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Bridging The Great Pandemic Divide

March 20, 2022

The following is an article that appeared in the spring issue of Macrobiotics Today in 2022. It was originally written in conjunction with a Zoom webinar on “Viruses, Vaccines and Macrobiotics” presented by Lawrence Haruo Kushi, ScD. Which can viewed on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/btXevkp9Ym8

Haruo and me, Phiya, and the Golden Gate Bridge

The 2020 pandemic and the global public health response has caused widespread confusion, doubt, criticism, fear, and divisiveness around the world. The macrobiotic community has become divided. Many are outspoken critics against medical and public health efforts, policies, and the science behind them. Some have gone so far as to insist that such actions are criminal and are part of a secret genocidal program to reduce the population. Others remain supportive of the public health efforts even going so far as to alienate and condemn those who do not embrace the science, policies, and efforts thereby causing further division.

It seems the pandemic has divided us ideologically and intellectually with no apparent resolution in sight. How did this happen? How do we reconcile the many conflicting polarized views? How do we unify our community? As students of Ohsawa’s Unifying Principle, shouldn’t we know how to peacefully harmonize and unify opposing forces? Isn’t macrobiotics all about peaceful and harmonious resolutions from diseases to global conflicts? Have we lost sight of what macrobiotics is really about? Where is the humility and embrace of our own
ignorance, the wonder and awe of nature, our endless appreciation for others, and our profound gratitude for our challenges and difficulties? Why do we allow ourselves to be so arrogant about our own experiences, opinions, rationalizations, and beliefs that we are so ready and eager to criticize, denounce, and attack others in the community and in the world at large?

The Limitations Of Medicine

As macrobiotic students we are aware of the limitations of medical science. We’ve always known that its primary focus is on emergency care and symptomatic relief. Its goal has been the saving of lives in critical condition through the treatment and elimination of life-threatening symptoms. Until relatively recently medical science paid little attention to the influence of diet and lifestyle on the prevention and recovery of diseases. We also know this neglect created a void that allowed for macrobiotics and alternative healing modalities to grow and flourish, promoting, building, and expanding upon the notion of “food as medicine.” If we knew this then why should we be upset that the official medical response to a pandemic does not include macrobiotic ideas now?

Perhaps we are upset because in dealing with this pandemic public health officials, governments, and the mass media make little mention of dietary solutions. There are no mandates and mass media calls to reduce refined sugar consumption and other dietary and lifestyle measures that directly impact COVID-19 comorbidities. There are no mentions of natural methods to improve immune functions in the body. Instead, government mandates and the media focus on vaccines, social distancing, and masking to reduce the spread of viral infections and the overburdening of hospitals. Is this why we are upset? Yet, who is really to blame for this? Who is really to blame for the lack of macrobiotic solutions adopted by governments and promoted by the mass media? Not them, it’s us. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

After 60 plus years of effort the macrobiotic movement is still struggling to be acknowledged, appreciated, and accepted as a legitimate priority in public health and government policy. But is this reality? Today, local organic foods are available everywhere. Whole grains, fermented products, and many other staples (re) introduced by macrobiotics are readily available in any city. The World Health Organization and the Public Health Offices of many governments offer macrobiotically consistent dietary recommendations for non- communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The macrobiotic movement has undoubtedly and positively contributed to the greater awareness and impact of diet and lifestyle.

Yet, when it comes to infectious diseases and this pandemic, the movement has made little impact. Why is this so? Why also are we so divided, as is the rest of the world, when it comes to this pandemic, vaccines and viruses? Can we bridge this divide amongst us and in the world? To solve this, it will be helpful to review the history of the movement to understand how we became so divisive today.

The History Of Macrobiotics Versus Medicine

Since by its inception macrobiotics has always and necessarily been defined and identified by comparing and contrasting it with medicine. In the preface of his book, “The Art of Prolonging Life” (published in English in 1867), renowned German physician, Dr. Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, introduced macrobiotics in contrast to medicine going so far as to write, “The medical art must consider every disease an evil, which cannot be too soon expelled; the macrobiotic, on the other hand, shows that many diseases may be the means of prolonging life.” This definition of macrobiotics transcends the dualistic ideology of good versus evil by seeing value in and embracing that which is considered as evil.

