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33rd Pacific Macrobiotic Conference,

Oakland, California.

September 19-22, 1996.

The 33rd Pacific Macrobiotic Conference was held in Oakland, California, in the home of our gracious hostess Joyce Guthrie, who also cooked the wonderful meals at the conference. Twenty two people attended the conference over the course of the week-end. The weather was beautiful, and actually it is the first time on the occasion of the Fall Equinox when we have held these meetings since 1985 in the Bay Area I can remember the whole week-end being free of the morning fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, and the conference was very relaxed and convivial. We met on Thursday evening for the welcoming dinner, beautifully prepared and cooked by Joyce and her helpers. After dinner we gathered to introduce ourselves and then set the agenda for Friday, as we also did after dinner on Friday for Saturday's agenda.
Friday September 20, 1996.

Morning Session.

1. How does macrobiotic practice change our relationship to the world.

2. Community.

3. Body-Mind connection as it relates to metaphysical healing.

4. Kushi Cuisine.

Morning Session.

1. Ohsawa changing yin and yang.

2. Questions to ask Michio and Herman at the Fall Health Classic.

3. Watering down macrobiotics.

4. Does macrobiotic practice lead to rigidity.

Saturday, September 21, 1996.

Morning Session.

1. Does prayer have a place in macrobiotic practice.

2. How to create strong relationships between men and women.

3. Aging and macrobiotics.

Afternoon Session.

1. How do you know when to fine tune the diet.

2. Where do emotions fit in macrobiotic practice.

3. Psychological and spiritual effects of pills.

Friday September 20, 1996.

Morning Session.

How does macrobiotic practice change our relationship to the world.

Lilia Roldan brought up this subject and among the many ramifications of making the change to a macrobiotic way of eating we discussed how we have the experience of becoming isolated and the problem of how our life is often the experience of being in two worlds- the one we are in which is to do with the fact that most of us are working in the workaday world and at the same time making the change to a macrobiotic way of eating and thinking. It was mentioned that one way of dealing with this problem is to continue to work on ourselves, on our inner work, and whatever we have to deal with in our work environment or with our relationships will become easier to deal with and/or will be problems and difficulties which we actually need for our inner development.

The ideal which people seem to yearn for is to have it all- good food, eating consciously, good relationships and a working life that is ideally in harmony with macrobiotic principles. Most of us realised sooner or later that this ideal wasn't going to fall into our laps and so we find we have to make adjustments and these will vary according to the individual and their priorities.

Also, how we feel with regard to the "non-macrobiotic" world is a reflection of our own condition and the people we meet are a reflection of our condition. So if we have a lot of toxic material we need to clean out be they emotional, attitudinal, etc., then we attract people that are a reflection of our condition. Thus, rather than engaging in complaints about this or that person, we need to look at ourselves and see what we need to work on, and as we improve our condition psychologically and emotionally then we tend to meet people who resonate with us. Another point that came up is that the tools we have in macrobiotic principles and practices are very useful and helpful in aiding us relate to people emotionally etc. As we develop our understanding and we are relating to people we can understand why they are behaving the way they do and so we can be more compassionate and sympathetic toward them.

One problem that most us experienced was becoming judgmental about other people's food choices and how we were so superior and this was something we needed to move through, realising that we have no control over what other people eat and what effect that is having on them and that to judge people on their lack of knowledge, or on what their food choices are, is not fair. Sooner or later we realise that people are at different stages of development spiritually and we are in no position to be superior about our food choices being better than their food choices.

What is seen as the main problem is a subject which is rarely met with anywhere in macrobiotic literature. What are the ramifications of adopting a macrobiotic diet? Most people, not all, adopt a macrobiotic dietary approach because they are ill and so it is assumed that is why anyone would do it. However, there are manifold and enormous ramifications resulting from going on a macrobiotic diet and these can be summed up in that adopting a macrobiotic lifestyle is to change the entire culture. It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the culture in which we live is on a course of self-destruction and the evidence for this is everywhere and it is also inevitable. Thus we need to create a new culture which has not yet been seen in the history of humanity and this is what we need to work on. And so the conflicts and contradictions between what we are doing when we adopt a macrobiotic diet and how that effects us health-wise psychologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and what is happening in the dying culture in which we are embedded are bound to create tension. The way we resolve this tension is really a matter of personal choice.

We asked ourselves how we related to the world before we started macrobiotics and from the responses of people it varied a great deal according to the individual. For some it was a dramatic contrast and others not so much.

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This topic was brought up by Meryl Kolevzon who talked about the new endeavour which has been underway since last December and is the start of a new macrobiotic restaurant and center in West Berkeley. The people involved in this are mainly Rene Bien, who is the owner, along with Meryl, Michael Bauce, Kaare Bursell, with a lot of help from many people who have been working very hard for many weeks to bring this to a reality. The place is called Organica at 800 Heinz Street, and is a spacious, airy, light-filled space and we are all very excited. There will be an ongoing educational effort with a free lecture and a paid lecture every week, children's program, shiatsu, and community events. It will be a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner five days, and brunch and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays. It is hoped that it will be open by the end of October. We then talked about what people would like to see happen at the place. It is hoped that eventually that Organica will become a place where people will see it as their home away from home.

She also talked about Macro Times, her monthly macrobiotic newsletter, which has been going for a year now. It is really a community resource information newsletter for the Bay Area, along with feature articles for $12.00 per year.

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Body - Mind Connection as it relates to metaphysical healing.

