is part of the human condition, with Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Kuwait and the response to it by the United Nations being the players in a drama of the present psychic state of humanity. We have a "shadow" in our psyche and this shadow cannot live with the the idea of peace and its consequences.
Hugh Tinling gave a brief history of the evolution of oil. We discovered the fossil fuels and this gave us more power and we started using more and more of it. In doing that not only have we jeopardised the political situation by co-optiing a resource that is not macrobiotic in the sense that one of the most abundant sources of oil is thousands of miles from where we live and using trapped sunshine that is millions of years old instead of using the sun energy that is abundantly available here today, and that has brought greed into the political process. On the other hand we also disrupt the natural order every time we burn gasoline or oil or natural gas, because when we do we increase the amount of water and carbon dioxide in the biosphere. In doing so we are causing the atmosphere of the planet to regress to a condition that was normal millions of years ago, at a time before it was possible for animals and the early ancestors of humanity to incarnate because the earthly conditions were not yet appropriate.
As a result of the burning of fossil fuels we create a carbon dioxide and water vapour rich atmosphere which is very acid and also allows sunlight to pass through without allowing the heat generated to escape. Thus a global warming occurs. As a result the oceans will warm up. more of the polar ice caps will melt and many parts of the world which border the ocean will experience flooding of land, in some parts of the world, eg, Bangla Desh, for many hundreds of miles inland. As a human species we have desired this ambitious way of living. Hugh suggested that it is fossil fuels that have given the human species the ability to support the vast numbers of people that are living on the planet but that evolution is punctuated by ebbs and flows. In terms of the human population we are in the beginning of an ebb tide and that this period will be a difficult one for humanity. We can only hope that during it we will be gentle with one another.
Kaare suggested that a macrobiotic response to the middle east is to live ecologically in as much as we can and that if people generally based their dietary habits on the practice of macrobiotics, then it would be enormously positive for the ecology, the economy and socially, as is so well articulated by John Robbins in his book "Diet for a New America".
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Review of The PMC Process.
Donna Wilson suggested this topic and talked about how this format has evolved out of a dissatisfaction with the usual norm of meetings. The question is what are we doing with the PMC. Groups usually fall into groups who want to do something and this meeting is not about doing anything, which is usually something that makes people feel uncomfortable. Rather this meeting is really a space and an opportunity for us to celebrate and to meet and discuss our experiences and ideas. In 1986 we came up with a statement, which is called "Ideas for an Operation Manual for the Pacific Macrobiotic Community Conference which is as follows:
Anybody can become a member by paying the annual dues. (Currently $20.00 per year). Anybody, member or not, may participate fully in the conference.
The functions of the PMC include:
* Providing a space for the celebration of macrobiotic endeavour.
Celebration can take the form of:
* The sharing of information to encourage affection for each other that nourishes the higher spirit in each of us.
* The sharing of personal time together.
* Becoming responsible for personal participation.
* Deciding where and when the celebration will occur.
* Delegating a secretary to:
1. Summarise and circulate to the members the minutes of each meeting.
2. Maintain a roster of the members.
3. Maintain the archives.
4. Be custodian of the PMC fund.
The Pacific Macrobiotic Community does not:
* Endorse or exclude any product or person.
* Seek recognition or endorsement through recruitment or any other means.
* Attempt to set standards or police such.
So the PMC is not a decison making body or an organisation that does anything, in fact it is not really an organisation in the usual sense of the term. The meetings have evolved over the years to take place always at the spring and fall equinoxes and everybody can mark the nearest week end to the equinoxes for the next ten years on their calendars right now and be sure that the PMC Conference will take place on those week ends. .
We also discussed the original idea that the conference site should move around to different locations and to date we have held them in Seattle, San Francisco, Oroville, and San Diego, and also in Los Angeles and Kentfield. Lately, however, it has been swinging back and forth between San Diego and Oakland and we would like to go to other places such as Phoenix and Portland etc.
We discussed why the PMC continues, with this meeting being the twenty first and in its tenth year. Joel Huckins said that yes it is about community but that it keeps going because of Kaare, and David and Joel and Donna because in his experience whatever type of community you're talking about the endeavour continues because of the commitment of a few core individuals. David Jackson said that we sometimes we don't recognise the purpose or maybe we don't actually know the purpose of the PMC and we are in the process of discovering it as we participate in the meetings. But we continue to participate because we receive inspiration, we share knowledge and experience, we learn from one another, we keep ourselves informed of events and we begin to relate to each other more openly and develop more meaningful relationships with each other.
