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THE PACIFIC MACROBIOTIC CONFERENCES, 1994.
The 29th Conference,
in Oakland, California,
September 22nd -25th, 1994.
1. Discharges and Healing.
2. Macrobiotic Community/Co-Housing.
3. Chinese Dietetics.
4. Transition Recommendations.
1. Exercise/Hormone Replacement-Osteoporosis.
2. Lifestyle Changes-Macrobiotic Life.
3. Kombucha Mushroom.
4. Use of Seasoning-Seasalt.
5. Macrobiotics and Family Differences.
Saturday, September 24th, 1994.
1. Kushi Recommendations.
4. Food Quantity.
1. Macrobiotics and Spirituality.
2. Eating at 7th Level.
3. Life Work.
4. How important is Organic.
Friday, September 23rd, 1994.
Discharges and Healing.
This topic was brought up by Linda Bermann who said she has not seen any lengthy discussions in macrobiotic literature of the process of discharging that occurs during the healing process. She thinks it would be very important to have more lengthy and detailed discussion on this subject. It was pointed out that in some of Michio's books there is a section on transitioning from our old dietary habits to a macrobiotic practice, of which she had not been aware. She thinks there should be more emphasis on this subject. Sands Auerbach said she was at the Fall Health Classic and Bob Ligon, who is the editor of Macrobiotics Today, gave a lecture on time frames in which we can expect various events to occur, such as in the first four months the blood stream is being cleansed, then from four to sixteen months, then from three to five years etc.
The main points that came up are that everyone experiences their discharges in their own unique way and there is really no way of knowing in advance how these discharges are going to manifest or when they are going to take place. David said that a big problem in macrobiotic practice is people do not do enough self study, reading the books. The idea in terms of macrobiotic practice is to get the organs of elimination to become strong and so elimination of toxins takes place naturally. The idea of discharges is very important because it is the means the body is eliminating wastes, either of new stuff that we are currently eating, or old toxins. It takes many, many years for all the old toxins to be removed, and we use the general rule that we need to eat strictly for as many years as we are old, so if we are fifty six years old, we need to eat strictly for fifty six months; 28 years, 28 months; 18 years, 18 months and so on.
The idea of viruses etc came up, and in order for viruses to become infectious, they need a suitable host. A macrobiotic practice makes our bodies an unsuitable host for viruses to be pathogenic. The news item was brought up where scientists are discovering new types and strains of viruses which are so-called exceedingly virulent, and once they gain access to a suitable host, they literally 'eat it alive'. The observation was made that perhaps these viruses have become so pathogenic because human beings have become so much weaker as a result of the immune system being weakened by eating so much sugar and chemicals and taking drugs etc. We have degenerated biologically so much that we are more susceptible to these viruses, bacteria etc.
David Jackson said that the human being is the manifestation of the infinite, that the human organism, when it is functioning healthily and eating cooked whole foods, chewed thoroughly, can, once digestion and assimilation has taken place, create whatever it needs in the way of enzymes and vitamins etc., at any given moment. But, when we start consuming this fragmented, chemically treated and high saturated fat diet, the body becomes stagnated and can no longer perform the transmutations and transformations internally, then we become weaker, and we think we need to take vitamins etc, which only further weaken the body. However, Meryl Kolevzon mentioned that the Germ Theory has such a hold on people that what David has just said is extremely difficult for people to grasp. Michael Bauce said it is because people want the magic pill to take care of their problems, and for people to recognise they need to take responsibility for their lives, that they have in fact created their own illness, is actually not only unacceptable to a lot of people, they find the notion offensive. David said that the magic pill idea is still prevalent in macrobiotic practice, as we all know. We still have people eating macrobiotically who take their pills and powders along with their diet.
David said a further aspect of discharging is when we get to the emotional, psychological stage. Here we experience various emotional discharging of long buried anger, fear, doubt and we have to deal with these consciously. Also, another important part of discharging is the re-evalauation of our thinking, of our way of thinking, our attitudes and motivations. We need to go through these stages, and a lot of people do not go through these stages, they pull back and would rather not look at them. These stages are just as important to go through, actually more so, as the physical stages of healing, and they are not discussed at all in macrobiotic books. After all is said and done, macrobiotic practice is about creating a new culture, so therefore we cannot think, as one example, in the same old, tired ways. Thus, if we do not go through these stages we cannot be said to have healed ourselves, and we can then begin to experience physical symptoms of these emotional and mental stagnations. We have to do this work, especially in this world going crazy and chaotic , because there is so much we need to redefine about what life is, about how we need to change our lives and why.
We discussed the question of how to manage discharges in the sense of if a person is discharging and their body's do not seem to be able to handle the discharge too easily, then what can be done. This is really a question of addressing each person individually, by looking at the diet to see if they are eating too yin or too yang, and then using home remedies, acupuncture, shiatsu and herbs to facilitate the process.
Then came a protracted debate on the use of psychological techniqies and therapies of various kinds as tools to facilitate the discharge process if people should choose to do them, like rebirthing. It was left up to the individual to decide whether or not to avail themselves of psychotherapeutic techniques, not forgetting that the most important one in macrobiotic practice is the assiduous practice of critical self-reflection.
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Macrobiotic Community - Co-Housing.
This is a topic about living in an intentional community and co-housing and was really to find out if any one either knew of or had expereince of living in an intentional community and/or co-housing. Marc Shuler lead this session off and wanted to know what role a community could play in helping him to practice a natural, macrobiotic life style because he thinks it is very difficult to do this living in the society we are embedded in. The communities in North Carolina and Alaska were mentioned as being places that could be explored to find out how they have gone about setting them up and how they manage to sort out the financial and logistical problems that arise both before getting them going and during the day to day management of affairs.
