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22nd PACIFIC MACROBIOTIC COMMUNITY CONFERENCE.
EAST WEST CENTER, SAN DIEGO.
March 21st-March 24th, 1991.
Friday March 22nd.
1. Verbal Self-Defense.
2. Discussion of Facilitation.
3. Florida Report.
4. Macrobiotic Association of San Diego.
5. Vision Improvement.
6. Other Modalities including Macrobiotics.
2. Organic Farming.
3. Middle East Crisis.
Saturday March 23rd.
1. Teacher Training Possibilities.
2. Building community.
3. Raising children macrobiotically.
2. Additional modalities.
3. Southern California Teachers Meeting.
4. Fall Meeting in Palm Springs.
5. Macrobiotic Association.
SUMMARY AND HIGHLIGHTS.
The conference took place at the East West Center for Macrobiotic Studies on a relatively cool week-end for San Diego. The mood of the conference was warm and cordial with a total of thirty-six participants, which is about the number of people that have been coming to the conferences recently. As suggested in the last report I sent out invitations to nearly 200 people prior to this conference and it didn't make any difference with regard to increasing the attendance from the last conference in Oakland. Perhaps the number of people that come is not as significant as the quality and tone of the meeting and on this occasion it was very interesting that the group as a whole seemed to reach a new space of cordiality and openness that was very refreshing.
The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense.
Donna Wilson introduced the topic saying it is based on the work of a woman Suzette Haden Elgin who has written several books about it. She said that communication is an act of will, and that when we actually communicate with someone we feel we are both understand and are understood in the course of talking with other people. This is different from something factual and is not a question of having value. A linguist named Miller spent a long time studying how people communicate or fail to communicate and she formulated what is called "Miller's Law" which states that a person, in order to understand what another person is saying, has to
a) assume it is true,
b) imagine what it could be true of.
In the art of verbal self-defense the key is to learn to recognise verbal attacks. Five general modes of verbal communication have been identified, and these should be recognised as habitual modes of communication by people and is to be used as a means of self- observation so that if we find that we use any one of these modes habitually then we should work on changing it:
1. Blamer mode - this is relatively easy to recognise because the person is openly hostile, angry and uses language and body language in an openly hostile way. An example of this way of communicating is, " Why do you always spoil the whole day for me?", or " why can't you ever consider anybody's feelings but yours?", or " I'll never understand why you act that way" and " You never think about what I want to do, do you?".
2. Placater mode - the person here is whining and pleading and is doing anything they can to avoid an argument, and is constantly trying to please.
Examples of this mode are, "Oh, you know me, I don't care, whatever you want to do is okay with me. You know that, don't you.", or, " You decide, it doesn't matter to me, you decide what movie we should go to."
3. Computer mode - never uses personal pronouns and appears to be emotionless, always talking in abstractions and have very little facial expression. Examples of this mode of communicating include, "Undoubtedly, there's a reasonable explanation for this", or, "It's clear there's no cause for anyone to be concerned", or, "One would hesitate to express an opinion about that", or, "It may be possible to have an answer at a later date but for the moment any kind of statement would be premature.". This is the expression of the so-called strong, silent types and it is the normal mode of language in the scientific community.
4. Leveller mode - absence of all the above and seem to be genuinely interested in the person they are talking to and are not overly emphatic. This is the mode we want to be because the skill in communicating with people is to be on the level, be honest with them. The same words are used as those used in the other modes but there is not the same inflections and emphases as are used in the other modes, especially in terms of body language and facial expression.
5. Distracter mode - bounces back and forth between blamer, placater and computer modes, conversation being generally scattered. Examples of this mode of communicating are, "I always believe that if you have something to say, say it; don't beat about the bush, don't you think so? Not that I care, you understand. If somebody wants to be a hypocrite, that's their business - oh, no, no, not you, I don't mean that you're a hypocrite. My goodness, I don't judge other people's behaviour, but there are certain rules of conduct proper to civilised conversation... oh, but you're not listening to me, are you?".
The main point here is to able to observe ourselves when we are conversing so that we do not feed the "loops" of the four modes other than the leveller mode and let the conversation get out of hand and escalate into a major confrontation.
The research on the use of language has identified verbal attack modes and these include statements that begin, "If you really.....", as in "if you really loved me you would take the garbage out" and it is an attack mode because the supposition in the statement is that "you don't love me" and, furthermore, taking the garbage out has nothing to do with love. In terms of responding to an attack like this, if you can identify the presupposition in the attack, then a response could be, "when did you think I stopped loving you?". If you cannot identify the presupposition, then you go to the computer mode and get impersonal.
There is also a three part statement that has to do with complaints and since we do live or work with other people there are occasions when we would like to get a person to change a behavioral pattern and there is a way to make a complaint, as follows:
"When..................................., I feel............................, because................". For example, "When you leave the dirty dishes in the sink, I feel disappointed, because when I come to use the kitchen I would prefer not to have to wash the dishes first.".
The final point in Donna's presenation is that not only can we be made to feel small or manipulated by other people if we do not understand how to identify the various attack modes that people use in conversation, much of which is culturally learned and have to do with being manipulative, deceitful and gaining power over us, there is also that judgmental voice within us that is a negative or hostile about our own character and behaviour that we need to identify and learn to make visible and counter.
Discussion of Facilitation.
Donna Wilson began the discussion by saying that the key to facilitation at a meeting or conference is self-observation, and also being able to observe things as they really are, and being able to perceive the group you're with, or the audience. The conversation focused on what we can do to really observe what's going on and Richard Janopaul said that we can make sure that during the course of conversation or discussion that we spend time actually concentrating on observing and paying attention to what is being said and how it is being said without having to come in and say anything.
The discussion focussed on how we can communicate in such way that we can be individuals with our particular indentity, way of being which is authentic to our own character etc., but that we are being on the level with one another so that in the course of the discussions we actually facilitate the flow of the discussion. And in this conversation/discussion we understand that it is actually necessary to be able to criticise anyone's ideas without the criticism of the ideas being interpreted as an attack on the character of the person who is putting the ideas forward. For example, if we say that such and such an idea is a dumb idea that does not mean that the person who has the idea is a dumb person.
Donna Wison gave an excellent example which is public knowledge in that Lenny Jacobs in an article he wrote in the East West Journal in which he suggested that some new information had suggested that some people have digestive problems when they eat short grain brown rice and suggesting that perhaps it was best for everyone to eat and he merely raised the issue for discussion. The letters responding to this was for the most part discussing the idea and saying one thing or another for or against the data and the research. Interestingly enough, Aveline Kushi wrote a letter which dropped the level of the critiqueing the ideas in the article to a personal attack on the writer, Lenny Jacobs in which she made three statements: 1. She was shocked that Lenny Jacobs would publish such an article without coming to discuss it with Michio first; 2. that Lenny did not respect his elders and 3. he had better go back to 'beginners mind'.