As for participation, we have few at this meeting, relatively speaking, and the numbers have fluctuated over the years from as few as 15 to as many as 100, but that is not the most significant aspect of the meetings. Joya said that if it hadn't been for the PMC she wouldn't be doing what she is doing now. She came to a meeting a few years ago and since then has left the aerospace business which she had been in for twenty years and is now teaching and counselling and doing shiatsu and she said that if she hadn't been to the PMC she probably wouldn't be involved in what she is doing. So the PMC inspired and motivated her and she thought that was very valuable for her.
It was then asked whether the PMC had had any effect outside of the PMC especially with regard to the East Coast. A few years ago representatives from the Kushi Institute had come to the meetings and had been positively impressed with what they had experienced and a couple of years ago David had been asked to facilitate similar meetings during the Summer Camp in Massachussetts and they were done two years in a row. David said that the endeavour had been received with great enthusiasm by those who had participated. Also at the Miami meeting in January of 1990 the teachers meetings gradually evolved during the course of the week from the typical meeting to one like the format used by the PMC. Joel said that perhaps the format we use is perhaps peculiar to California and maybe in the midwest and the east and with the history behind the east coast perhaps they would never really grasp this form.
Donna recalled having a discussion with one of the 'senior' teachers saying how anyone can come to the meeting and this teacher said what happens if someone from the AMA came and Donna said she couldn't understand the objection. Joel said that it came from fear and that anyone associated with Michio would have that fear because Michio himself is afraid as we saw so clearly with the Claude Pepper 'anti-quackery' bill a few years ago. However, he did feel that was beginning to change from what he saw at the Miami meeting.
An interesting question that Donna brought up was why do we not have more participation at the meetings. Several people who had been coming regularly no longer participate, like Patrick and Meredith McCarty, Blake Rankin, the Lowry's, Kristine Turner-Winn, Anne Scott and a few others. We came up with several possible reasons, among them being that they can't be getting anything out of the meetings, that these meetings aren't very grandiose and that therefore it wasn't advantageous or important to be seen at them. It was suggested that people generally have a low tolerance of ambiguity and since there is nothing outwardly important going on why should anyone bother to come! Joel suggested that nothing controversial had happened at a meeting for some time yet it was pointed out by Kaare that the discussion we had at at the last conference about Nova had been controversial.
Then we asked about what is done about promoting the conference and essentially we are not interested in recruiting, going on membership drives. Among the most significant statements made by George Ohsawa are "quantity changes quality" and "the small governs the large" and what makes the PMC so different and unusual is that for one reason or another participants come who have a commitment to an ideal which is to be discovered in the phrase "pacific macrobiotic community".
It was suggested that it be presented in the announcement that people can come to the conferences with their burning questions and ideas about how they want to develop in their own lives. Also participants should tell their own friends and neighbours about their enthusiasm for the meetings.
David said that we are going about this in entirely the wrong way; we should tell everybody that no, you can't come, the location and time is secret and only known to a privileged few and pretty soon we'd have a horde of people beating down the door to get in!
There followed a long discussion about what is going on with regard to macrobiotics, the natural foods industry, how much activity going on, trends in the country and why, wherefore, who, future possibilities all of which were answered by the consensus that it doesn't really matter. The PMC will continue to provide a space for the celebration of macrobiotics and what evolves remains to be seen.
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Joel Huckins brought this up as a result of seeing some of the hearings about the nomination of Souter to the Supreme Court and being thoroughly appalled at the way the women who came to the hearings were treated when they were asking about the nominees position on reproductive rights. This was testimony by various women's groups like NOW. And the discussion went on to talk about how the policy position is to make it very difficult for women to have control over their female cycles and then to have no support system to help educate and sustain their lives. The issue is really one of control, in that their are powerful elements in our society who have a horror that any woman should be in control of her own reproductive organs!
The Senate and Congress is male dominated and the men in their are old, their mind sets are thoroughly antiquated and most of them are long term incumbents, so that these institutions function like closed societies, clubs and it is very difficult for new people with new ideas to get in.