David mentioned he had a co-housing situation when he ran his center in San Diego and he said it was very interesting but also very difficult because it requires daily attention to the details of, in his case running a center, store and restaurant. He said that for such a situation to work it needs strong leadership or total consensus to work. We also talked about the question of what we can do when we all get older, and that we need to set up communities where older people can live along with younger people with children and that this is a great idea and all it needs is someone or a group of people to go out and make it happen. What needs to happen is for the macrobiotic community in North America to set up a mechanism where all the financial resources, know-how and experience that resides in all the tens of thousands of people practicing macrobiotic lifestyles can be tapped to set up the planning and development of macrobiotic communities throughout the country. Right now there is no such mechanism and there does not seem to be any interest in it either. There is no interest or even recognition that we need to set up some kind of umbrella organisation that is country wide in scope that can be used to tap all these resources and funnel them into these kinds of community building projects.
Just look at the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference. Here we are conducting the 29th meeting and many more people have been to these conferences throughout the years than are here today. People who used to come in the past do not come any more, they are off doing other things. Membership in the conference rarely exceeds 25-30 people in any given year, and there are only two people who have renewed their membership every year in it since its inception in 1984. This subject of community, co-housing, retirement communities that are macrobiotically oriented has come up many, many times throughout these conferences, yet nothing has been done despite all the concern and interest that there is in it.
What it all boils down to is does someone want it badly enough to take on the responsibility of doing it. The macrobiotic center in Oakland only got going because Joel wanted it and was prepared to do the hard work to get it off the ground and get it running. The Pacific Macrobiotic Conference would not be in existence if David and Kaare didn't think it was important to keep it going. So, someone who sees the need and has the will, energy and resources to set up some type of umbrella organisation like an American Macrobiotic Society to attract membership and donations and titheing or whatever fund raising mechanisms could be devised needs to get it started. It is perhaps a reflection of the fact that macrobiotics in America is still young and therefore immature that something like this has not been done thus far and it is a matter of time and further spiritual maturing needing to take place before it can happen.
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Tom McGowan brought this up as a result of seeing the menu for a conference or seminar that had taken place at Becket and noticing that fruit was being given for pretty much very meal. This was interesting to him and he wanted to look at this from the point of view of Chinese dietetics and the energies involved in eating fruit regularly. He said that the energetics of fruits and of juices, because he saw that carrot juice was also being recommended, are inherently different from that of the standard macrobiotic diet, because the latter is directed toward stability and centeredness, whereas fruits and juices are definitely off center. Tom said that yang foods are more warming and tensing(he mentioned that one of the sticking points from the viewpoint of Chinese Medicine with macrobiotic vocabulary is that yang is considered contracting in macrobiotics whereas it is considered to be expanding in Chinese medicine and the substitution of the word tensing for contracting would remove this sticking point) and enhance the sympathetic nervous system and the more yin foods are cooling and relaxing and enhance more the parasympathetic nervous system, and fruits and juices are more yin and in Chinese Medicine they are used to balance sympathetic excess conditions.
In Chinese medicine terminology, we have three different energetic layers; there is the constitutional layer, nourishing layer and the responsive layer, and the latter layer has to to do with how we respond and interact with our environment. That is a superficial quality, and is inherently more unstable, there are more rapid polarity changes there because of the exchanges constantly going on with our environment. In the case of someone with sympathetic excess our energies get squeezed out to that responsivelayer. Fruits and juices address this responsive layer, because it is inherently unstable, and fruits and juices are also unstable energetically speaking. It is an acute scenario, and from what Tom has studied and learned from Chinese dietetics is that fruits and juices are used more for acute situations, to correct quickly unstable conditions at his supercial level. He therefore thinks that the use of fruits and juices on a daily basis is something to be cautious about recommending.
It presents a challenge to really look at our body functions closely because that is where the discharges go on, in the responsive layer. It is where fruits and juices are most active in their function on the body. It could be helpful but it could also be destabilising. In Chinese medicine fruits and juices are only used in concentrated doses/amounts for very short terms, like two to three weeks, just to repolarise imbalances of sympathetic excess(more yang) conditions. Over a long term basis they are going to be detrimental to the nourishing and constitutional layers. It is also going to promote instability in the nervous system.
The question was brought up by Marc Shuler about how can we see the commonalities between the macrobiotic interpretation of yin and yang and the Chinese interpretation of yin and yang, because they both spring from the same source. Kaare said in order to understand this we have to know that George Ohsawa, who himself was steeped more in the metaphysically oriented Chinese understanding of yin and yang, when he came to and lived in Europe, in Paris, in the mid-twenties, thought that the western, European mind, because he felt from his experiences there, was too steeped in and engrossed with the mechanical and therefore was materialistic. Thus he said it was very difficult for westerners to understand the metaphysical interpretation of yin and yang, and he made a radical change in the interpretation of yin and yang in order to facilitate its understanding by westerners. For example, in the I Ching, which is the consummate expression of the Chinese interpretation of yin and yang philosophy, it states that Heaven is more yang and the Earth is more yin. This because Heaven is the generator of all things and therefore is more dynamic, active and creative, and Earth, as the expression of all that is created by Heaven, is therefore more yin.
George Ohsawa said that is true, but from the point of view of someone standing on Earth, the earth is a solid, compact, dense body of matter, and therefore more yang relative to the wide expanses of 'empty' space, Heaven, flung out above us, which is therefore more yin relative to the earth. Thus George Ohsawa put together an interpretation of Yin and Yang that is geocentric as opposed to metaphysical.