Then Lenny had a chance to respond and, in the light of the discussion about verbal self-defense, he took the bait of the attack and started defending himself and saying he did respect his elders etc., instead of saying that respect for his elders did not enter into it and that we are engaged in discussing whether or not everyone's digestion can handle brown rice adequately.
Donna lead of this discussion and the background to this discussion is that two years ago Sandy Pukel sent out a letter to all macrobiotic teachers throughout America and Europe to come to the Florida Winter Conference, which he organises, to look at the future of macrobiotics especially looking forward to the 21st Century. The idea was to have the teachers meet during the course of the conference and discuss the future direction macrobiotic activities and endeavours might take.
Donna went along with a few other people from the west coast like Carl Ferre, Patrick and Meredith McCarty, Joel Huckins and the report of that first meeting is in last years Spring PMC Conference notes. After that first meeting everybody participating agreed to two things which were to meet again the same time next year, which was February 1991 and each would put $100 into a club, called the Ignoramus Club.
This year only half the amount of teachers showed up, about 30 because this time they had to pay their own way, whereas last year Sandy Pukel paid their transportation. At the first session this time, the discussion, after the introductions, began with asking whether everybody present had paid their $100 and if they hadn't, should they participate in the meeting. Now a list had been circulated already and it showed who had paid and who hadn't and Bill Tara immediately took that discussion and basically lied to the meeting by explaining to everyone present that he had made a special arrangementwith Sandy Pukel that he didn't have to pay the fee. AT the time Sandy didn't happen to be in the room so there was no way of verifying Bill Tara's assertion. Carl Ferre then said let's get on with meeting and quit worrying about who has paid and who hasn't. It turned out later that when Sandy was asked whether he had made a special arrangement with Bill Tara he said that that wasn't the case. So what was interesting was that none of the Nova people had paid their $100 and yet they lead the people in the meeting to believe that they had special dispensation to not pay their $100. The meeting for the next three sessions, except for one where Bill Tara was absent, went nowhere, just getting stuck. The dynamic of those lost sessions was that anyone would put a topic or subject up for discussion and Bill Tara would say, "Oh, that's already been discussed before.".
After four meetings, when they met again, Donna Wilson said to Bill Tara, "Bill, I cannot find anything to connect with you in the future that we could have some interest in wanting to do together. Where can we connect as teachers?". At that point Bill Tara said, "Oh, did I upset you Donna, did I hurt your feelings?". This was a levelling mode that Bill Tara adopted but it was phony and at that point Joel challenged him, and said "Quit doing that, quit putting people down.".
Then it was like a bolt of lightning went across the room and they got into it. Donna said that the point is that there was no way to get through to the power plays that Bill Tara was using to control that meeting because no one could say anything without him replying that it had already been done or that it wasn't interesting. Joel was the only one who was able to make that visible for everybody and then Bill said let's go out of the meeting and we'll sort it out there and Joel said, no, this does belong in this meeting and in this room because this is what this meeting is about.
Donna said that perhaps we do have a thousand years to learn how to effectively communicate but that the impression she got was that we know how to conduct meetings that are open and allow for differences of opinion whereas on the East Coast they are still stuck in the antiquated mode of power, hierarchy, certification and tenure.
So it was asked whether any headway was made into the ostensible reason for the meeting which was what is the direction of macrobiotics in the 21st Century, and the reply was that nothing happened. Then Richard Janopaul said that a great deal happened which was that the old order is not going to readily relinquish what it perceives to be its control and authority in the macrobiotic scheme of things. Richard said that his impression of what had been presented by Donna and Joel was that Bill Tara did not merely want to appoint himself, he wanted to anoint himself as the next leader after George Ohsawa, Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara. And anyone who anoints him or herself as the next leader does not pay dues, with Nova being the new center of the macrobiotic universe. And for that public declaration to made by him, and for us to see it means he is not about to allow the meetings in which he is involved to be turned over to a PMC type of meeting. So perhaps it will be necessary to go back every year for the next eight years and wrestle with Goliath, self-anointed, who is really like the Wizard of Oz, playing with the levers to create this appearance. But until somebody gets behind the curtains and opens them up and stays there awhile he is going to have everyone think that he is the Wizard of Oz.
Joya Sexton said that it is important to realise that all that is being said here are people's opinions and it is incumbent upon everyone of us not to take anyone's opinion at face value and leave it at that; in the final analysis living macrobiotically means that we take personal responsibility for making our own judgments and evaluations about any topic, issue or person. Herb Sandel said that it is his impression that there was a clearly discernible element of "personal stuff" in the remarks being made that we need to be aware of.
Macrobiotic Association of San Diego.
David Jackson began by saying that since he had left San Diego and moved to Arizona there had been an initiative to pull together the people who were still in San Diego to continue offering macrobiotic education since the center which David had run for eight years was no longer in operation as it had been.
Meetings had been going on for some time and out of those meetings had developed the Macrobiotic Association of San Diego and this has been evolving and already they had put out their first brochure which lists all the people involved in networking together. They also have their own telephone no. with a message telling people about the macrobiotic services available and the people involved.
Then David asked the people who are involved who were present at the meeting to speak and Shelly Werner said she got involved because she does cooking and shiatsu and she thought it was a good idea in that everyone could pool their services and let people know that people were available to help them. They also sponsor different people to come in and they just had Michel Abehsera give a lecture which went well. Also the Aihara's had recently visited.
Nancy Kelly is also involved and said that she hoped that more people in San Diego who were involved in doing macrobiotic services of one kind or another would also get hooked in when they heard about the existence of the association. They are in the process of compiling a mailing list of people who are interested in knowing about upcoming events and programs so that they can be contacted ahead of time. The recorded message on the telephone will also have information about what is currently going on and upcoming events. The telephone no. is 619/239-5040.
Teresa Piccirillo said that Nancy Kelly was the pioneer of this and it came out of the Southern California Teachers Meeting on which Larry Cooper will give a report tomorrow. Other members of the association who couldn't make it include Z'ev Rosenberg, Chuck and Sylvia Lowry of Pacific Bakery and Macrobiotic Center, Carlos and Jean Richardson of Goldmine Natural Foods, Klarita Merman.
A discussion followed brought up by Richard Janopaul about where are the people who are going to be the counsellors and educators getting their knowledge and information. The general consensus was that there was no one particular way of getting the information and that generally people go about it by getting stared on the dietary program and then going to study with individual teachers, going to Vega, going to the Kushi Institute, participating at Summer Camps, having study groups etc.
Roseann Farhner suggested that there are also different ways of doing counselling as there are of cooking and that she finds herself giving counselling in her home to people who want to know how to make the transition, how to cook for children and how to make a macrobiotic lifestyle practicable for people who do not necessarily have a lot of time.