The real question is that there is something deeper going on, not only with regard to reproductive responsibilities and where do they in fact lie, but also to with freedom generally. Richard said that what he saw in these hearings was that here were bright, knowledgeable intelligent women making their case with very clear legal argument. If Souter had been asked whether or not he was in favour of freedom of speech, he would have said yes. Now, reproductive rights are inarguably a basic right, so why can't he make a statement about his position on abortion and birth control. Since it takes twenty-five odd years of struggle and argument for a basic right to mature, and it has been 15 years since the Roe v Wade decision, but no one argued on this merit of the women's case and they were just put down, the gender put down. So Richard said that this whole business was a matter of men putting down women in all kinds of ways, eg. they get 60 cents on the dollar compared to men in wages, in discrimination cases in the courts lower standards are set in cases involving women, and so forth.
Richard pointed out that this was an all pervasive problem and obviously evident in macrobiotics also. He said he had seen instances of it in these conferences in the last year and we all need to work on it. Also it was pointed out by Joya that this problem of the dominant male is not peculiar to men and you don't have to go very far to see it in women also. It was mentioned that positive changes were being made such as moves toward legislation that compensates women in the work force who have to leave work because of pregnancy and child rearing as an investment in the future.
The discussion then moved into the interesting territory of how the sense of values of this society is so skewed, and out of proportion in the way we give uncritical respect to lawyers and to the whole "Wall Street" mentality and completely negate and disrespect homemakers, wives, gardeners and garbage disposal workers, for example. As the discussion continued it surfaced that the real underlying problem is, as Donna stated, that she is the last generation of whom it can be said that they had a higher standard of living than their parents. Her daughter is worse off than she is, and it will be even worse for her grand-daughter, in the material sense.
That the standard of material living is on the decline and one can hazard a guess that this really began with the onset of the Reagan Administration and so is only in the beginning of a long process of decline of material standards of living for most people. And the proportion of people who will feel the lessening of their level of comfort will gradually accelerate. And what of course is going on in the White House and the boards of the corporations is a denial that this is going on.
Kaare said that he had made the conscious decision to downscale and live more ecologically and economically ten years ago and that as far has he could see, and the participants readily assented, that this process is inevitable and merely a matter of time for most people to come to the same conclusion either willingly or through circumstance.
Then it was asked, since macrobiotic lifestyle is a very appropriate response to the material decline of society, why do not more people get involved in changing their lives. Obviously, as we all know, nobody is going to change anything about their lives until they have to face the inevitability of either changing or becoming terminal. How many healthy people get involved in macrobiotics? By far the majority come to macrobiotics because they have been given a death sentence, and are extremely ill. So, is the AMA going to give the death sentence as readily to the White House and corporate America as it does to people with cancer?
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Saturday, 22nd September.
Reports from Centers.
People who were doing counselling, teaching, cooking classes, stores, potlucks, dinners and so forth were asked to tell the participants what was going on at their places.
David Jackson reported that the East West Center in San Diego is doing well and he had sold the Grain Country Store to a couple who were struggling to find their feet running a retail operation. The store also has a restaurant which is open for lunch every day and dinner at the week end. The center kitchen has been remodelled and there are regular classes, lectures and workshops going on every week. David said that he and his family had decided to leave San Diego and move to Prescott, Arizona and were in the process of selling their house and he wanted to find an experienced person to buy and take over the center. He and Sharon, his wife and children hoped to be moved by December. The person who wishes to buy the center can live at the center which has been in operation since 1981. David and Sharon plan to start macrobiotic educational activities in Prescott when they get there.
David was also asked about the upcoming conference in Murietta Hot Springs sponsored by a company called 'Celebration of Life' which is run by Sandy Pukel of the Macrobiotic Foundation of Florida with an associate. After saying what it was and who was going to be there, including John Robbins, with Patrick and Meredith and David also participating as teachers, Nancy Johnson said that there was some question as to whether it was going to happen as they weren't getting many registrations, 20 so far.
Donna Wilson talked about her activities in Woodland Hills, in west Los Angeles, which is out of her bookstore, The Gingko Leaf, in which she has put a kitchen in the last year after having a house up the street for the past few years. The kitchen functions as a cooking school, doing two take out meals a week, with 30-35 people getting meals and she does cooking classes twice a month, and an open forum free for questions and answers once a week, and counselling. She says the spread out nature of Los Angeles means that the density does not allow for a center as such and she feels that the word center is not appropriate and prefers the word network and networking. She will start doing one community meal a month and shiatsu with Joya coming once a week and that is going well. She said that August was the best month she had had which was quite a surprise.