Kaare said that both systems of interpretation are therefore correct from their own perspective and that one needs to study one of them first, get it down and understand it thoroughly in its fundamentals, and then look at the other one to see to understand it. Then one will not get mixed up and furthermore, will find that in certain instances the macrobiotic interpretation of yin and yang is more useful, and in other instances the Chinese interpretation is. Kaare said it is very sad that all this criticism of macrobiotic interpretation of yin and yang is coming from practitioners of Chinese medicine because it is entirely misplaced. George Ohsawa did not do what he did in any way as a sign of disrespect to Chinese medicine, but to make yin and yang accessible to a culture that has been and still is deeply mired in the mechanical, physico-chemical and materialistic interpretation of life.
Tom said that the Liver is involved in the superficial layer, and the citrus fruits have the effect of loosening up a stagnated tense liver function, but if used on a long term basis will create dampness and metabolic sluggishness in the liver. Tom thinks that macrobiotics works very well at the constitutional and nourishing level and that if the consumption of fruits and juices is done on a long term basis it is going to have instability of chi. He thinks it is not necessarily a bad thing, but has to be viewed with caution and he thinks that fruits and juices should be used cautiously and could have disastrous results if used on a long term basis.
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Geoffrey Lee introduced this topic by saying people at work are showing interest in what he is doing with his diet because they see how well he is doing. When he enquires into what their diet is he finds out that people are eating out at various chains like Taco Bell, or Wendy's, Denny's, or Chinese restaurants for lunch and dinner and that typically they eat coffee and donuts for breakfast. He says these people are not ready to plunge into a macrobiotic diet 100%, because they would not be able to take it, it is too radical. He is interested in any ideas to give to these people to transition them into eating a whole grains and vegetables diet.
David says he usually starts by telling people to stop eating a particular food, like, stop eating dairy, or meat, or soda pop. The conversation focused on where people are in their lives because it is virtually impossible and probably not even desirable for people to be forced into changing to a macrobiotic dietary practice. Thus, it is really a question of making suggestions to people about how they can become more focused on how foods affected them by keeping a diary of what they eat and how they feel; then eliminate one food, like sugar, white flour, etc, and see if they experience any changes. Another angle is to have a 'hook', like weight loss, or energy level, etc. to get them interested.
The question came up about giving these people cooking classes, just invite them to come to our home and show them how to cook the grains and vegetables, and whether we needed to have x number of years of training at the Kushi Institute or wherever. The response was that if we have done our healing work, and we have successfully dealt with our condition, and if people then ask us for advice, then we are ready. And the only way to learn how to give cooking classes is to give cooking classes, because this puts the responsibility on the teacher to learn more, and we do indeed learn more as we are teaching. It is a common aphorism that the greatest teachers are the best students of the subjects they teach. And certification is really something that is handed to you by your community, because they will continue to support our work if we are answering the needs of the people that come to cooking classes or for counselling.
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Sands Auerbach introduced this topic by saying she has a lot of information and she wanted feedback on this problem of osteoporosis and how to deal with it. The medical profession suggests that exercise is really important, especially heavy pounding type exercise which is said to help build up bone mass, as well as eating plenty of calcium rich foods, with dairy food being cited as the food of choice for increasing calcium intake. And women specifically, because this problem is not necessarily exclusive to women, to take hormone replacement oestrogen, especially for post-menopausal women.
The discussion went over the subject by pointing the main problem of osteoporosis is over acidity of the blood stream, which is caused by many foods, including animal protein, sugar, refined and processed food etc. Over acid blood, because it is a more yin phenomenon, then attracts the more yang minerals out of the bones and muscles, tendons and ligaments, so we get a general weakening of the musculo-skeletal system, and one of the symptoms of this is the loss of bone density.
Why it shows up more of a problem in post-menopausal women is because the menses have, as one of the effects of the monthly shedding of blood, the discharging of acid blood. When this monthly discharge ceases at menopause, then the blood tends to be more acidic in post-menopausal women, and so you get accelerated loss of minerals from the bones.
The scientific explanation of this phenomenon, which confirms the macrobiotic yin-yang perspective, is that there is a buffer phenomenon where if the blood becomes either too acid or too alkaline, then a hormone is released by the kidneys, which stimulates the release of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus from the bones and muscles. These minerals, on entering the blood stream combine with either the strong acid or strong alkaline substances in the blood to form a weak acid or weak alkaline, i.e., to quickly bring the over acid or over alkaline condition back to the neutral zone (in human beings from pH 7.20 - 7.45- if the pH falls either below 7.20 or rises above 7.45, then the body dies). Then the weak acid or weak alkaline is broken down to carbon dioxide, water and the mineral. Then the water and carbon dioxide are excreted through urination and exhalation and the minerals return to the bones and muscles.
This is the steady state theory and if a person is healthy and their body is in dynamic homeostasis, then the minerals released from the bones are always replaced. However, macrobiotically speaking, people are not in balance, their condition is generally speaking too yin, and in some instance too yang. Thus, if our bodies are continually subjected to overly yin foods then the blood becomes too acid, and if this is going on every day, more minerals are being released than are being replaced, and so mineral loss occurs leading to osteoporosis.
Kaare said he had read about four years ago that the research scientists that work on studying osteoporosis had a major conference in San Rafael and they admitted they did not know what causes osteoporosis. Then, just this week, a report came out of UCSF saying that the cause of osteoporosis is the long time consumption of animal protein.
Thus osteoporosis is not a problem of calcium deficiency. Therefore taking calcium supplements is a waste of money and furthermore, because they are themselves too yin, they will cause further acidity of the blood. Another problem with taking calcium supplements or any mineral or vitamin supplement in the doses that are being recommended is that they start upsetting the uptake of other minerals by the body. As far as the oestrogen question is concerned it is apparently not known to the medical profession at large that in healthy post-menopausal women there is an oestrogen precursor in the liver which is converted to oestrogen as needed. Furthermore, excess oestrogen itself is a factor in development of cancer of the breast.