Lenny Rubin gave a presentation on improving one's eyesight. When Lenny first came to the PMC conferences he was wearing glasses and when he came to this one he was no longer wearing them. He had recently attended a course on vision improvement and he began by leading us through a series of physical exercises and self-massage that were designed to help get the lymphatic fluid flowing because the lymph is instrumental in removing toxins from the body. The exercises were basically Do-in exercises.
It was also discussed that in order to help the eye muscles relax it is better to scan the area one is looking at rather than to stare in a fixed position. Macrobiotically speaking, the reason for the deterioration of vision is the organs relating to th eye(Liver and Kidneys) become either too yin or too yang so that the eyeball becomes swollen or contracted and thus changes the focal point of the lens and then the eye muscles adjust accordingly. When we begin eating macrobiotically, as the organ condition improves the eyeball readjusts itself. However, the eye muscles tend to remain fixed and so if exercises are not done to relax the muscles and allow them to recover their elasticity and tension then the eyeball tends to remain fixed by the muscles and vision does not improve.
Other Modalities including Macrobiotics.
Muriel Jencks suggested this topic which has to do with what people have done in addition to macrobiotics to help them heal or improve their condition. Muriel said that she began eating macrobiotically seven years ago and although many aspects of her physical condition improved she continued to get from time to time migraine headaches. She did over the course of the years consult with several macrobiotic counsellors including Michio Kushi, Shizuko Yamamoto, David Jackson, and Seymour Kolbin.
However, after five and half or six years she was still getting these terrible headaches from time to time which were so severe that she would be laid up for a day or two. She mentioned this to Kaare Bursell and he suggested that maybe she should try homeopathic medicine. She began to try that and the homeopathic care has evolved into a addressing candidiasis, and she is controlling a thyroid problem homeopathically in order to stop using the regular medication she had been using; she is also getting some chiropractic assistance as well as some acupuncture and Reiki work - out of being introduced to the latter she is now a Reiki practitioner.
So, now, although the headaches have not stopped, they are less severe and are occurring less frequently. Muriel said that after all the years of commitment to macrobiotics, which hasn't altered, she has a sense of relief that she is availing herself of these other modalities as adjuncts to macrobiotics. Her interest in bringing this subject up was to find out from the group what they had been doing, if anything, in addition to their macrobiotic practice to help improve our conditions.
Donna Wilson made the comment that everything she was doing seemed to her to be macrobiotic practice rather than suggesting that just because Muriel was not doing only the diet it meant she was somehow lessening her commitment to a macrobiotic lifestyle. And Muriel agreed that macrobiotics is a larger view than just diet and can include a whole range of different, natural, non-invasive techniques.
Clinton Jencks, Muriel's husband interjected that when she went to see Michio that he was rather blasé about the whole thing, made a few suggestions and said that if she merely did the diet that her migraines would be gone in a few months.
Herb Sandel said that he went to see a homeopathist over a year ago for a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis and after going on the program suggested by the homeopathist for six months he was completely free of the arthritis. He then went for his annual physical in September and they discovered intermediate lymphoma; he told his homeopathist about it and asked him if homeopathy could take care of the lymphoma as well.
The homeopathic physician said, "Yes, as a matter of fact I had the condition myself a few years ago" and had taken care of it with homeopathy and has helped other people do so also. Herb said that knowing this gave him confidence in moving away from the medical orientation because the internist who had discoverd the lymphoma sent him to an oncologist and he wanted to begin treatment right away, and said if you don't, in two months it will be irreversible etc., etc.
This all happened in September 1990 and in December he began doing a macrobiotic approach with the help of Cecile Levine. Herb's rection to what he has experienced is that macrobiotics has afforded him a broader view and changed his attitude in regard of his condition so that he became more confident. If he was asked what he thought was responsible for making him feel better now than he has done in years, Herb's reply is that it doesn't matter to him, but that is the journey he has travelled, going from homeopathy to a macrobiotic practice.
Joya Sexton that she had recently incorporated Feldenkrais as an additional modality, which has to do with how you move and hold your body. She also mentioned exercise as being important as well as a spiritual practice, and Ji-Gong.
Richard Janopaul said that about a year ago he developed a severe case of bronchitis and went to see an acupuncturist. It was very gratifying to see her because when she did her pulse diagnosis she said that Richard was healthy and after a couple of treatments she told him that he could come back for another one but she felt that he would be alright without it as the bronchitis had basically cleared up. He also has chiropractic treatments from time to time.
After going around through the room it was evident that people use many different approaches in addition to macrobiotics including, in addition to those already mentioned, yoga, different types of meditative practices, chanting, Bach Flower remedies, and medical surgery in the case of Bill Dalton who had a case of haemorrhoids that proved intractable to just a strict macrobiotic diet and after the surgery his whole condition improved such that he felt like he had been given a new lease on life!
Muriel Jencks suggested this topic and lead it off by saying that she had been spending some time over the past two years in order to see if her geneology might offer some clues into who she is and why she may have developed some of the problems she has been experiencing. She then gave us her recent family history, etc and several people in the conference gave their family history. I don't think it would be appropriate to give a detailed geneology of everyone but rather to give some general observation from what people felt they had learnt about themselves and their families.
Among these observations was older people, born at or around the depression, whose families had emigrated from Europe, felt that their European heritage included not regarding children with respect, as essentially to cope for themselves; in older European culture the child was often left on somebody's doorstep, or on the roadside or by the river to either die or be taken care of by strangers. Muriel said that European culture had learnt how to make family was African tribal culture and there was in Europe a reverence for the Black Goddess, being displayed in churches but over the years she has been hidden away and it is now known that all over Europe there are icons of the Black Goddess literally under lock and key.
Muriel said that most of us in North America come from a European heritage and this heritage does not include a sense that children really matterd a great deal. She feels this may be one reason why there is such rampant child abuse in this society today.
This type of discussion really shows how individual and unique each person's life is and has been and as I listen to the tape it appears to me that there are very few general observations that can be made because each person's gestalt is so contextual with their own experience. In so far as this was a very interesting discussion and very enriching you really had to be there in order to appreciate what was said.
The only other general observation is that people obviously realised that their childhood and their relationships to their parents were very important in forming their character and disposition, but the counter observation was made that we do not have to be victims of our parents or our childhood, or even our ancestry.
Donna Wilson suggested this topic because she was at the Organic Farming Conference at Asylomar in January. She was impressed by the quality of the program, the speakers and the people attending the conference. What going to the conference did for Donna was to open her eyes to the struggle that organic farming has had over the years. However a major breakthrough occurred in the Fall of 1990 when the Department of Agriculture accepted a category for organically grown food, which hadn't been the case before.
About 800 people were at the conference, with about a third being farmers, another third retailers and distributors with the remainder being political activists. She said that she came away from the conference with the sense that there are a lot of people working on this effort to improve the quality of food but that those of us who have this concern are probably one percent of the population. She felt that we ought to know about the efforts being made and that we should perhaps extend ourselves a bit and get connected as macrobiotic activists with them.