Michael Bauce brought this up by saying he has observed that people who get into changing their diet to a macrobiotic way and actually get better physically but do not fundamentally change as people. He wondered what we need to do in order to change as well as get better. He has been reading a book which has brought forcefully to him that our mind is a strong activity for both aiding ourselves in healing not only physically but also emotionally and attitudinally etc. We discussed that the macrobiotic diet in and of itself does not make anyone change themselves. As human beings we need to work on many aspects of our selves, including emotions, attitudes, way of thinking, world-views, motivations, in short, self-knowledge. Michael said that when he had been doing macrobiotics for a while be began to realise that if he was going to really do macrobiotics thoroughly he needed to completely throw out of his life, empty it out so to speak, and begin all over again, examining every aspect of his life again.

It was mentioned that in the earlier days of macrobiotic teaching a lot more emphasis was placed on what was called self-reflection, which meant we need to objectively observe ourselves in our day-to-day activities and ask ourselves why are we doing this, why are we getting ourselves involved in this situation and what is it about me that is creating this problem, or this difficulty etc., etc. More emphasis was placed on meditation and study than what has since become an almost totally restricted emphasis on diet and food.

We realise that there is no possibility of really healing deeply unless we are also working on ourselves spiritually, emotionally, mentally etc. And there is no question that meditation is very helpful in aiding the body in healing itself and it is also true that negative attitudes and emotions and thoughts are destructive of the body. Michael mentioned that in this book they talk about how fear-based thoughts and attitudes have actually been shown to cause the organs involved with the immune-system to actually shrink.

Rodney Thomas said that his problem with this is the disconnection implicit in metaphysical healing where we do all the meditation etc and yet are completely ungrounded when it comes to taking care of ourselves physically. The essence of the macrobiotic diet is that it grounds us into a direct connection with the earth through the seasonal cooking, where the seasons are the expressions of the spiritual being of the earth. As human beings we need to have a direct daily relationship with this earth and without it we are ungrounded physically. However, if we do not also go on to work on the non-material aspects of our being then we are going to get stuck. We summed up this discussion by saying that we need to get beyond the "either-or" mode of thinking and start thinking in terms of "both-and" mode of thinking.

Kim Ngo, who said she has been a Buddhist for many years and has been meditating for many years, discussed how she had been doing all this spiritual work for years and had been mainly vegetarian for many, many years and she developed cancer. It was then she realised that it is important for her to establish the connection with nature through the macrobiotic diet and seasonal cooking, so she came into macrobiotics after becoming ill but with a strong spiritual background.

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Kushi Cuisine.

Rodney Thomas brought up this subject by saying "I just don't get it". First of all there is no organic ingredients in it and the literature puts down both natural foods as being bland and macrobiotics as being scary. He feels that this is going to have a negative impact on macrobiotics. Of course, we have discussed this topic at the last two conferences and so much of this material has been covered before. Kushi Cuisine is a so-called natural foods instant food product line that was supposedly going to be better quality etc. It turns out to not be high quality, it doesn't taste good and it is expensive. Also, the noodles are made by another company, the gomasio is Eden Foods with the Kushi Cuisine label on it, etc., etc. David Jackson talked to Michio Kushi personally and he said he has no control over it, he is not in the kitchen supervising it. David asked him why there is no integrity in the product and Michio basically didn't answer him.

Meredith McCarty said that she has learnt that it is not doing well; there is a warehouse of the stuff and most of it is gone and the corporation is deciding whether or not to continue producing it. So we will see how it fares over the next six months.

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Afternoon Session.

Why did George Ohsawa change Yin and Yang.

Francesco brought this up and wondered why this change was made by George Ohsawa. Kaare Bursell said that if we study the I Ching, which is the quintessential expression of yin-yang philosophy, there it states that Heaven, being the generator of all things and therefore the active principle is more yang, in contra-distinction to Earth, which is therefore more yin, being that which is generated by the active principle of Heaven . In the I Ching Heaven is Great Yang and Earth is Great Yin. And of course all of Chinese and Far Eastern Culture, including medicine, is based on this perspective of yin and yang.

George Ohsawa came to the West and from his perspective, although he did not think the I Ching was wrong, the culture of the West is very materialistic and from a materialistic perspective, the human being is living on the earth, we are standing on a compact body floating in space, which therefore is more yang and the space flung over our heads us more yin. And he went on to re-arrange the properties, attributes and tendencies of yin and yang accordingly. Now, of course, neither one is wrong but the problem is that people who come to macrobiotic literature out of Traditional Chinese Medicine -acupuncture, herbs, moxabustion, shiatsu and so forth, do not know about this crucial distinction between the more metaphysical traditional Chinese interpretation of yin and yang and the more materialistic interpretation of macrobiotics. So when they read the macrobiotic literature they say, and correctly from their standpoint, that macrobiotics has no understanding of yin and yang.

Kaare's take on this is that people are best served by studying one of then and getting a thorough grasp of it and then see what the other one has to say as long as we know about this distinction of the perspectives of macrobiotics on yin and yang, and the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Interestingly, Kaare was recently talking to Carl Ferre, who, among other things, is in charge of the publishing of books by the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation and he said he had been contacted by a man named Roy Collins who has, in addition to practice macrobiotics for thirty odd years, also been researching the history of Yin and Yang for thirty years and he has found that in China since the time of the legendary Fu Hsi there has not been a consensus throughout Chinese history as to what is the correct interpretation of yin and yang. Kaare has since been in touch by e-mail with Roy Collins and this is what he has to say:

"I have practiced Macrobiotics for quite some time and needed more verification on yin and yang in order to accept Ohsawa's version of it. For thirty years I have researched this area and have tracked yin and yang from its neolithic source, through the Shang dynasty and to the Chou where it was reinterpreted and *reversed* Yet not all philosophers and sages agreed with King Wen's ideas and continued to believe in yin and yang the way it was originally presented by Fu Hsi as *The Yielding* in the north (yin) and *The Firm* in the south (yang). One of the first written accounts comes from the Ten Wings of Confucius. Confucius by the way really didn't have a good grasp on yin and yang at all and grouped things such as horses, jade, ice and fruit trees with Yang!