So, the answer to osteoporosis is to eat a macrobiotic diet to allow the blood quality to be maintained in the slightly alkaline range, and the bones and muscles will gradually recover their proper mineral density
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Lifestyle Changes - Macrobiotic Life.
Naomi Diamond introduced this subject by reviewing what she had been through, relating she had started out by going to Overeaters Anonymous to stop eating sugar and they require all these lifestyle changes where you have to set aside time during the day to pray to our higher power and also to set aside quiet time to be able to listen to what our higher power may be saying to us, to start meditating and if we get upset or angry, instead of going to the sugar, to call someone on the support network to talk to. And this on top of all the daily tasks of going to work, preparing meals etc etc. After a few years she discovered macrobiotic practice and she went a macrobiotic counsellor and who said that she must start to slow down, her life is too hectic. She found she had to retire from work, which was okay in her case because she is over 65, in order to find the time to be able to take care of herself! This sounds funny but it really isn't because not everyone can go off work to pay attention to healing.
The question is how do we balance our time so we can get things done that need to be done and yet have the time to meditate, relax, play etc. What Geoffrey found most helpful was to combine two or three activities together. So, he cycles to work and while he is cycling he synchronizes his pedalling with his breathing so that he is accomplishing three things at once - getting to work, meditating and getting his exercise. And we can do that with all types of activities where you can be meditating, getting chores done and having enjoyment at the same time. The key point is to be relaxed in all our activities and also to look closely at what we are doing on a day in, day out, week in, week out basis to pare out activities we can do without or we do not actually need to do. Too much of today's lifestyles is that people are feeling harried and stressed because they are in poor condition. Also we need to ask ourselves, as part of our inner work, what are we doing with our lives living macrobiotically, what does it mean to each of us to live macrobiotically.
The remainder of the discussion was about how to get to the point on our macrobiotic life practice that we are free to eat what we need without having to be constrained by the macrobiotic dietary recommendations; we need to eat strictly for as many months as we are old, while at the same time doing the regimen of ginger compresses on the intestines to clear out the old stagnations that have built up over many, many years, decades. The paramount idea is that without the help of the ginger compresses done consistently over a period of two to three years, then these old stagnations remain in the intestines, and no matter how well we eat macrobiotically we cannot fundamentally get well, we are still subject to cravings and sensitivities that should not be there; we are omnivores.
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This is a recent faddish phenomenon where a mushroom culture, actually a yeast, reproduces itself and is used to make a tea, Kombucha Tea, a fermented tea. It has incredible health benefits and has been used for thousands of years in cultures of Siberia and Mongolia. It is now being used very widely in America. It produces healthy bacteria in the intestines which supposed to help strengthen the immune system. You make the tea and start off drinking a small amount, like a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup a day, because you experience a detoxification and it is better to use it in smaller doses so that you do not experience to heavy a detoxification to begin with; then people work up to as much as a quart a day.
It is a tonifier and helps the skin and the intestines. The experience of using it is that the skin improves, becomes cleaner and livelier, digestion improves, hair improves and people are livelier and more energetic. It is not for sale, you get it from other people who have it, because the mushroom reproduces itself, and the 'offspring' is given away. One of the keys to its effectiveness is the production of B vitamins.
Scientific studies are being done in Europe and in Russia. It is not a magic pill or a cure all. It should be seen as a household remedy and foodstuff to help regenerating and maintaining the immune system, as a tonifier and a detoxifier. It appears to be more on the more yin side of the yin-yang spectrum. David said he thought it could be very beneficial therapeutically because it is more yin and people generally have a lot of old yang stagnation in them from the years of eating meat, eggs, cheese etc. What worries him is that people become overly reliant on it and that in macrobiotic healing the idea is to get the body to restore its own bacterial flora in the intestines and keeping them maintained. If we are assisting the body to do that then we may be weakening the body's inherent ability to do the healing itself. The main point is if we take something that makes us feel better, then the first question we ask ourselves is what are we doing that does not make us feel better, either in the way we are eating or in terms of our lifestyle.
At any rate, everybody is encouraged to have an open mind about the kombucha mushroom and to try it if they feel it may be of some benefit to them, especially if they feel they have old yang stagnations. It is definitely not a cure-all or magic bullet. The mushroom is fermented in a black tea with a high caffeine content and sugar, or barley malt etc., which the mushroom transforms into the enzymes, which is a yin fermentation.
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Use of Seasoning/Seasalt.
This topic was about the use of seasoning in cooking, especially the judicious use of seasalt. Naomi introduced it by saying she feels better if she uses little seasalt, and she feels the food tastes better if the use of salt is minimal. Of course, the use of seasonings depends on our condition, but if we are healthy then the use of certain herbs and spices is okay, in small amounts, like garlic, thyme, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cumin. It depends on the time of the year and what effect we want in terms of yin and yang, and also what we are cooking in terms of yin and yang. The main use of seasalt is to use it judiciously to help the food you are cooking have its true taste, and if we want more of a richer taste, use tamari or soy sauce. Also longer time cooking gives a deeper taste. Fire has both yang and yin qualities, because it both heats and expands, so longer use of fire has an opening up effect, and time is a yangising factor. We change the sea salt from being overly yang by cooking it longer; if we put salt on something after cooking, it stays salty and everything tastes very salty; longer time cooking with sea salt tends to make the food taste more sweet, especially since grains, vegetables and beans are rich in carbohydrates. The key is to experiment and learn as we are cooking applying yin and yang.
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Macrobiotics and Family Differences.
The question is the family dynamics that come into play when one member changes into a macrobiotic lifestyle and the others do not. The problem is that support of the family is only lip service if they say they are supportive and encouraging but are not eating macrobiotically themselves. This is a divisive situation and the question is what to do; of course, every one has to answer this question themselves in their own situation. The tactic employed here, in Sands Auerbach's situation, who brought the topic, is that she has been cooking for herself and cooking differently for her family and she has realised that she is resenting it. So she has decided she is going to cook what she needs to eat and present that as what the family is going to eat for that meal.