Another observation is she asked people at the conference what they knew about macrobiotics and it was extraordinary how misunderstood they were in their notions of what it means.
Middle East Crisis.
David Jackson opened the discussion which we had discussed at the last meeting and now we find the conference occurring after the war of the United States against Iran has already occurred. David said that whatever his feeling and thinking had been during the build up to the war had been, when the first bomb was dropped he began to cry. He said although the war was ostensibly over it still had a lot of ramifications and he wanted to know what we felt both as macrobiotic practitioners and as individuals living in the United States.
Herb Sandel he thought of it not as a Middle East Crisis but as an American Crisis which is the result of the military or war mentality that is found to be acceptable by people who occupy the offices of government. He saw the widespread support for it in the people. His repugnance toward the whole affair meant to him that he could only deal with it by disassociating himself emotionally from it to the extent it was possible. Another aspect is that he is a member, as we all are, of a country that went to war and killed untold numbers of people, and when the country finds out the extent of the human damage, perhaps 10 years from now, Herb felt it would initiate another Vietnam syndrome.
Joel Huckins said that last year one of the world powers disintegrated as the whole Eastern European and Russian area began to open up to the west and the power brokers instrumental in devising the cold war policies became uneasy. The people not in power, on the other hand, were excited at the possibilities for positive change that could now be contemplated as these events unfolded in Russia. Joel thought that the Middle East Crisis came at just the right time for the military establishment because they could justify asking for more money for the Pentagon, and the manufacturers of weapons, bombs and military vehicles etc., were very relieved because they would be getting more military contracts.
There were some comments made that during the course of the actual war people had had had many lengthy discussions with friends and colleagues and what came out of these was that for every argument either for or against the war and what lead up to it, there were counter- arguments that were just as valid.
Richard Janopaul then said he had for the first time looked at this war as the stark reality of people slaughtering each other which had come to him whilst watching the PBS presentation of the series of documentaries on the Civil War. So what makes people, individuals, give up their lives, and kill other people for something that they consider to be a noble cause, which they accept without question. And if we study history, this is obviously not a modern phenomenon, it goes way back. He thought that this is a phenomenon of civilisation where large masses of people give themselves up to war and killing in order to gain something. It's almost as if we are stuck with it, that we have done it for so long that people think of it as an acceptable mode of behaviour.
Another observation by Bob Baker was we in the room, born after World War II, had heard over the years from many sources about the Holocaust and the question was asked why did the rest of the world stand by and allow that to happen? But then when the Cambodian events occurred, in which the exact same thing happened as in Germany, where millions of people were slaughtered, and the world stood by again.
In Kuwait we had the same thing happen where Iraq invaded it and the people of Kuwait were being repeatedly raped, brutalised, tortured and killed. And President Bush was told about this by independent sources other than his intelligence sources, like Amnesty International. Thus, the interpretation given here is that after trying various non-military means to persuade Hussein to withdraw, which had proven non-effective (leaving aside the argument about the time given for them to work was not long enough), Bush had only the recourse of Operation Desert Storm left to him.
Then the observation was made that Kuwait had hundreds of billions of dollars deposited in New York banks and that if Kuwait was allowed to fall to Irag, which owed Kuwait billions of dollars borrowed to finance the war with Iran, then that would have serious consequences for the US banking system, which is already on shaky ground.
Kaare Bursell said that for him this issue was not about deciding who was right or wrong but that it is a symptom of the way people all over the world live and think and feel. The fact that people generally accept this type of behaviour means that we accept it in our own lives, and that since we cannot as individuals solve the problem from a political, social or other flat-earth standpoint, the only way to look at it is how do we, as individuals refute it in our inner being. In the same way that we take in food grown out of the soil where we live, and drink water out of the streams and rivers where we live, and we breathe the air where we live, we also take in nourishment of a spiritual nature. There are many of these but the one that is pertinent to this discussion is that we live in the "thought-field" and "emotion-field" of the people who live where we live, and this we take in unconsciously.
As has been suggested, the violent, assertive, aggressive behavioural patterns that are so prevalent and deemed acceptable are not only an aspect of the human psyche that has been there for thousands of years, we are daily bombarded with such images and all the most popular movies, books, videos, television programs etc. are those which show or describe people manipulating one another, deceiving one another, killing one another and have a large quota of violence and shock.
So, his suggestion was that we consciously work on our inner selves so that we clear our thoughts and feelings of those kinds of assertive, aggressive "Let's kill the bastards, they've got our oil", (we're addicted to oil, and even being addicted to oil is another symptom), so that we are not individually war like, we are not aggressive, we are trying to be more communicative, relational, discussing in that we understand that we are all responsible for the war and that we seek to understand each other and the problem of which it is a symptom.
Bob then asked what would we do when confronted with the kind of mass brutality done by the Iraqi soldiers to the Kuwaiti people. Or what we might do if someone came into your living room and started attacking your spouse and children. Donna answered that in the latter case none of us knows what we do if we were ever confronted with that situation but that in dealing with the problem of brutality, Ghandi had spent many years wrestling with it, and the conclusion is that it cannot be solved by the use of power.
Donna was most astounded by the way the population was manipulated by the TV coverage leading up to the war, and during it, how everything presented to the American public on TV was skilfully stage managed and that we never really got any real information about what really happened, and probably never will. She said that the LA Times had been receiving letters about the war since it began and it kept a tally of the number of letters for the war compared with the number against it and the tally on the day before the cease-fire began was 2-1 against the war.
Richard then said it is hardly surprising that the United States behaves the way it does because the leaders of this country consider it to be a great nation and great nations do whatever they please, with Bush saying in his State of The Union address that we are the mightiest military power in the world, this is the United States contribution to the United Nations and the vision for the future. Bush doesn't say we are a just nation, rather he redefines justice as that which we do with our military might.
Richard went on to say that the United States will stand on the sidelines for 199 out of 200 pillages, eg., when China went into Tibet and purged the country, raping, killing, torturing and burning the temples, that we could easily turn our blind side to,(it being one of countless similar incidents such as Idi Amin in Uganda, Nicaragua etc., etc.) but what underlies all this is Vietnam which showed that the United States is weak and was the loser of that war. So, what this war in the Gulf is about is an attempt at the reassertion of American Military might.
Muriel said she had been listening to Pacifica Foundation radio during the time leading up to the war and during it and what she had been able to glean from this was that the United States leadership was afraid of losing its hegemony in the world. With the emergence of Japan as the economic power in the world, and with Germany beginning to also become economically strong, and with the United States becoming more and more weak economically, the only way left for the United States to assert its position was through military means.
