Macrobiotics Today, March/April 1995, Vol. 35, No. 3
As an introduction to macrobiotic education many years ago I was confronted with some powerful words and phrases that were supposed to represent the essence of macrobiotic philosophy. “What has front has a back, everything changes, and the spirit of non credo (don’t believe)” were the foundation of this unique education that was to be my new “way of life.” As the years rolled by I found these essential philosophical gems constantly being bombarded by assumptions. Many of these assumptions contradicted the essence of macrobiotic thought and lifestyle, and eventually they came to be accepted and interpreted by many as guidelines, sometimes even laws to be followed and adhered to.
Not Unusual Today; Today it is not unusual for the newcomer to macrobiotics to quickly assume one or more of the following to be true: your cancer can be cured by a macrobiotic diet and there is a specific standard macrobiotic diet that will do this; fish is the only acceptable animal product in the diet, one will become more spiritual and humble while at the same time experience an increase in sexual energy and vitality on this diet; by understanding yin and yang one will discover the answers to all physical, psychological, social and spiritual problems. While it is possible that we could realize some of these issues during our macrobiotic experience it is foolish and immature to “believe” these assumptions.
Where Did They Come From; Where did these and so many other assumptions come from and why? Could they arise from a fundamental need for the Western mind to believe? If so, then that severely challenges the spirit of non credo and if these assumptions are accepted as truth, it limits our freedom to exercise our judgment. Naturally we all have to start somewhere and it is not uncommon for us in the West, when undertaking a new adventure, to want to define and confine and thus limit any belief by setting perimeters around it. However, the unique philosophy of macrobiotics does not allow for this in spite of the many attempts to do so. So many of us “old timers” know this well from experience. Time after time we have tried to plaster assumptions around this way of life only to find them flying back in our face as a constant reminder of our irrational behavior perpetrated by our personal limitations and beliefs.
What Happens; What happens when we no longer believe in religious dogma? We leave, move on to explore more of this vast realm beyond go. To forge ahead is often very difficult because many of the assumptions we have accumulated along the road were deeply assimilated yet never fully digested. These unfounded assumptions and beliefs then may lead to either complete frustration or a sense of self righteousness. Do some macrobiotic people need numerous assumptions to validate what they are doing? Is it a control issue for some that stems from deep insecurity? A need for power and authority that does little to empower others? It is unfortunate that we have allowed so many assumptions to permeate what truly is a beautiful experience. We owe it to ourselves and others to keep an open mind, experience more, and to assume less.
The Most Harmful; Perhaps the most harmful assumption associated with macrobiotics is that macrobiotics stands alone and maybe there are some possible adjuncts or supplements that could be compatible with it. Yoga, Chinese medicine, raw foods diet and other diets, EST, high quality (organic and bio-dynamic) dairy products and other taboo foods, herbs, Homeopathy, super blue green algae, visualization and Ayurvedic healing are just a few of these assumed side dishes of macrobiotics.
Are these and others really just adjuncts to macrobiotics or are they in some capacity an integral part of the “Great, large life?” Maybe I am totally out of touch with the “real” macrobiotics but I can honestly say that out of the thousands of macrobiotic people I know, I know of no one who has not incorporated one or more of these so called supplements into their macrobiotic experience in some form or another. Even if I did not know this to be true I would have to be extremely naive to think otherwise. All of us without exception have something that the true believer could find unacceptable. And that is what keeps the fire of macrobiotics burning. If we didn’t have that “something” the flame would have burned out a long time ago. To debate the validity of any of these adjuncts would be fruitless. All have something to offer.
About six years ago I attended a macrobiotic teachers meeting in New York City. The subjects to be discussed were alternatives that might be compatible with macrobiotics, and counseling. At the time I was exploring the potential health benefits of blue green algae. When the subject came up the tension in the room was so strong I immediately knew I was alone, without an ounce of support or consideration. For some reason everyone in the room thought the algae unacceptable. It could not be recommended under any circumstances! I asked the question to the group, “Do you all remember when Green Magma first came on the scene?” The group laughed and said of course. I then asked if anyone had recommended it and all said no. I then asked if any of them recommended it now and they all responded with yes. Some said occasionally. I then asked them why they did not recommend it when it came out and why they recommend it now. Silence. I had my answer. I knew that Green Magma had been sanctioned by the “authority” a year before.
Money, Money, Money; Money has long been an issue in macrobiotics. At the same meeting we went around the room and each of us had to say why we do counseling. After hearing many ideological definitions that included, “to help people improve their health,” “to create world peace,” “to spread the word” and so on. When it came to me I said that I agree with all of these things but that it was also the money to support my family. Needless to say, I was attacked from all angles. After much criticism I said wait a minute and asked them how much they charge for a consultation. Everyone in the room was charging well over one hundred dollars, some over two hundred. I stated that I charge seventy five to one hundred dollars per session. Still no one could bring themselves to admit they did counseling in part for money. I’m by no means saying that people are charging too much for counseling. Quite the contrary, an honest and sincere counseling session could be worth a thousand or more dollars.
To assume the choices we make in macrobiotics, be those in diet, lifestyle and so on have to be sanctioned by any authority figure not only misses the point entirely, it is simply irresponsible. Non credo again!
End of Article
Steve Gagne´ is the author of The Nine Ki Handbook and The Energetics of Food. He and his family reside in Flagstaff