David's observation in working with families is that people in marriages are generally not relating to one another, and the first thing he asks people is to look at their relationship to see if it is what they really want. The matter of support is very important in someone who is starting a macrobiotic diet especially if they have a degenerative condition. Thus people need to look at how they are communicating with one another and to improve their communication so that they are honest about their feelings and attitudes.
This is a very difficult situation, because change is something that people are very tentative about, and if we are in a relationship with someone and we are experiencing these radical changes and the other person is not, then it is at the very least an awkward situation, and at worst, completely divisive. So, perhaps the best strategy is not to say anything, and let the example of one's improving condition to be attractive to one's partner and they then become interested in it.
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SATURDAY, September 24th, 1994.
This subject was introduced by Kaare Bursell who had received from Patricia Murray a report of a Kushi Institute Teachers Seminar on the the new food recommendations. Some background is necessary to get some perspective on this new development. Historically the macrobiotic dietary recommendations have been much more slanted toward a heavy, salty, high grain diet, and long time cooking. Furthermore, a little over a year ago Aveline Kushi was diagnosed with cervical cancer and at the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference this time a year ago in Boulder, Colorado, we spent three to four hours discussing Aveline Kushi's cancer, what it meant, what it signified. What we learnt there was she had been experiencing uterine bleeding for a year and hadn't been able to stop it, went to the hospital to get it checked out and found she had cervical cancer. Later a letter was sent out from the Kushi Institute explaining Michio's thoughts on why Aveline had developed cancer.
It also is necessary to point out that Aveline is well known in the macrobiotic community for being very strict in her dietary habits, and she has been practicing for forty years. The letter stated, "although it appears that Aveline has been cooking and eating macrobiotically all these years, in actual fact she hasn't, because she has been emphasising throughout the years, and all year long a way of cooking which is root vegetables cooked for a long time with a lot of salt; these were her favourite dishes." What Kaare thinks is these new dietary recommendations are a reaction to Aveline developing cancer.
When we got this copy of the seminar report, my first response was, we have already made many of these changes years ago, like less grain; it is not possible to do well on 60% grains in California and yet the Kushi recommendations are for 60% grains no matter where people live. The dietary recommendations are there as guides to be adapted to the local variations of climate, weather patterns and seasons of where a person lives. Thus, ideally, only local counsellors should counsel people in their area- it doesn't make sense macrobiotically for counsellors living in New England to give recommendations to people living in Florida, Texas, California, or vice-versa.
Kaare made comments on some of the new recommedations. First, it is not sensible to make the balancing of the diet by weight, because if we start telling people they have to start weighing everything, they are going to go mad. Kaare has experience of dealing with people who have been weighing their food so that they get just the right proportions, and in both cases they became pathologically obsessed with getting the right proportion and in one case totally gave up eating macrobiotically.
David said that the 50-60% grain is still the same but it is by weight rather than volume, which will have the effect of making the grains less.
Recommending people use polished grains is not something that makes any sense, because we are supposed to be eating whole grains. Kaare surmises here that this is put in there because the experience is of people not digesting their whole grains properly; however, the way to approach that problem is by working on the digestion with ginger compresses and make the digestive functions recover so that they get to the point they can digest whole grains. Feeding people polished grains is not going to help their digestion recover its functional integrity.
David said he thought this was an overreaction to people eating nothing but brown rice; the point is to get people to eat whole grains but to mix them up and occasionally have broken grains like couscous and bulghur, or millet.
Next item is the more liberal use of occasional vegetables; Kaare thinks this is seasonal, that eating foods like string beans, cucumbers, garden peas, sprouts is not something we would do in the winter but would be fine in the summer.
More liberal use of cracked grains, which is a good idea, like rolled oats, bulghur, couscous, cracked wheat. This seems a sound suggestion.
Having leafy greens, up to 2/3rds, in the miso soup, most of the time. This is fine but why not have leafy greens as a separate dish and use less miso or lighter misos occasionally.
More "nabe" style cooking, which is a light more yin style of cooking. This seems a reasonable suggestion, as does using less amount of beans, which we have been recommending for a long time.
Increase frequency of use of tofu for prostate condition as well as use of raw chilled tofu occasionally. Kaare thinks tofu is one of the worst foods available to humanity; it is like eating refined white flour, it is very high in protein, it is extremely yin and it is rich in fats and causes intestinal stagnation, and uterine problems. This is a really bizzarre recommendation.
Avoid bottom rice. This is amusing because when Kaare was in Boston, bottom rice was considered to be the 'primo' rice and used for people who had cancer and other degenerative conditions.
Cool vegetable juices. This is very yin and dispersing as well as stagnating, because the cooling effect is to freeze. Juicing foods means you are using a lot of carrots, for example, to make one glass of carrot juice, it is a fragmented food. We could use these medicinally for two or three weeks, like once to three times a week, for very yang conditions, but it isn't something you would recommend all the time. Same thing goes for fruit juices.
The use of Amasake, chilled. David said amasake here is referring to home made amasake, not to commercial amasake which is extremely yin. If we make our own then it can be used as a sweetener occasionally. Kaare said one of the conditions that everyone has when they come into macrobiotics for the first time is candida, and amasake will definitely encourage the thriving of candida, which is pretty much endemic. So he doesn't think recommending amasake is a good idea.
More liberal use of citrus fruits, in seasonings for salads, in kantens and occasionally raw. Kaare said it depends upon a person's condition and the time of year and for people who are sick they should be used judiciously for limited periods of time. They should not be used liberally. David, living in Arizona, recommends it for occasional use, because citrus is good for breaking up old salt.