Muriel thought all the problems of the United States are showing that it is a dying country and this war is simply a way for it to attempt to look powerful and strong to the rest of the world. And the war was a hoax perpetrated on the American people.
Pat Murray told us she had been reading a book called "The Chalice and The Blade" by Riane Eisler which is relevant here. This book is essentially an account of human history based on interpretation of archeological digs of sites in Middle Europe dating back as far as 7000 BC., which have mainly come out of women interpreting the same data that has previously been interpreted differently by men. In the book she presents history as the riddle of humanity operating from two poles; one of these poles is what is called 'male' where the impulses are those which we have been discussing, essentially summed up as the need to go to war and that the peoples that operated out of this mode were mainly nomadic and mainly meat eaters. The other pole is the 'female' and this operates out of the impulses which are those to do with nurturing and also promoting what we would call human potential. These peoples were mainly pastoral, farming communities and they mainly ate vegetables and grains.
She went on to say that we are a masculine society which throughout history has deemed its rightful business to acquire its material comforts and acquisitions and then do whatever it takes to maintain its position of power. So what are we as macrobiotic people?
She said she prayed a lot before the gulf conflict in the hopes that in some way it would help to avert it. What she thinks all this means for human consciousness on the earth is very slowly and gradually that we are each being required to take a personal spiritual stand which puts us in a direct personal relationship with all that is, call it 'God', or the spiritual governance of earthly and human evolution. And war and injustice is or can be a tremendous stimulant giving us a yearning for peace and justice.
She felt we are privileged as people living macrobiotically to be able to think about what the war means, not actually being blown to pieces, is simply a mandate to each person to purify that in us which makes war and injustice still possible in the world, to root out of our lives those parts of us that make it so.
Teacher Training Possibilities.
Carol Winter introduced the discussion by saying that there are currently the Kushi Institute, the Nova Institute and the International Macrobiotic Institute in Switzerland which offer formalised training programs that she knows about and she was interested in knowing if there was any difference among them and if there were other ones available.
David Jackson said that there is a live-in training program based on work exchange at Vega in Oroville which aslo offers courses for people to attend for one or two weeks throughout the year and he had a one at the San Diego center before he moved to Arizona and that was how he started. He worked at Roy Steevensz center in Los Angeles before starting his center in San Diego. He said there isn't any standard among the different programs that are available.
Donna Wilson said it depends on what Carol's vision is of the next 30 to 40 years, since she is already a successful business person she already knows how to learn. Donna said that she should ascertain for herself what she thinks the vision of the future that each of the different schools has.
Richard Janopaul suggested that we could have someone at the conference could get into the Kushi Institute experience and become the Kushi Institute (and the others) in an open and level way, as best they can, and say:
"I am from the Kushi Institute, these are our roots, this is the way we are today, and this is where I think we are going to be 10 years, 20 years from today", to characterise it with authenticity and integrity without the put downs. And to do the same for Nova, which is really a prediction at this point because it is only just getting off the ground. And for someone who has been to Switzerland to do the same. This would be helpful not only for us but for the whole community because it is part of our history and our future. Because the Kushi Institute is not going to disappear, nor is IMI although we don't know about Nova as yet.
John Fahner was at the Kushi Institute in the early 80's in Brookline, Massachusetts, and they offered a straightforward program with shiatsu classes, diagnosis and cooking classes as well as studies of Yin and Yang and the Unifying Principle and he felt the program was a good foundation. It didn't have a very broad vision at the time and it was mainly geared toward training teachers. The institute has sinced moved to Beckett in western Massachusetts and although John does not know what they offer now, he thinks that still the basics are taught in the program. Lenore Yalisove-Baum was there in 1987 and she said that it was a mainly technical approach with theory and a lot of information but she had to intern with a counsellor, in her case Marcia Halpern, in order to learn something about counselling and teaching. The quality of the program really depends upon the quality of the teachers and not all of them were up to teaching.
Lenore also went to Vega and had a very different - she felt more welcome, the atmosphere was more relaxed and there was a deeper, more philosophical approach. Lenore was at Beckett, doing work/study there and she had problems with the way the program was administered in that there were a lot of logistical problems that she felt should not have occurred considering people were paying 1500 dollars for tuition and another 1500 dollars for room and board for a six-week program.
Pat Murray said that almost everyone she talked to or had received letters from said that the Kushi Institute was too formal, rigid, aloof with the teachers being very much on a pedestal without much chance of interaction and participatory learning but that almost everyone said they were glad they had gone!
Pat said that the impulse behind founding the Nova Institute in Colorado was to bring macrobiotic ideas to mainstream America in vocabulary and language in common usage. Carol Winter asked if this was to make macrobiotics easier to relate to and have less of the Japanese/Oriental slant to it which a lot of people are turned off to. Pat affirmed that was the idea.
Joel said that David McCord and his wife Audrey had been to the International Macrobiotic Institute in Switzerland and had come back with glowing reports of what they had experienced and learnt there. They have a more eclectic approach and bring in a lot of teachers from different countries.
Joel went on to say as far as he was concerned doing a work study/internship/ personal study with individual teachers or centers was just as valid and worthy as going to any of the more formal programs. But that a lot of people feel they need the classroom mode in order to learn and feel they were getting a 'proper education'. Joel felt that if you have the money and time go to Switzerland simply for the experience and to make contact with the people over there. As far as he was concerned the Kushi program is dead, dying, buried and over with, and if you don't have money then study with a local teacher and on your own.
There is no question that Kushi 'signature' carries a lot of weight and if you go to IMI or Nova, or Vega it doesn't carry the same weight with people. Kaare Bursell said that if people were enquiring as to his background and he told them that he had studied at the Kushi Institute, then all questioning ceased. Kaare went on to say that to understand Kushi's personality a useful metaphor is that he considers himself to be the "lawgiver" and he is territorially minded, a power monger and these others are just upstarts and although he goes to IMI to give seminars, the place doesn't have the Kushi 'imprimatur'.
Joel said Kushi had stopped going last year, had stopped his spiritual training seminars, with great wrenching, sobs and tears and negative comments from Boston. Originally the IMI was the Kushi Institute of Switzerland but they disassociated themselves from Kushi a year or so ago.
Roseann Fahner was at the KI in 1979 and she said that there were a lot of Europeans in her class and although the classes were the focus a lot of learning went on outside them because they all socialised together, had dinners etc. She thought it was a valuable experience even though they didn't find the administration very respnsive with regard to wanting input from the students as to how they might improve the program.
Kaare was at the KI around the same time, '79-'80, and for him the most valuable aspect of being at the KI when it was located in Brookline VIllage was the macrobiotic community because that meant you could sit down and discuss with people who were living in the community but who had not necessarily gone to the KI what had been taught at the classes and integrate and digest the information. Whereas now, at Beckett, which is out in the country on this 600 acre property there is no immediate or large community, its very isolated. To Kaare it was a disastrous decision to move the KI to Beckett, because of the lack of a supporting infrastructure which was available in Boston.