From the Chou I tracked yin and yang from its metaphysical gloss and can prove that not very many people agreed on how it should be interpreted at all. It was shortly after the Warring States era when the Huai-nan-tzu was written that yin and yang began to follow along the lines that it was originally intended (the physical version of Fu Hsi) which Wang Chung, and later Ohsawa also followed." His book is going to be published by the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation under the title "Yin and Yang and the I Ching: 6,000 years of changing opinion".

This book should help to clarify a great deal.

We then went on to have a discussion on Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbs and acupuncture etc and there relative worth vis-a-vis macrobiotics and also the revelation that the Traditional Chinese Medicine has a fundamental flaw in the Five Transformation Theory because originally there were six, but under the influence of the modern Chinese Government one of the six was eliminated; this is "spirit".

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Questions to ask Michio Kushi and Herman Aihara.

This topic was introduced by David Jackson because Larry Cooper is having Michio and Herman at the Fall Health Classic and he has decided to have an evening there where Michio and Herman are on stage together, simply because they are both getting on in years and this is an opportunity forthem to reflect on 50 years of macrobiotics in America, for which they have been the two major influences, after Ohsawa, and will field questions from the audience with Larry moderating. Larry asked David to ask us what questions we would like to have them answer so that Larry can have them to ask. Larry does have some questions of his own but he would also like some more so that if the audience lags he has a ready supply.

The list of questions we came up with:

What do they think will happen to the Kushi Institute or the Vega Institute after they have passed away.

What does Michio think Kushi Macrobiotic Cuisine will do for macrobiotics.

Has Michio or Herman learnt anything new about life or himself in the past year that he did not know before.

Ask both of them what they think the destiny of America is.

We have recognized that macrobiotics has been taught under the leadership of two popular icons, and once those two icons are gone, how do they see teaching macrobiotics in America being done in the future.

What do they see as their legacy.

Thinking back on their association with George Ohsawa, do they have an anecdote or story they would like to relate which was of particular significance to them in their understanding of life.

What do they think of the significance of the role their wives played in their lives and careers.

How does Michio think his recognition and fame has affected him as a person and as a teacher.

At this point in their lives what is their definition of macrobiotics.

What do they think of technology.

What do they think are the trends of disease in modern times.

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Watering down of macrobiotics.

Rodney Thomas began this discussion by saying he gets the impression that people have trouble using the word macrobiotics when they are talking about what they are eating to friends and acquaintances. Kushi Cuisine is another example of trying to make it safe.

Kaare said that there a many people in macrobiotics who are teaching and have benefited tremendously in their own personal lives who will not use the word macrobiotics in their presentation, calling what they are teaching gourmet vegetarian, or natural healing or whatever.

The question is why do people have the need to not be upfront about what they are actually doing and using all kinds of rationales to avoid using the word, like people wouldn't come to the classes, I don't want it to be a turn off, etc., etc. Kaare said there are several possible answers to this question and one of them is these people do not have any confidence in their own understanding of macrobiotics so they do not use the term. Macrobiotics is fundamentally a challenge to the whole of the medical-pharmaceutical-scientific and the animal, chemical and technology-based food industries. Now, to not recognize this if you are practicing and studying macrobiotics means there is a really shallow understanding of macrobiotic principles, philosophy and practices. Now, anyone with half a brain who studies and practices macrobiotics will see this but they are unwilling to take up the challenge and so there is this tip-toeing and beating around the bush going on.

Kaare said the reason why most people in macrobiotics are like this is they have not had a scientific training and been doctors and been fortunate enough to come out of that hell hole. Kaare, as a practicing Doctor of Veterinary Medicine for seven years said that being a doctor in today's medicine is living a nightmare. However, it is only when you come out of a nightmare that you realise you've been in one. So, from his perspective, there is no possible compromise with modern medicine and all expressions in modern culture that are related to it. The whole gestalt of macrobiotics is completely opposed to that of modern medicine; modern medicine is not interested in what disease is and therefore trivialises it. Disease is a profound spiritual reality which is there to teach the person who has the disease, and who therefore also created it, lessons about themselves which are very significant for them to learn, and which can only be learnt by going through the process of healing themselves of the disease or die trying.

Modern medicine on the other hand treats disease like an enemy which has to be conquered and goes to war with it by beating the crap out of the symptoms (the cut, burn and poison medicine) of the disease which of course does absolutely nothing for the disease itself but make it worse, in the long run.

Now, most people teaching and practicing macrobiotics, including Michio Kushi, do not understand that there is no possible compromise between modern medicine and macrobiotics and that macrobiotics is a total, unequivocal throwing down of the gauntlet to modern medicine, and is a much higher science than medical science. So Kushi, in his folly, made the deliberate policy to show that macrobiotics cures cancer (which of course it does not as we have seen lately with several long-time macrobiotic teachers developing cancer) because cancer is the most devastating disease from the perspective of medical science, which has been an utterly disastrous failure in dealing with cancer(not to mention all the other degenerative diseases). More people die of cancer in the US alone in one year than have died of AIDS worldwide in the last ten years. Michio's reasoning was that if we can show the medical scientific world that macrobiotics can cure cancer, then we'll rule the world.