She also talked about the Southern California Teachers Meeting which started about three years ago after the main activists in the area had co-operated to put on a seminar tour of Herman and Cornellia Aihara and it is planned that one would take place in Spring 1991. They meet once a month, including Leroy and Cathy Sanchez, Cecile Levin, Pat Murray, Larry and Judy Cooper, Pam Buenanotte, Nancy Kelly and David Jackson.
Donna thinks that the days of the star system are over and we need to learn to work in teams and to this end she offers to help people get their own areas going with regard to macrobiotic activities - she is going to El Paso, Texas in November to help a woman there.
Joyce Kenny gives a cooking class three days a month in San Mateo and at a store in San Jose called Bread of Life. She also has dinner at her house once a month followed by a lecture. All these are very well attended, about 15 a class.
Gene Modin is working at the Vega Center in Oroville. Some changes are in the offing, with Pat Thorsley leaving the management there after five years. David and Cindy Briscoe, who have a center in Kansas City, are at the very moment deciding whether or not they will come to Vega and take the job of directing the educational activities at Vega. Kathy and Bob Ligon are also leaving.
Allan Post had just arrived from Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is five years macrobiotic and is here going to the Acupressure Institute. In Fayetteville, Bill Tims, who used to teach at the Kushi Institute is still active and Mountain Ark is doing more business than ever. The community itself is embryonic - there is a couple, Ted and Cathy Lorraine, who have a business making seitan and chili and lunch sandwiches, who are spearheading the effort to introduce macrobiotics to the public, by having public dinners twice a month and hope to increase the frequency of the dinners as the year goes on. Then they hope to re-open the macrobiotic restaurant which functioned in the early eighties but has since closed. A sizeable proportion of the population are into natural foods without having any knowledge or awareness of macrobiotics.
The standard of living in Fayetteville is about 40% of what it is in the Bay Area in terms of wages and rents. Thus people who come there who have licenses to practice one craft or another who are used to charging $30.00 a session or $25.00 dollars an hour for bodywork, for example, find that they cannot make a living because people there do not have that kind of money.
Kerry Loeb talked about starting the Shiatsu Center affiliated with the Macrobiotic Grocery and Learning Center in Oakland. It's activities are conducted in the house across the street. The work on the center began about nine months ago and Kerry has cleaned and painted the place. The activities include shiatsu by Kerry and John Shultz from Mt. Shasta, who comes once a month, as does Patrick McCarty from Eureka. Classes in Do-in, Yoga, and shiatsu will be starting in about a month. Shizuko Yamamoto came to give a lecture across the street with about 60 people in attendance which was pretty good. Kerry hopes that Shizuko can do this every year in June. The program will get fully underway shortly and has been growing slowly but surely since it began.
Nancy Johnson talked about her activities which included doing cooking classes in conjunction with her interior design work. The latter involves doing kitchen design and she finds that it is a natural marriage and she doesn't call what she teaches in the cooking classes macrobiotics but is using macrobiotic ideas and foods in her classes. It is going very well. She recently moved from Seattle to Lafayette.
Joya Sexton talked about working in Santa Barbara. She started about six years ago with potlucks. She stared doing shiatsu about two years ago and is now doing more classes. She finds that the interest depends upon where she is psychologically and if she is feeling positive and constructive everything goes well. She has always done cooking classes and has recently started doing a dinner and lecture once a month.
Gwen Staats talked about activities in the Costa Mesa, Orange County area, with Pamela Buenanotte putting on a dinner and lecture once a month with visiting lecturers. Potlucks happen about once a month and twenty or so people come. She says that there is lots of interest but the support hasn't been very consistent.
Hugh Tinling lives with Diana Lynn in Trinity County, Northern California. Arcadia is the town at the north of Humboldt Bay and Eureka is at the south, which is where Patrick and Meredith McCarty have their center. They have been travelling a lot recently but have enough of a support that they put on a dinner there once a week, have some educational programs and have shiatsu available from Patrick. Meredith has her second cookbook out about six months now. There is a tofu shop and a large, progressive co-op in the area.
Kaare Bursell talked about his activities of counselling, lectures and cooking classes going very well, not a tremendous amount of interest, but steady and even in terms of past experience. He seemed to think that there is interest in macrobiotics in the general population and it is steadily growing.