Joel said that now we have two major teachers in America, Herman Aihara and Michio Kushi, who are both getting on in years and there is no clear line of succession. Kaare interjected "Thank God for that".
Joya Sexton went to the KI in 1988 and her experience was that she felt the whole place had deteriorated with regard to the quality of the teaching. She had gone for the experience and to meet all these people who she knew by name from articles etc and she came home from it totally discouraged. She dropped out of macrobiotics, didn't talk to anyone because it had been a difficult experience - the summer was very hot, the study house where she stayed was a disastrous living situation- but she got over it. She has also been to Vega and she feels that although it is not structured you do get a good training in the residential training program. She also said that the KI is considering an outreach program and will be coming to Los Angeles, New York and several other cities.
Vega is going through a change now because David Briscoe and his wife Cindy have come to Vega to direct the programs there and they will bring new ideas and fresh energy. They have already begun with offering a counsellor training program, which is the first of its kind in macrobiotics, and David has said that they will be emphasising more feminine aspects in future programs. Also they will be having more teachers come in to do various seminars and programs.
Then Joel brought up the subject of certification which he views as a controlling move from a central location, in this case the Kushi Institute, a seal of approval from Kushi. The community solved the problem by essentially doing what they wanted-if you wanted it, fine; if you didn't, fine. But it brings up this whole struggle that everybody has which is are you a better counsellor for going to a particular school than someone who didn't go to school and studied with different people.
The world solves the problem by having universities which get bigger and bigger and hand out more and more degrees (and there is less and less wisdom). And then you join an association which essentially amounts to joining a club which endeavours to control the rules of the game to its own petty advantage. And then awards are given out for the best doctor, Nobel prizes etc., and none of it has anything to do with the real work that needs to be done as is evidenced by the reality that the problems of the world continue to grow and proliferate at an accelerating pace.
Muriel said that it really boils down to the individual deciding who they want to study with but it is essentially an individual endeavour with the quality of the student coming out through the personal effort and commitment to the work itself.
Terese Piccarillo said that the had been to Vega, and the Kushi Institute and had worked with David at the East West Center in San Diego. She said her experience is that you learn from any and every situation that you find yourself in no matter what the deficiencies and shortcomings that may be apparent. Her advice was to study with anyone you can find to work with and glean what you can from them.
Then we talked about all the opportunities for study around the world that may be available, like the centers in London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris and in Sweden, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Brazil etc., etc. The best way to connect with these palces and people is to get a copy of the International Macrobiotic Directory put out by Bob Mattson and available by calling him at 510/653-6510.
Then was asked the question of where do we think macrobiotics will be in 10 years? Herb Sandel's response as someone who is new to macrobiotics is that the growth area in macrobiotics is in the mode of it getting away from the structured, formal, institutionalised formats where more harm than good results. He saw it in the business world with the MBA fad which wreaked havoc there, and in the medical world which simply does not have any answers to the increasing numbers of degenerative illnesses occurring in the people. He said that people are anxious to learn how to take care of themselves and to learn about themselves and the educational institutions don't feed that desire to learn.
John Fahner said that this is what the PMC is about - addressing this idea of institution; just the process of any movement becoming institionalised is that it begins to break down in its ability to serve the idea and practice for which it was instituted and becomes ossified.
The question of where macrobiotics will be in ten years is an open question because no-one can predict what the world will be like ten years from now. Donna said that when they were in Miami they found out that all the major centers back east had gone under and that Beckett and Nova were facing huge mortgage liabilities. She said that the economic situation is such that she doesn't see anybody tied to large pieces of property and the financial burden it entails surviving. Her prediction is that the people who will be active in macrobiotics, or any endeavour that is looking to the future, ten years from now, are those who have divested themselves of property and its obligations and will be travelling and living lightly, teaching wherever there are people who want to learn.
Also the people who have an entrepeneurial spirit and have a viable store, restaurant or business and offer the education as part of the business activities will survive.
Herb Sandel introduced this topic by saying his interest is because he has been involved in this prior to getting involved with macrobiotics but more urgently since he did and found he needed help with his practice and found that he was amazed at the amount of literature available. He wanted to know what each area had in the way of support for people who were making the transition and also for people who wanted to make this their path of life and to address the enormous drop-out rate.
David Jackson said that the most appropriate way to help build a community in your area is to have some kind of retail space that is geared toward macrobiotics which can support itself financially, like a store, which can also be the gathering place for people who are interested where classes, lectures, potlucks etc. can go on.
The main thrust of the discussion that ensued was that the old model of the East West Center is defunct and what we need is new ideas and concepts and endeavours that have to do with building community. John Fahner said that the model of Joel Huckins in Oakland where the central activity is a restaurant and a store where people come everyday, every week to eat and shop for their supplies is a viable beginning.
Herb said that he wasn't so much interested in talking about a center as much as starting a newsletter in his case, the Los Angeles area, which would be able to identify and discuss what are the needs of the community and then go the wider community, the local health food stores and reataurants and tell them that there are 1500 people, for example, who subscribe to this newsletter and they want you to carry this product, of have macrobiotic items on your menu etc., etc.
So various models or steps toward building community were enumerated including a newsletter, a store, a restaurant, a cooking network where people hooked up to cook for each other on an ongoing basis, potlucks etc. However, Donna said that many of us had already done many of those and the key question for her was what has happened to all those people that availed themselves of those various facilities to help them get started with macrobiotics and were no longer around. In other words, the first level, introducing people to macrobiotics, is relatively easy but how to get people to the second level, where they get committed and start doing the work, is very difficult because the great majority of people don't stay.
Herb said that she sounded like the deliverer of the goods blaming the recipient from getting the goods, and he said that we needed to identify what was missing.
Then a bone of contention came up which had to do with David Jackson deciding to leave San Diego and selling his store and center and moving to San Diego. Then Donna said that her perception of David Jackson leaving San Diego she was having difficulty with because as she put "is the record of macrobiotics going to be that someone comes into a place and saturates it with what you can, leave in bankruptcy, and go to the next phase"? Then Richard said that saying it was bankruptcy was a perjorative statement. David said that he was returning the building to the original owner because he didn't want it any more, there was no bankruptcy involved. What happened was that David decided to leave and in his wake a San Diego Macrobiotic Association had arisen and macrobiotic education would continue in a different form.
Pat Murray said she wasn't comfortable with the way the discussion was going and wanted to get away from this aggressive, male dominated discussion. She was really disturbed on to say that there were many ways of doing this as people doing them and it grows through personal contact. Muriel said that after David San Diego will continue to have a macrobiotic community and it will involve different people doing different actrivities and some of it will be focused on the building that had the center because it has a lot of goodwill because of what David had started and built there over 8 years.