Less use of fish. Kaare said that he doesn't recommend fish to anyone when they are first starting their macrobiotic practice unless they are very weak. And for people who are very physical in their lifestyles, being construction workers, carpenters etc, and their condition allows for it.
Seasonings - the use of Si-salt as the best seasalt, being the only seasalt avialable that is stoneground, so the seasalt crystals maintain their integrity and the quality of chi is sound; Josen Shoyu as the best soy sauce because Michio collaborated on the recipe; Mitoku Miso. Now five year aged umeboshi plums, which appears to be contradictory to the whole reasoning of this new direction in macrobiotic dietary recommendations, which is a more yin, expansive direction. You have to order it from the Kushi Institute, unless you buy a large quantity of the three-year old plums and let them sit for a couple of years. However, five year aged plums will be much more yang than three year aged plums.
Use of leafy herb seasonings occasionally is reasonable.
Create light, more elegant, noble quality cooking styles, 'fresh as a spring breeze'. Emphasis on boiling grains rather than pressure cooking; generally recommending pressure cooking fifty percent, boiling fifty percent; for many people recommending pressure cooking 1/3 and boiling 2/3. In many cases, Michio recommends boiling grains only for a while. For Kaare what is coming through, reading between the lines, is that a lot of people have really stagnated digestive systems when they are coming into macrobiotics for the first time, and all these recommendations are designed to make the food more digestible. He thinks that this is better done by doing the ginger compresses. David said he sees where this is coming from and he has been recommending people do not do pressure cooking to begin with, but David is in Arizona, where the climate is such that pressure cooking would not be, in many cases, the recommended primary form of cooking anyway.
Significant reduction in volume and intensity of salty type seasoning. Milder miso soups, milder seasoning of dishes. This is true but on the other hand we do not want be afraid of salt.
Significant reduction in volume of sea vegetables, and in some cases eliminate kombu, hiziki and arame. Especially for prostate and other lower body cancers. This may be because they are so rich in minerals and could stimulate cancers. This is a really interesting recommendation because so many people are mineral deficient when they come into macrobiotic practice for the first time. Most of us were really confused at this recommendation.
Reduction in cooking time. This we have been doing this for many years.
More yin cutting styles and use of lighter vegetables. Again, this has been common practice here for many years. Use of seasoning at the end of cooking. It depends on what you are cooking. We talked about cooking with seasalt yesterday. More open pot cooking and high flame quick cooking are both more yin styles of cooking.
Heating carrot juice will yangise it somewhat. But why carrot juice because this is only a medicinal food for very yang conditions and only temporarily. It is not something we would recommend even for healthy people on a daily basis.
Chilling foods and beverages such as noodles, broths and teas and tofu . This is a very strange recommendation because when anything is chilled, in terms of chi it slows down and becomes stagnated. Furthermore, coldness has the effect of denuding the epithelial lining of the stomach and intestinal walls. This is a very bizzarre idea.
At this point the discussion opened up and the general response was that these recommendations are an overreaction to what has happened with Aveline and to what has been an overly yang set of dietary recommendations coming out of Boston these many years. One comment was that these recommendations are only for people who have been eating the overly salty, heavy grain and long time cooking macrobiotic diet for many years; these recommendations are not suitable for people coming into a macrobiotic dietary practice for the first time except for the ones which are sensible and which some of us here on the West Coast have been recommending for many years already, based on our earlier experiences of living here and working with people who live here.
David said these recommendations come out of a long, long history. When Kushi started getting more well known as macrobiotics became more popular he ordained certain people to become 'senior teachers', because he himself could not keep up with the work load that was developing,especially in the early eighties as a result of Sattillaro's book. In David's opinion many of these senior teachers could not then and still cannot think for themselves and followed Michio's directions and recommendations and didn't understand macrobiotic principles and practices. And, in his opinion some of them still do not. As a result there is a lacking in leadership and they have to get the word from Michio to make changes.
It was asked if these recommendations came with a set of instructions and it was explained that neither David nor Kaare received these directly from the Kushi Institute, because both of them are not approved by Boston. They obtained these from Patricia Murray, who had been sent a copy from the Kushi Institute, and she sent copies to David and Kaare (By the way, Patricia sends here regards and cannot be here because she is visiting a macrobiotic community in Alaska). We are bringing this up as a topic here so we can understand what it all means from our perspective and also so we can send our comments and critique to Boston.
C. J. Felice said that if this report is indeed going back to Boston, then his comment is that giving these kinds of rules and instructions about what to recommend people gets away from the whole spirit of macrobiotic practice which is to understand yin and yang so that we can all of us, through daily study of yin and yang and the application of these principles in our daily lives know how to make balance with the universe and then, if we are teachers and counsellors, come up with our own recommendations. To C.J. these recommendations leave him with a feeling of emptiness, because it has nothing of the the spirit of macrobiotic practice in it. David said that Michio set himself up for this by publishing the multitude of books that have all these recommendations for different conditions.
Rick Charnes said that what he didn't like about is that there is a feeling of a party line to it. If at the beginning of these new recommendations something like an introduction stating that 'Aveline Kushi's recent bout with cancer has caused us to rethink a lot of what's been going on with our diet and we are feeling very sad and very troubled by it. It is causing waves through our community and causing us to question old assumptions and has caused us to come together to discuss. One of the things we have been thinking is that for years and years we have been recommending a more yang form of diet than is appropriate and here are some of our recommendations. Please read them and come to us and tell us what you think.' That would be so different from what we are getting here which feels like ideology divorced from sentiment, just a set of rules and regulations divorced from an understanding about what's going on. If we could get a sense from him about how he is feeling about Aveline's cancer then it could serve to bring us together in a really vital way.