Modern medicine is a powerful modern form of black magic practice; it is a ritualistic practice done by the patient as a sacrifice to an unknown deity of whose existence not only is the patient unaware but so also is the doctor(priest)-as is the rest of the culture, obviously. It cannot be emphasised enough how unconscious and ignorant modern medicine is(of course, people will think such a statement is madness, but this simply means they are not paying attention). Now, as a result of this not being understood then people think that macrobiotics is another alternative medicine; it is not an alternative to modern medicine and it never has been and has, fundamentally, nothing to do with any of the alternative medicines.

Most people in macrobiotics do not "get it" about macrobiotics. This is because in order to understand it properly we have to go through many difficulties and trials of one kind and another, which people generally would rather avoid. Also, it hasn't been taught properly. And so macrobiotics has become so watered down is because the main motivation for doing it has become to make it and by extension, oneself, popular-this is the kiss of death, because one necessarily has to therefore water it down.

If anyone observes what has been happening to this culture since the 1950's then one observes a dying, self-destructing culture. More and more people are getting sicker and sicker at ever-increasing rates, and as a result the society is sicker, the air is sicker, the ecology is sicker, the ground is sicker, the water is sicker, the economy is sicker, etc., etc., and these cannot be ignored and have definitely become more intransigently problematical in the last thirty years, and continue so to do. And the fundamental reason for doing macrobiotics is to change that in the opposite direction- toward individual, social, ecological, environmental, economic etc., health and vitality.

So, this watering down of macrobiotics we have seen over the last ten years or so is part of that same sickness. If we water it down, it means, number one, we do not understand it and, two, we do not have the courage of our own convictions and, three, our personal practice is not there, and four, we want to appeal to people so everybody thinks you're nice, you're such a great guy. How does Deepak Chopra make his 'deep pockets' -because he doesn't challenge anybody! And macrobiotics is a challenge to society.

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Does macrobiotic practice lead to rigidity?

This answer to this is that it definitely can but not necessarily. Iona brought this subject up and used this time to say she had been thinking about this from the dietary aspect. She has been doing the diet for just over the three years and she has noticed over the past year that people who stick rigidly to the diet have been getting into trouble. She was feeling her health was not quite right with her and she went to get other perspectives and saw an ayuverdic practitioner in Santa Barbara at the Summer Retreat and she got her advice and followed it and felt better. Also she saw Steven Acuff and he said she needed more animal protein and that helped. So the gist of what she said is that we need to be open to any possibility and explore it.

Macrobiotic practice is a set of principles which are eminently flexible and we need to understand them so that we can apply them to our individual situation. As for the dietary recommendations, they can include all the foods from sugar to meat on the yin -yang spectrum, depending on our condition and where we are in our healing process. The problem is the way macrobiotics has been taught is the food is the secret and if we just get that down and follow the diet we will be fine. This is not correct and doesn't happen.

What happens if we follow that path is we make the same mistake we did before macrobiotics but in the opposite way. Before we are unconscious of the effects of food and we have no knowledge and we therefore eat chaotically, whimsically and habitually. After starting macrobiotics we eat strictly, narrowly and obsessively, which is okay and necessary for us to begin with. However, if we continue in this fashion beyond the time necessary then we get out of balance by being too yang in our eating practice and so we get too yang and that translates into symptoms of being out of balance, i.e., sickness.

In this context, what Scott Peck had to say about people involved in any spiritual, religious practice is relevant. He had observed that there are four stages of development of people involved in a spiritual teaching, and it is not the case that everyone gets through these stages automatically. People can get stuck at any one of the first three. These are the 'neophyte', where the person is new to the practice and is totally enthusiastic and thinks the teacher is great and reveres him or her; then they get to the 'fanatic' stage where there is the rigid adherence to the rules and codes of the practice and anyone who doesn't is a heretic and is contemptible. Then the third stage is 'disillusioned' where they find out the teacher is into alcohol, or is having an affair or doesn't do the practice etc., so they quit the practice and put down everything and everybody associated with the practice. Then the forth stage, if they are fortunate enough to hang in there is where they integrate the previous three and go on do further develop their practice.

Also David said it is often the case when we start our macrobiotic practice that we actually cause blockages because we are eating too much grain, or too much salt or not enough greens etc. Thus we may need to alter our macrobiotic practice radically for a few days or a week or two, like not have any grains at all, or no miso etc. It is all about finding out how to make our macrobiotic practice work for us and this necessarily means being flexible and adaptable and trying different things, within the context of macrobiotic principles and ideas. In other words, if we are feeling tight and getting bloated or whatever, it does no good in the long run to continue to eat in the same way and start taking blue-green algae, or 'pro-biotics' of one kind and another.We may feel better initially, but these are extreme substances and will ultimately induce even greater imbalances. Incidentally, it has been found that contained in blue-green algae are substances similar in chemical structure to cocaine, which explains a lot!

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Saturday September 21.

Morning Session.

Does prayer have a place in macrobiotic practice.