Joel Huckins discussed activities at the Macrobiotic Center and it appears that there is increased interest in coming to eat there, with more people coming more regularly. However, there is not the same level of interest in educational activities. Joel main input here was to encourage every one who had the drive and energy to get a cafe or restaurant going in their area. The center serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every week day and brunch and dinner at week-ends. It appears that on average over a 100 people come in every day to either eat or buy their supplies or do both. Joel bought a natural food store in Berkeley in July, Elmwood Natural Foods as a result of getting an inheritance.
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Reports from Summer Camps.
There were two camps in California this summer, the one sponsored by Herman and Cornellia Aihara at French Meadows in the Lake Tahoe National Forest in the California Sierra Mountains. Hugh Tinling gave the report. There were over 200 people this year, the 21st camp, and an extra campground was needed to take the overflow. As in the past years teachers and people came from all over the world to teach lectures and give workshops and enjoy the beautiful mountain atmosphere and a great time was had by all. There is talk that next year they are thinking of having two camps in a row, with one of the camps being specifically attuned to the needs of children and teenagers. These ideas are being mulled over at this point to see if they can be made to work so we will have to wait and see what develops.
Donna Wilson reported on the 2nd Annual Mendocino Summer Camp which has as its focus the theme "Awakening to Community" which will always be its theme. The main focus of the camp is integration of what has been presented during the day and the week of the camp. The experience is one of intense deepening of the feeling of becoming aware of community. The camp is only early in its development and we are learning from the experiences we have there and this year's camp was a wonderful nurturing experience for all who were there. And there was a larger attendance than last year, around 95 including twenty staff members.
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Discussion of Men's and Women's Groups.
We spent the first part of the session wondering whether there was a need for the men and women to have separate discussions during the course of the conference. It was the consensus that there is a need and a value in having men and women conversing but that the conference didn't afford enough time for them to develop. So it was agreed that perhaps we could meet separately at the beginning of the conference, on Thursday evening, and spent say an hour in separate groups as a way of coming up with an agenda. Then we would join together as a group and put all the agenda items on the board and then sort out together what we should talk about. This may turn out to be a solution to the difficulty we often have of coming up with items for discussion.
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Macrobiotics as a way of healing and/or as a spiritual path.
Bill Garrett opened this discussion with asking us whether there was the dichotomy in our experience/practice of macrobiotics of it being a practical way to get well physically or it being an integral part of developing ourselves spiritually, in terms of being mindful, self-aware, and conscious of everything we are doing.
Hugh Tinling talked about after reading Ohsawa and following the directions in his books he went on to find groups that were involved in Taoism, because the writings of Ohsawa had a lot of Taoism in them and he later found a tradition of taoism that goes into not only the two-foldedness of yin and yang, but also talks about the three-foldedness of the human being and seeks to identify those in all their manifestations and how to integrate them in daily life. So Hugh found that his beginning macrobiotics starting with Oshawa's books began a search that lead to a spiritual practice which has been of great help to him. Also the concept of three-ness that he found in the taoist tradition is also integral to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and he found that there is a mutual reciprocal synergy encountered when you study and understand the three-folded concept as portrayed by Rudolf Steiner with the knowledge and understanding of yin and yang developed through a macrobiotic practice. Furthermore, he found that knowing yin and yang was also beneficial in seeing the shortcomings in some of Steiner's lectures.
Donna Wilson wondered if Hugh's account meant that there is a spiritual practice in macrobiotics or not and Hugh replied that yes, if it is meant in the sense that when one is working with the word spirit what one is referring to is consciousness. Because one has to be conscious and present when one is cooking a meal with the principles and ideas in macrobiotics that lie behind the selection, preparation, cooking, serving and eating of the meal.
David Jackson suggested that we all bring our own individual background and traditions into our macrobiotic practice and he felt that there is no distinction between macrobiotics as a way of healing and as a spiritual practice and that the crucial element in the whole practice was the individual and their motivation. Hugh said that healing, because of the nature of the constitution of the human being necessarily means you have to work with consciousness.
Kaare Bursell said that in his view macrobiotics is both a way of healing and a spiritual path but that macrobiotics itself does not have any particular spiritual teaching which is peculiar to or has originated from macrobiotics. The spiritual teachings that are present in macrobiotic literature are those culled from a wide variety of sources, chiefly from shintoism, taoism and buddhism. So that, with respect to any spiritual teaching, macrobiotics as a practice of eating is neutral, meaning that a devotee of any spiritual path may practice macrobiotics as a way of aiding the body heal without the practice conflicting with the dogma or spiritual precepts of any teaching. However, Kaare said that he did not think it was possible to heal any condition if a person was not applying themselves to a spiritual practice of one kind or another in addition to their macrobiotic practice.