Muriel also wanted to talk more about what John had raised earlier about a community living and working together which has been discussed before at the PMC. She said that there are a group of people who have a vision of what that entails and she would like to focus more on that rather than on the commercial end of the discussion.
Richard said that he wanted to respond to what Pat had said. When it comes to this community we are committed as part of community, in his opinion, to deal with sore points; we had a real heavy one last year, and Pat was right in the middle of it, about Nova. As long as Donna and David are at odds on this issue of whether David took his winnings and bankrupted this community and abandoned it or the other perspective is that he left an abundance here and this community is thriving and growing. Now, if there are any differences here this community needs to be big enough to resolve it. If any one feels the hurt by this difference of perspective and we don't have a resolution to it then it will fester and it will hurt the whole community.
John said that we needed to be big enough to have these kinds of issues come out, so that even though we may not be able to resolve it, ever, at least we have given it the time and energy to air it out.
Donna said that she was addressing the problem as follows, that she is bothered by the problem in macrobiotic history which is that the path is strewn with bankruptcies, Erewhon being one, and the financial failure of many macrobiotic centers, and even today we still have the problem of Gary Smith promising to do seminars, taking the money and not showing up; we have this type of history in macrobiotics.
It was pointed out that this kind of activity goes on in every endeavour, that it is a problem of human beings generally, in every field of human activity.
What Donna is trying to understand is what is wrong with the model that has obviously had a history of failure and that if we understand what is erroneous about it, the whole center idea, we can perhaps learn from that and try new concepts about how to distribute macrobiotic education. And on that note we closed the discussion.
Raising children macrobiotically.
Bill Dalton introduced the topic because he has two children in a family situation where he and his wife are divorced and they split the duties of parenting where Bill has his children for some period of days or weeks and then their mother has them. His problem, as he sees it, is that he is totally committed to macrobiotics and wants to bring up his children macrobiotically, whereas his ex-wife is not interested in macrobiotics and feeds the children any kind of food, usually the normal foods that everybody eats.
After he had given his description, and it was plain that Bill was intensely concerned with this problem, we were asked what we thought and if we had any comments and words of wisdom. Essentially we suggested that he let go of his almost obsessive concern to make his wife conform to feeding the children what he wanted them to be fed. Also never to be judgmental about the food of their mother to the children. Simply use the opportunity to educate them about the importance of food.
It was also pointed out that we cannot have any vested interest in our children. When children come into the world they are not this empty tablet on which we write as parents to make them who they are going to be. They come into the world with their own personal stuff, which we call Karma, and as a parent, our responsibilities is to give them a sound foundation from which they can work out their karma and find their destiny. The foundation is not only teaching them how to eat so they can take care of their own health, but also to be authentic and real as a person yourself to them. After that, when they have left the nest, they are on own and we cannot be attached to that - if they choose not to do macrobiotics get cancer and and die then that's what they need to do.
Bill was also gently told not to be so down on himself because what he was doing was authentic in regard of his own feelings, and his concern and commitment to his children was in itself a great gift to them. However he must realise that as they approach their teens that they are going to defy him and he must allow them to do so because they need to make their own mistakes in order to find out who they are and what they know and don't know. And when they come to him with questions they will find him a source of good information.
There followed a series of anecdotal stories about experiences with children around food and school etc., accompanied by much laughter. And we finished up with talking about how we as parents handle taking care of the food and the essential point was that as long as we give them a solid foundation at home then they can have greater flexibility away from home. Also that we need to be more open and honest with each other if we see that someone else's child is having growth development problems we should say something about it to the child's parents. Often parents cannot see their own children so clearly and in the case of children that have developed ricketts, B12 deficiency or cerebral meningitis, which has happened and continues to happen, it almost always is the result of parents being too rigid with their children's diets.
Richard Janopaul started off this topic by taking us to the times before time when the people of the world were living a life closely attuned to the seasonal rhythms of the sun and moon, where the life was bound up with the planting, growing and harvesting of food and the gods and goddesses were acknowledged and known by the people, were revered and for whom the people were grateful, for the gifts and the knowledge they brought to humanity.
And in those regions of the Middle East stories were told about these gods and goddesses that were handed down from generation to generation. But, coming into more modern times,when the Bible was written those stories that told of the people's relationship to the goddesses were left out. And the stories told in the Bible are mostly about men and their victories and defeats in battles and then civilization as we know it came about and god was defined in three aspects - father, son and holy spirit.
This has been the development of western civilization, the development of the intellect, the organisation of power, and many of us feel that we live in a time when this is at an end or at least has outlived its usefulness. And we may be living in a time of the death throes of the one-sided masculinity which has dominated life on earth for at least 5000 years, and also witnessing, participating in the birth pangs of a new age which will be more balanced and oriented toward taking account of the health of the earth and her environment, the quality of crops grown and eaten, of the importance and significance of living with the seasonal round of the sun and the waxing and waning of the moon.
What Richard thinks of as being Patriarchy is what has developed over the years out of kingdoms, organisations, warfare, and domination of the world through the use of power. We are all caught up in this and many of us don't like it. And all this may get worse and probably will because all the leaders and the men and women who think like that (it is significant to realise that power-plays of any kind as a means to an end is not something that is gender-exclusive to men only) are not ever going to give it up willingly. On the contrary, it is likely that they will exert an even tighter hold over the reins of power and become even more irrational and so to him a cataclysm has to follow. Maybe we are already in it, with all the wars, earthquakes, death and destruction now going on all over the globe. And with the domination of the world through science and technology.
And what gets left out is the spirit and the heart and the earth, nature, seasons and the cycles, things which we honour in this community. And in this community we have been struggling with this since the beginning with the men doing all the counselling and the women being confined to the kitchen, and in the struggle that has occurred over the years in the way we conduct the PMC itself.
We all have both the strength of the masculine and the strength of the feminine in us and we know in macrobiotics is balance so that neither one is dominating. So that we are in touch with both the feminine and the masculine in each of us. And we need to do that not only individually and personally but also in our relationships and in our community.
Richard then opened the floor for discussion and of course the whole question of what constitutes a matriarchy, as opposed to patriarchy and how to find an egalitarian model came up. Instructive in this is the book "The Chalice and The Blade" by Riane Eisler where the description of the egalitarian cultures living in 7000 BC in middle Europe where both the masculine and the femine were given their due and where both men and women occupied positions of authority in the community. The communities had the following features - they grew grains and vegetables and raised livestock except for horses, their art work and their religious icons did not have anywhere a depiction or a reference to any weaponry, their communities were constructed in the middle of valleys where they were most open and vulnerable to attack and they had no fortifications.
Whereas the nomadic tribes that swept in from the north and literally destroyed these cultures ate meat (in fact, the Mongol hordes on the rampage sustained themselves through each soldier having 12 horses from which they drew one pint of blood from one horse each day and ate it raw), and their icons and religious artifacts literally depict a culture that worshipped, not gods or goddesses, but weapons. So these nomadic tribes were essentially male dominated cultures and are the primary impulse of Western Culture ever since because they destroyed the earlier more feminine or even egalitarian cultures.