Beverly London introduced this topic by saying she had been diagnosed as HIV + and said she had notmet or spoken to anyone who had had positive results using macrobiotics and she went and saw Michio in April 1993. She then saw Tom Monte and told him that Michio had said that the blood work done on people who had been diagnosed with AIDS who were doing macrobiotics strictly had shown positive results after being on the diet for two months. She followed exactly what Michio had advised her and after two months had blood work done and there was no change. She wasn't particularly distressed by it because she felt so good; however, she did not have any what she called tangible results diagnostically. Tom(who is the author of "The Way of Hope" which is about macrobiotics and AIDS) talked to her a lot about her and discovered that she was an atheist and he said the reason why her body wasn't going to heal is because she is not praying.

As with all the people she counseled with, Beverly did not disbelieve Tom, but on the other hand, although as far as the dietary advice goes she followed their advice because she felt she did not have an alternative, she did not believe them either. So, when Tom told her this, she did not immediately rush home and begin praying. Then one day she decided to pray and looked up in the dictionary what the word means, which is to ask humbly of God for something. So she prayed to God to teach her how to pray and she left it at that.

When her husband had developed AIDS, they had both gone into TM and he meditated until the time of his death, using it to control his pain. She stopped meditating herself. So she had these questions, is there a place for prayer in macrobiotics, is meditation a way to turn off the world and get a high or is there something in metaphysics that is real, is spiritually a condition or is it just having the lingo down and being able to meditate so that it looks like you have inner wisdom but there is no wisdom there.

The response to these questions from those present is that we generally found as we practiced macrobiotics, the longer we did it was we began to feel, at a level deeper than the intellectual, a definite connectedness to the earth and the world and the cosmos. And no one seemed to think that prayer was out of place in anyone's macrobiotic practice. And the fact is the answers to her questions are all yes!

We then had a long discussion on meditation and how we do it and what is happening with us while we are meditating and how the very act of meditating and what manifests during meditation demonstrates unequivocally we are spiritual beings inhabiting a physical body.

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How to create strong relationships between men and women.

Lilia Roldan brought this up by saying she had heard at a recent macrobiotic women's meeting that it didn't matter whether one had non-macrobiotic or macrobiotic men, and in fact, it was more difficult many times relating with macrobiotic men than non-macrobiotic men. And she has seen herself two or three different relationships with both people doing macrobiotics and they appear to her to be, frankly, dysfunctional relationships.

So, Kaare asked, what is the fundamental, spiritual reason for relationships between men and women. This is assuming that there is the attraction, not only sexual, that there is the instinct for procreation, that both people wish to share their lives together. The spiritual reason for marriage, partnership, is that it consists as the kindergarten school in developing selflessness. After all, when one decides on a relationship with someone, your whole life changes radically, because, whereas before you need not consider anyone else in your decision making about the everyday affairs of life - what to eat, what music to listen to, whether to go to a movie or not and if so which movie, when to go to bed, whether to go and have a drink etc., etc. Suddenly you have to start considering someone else in your decision making, and ask them and have discussions etc.

Furthermore, people have this odd notion that relationships are or should be a piece of cake. This is far from being the case and is really a legacy of the hollywood fantasy about what a real relationship is like. Here, in a man­woman relationship we have two people who are completely opposite in many respects to one another, and they are both hidden in large part from one another, and one has what the other has not and vice-versa. So, if there is actually any relating going on, then there are going to be stormy passages, and more than once! After all, relationships are difficult, they are so necessarily if there is any real relating going on.

Now, in macrobiotics the fiction has been promoted in the past that if two people are eating macrobiotically then there will be no problems with the relationship. And Kaare remembers particularly having a conversation with a man who told him that when he got married to a woman who was also eating macrobiotically that they both said they were set in their relationship and now, 10 years later, all kinds of problems had arisen and the man couldn't understand how or why, if they were both eating macrobiotically, things could have gone so bad that they were now splitting up. And he went on to start dissing macrobiotics and saying it was full of bull etc. And this has happened many times in the macrobiotic community. So, obviously it is completely erroneous to think that eating macrobiotically does of itself make a relationship work. This is what is really interesting, how people blame macrobiotic eating and principles for their problems when in fact they haven't worked on their problems while at the same time eating macrobiotically.

The fact is that the bottom line of any relationship, if it is going to last, is unconditional trust and loyalty. Of course, the food, and the heart connection and the communication are also important, but without trust and loyalty no relationship is going to last. The aspect about the food which bears stressing is that there is no doubt that if two people are living and sharing their lives together and one is eating macrobiotically and the other is not, then they have two completely different blood qualities and vibrationally they are resonating at differently. Thus, they are generally not going to be on the same wavelength and this means communication is going to be made more difficult.

However, the other side of the coin is that eating macrobiotically and the ensueing cleansing and detoxification that develops means that all aspects of our soul life are accentuated, so that we feel more sharply and clearly what is happening in our relationships. Then it becomes more difficult for us to ignore problems and dissonances and disagreements; they are thrown into our faces, so to speak, until we deal with them, which actually makes relationships more difficult but also more interesting and enriching.

The discussion touched on many subjects which are related to being in a relationship and the most significant reason brought up as to why people generally are having trouble with relationships is because people are immature emotionally and selfish. And being immature they do not understand what a tremendous responsibility getting into a relationship is and then when they find out what it takes, so when problems and difficulties arise and things don't turn out to be smooth and easy, then people start looking for the nearest exit.

Also we said that in relationships if we are having difficulties that we recognize as being difficulties, then it is our responsibility to make the necessary changes in ourselves, because usually those difficulties are a reflection or projection of stuff we need to deal with. Then after doing the self-reflection as to what it is about ourselves that is creating the difficulties and we change ourselves. Then the dynamics of the relationship change in a more positive direction.