David said Herman was asked what he thought was the reason Aveline developed cancer and he answered that he thought the reasons were mainly emotional. And no where in the memo is any references to the role emotions play in the development of disease. The questions of emotions have been largely overlooked in macrobiotic theory and writings. It has has always been the case that when people have been having emotional problems it has always been related to people are not cooking or chewing their food properly.
Kaare said it must be emphasised that none of this is being said out of a spirit of disrespect for Michio; we respect him and the work he has done and a lot of us owe a debt of gratitude to him. There needs to be a community built up and community means communication, a dialogue and this is our way of having a dialogue with Michio about macrobiotic teaching and philosophy, principles etc. Until we get a dialogue going, a communication going, and we really have discussions and even arguments - arguments are fine if they lead to illuminations and insights - then we are not going to have a community, and community is what the macrobiotic movement is lacking. What we have right now is a disparate bunch of teachers around the country who are not communicating with one another. This conference is the only one of its kind that takes place in the macrobiotic world and that is very sad. He feels so sad that this is the only forum where people practicing macrobiotics can get together and have discussions with one another in a spirit of equality and friendship, to be able to learn from each other and grow in the macrobiotic spirit. There is nothing going on like it any where else in the whole world of macrobiotic activities. And we would like to encourage people to start doing this on the east coast, the south, the north and in Europe, South America etc. And may be we could have a grand meeting every four years where everybody in the world gets together to have a world conference such as this one. That is what Kaare would like to see happen.
David said in the mid eighties he was in Boston teaching at one of the summer camps and he met a lady who was one of the administrators and he asked her to come out and see what the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference is like. She finally came out to San Diego when we had a conference at the center David used to have there and she was highly impressed and the next three years in a row David did a PMC like conference at the Summer Camp Michio sponsors on the east coast. It was called the Macrobiotic Forum and it was the most popular event at the camp each three years. People loved it and it was very inspiring and after that it was dropped.
The subject of certification then came up and in reference to that David said that Michio is trying to play this game trying to stay in the world of recognition that everybody has, having a Dr before your name. He has a need for recognition or power. It was asked what would be a way of classifying macrobiotic counsellors so that people know what level of training and understanding they have. Kaare said we have discussed this in the past and the best way we can think of is to have a referral, clearing house system where people are told, so-and -so is in your town or city, but we do not endorse this person. The whole essence of macrobiotic practice is people are encouraged to take responsibility for their choices, so you have to decide whether you want to work with this person-go to a cooking class or lecture and check them out for yourself. We do not want a certification "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" type of set up because that immediately puts people to sleep, and we want people to take responsibility. For example, Kaare gets phone calls from around the country and he goes to the macrobiotic directory and finds the names of people and gives them out along with the telephone numbers as well as telling the person making the enquiry that he doesn't know whether this person is any good, you have to check them out for yourself. He said that we should have learnt by now that any kind of certification program is inherently flawed, you only have to look at other professions like doctors and lawyers to know that.
Rick Charnes said he is astonished to learn that this is the only conference of its kind in the macrobiotic world and it comes in his mind from an essentially Japanese orientation of running the whole macrobiotic world. What it reminds him of, particularly the lack of debate and discussion in the macrobiotic world, is when he went up to Vega about eight years ago to see if he could get the position of editor of "Macrobiotics Today". He had written a letter of introduction to Sandy Rothman setting out his ideas about what he thought macrobiotics needed and what he would like to do with the journal, and he spent three days up there, talking and discussing with Sandy about how Rick was interested in not only the individual change that macrobiotic practice can bring about but also social change since Rick has been involved in political activism in his life. Sandy said that he liked Rick's ideas and he would really like him to take the position of editor and he would talk to Herman. Rick went back a week later and talked with Herman; they had a short meeting and Rick went home. He was in Boston in the early 70's, when he started macrobiotic practice and had been out of the movement for all these years and was feeling he wanted to get back into it and he was excited and nervous at the prospect of doing this; Sandy called him and said he thought Rick would be perfect for the job; Sandy told Rick that he had talked with Herman who had said he did not think Rick would be good for the job because Rick's style was "too debative". Herman said that the job was education and that this happens in two ways - from experience in life, from the universe directly or one on one from teacher to student. Herman feels that your style of debating and having different points of view is too confusing to people; people would not know what to think. Rick was disappointed and was not entirely surprised and he then knew why he had been out of macrobiotic activity all these years. He feels that this Japanese sentiment of not wanting to get into debate and heated discussion is really a block to the development of macrobiotics in a culture where the essence of democracy is debating and getting into passionate discussions about social, political and in fact, any kind of issue. He is astonished and uttely flabbergasted and thinks it is beyond comprehension that this conference is the only one of its kind where people can get into discussions and debates about macrobiotic practices and principles, ideas and philosophy.
Kaare commented on a recent article by Tom Monte in "Macrobiotics Today" entitled "Rediscovering the Soul of American Macrobiotics" where Kaare said that there has never been a soul of American macrobiotics, we are in the process of attempting to develop a soul of American macrobiotics. One of the things Tom stated in the article is we have to get away from this vertical, hierarchical structure in macrobiotics and that is true, we have need of a multi-polarity type of set up where there is the desire to rid the movement of "official, authoritative macrobiotics". The idea is that none of us here is an authority, the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference is not an authoritative body and we made that very clear when we devised the "Operating Manual for the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference". This is not a conference that decides who are the best counsellors and teachers and macrobiotic products; here is an open forum where we have discussions and debates so that everyone can go away better informed so that they can make their own decisions.