The question for us today, given that we think that the future decades will bring more and more of the kind of horrific destruction we saw in the Persian Gulf,(the escalation will occur because the current male, technology driven culture which is utterly materialistic in its outlook will continue to strengthen its hold on the society as a whole, not willing to look at other ways of operating politically, economically and in business), is how do we prepare ourselves to face this future? The essential response is that we each of us learn to balance and integrate the feminine and masculine in us so that as a result imaginative ideas and concepts will develop that can help us guide ourselves through the coming cataclysmic times.
In the past any threat to patriarchal cultures have always been met with put downs, retributions, an attempt to wipe out what is new and demanding the need for change. Whereas now the need for change is not a mere matter of the existence of dominating patriarchal culture being threatened, but the existence of the earth herself and the humanity existing on her.
Again the call was made that we can help each other in this community, which is a relatively safe place, to point out to each other that we are behaving in ways that are negative with respect to both our feminine and our masculine aspects when we are doing so. Because we all have the work to do of strengthening the positive male and female aspects of ourselves and of keeping in check the negative.
Another question which was addressed is that the nuclear family itself is an articial creation of the industrial revolution where people were moved off the land and into the cities to provide the work force for the new industries. And thus were created the little spaces in which all kind of tyrranies were set up that were screened off from the community, so no correction could occur, leading to the development of dysfunctional families. Thus the nuclear family has to a large degree proven to be unworkable in the context of developing healthy, psychologically and physically, human beings. And so, to a large degree, the nuclear family is a failure and is fading into oblivion. What is uncertain is what is going to develop out of its disintegration.
The discussion concluded on that note.
We continued with our earlier discussion of additional treatments and approaches we used to supplement our macrobiotic practice and these included bio-feedback. We need to realise that macrobiotics as an approach is not limited to the "standard diet" which is an interpretation of one individual and that also not everyone responds to the macrobiotic dietary approach such that they get immediate clarification of their condition.
Kaare Bursell said that in his role as a counselor he did not tell anybody what to do; rather it was "I am here to help you and what can we do do help your condition improve". It was his feeling that very few people he counseled stayed with macrobiotics alone. Most people do something in addition including chemotherapy and radiation, american and chinese herbs, crystal therapy, acupuncture, shiatsu, homeopathy, psychotherapy, 12-step approach, etc., etc. In other words macrobiotics is, in his opinion, properly interpreted, able to encompass any and all modalities. Furthermore, every human being is unique and it requires the personal responsibility of each individual to find out what will work for them in helping them heal their condition.
The twelve step program was soundly confirmed as being a very positive and constructive additional modality to macrobiotics especially the one dealing with dysfunctional families. Another important aspect that was mentioned was to find a spiritual path and have a spiritual practice.
Southern California Teachers Meeting.
Larry Cooper told us about the upcoming Herman and Cornellia Aihara lecture tour in Southern California. The Southern California Macrobiotic Association formed about three years ago to meet once a month. They have come up with their purpose of being involved in the promotion of macrobiotic activities in Southern California from San Diego to Santa Barbara and to nurture a community.
They got involved in the Whole Life Expo, and sponsoring the current tour.
Larry and Judy Cooper are going to start a new format for their newsletter and you can get into it by calling them at 213/395-6938, or if you want to subscribe to it.
Palm Springs Conference.
Larry then introduced Sandy Pukel of the Macrobiotic Foundation of Florida. Sandy, Larry and Saul Miller are organising a conference along the lines of the January Florida Conference. It will take place in the Fall and it will be similar in format to the one in Florida. This will be the first of what is hoped will be an annual event. There will be only one program at the Palm Springs event unlike at Florida.
At this stage it is still in the planning stages but there will be a brochure available by the summer. There followed a question and answer period where Sandy was questioned on various aspects of the program. And we finished with a sense that this was an interesting and exciting new development on the West Coast.
Joya Sexton opened this discussion with saying that she has been over the years, like many of us, troubled by the dissension that has arisen within the macrobiotic community across the country and the fact that we are so separated in our own communities and don't know what is happening around the macrobiotic community in North America.
Last January she went to the American Oriental Body Therapy Association Conference in New Orleans which was their first confernce and they brought together under one umbrella all the different approaches to oriental approaches to body work. Historically they have experienced the same type of problems that we do in the macrobiotic community with ego and politics and lack of communication. As a result of the conference allowing people from different schools of thought to share their knowledge and information everyone came away with a good feeling and having a better understanding of other approaches than their own. Furthermore, they also got ideas about how to present their own work and to be able to reach out to the world around them more coherently.
So Joya realised, based on her experiences there, that it would be productive and constructive if an association could be formed for macrobiotic teachers and practitioners from all over the country to get together simply to communicate and get to know each other better. And also a person or persons could be chosen from this association to be representatives who would attend meetings of say the Organic Farmers Association, or the Biodynamic Association, and in fact any group considered to be working toward the same goals, or at least going in a similar direction to macrobiotics.
Joya wanted to know whether this was a good idea that would get the support and energy behind it within the macrobiotic community in North America to make it a viable proposition.
Sandy Pukel then gave us a description of how the Macrobiotic Centers of Florida is organised in order to make the activities in Florida be more cohesive, to share resources, to establish communication between all the parties involved and to promote macrobiotic activities in the different areas of Florida. This framework is the only one of its kind in the country in existence and the major reason for none happening in areas like New York and Massachusetts is that no one talks to anyone else so as a result of this lack of communication various jealousies and territorial animosities arise. Sandy said that it is really absurd that a movement or endeavour that is teaching 'one peaceful world' and harmony with one's neighbours cannot get along themselves.
Also the MCOF voted to become a member of the Organic Farmers Association of Florida because they wanted to both support them and have macrobiotic representation at their meetings and conferences. If their is any type of alternative healing or lifestyle organisation in activity then they send someone to represent macrobiotics to their meetings. We should align ourselves with other like-minded organisations.
Sandy said that there is no question that macrobiotics should be involved with other organisations like Windstar in Colorado, or with the conference that Joya went to in New Orleans.
One of the biggest gaps in the current evolution of society is that none of the various activities and organisations that may be characterised as working toward a new framework of society, a new orientation ecologically, socially, spiritually, economically etc. have any kind of dialogue across the borders of their own particular "schtick". A necessary first move toward what may become an egalitarian culture away from this paternalistic, territorial, power driven culture, if there is to be any hope of the former arising out of the latter, is the exchange of ideas, information and concepts among all the different new organisations with the new orientation.
The conference finished up with everyone being enthusiastic about the idea of forming a national macrobiotic association and we will see what develops.