The ensuing discussion brought up the notion that because people do not eat a "macrobiotic diet" that does not mean they are not spiritually developed or, vice-versa, that a person is automatically spiritually developed because they eat a "macrobiotic diet". Roseanne Fahner said that the macrobiotic principles applied to food and the cooking of food is an important foundation in her life but there was perhaps too much emphasis placed on food, to the detriment of people's spiritual development.
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Macrobiotics in the U.S.S.R.
Ben Stackler informed the conference of the efforts being made to bring macrobiotics to the Soviet Union. There is going to be a conference there in October and as part of that effort over 2000 lbs of macrobiotic supplies had been donated by several macrobiotic supplies on the West Coast as well as from other parts of the country. For the past two or three years the Kushi Institute have been corresponding with physicians in the Soviet Union.
Over the past year or so there has been an increasing problem of shortages of basic foods including bread in the Soviet Union. And also there is interest in macrobiotics because of the experience in Japan with the bombing of Hiroshima. The conference Moscow specifically addresses the concern of the Russians with their children and wanted to know about alternatives to the allopathic approach to AIDS and radiation sickness. Dr. Martha Cottrell, who has written a book about macrobiotics and AIDS, as well as Bill Spear, a macrobiotic counsellor, Alex Jack, who is director at the Kushi Institute, a cook, Clare Wolf, from the Kushi Institute, and Ben himself are among the people going to the conference.
The conference is sponsored by an association in Russia called "Peace to the Children of the World Committee" which was initiated by Raisa Gorbachev. The conference is called "The Seventh Generation Conference" after the American Indian idea that in all our deliberations we must consider the impact of any decisions on the next seven generations. Among the groups participating in addition to many children will be members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Greenpeace, the Greens Movement in Russia and a lot of education organisations.
The donated food will be delivered directly to the Soviet physicians who have been corresponding with the Kushi Institute. Among them is a psychologist in Leningrad who works specifically with people affected by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident that occurred in 1986. Ben read a letter from her that tells of many positive instances of people with both chronic radiation poisoning as well as other chronic illness experiencing recovery with a macrobiotic approach.
The reason why soviet physicians are leading the way with regard to introducing macrobiotics in their country is that the economic situation there is not suitable for the development of high technology medicine. So there is a shortage of medical equipment and also drugs.
At the conference the macrobiotic motivation is to teach people who are interested practical techniques like how to make miso etc. The response from the PMC was that people going to the Soviet Union should suggest that they look into their own food history to find their indigenous macrobiotic foods.
Joya Sexton pointed out that Michio Kushi has already been to several countries including some in what was the Eastern Bloc and advised their governments to change their dietary approach to one based on macrobiotic principles using their own food products, so she thought it would be unlikely that the approach would be any different in the Soviet Union.
It will be interesting to hear from Ben after he comes back from the conference in the Soviet Union.
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Support Living Networks in Communities.
Joya Sexton brought up this topic as a result of her personal experience with her mother who has Alzheimer's Disease and trying to find out what was available in the community to help taking care of her. She found that there is nothing available that meets macrobiotic criteria for a healthy living environment for someone who needs care and supervision.
It occurs to her that all of us at a later stage in our lives may need a support system to aid us. She said that she and her husband are now beginning to think of their own retirement which brought up ideas of what they would like to have. This including moving to a place where other people as well as them had made a commitment to developing a macrobiotic retirement community which would include restaurants, respite care for the elderly as well as children, long term care needs and a day care facility, as well as cultural activities.
She cited another group that had similar facilities which are the Mormons. She realises it is a large project and would take a long time to put into place, probably about 20 years, which is when many people in macrobiotics will be in their mid-sixties and early seventies.
Hugh Tinling talked about the Anthroposophical Community in Fair Oaks where they have several facilities including one that addresses the needs of taking care of the elderly among them. And of course they have a Waldorf School and the Rudolf Steiner College and they are concerned with having an integrated community of people of all ages.
A response was that we should not be in thinking in terms of retirement but in terms of living within the greater community and getting a support network going. Then we need to develop the idea within the community that people will in the future need care and educate our communities to the fact that this type of care will be needed in the future of the macrobiotic community. And on that note the conference ended.
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