The problem with macrobiotics is that when we start eating this way then we begin to slough off the food buffers that we have to conceal our psychological problems from ourselves, the dark, demonic aspects that are in everyone. So then we find that, if we are truly interested in healing ourselves totally and completely, we have to start looking at those shadow aspects of ourselves and change them. So, the question is for everyone, macrobiotic or not, do we realise what crappy, sick, self-deceiving, unconscious, manipulating and lying human beings we are? Then, if we are willing to say yes to that and admit it, then and only then can we have any possibility of changing ourselves. And the macrobiotic way of eating only facilitates that process, but it does not do the difficult work of changing ourselves so we look at our shadow side, admit it there and start the work of transforming it. There are many people in macrobiotics who have been eating a macrobiotic diet for years and haven't changed -still lying and manipulating and deceiving.

And our relationships are a reflection of our internal psychological condition and therefore show to us where we need to work on ourselves. No blame.

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Aging and macrobiotics.

Jan Buck introduced this topic and asked if there was in macrobiotic thinking ideas about the dynamics of aging, and as a female person the issue of post-menopausal problems and also what people's experiences are in the group. The first statement made was that if we are healthy we tend to look younger than our age in years, and if we look older than we are, it is because we are unhealthy.

In Steiner's work on this subject he says that the human physical organism is subject to a dynamic of two forces, what he calls the life forces and the death forces. Now, from the time we are born up until we are thirty five the life forces are in ascendancy and then the death forces begin to gain the upper hand and eventually take the day and our physical organism expires. This is a natural process. From the perspective of macrobiotic thinking it is held that aging is a natural process and that if, as we grow up and mature and move in to the latter years of our lives we have actually been working on ourselves and have been learning from our store of experiences then we enter into old age tremendously enriched in our souls by what we have experienced and learned. Thus, in all native cultures of the world there has always been evoked a tremendous respect and veneration of the elder members of the population, because they had developed a repository of knowledge and wisdom to which the younger generations could turn to for advice and guidance. And, generally speaking the elderly people of those cultures did not enter into the grave in wheelchairs and as pharmaceutical drug addicts. In today's culture the natural aging process has been overlayed with biological degeneration so that when statements are made about people's conditions and the problems of aging, they say it is because they are getting old, whereas in most cases these conditions and problems are not problems of aging but those of biological degeneration.

Thus, in this culture we have the case where aging is frowned upon and regarded as something to avoid, and if you do happen to get old, then you are shoved aside into retirement and old people's homes and pharmaceutical hell. A person's worth in this culture is measured by their economic productivity and their spiritual productivity is discounted. So, as people get to the point in their lives when they are no longer capable of being economically productive, they are simply put out to pasture to vegetate as best they can.

Whereas macrobiotically we see life as the growth from the seed of the beginnings of our life, through childhood, adolescence, young adult, mature adult, into old age and then death. But death is not seen as the full stop that this culture appears to think and certainly acts as if it were; rather death is seen as our continued growth into the spiritual world. And Steiner has given a tremendous amount of information-detailed, thorough and comprehensive accounting of what happens from the time we die (i.e., discard our physical body and enter into the spiritual worlds), all the way through our spiritual journey back to being incarnated again in our next life. This is very valuable information because we can learn beforehand of what we can expect will happen when we enter the passage of our death into the spiritual world.

As for the problem of post -menopause and oestrogen replacement and osteoporosis.

From the macrobiotic perspective, if we are healthy women and we go through menopause, then the major source of estrogen, the ovaries, dries up. But, there are back up processes in the female organism that continue to produce the estrogen that is needed as it is needed. These sources are the liver and the adrenal glands. (Of course, if we are unhealthy then usually, by this age, they are both weak, tired and toxic).

Furthermore, macrobiotic thinking is that estrogen has nothing to do with osteoporosis, nor does calcium. The macrobiotic explanation of osteoporosis is that when the blood and tissue fluid quality becomes overly yin, the body seeks to neutralise(balance it) it by drawing yang substances, that is minerals- calcium, magnesium and phosphorus- out of the bones, ligaments and muscles. Then, once the neutralizing of the overly yin (or yang) blood and tissue fluids has occurred, the yang substances return to their source. Now, if we are continually making our blood and tissue fluid quality more yin, then the result is that more minerals are being leached out of the bones, and some of these are subsequently lost everyday through urination and bowel movement, and so gradually there is this loss of minerals from the bones and the resulting osteoporosis. This is further exacerbated through the post-menopausal woman no longer having the monthly menses to discharge a large amount of yin blood, and that is why osteoporosis tends to accelerate post-menopausally.

Now, there is a large ethical problem with regard to estrogen replacement therapy which is that primarin, the estrogen replacement, is farmed from mares being continuously kept tied up in narrow stalls. There they are made artificially pregnant and then aborted artificially after a certain period and their urine collected and the estrogen extracted from it. As soon as the mares are aborted, they are then artificially impregnated again. This is another manifestation of the deep sickness of our culture.

As far as John Lee's recommendation to take progesterone extracted from wild yams is that macrobiotic practice is about aiding the body in naturally healing itself. Thus, if we take something that is a replacement for what the body can do for itself, we are effectively undermining our body in its healing process. Thus we do not recommend the practice and the remarks about what the body does, if it regains its health, with regard to producing estrogen after menopause also apply to progesterone.

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Afternoon Session

How do we know when to begin fine tuning the diet.