Kaare went over a bit of the history of the conference, this being the 29th, where it started in 1980 as the West Coast Macrobiotic Teachers Meeting and then in 1984 we changed it to the Pacific Macrobiotic Conference because we wanted not only teachers to come to the conference but also anyone who is practicing macrobiotics to participate and have their input; to listen and discuss and argue and debate and have fights and hugs etc. How many people are in this room now, 17. At one point we had 108, at the conference in Seattle in 1986 or 1987. The numbers have gradually dwindled since and two years ago we had twelve people come to the conference. For this conference Kaare sent out close to four hundred fliers to individuals, and only to individuals in California, and he handed out a whole bunch. So the lack of interest in people coming to the conferences speaks to Kaare of the lack of understanding in macrobiotics as a whole of the necessity of having these kinds of conferences. Kaare recalls Bob Ligon, the current editor of "Macrobiotics Today", when asked why he doesn't participate in the conferences, replied,"All they do is sit around and talk". Kaare said that is the whole idea, and he has been baffled, disappointed and saddened at the lack of initiative for people to come here.
Renee said that to her it means the leadership in the macrobiotic community has basically said that this conference is not important, because none of them are here. CJ said the apathy is like the rest of America and we need to make it more well known and talk it up.
We finished up discussing the recommendations and summarised it by saying the general tendency is for more yin style recommendations many of which we have been recommending for many years now and one of the many positives of the Pacific Macrobiotic Conferences has been exchanging ideas about the dietary recommendations based on our own experiences and modifying our dietary recommendations based on these discussions. With regard to the recommendation to consult with other practitioners; sometimes this may be appropriate but as David said in his experience the dietary recommendations plus cooking classes and getting people to keep in touch and study yin and yang etc. are more critical and important.
In discussing the recommendations about supplements the crux of the matter is people's adherence or lack thereof to their dietary practice and playing around with other things. David has been observing that many macrobiotic counsellors and teachers are playing with these other things, we have many macrobiotic counsellors being distributors of blue-green algae, and KM, and Wachters sea vegetable supplements, etc., etc. He thinks these counsellors are compromising to either get counselling, or, unfortunately, the other is for the money and the real teaching of macrobiotic practice is becoming diluted and weakened because of a lack of understanding of food, yin and yang etc. In David's opinion Michio is giving a tacit OK to these dubious practices. The real problem is that taking these supplements actually may and probably does weaken the body, because the essential aspect of macrobiotic healing is time; by allowing the body to heal in its own time, the body gets stronger.
Furthermore, this document illustrates one of the fundamental problems of current macrobiotic teaching, which is that of a formulaic expression, where people are not only supposed to eat this formula of grains and vegetables, but this is going to cure your problem; the fact is the there is no cure for any disease in any manner; the body does know how to heal itself, but this healing process takes time and it also constitutes the necessity of undergoing a radical shift in consciousness and lifestyle. Therefore, the way macrobiotics should be introduced to people is this is a dietary practice based on understanding yin and yang and if you are not prepared to devote yourself to the assiduous, arduous, painstaking, diligent and commited study of yin and yang in your day to day practice of macrobiotic eating and living, then people should be actively discouraged from practicing macrobiotics. Then, we would at least clear the air of all this muddying of the waters and dilution of macrobiotic practice that is going on today. Of course, there would be a lot less people practicing macrobiotics but at least the practice of those people that are doing macrobiotic practice would have a lot more authenticity, vigor and potency.
What Marc Shuler said is that the books that are written do not have a real expressive renditioning of yin and yang. All they have is these lists yin and yang qualities and a set of principles but they are kind of cold and dry. It was agreed that we do need a whole slew of new macrobiotic books written about our experiences in macrobiotic life giving more 'flesh and blood' explanations of yin and yang in daily life.
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This topic was introduced by Tracy who said she came to macrobiotic practice from a background of having to drink eight glasses of liquid a day in order to flush the kidneys etc. So she wanted to understand more of why it is recommended to drink less. David said that the kidneys work by osmosis and they can only filter a certain quantity of fluid, and if they are asked to flush more than that then the excess liquid builds up in the kidneys and they get swollen and they get stagnated and they become dysfunctional. There are one million cases of kidney failure every year in the US. The important point is to drink according to what our needs are depending on our level of activity and not to drink too little or too much. For instance, if we sweat, and we are urinating six, seven times a day and after we go to bed, we are drinking too much; if we are urinating less than three times a day and our urine is on the dark side, we are not drinking enough.
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Tracy also brought this subject, that exercise is not emphasised a great deal in macrobiotic practice and she wanted to understand the philosophy behind the macrobiotic ideas of exercise. Kaare says understand the context in the United Staes in which this recent twenty or so years obsession with exercise has occurred. This is a heavy meat and sugar culture and that brings about a weakening of the internal organs and Kaare thinks that as an instinctive response to this weakening people began to do this exercising as strengthening of the muscles which is forming an 'armouring' around the internal weakened organs. This a reactive, sympomatic response to the internal weakening of the organism and of course, it does not strengthen the organs and you cannot in fact become healthy through exercise. The world of sports has a multitude of people who are superbly fit and grossly unhealthy. David said the major cause of sports injuries, which have increased exponentially in recent years, is excess liquid, Kaare calling all these ligament tears, shoulder, knee, groin and ankle injuries "Gatorade Disease". People do need physical activity and we can get this from just being active in our daily lives, cleaning, cooking, gardening, walking to the stores to get groceries etc. Kaare recommends that when people first start their macrobiotic practice that they go for a half to one hour stroll every day. Also Tai Chi and yoga are good forms of exercise.
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Tracy also introduced this topic and wants to know why we overeat, because she says that although she is eating this wonderful food, she finds she is eating a lot of food. David said that most people in macrobiotics eat too much. He encourages people to chew much better and that in itself will make us eat less. Also a hint from Saul Miller in his book "Food for Thought" where if we drink a small amount of warm tea 20 minutes before eating it will help us to eat less. Also, we start our macrobiotic practice with completely stagnated intestines, and it probably takes a minimum of five to seven years for the intestines to become completely rehabil