Beverly London brought up this topic because she had heard references to this several times yesterday and wanted to go into some more detail on this. She was asked if she had any experiences of doing this herself and she said once she had gone to see her original cooking teacher and complained of being too tired. She was advised to cut her vegetables differently -she had been cutting her vegetables very fine and she was putting it all in soups. She was asked to cut her vegetables bigger and not to have so many soups and also to cut her liquid intake; she did and she immediately began to feel more vitality.

As a matter of course we found when we looked at our practice we found that we are naturally making adjustments as we go along. The problem is that people read the books and get the impression that there is the perfect way to do a macrobiotic practice. In reality there is no perfect way to do a macrobiotic dietary practice which is perfect for everybody. In other words, since everyone is unique and everyone's condition changes as they go through the months and years of doing a macrobiotic practice it necessarily follows that our dietary practice is going to change. So, when people ask when it is appropriate to start fine tuning the diet, it is when you are not doing well on it. However, the problem is that when we start macrobiotics we are going through a lot of radical changes bio-spiritually and at this early time, if we are not feeling well it may be that that is what we are going through as part of our changes. So, it is important and actually crucial that when anyone starts a macrobiotic practice that they are talking to someone who knows what is going on, so they can be guided through what is often a turbulent passage. Then, after three years or so, we should be starting to make adjustments and begin to widen our diet.

George Ohsawa said in his book, "Guidebook for Living", that people seem to have the impression that macrobiotics is some modern form of stoicism, a monastic way of living that is denial of joy; he said this is a complete misunderstanding of macrobiotic ideas and practice. And he said that when he started macrobiotics he had to stay straight and strict because if he did not, his body told him; but as the years passed and he developed his understanding of yin and yang he can now eat whatever he wants, enjoying Italian, French, Chinese and other cuisines. In fact, he goes on to say that if a person cannot smoke, eat meat, dairy, fruit and sugar without getting sick, this means they are a crippled person. And he wrote this in italics! And what has happened in the last thirty years since Ohsawa died is this idea has completely been thrown out the window in macrobiotic literature despite the fact that many people who have been in macrobiotics more than five to seven years do not eat a strict circumscribed macrobiotic diet. It doesn't even make sense in terms of macrobiotic principles themselves that anyone should eat the same strict, circumscribed diet for the rest of their lives because one of the basic, fundamental macrobiotic principles is that everything changes, including ourselves, so that necessarily means we will have to make adjustments to and widen our dietary intake as time goes on.

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Where do emotions fit in macrobiotic practice.

Casey Rose brought this subject up and said that if macrobiotics is going to an all-encompassing philosophy and blue-print for living a large live, it must include the emotional side of human beings, in addition, physical, mental and spiritual. Whether we like it or not feelings play a large part in healing and staying healthy. She said it is important to admit what we are feeling is very important and that anytime we suppress these emotions, whether negative or positive, then it blocks the chi flow and causes organ damage. It is certain that if we do not acknowledge our emotional life then we are not going to be truly human.

Of course, in macrobiotic literature and teaching the emotions are regarded as purely a manifestation of the condition of the organs and that we merely have to clean up our diet, the organs heal and our emotional garbage magically disappears. Well, of course, this completely leaves out of account the soul stuff which contains a lot of unresolved emotional baggage which stem from childhood, or relationships or whatever which most people in the modern world soon learn is taboo subject matter; we simply don't talk about the shadow stuff. So, when we are cleaning up our diet and our organs heal, then this emotional toxicity stemming from soul stuff begins to stand out in sharp relief in our soul stuff and we must necessarily acknowledge it and deal with it.

So, although it is undoubtedly true that when we begin our macrobiotic practice we begin to feel a lot calmer, more relaxed etc. So, we can say that if our emotional life is made up of both the organ toxicity and soul toxicity, then those emotional aspects of our life that result from organ toxicity will definitely clear up. But those that are resulting from past negative relationships and childhood abuse etc., etc., they will only become more pronounced because the foods in the macrobiotic diet do not have the effect of covering over our emotional soul stagnations, like sugar and chocolate, and animal fat and protein and alcohol etc., do.

At the Kushi Institute, even as recently as three years ago, it was being taught that food was the basis of the emotions. This is totally erroneous and in a lot of ways you can read what is happening and has been happening at the KI over the past ten to fifteen years as the expression of a emotionally dysfunctional organization.

Of course, it is often said that the Japanese, culturally, do not like to talk about emotions, especially in public, but that is also true with the English, and the German for that matter. Not so much the Italian and French cultures. But it is evident that talking about negative emotions resulting from past hurts and abuse etc. is distressing for every human being.

However, it is also true to say that it is also unhealthy if we express our emotions to the point that they begin to run us. It is important to both acknowledge we are having negative emotions if we are having them, and at the same time to contain them so that we do not become controlled by them.

So, yes, addressing and dealing with our emotions does fit in with macrobiotic practice.

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Psychological and spiritual effects of supplements.

Kaare Bursell brought up this topic by saying it is something that has been bothering him for a long time, since 1985. When he got into macrobiotics 20 years ago there was no question that vitamin and mineral supplements were regarded with anathema and it was recommended to not take them on any account, for any reason at all.

However, as mechanistic "flying-blind" science got into nutritional research a tremendous amount of information on nutrients began to flood the media and then people began to ask whether they were getting this and that and what were the sources of the other and on and on and on. The problem has been that Kaare has always been bothered by the fact that people are so ready to take pills and he wondered why it bothered him so much (and is there a pill for that, Bruce Pond interjected-never let it be said we do not have a sense of humor at these meetings-throughout the course of the weekend we were often laughing uproariously and poking fun at ourselves) so he researched it and found three different sources that essentially say the same about why supplements are dangerous.

The essential picture is we all need trace elements, minerals, and vitamins but that in order for the digestive functions to be able to process them properly they have to be presented in their natural context, whether it be in kale, or broccoli or brown rice or beef, for that matter.

From the macrobiotic perspective of yin and yang all these supplements are extremely yin because of the processing they undergo to make them into pills- the chemicals used to separate them out, the fractionating, the freeze-drying etc.

From the anthroposophical perspective the bio-spiritual activity is contingent upon the matrix in which these substances are embedded in the kale etc. So that when these substances are removed from their relationship to the matrix in which they are embedded, by processing and extraction, then they no longer have their proper bio-spiritual activity in the organism.

From a mechanistic scientific perspective an article was printed several years ago in a publication called "The Journal of Clinical Nutrition" which was an overview of all the studies, world-wide, that had been done scientifically up to that date on vitamin, mineral and fibre supplementation and whether or not taking these was of any medical benefit. The conclusion was that there was no scientific evidence that taking these made any difference whatsoever and the authors cautioned that in the doses that people are being recommended to take them, they are probably having toxic effects.

What has happened in the past five years or so has been an increasing flood of advertising encouraging people to take all these supplements including spirulina, blue-green algae, and of course all the minerals, vitamins and herbs are now available everywhere in pill form and there has been just an incredible onslaught of information about how it is important to take these supplements without question. And the supplement industry has grown to become a multi-billion dollar industry over these last ten-twenty years or so.

The question is what effect is the taking of these supplements having spiritually and psychologically? From the macrobiotic perspective when we eat any food or non-food, we are not only taking in the physical substance, we are also taking in the spiritual aspect that went into its preparation. Thus if we eat something that has been through a highly sophisticated (that is, highly unnatural) mechanical, chemical procedures we are eating the machine forces as well as the substance itself. Kaare thinks this is mechanising people's soul who take these - their thought processes, emotions, feelings, ideas etc. Thus people today have no trouble with the notion that our bodies are machines which need their fuel and lubricants and additives.

He was teaching at the French Meadows Activities Camp and was talking with Laara Maxwell and Saul Miller (who wrote the macrobiotic book, 'Food for Thought'.) and they told me something which is related to what he was saying about the spiritual effects of taking supplements.

Now, he prefaced the following remarks by saying that what he is about to say will probably sound totally wacky and most people reading it are likely to laugh at it; and that most of us, including himself, will not as yet understand the full import of the remarks; nevertheless he was going to impart them because this is information we need to know and, if possible, begin to work with.

Rudolf Steiner, as a result of his investigations into the spiritual worlds came across the event that is to take place in 1933 that is a momentous spiritual event of far reaching significance for humanity and our progressive evolution. (Steiner died in 1925). This event he called the 'reappearance of Christ in the etheric world'. Now, the etheric world is the world of plants and vegetation and water and wind and cloud and weather as well as the etheric body of the human organism which has many aspects to it and is of particular significance for thinking. Steiner said that if this momentous spiritual event was to occur and humanity would let is pass by and not notice that it has occurred then things will go very badly for humanity in the future, i.e., from the early '30's onward.

Now, there is an Englishman living in Germany called Robert Powell who has been a student and teacher and writer on anthropsophic subjects for many years and he was staying with Laara and Saul while he was giving lectures to the anthroposphical community in Vancouver. Robert Powell said, in one of his lectures, that one of the significant aspects of the Christ Impulse is that it has a 33 1/3 year cycle and that the beginning of the reappeance of Christ in the etheric began in 1899 and was completed in 1933. Now, it is also important to understand that the spiritual powers that are opponents of Christ, those that Steiner refers to as the counter-progressive forces, namely Lucifer, Ahriman and, coming into view now, Asura, redouble their efforts in order to thwart what Christ is doing from having an effect in human beings. And that their efforts at counter-attacking Christ's activity would be evident in the social sphere. Well, what happened in 1933? We had the Third Reich.

Now, if we add 33 1/3 to 1933, what year is that, 1966-67. And what happened in 1966 - the widespread acceptance and use of hallucogenic drugs by millions of young people all over the world. His take on it is the profusion of hallucinogenic drug use essentially blocked off the effects, on human beings who take those drugs, of the Christ Impulse then. He thinks the proliferation of the use of supplements of any kind that has really been evident in the past few years so that as people in vast numbers will have taken vast numbers of pills by 1999-2000 then the 33 1/3 year return of the Christ Impulse will again pass by unnoticed by human beings in vast numbers (far greater numbers than those who take drugs because there is no social stigma attached to taking supplements).

Now, Kaare has remarked in other places that if anyone is unaware of the activities of Lucifer and Ahriman in their souls then we are de facto necessarily unwitting allies of one or the other or both (with Asura now approaching quickly) and will carry out what they wish to bring about. Not only is this evident everywhere in modern culture, it is also evident in macrobiotic teachers. Remember that in 1979 no matter who you asked who was teaching macrobiotics then, no-one had anything to say about supplements except do not take them. Now, 16 years later we not only have macrobiotic teachers saying it is okay to take supplements, they are also selling them! Kaare thinks without any doubt at all in his mind that taking supplements of any kind undermines the healing process because they attack and weaken the immune system.

In the following discussion it was asked whether cocaine and heroin fall into the same boat; yes they do, as do pharmaceutical drugs. And of course enzymes and 'pro-biotics' etc.

And so ended a wonderfully stimulating, enjoyable and interesting Pacific Macrobiotic Conference.

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