As a teenager, Ohsawa discovered macrobiotics by curing himself of tuberculosis (an infectious bacterial disease) after modern “Western” medicine failed to save his mother and siblings of the same disease. It should be noted that Ohsawa was born during the Meiji Era of Japan where there existed a great divide between the East and the West and where Western colonizers of the East saw themselves as evidently superior, given their advanced technology, industrial achievements, and scientific knowledge. So, for Ohsawa, the division between macrobiotics and medicine also included the division between traditional Eastern and modern Western medicine. In essence, all medical practices that were considered “primitive” and not sanctioned by the Western medical orthodoxy became an integral aspect of Ohsawa’s macrobiotic effort and part of a larger dialectical and ideological response to the aggressive global dominance of Western ideas, practices, and lifestyles. This effort included promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Yoga, Ayurveda, Herbology, and the folk medicines of indigenous and oppressed cultures around the world.

Ohsawa’s macrobiotics became a vanguard for any type of practice or idea that challenged the established Western authority. This resonated well among the disillusioned anti-establishment youth of the 1960s
who found refuge in Eastern philosophy and spirituality including Zen Macrobiotics. With a decade of political assassinations, corrupt politicians, and the ever looming threat of nuclear war, anything authoritarian was suspect as part of a cabal of greedy war-mongering elite who controlled the world. Meditatively chewing a bowl of brown rice with chopsticks while sitting on the floor for enlightenment and inner peace was a revolutionary act. Rebel rocker, John Lennon, with his Japanese wife, Yoko Ono, promoting world peace and introducing macrobiotic cooking on the Mike Douglas Show epitomized the pinnacle of the influence of macrobiotics. Today, many continue to view macrobiotics as a righteous life choice in defiance against the evils of greed, corrupt power, and authoritarian rule.

After Ohsawa and throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, Michio endeavored to show that macrobiotics could succeed where modern medicine failed. Recovery cases, like that of Dr. Anthony J. Sattilaro, from medically terminal diseases were celebrated and promoted as a testament of the superiority of macrobiotics over medicine. Michio’s efforts to address the AIDS crisis in the 1980s was another attempt to demonstrate the superiority of macrobiotics over failed medical efforts and policy. The result is that the movement attracted and helped many who sought relief through macrobiotics where modern medicine had failed them. So, naturally, many in the movement today view macrobiotics and medicine as antagonistic instead of complementary to each other. The pandemic has only amplified a divisiveness that was already inherent in the inception and formative identity of macrobiotics.

In other words, for many followers, macrobiotics did not transcend the duality of good versus evil. Instead of actual diseases as the evil to eliminate, greed, corruption, and authoritarian rule became the evil “which cannot be too soon expelled” and macrobiotics became the antidote. The overall good versus evil mentality did not change and simply retained its dualistic conflicted nature by replacing one evil for another. Today’s divisiveness is merely an extension of those fighting what they believe to be an evil that must be eradicated.

Macrobiotics Uses Food As Symptomatic Medicine

The movement developed its own form of expert care in the form of macrobiotic counseling services, which turned food into a new form of prescribed symptomatic medicine. Michio developed specific procedures and protocols to tailor one’s personal diet according to the disease they had. This became the central core of his work, spawning many books and a professional training that was the Kushi Institute. The basis of his work was the yin-yang classifications introduced by Ohsawa. Many thousands sought his advice and recovered from a variety of illnesses including those that were deemed medically incurable and fatal. A result of his effort was the Kushi Institute’s best-case cancer study submitted to the National Cancer Institute in 2002. These were patients who, after being declared medically terminally ill with a prognosis of only a few months to live, consulted with Michio in the 1980s, recovered following his advice, and were still alive in 2002 at the time of presentation. Several are still alive and well today in 2022.

Michio greatly expanded on Ohsawa’s work and yin-yang classifications in ways that undoubtedly and positively impacted the world. However, his efforts were not without challenges. The complexities of the yin-yang classifications and the insistence of utilizing one’s innate intuitive abilities made his efforts difficult, if not impossible, to replicate among his students. Without an objective framework to measure and correct one’s interpretation of yin-yang and intuitive prowess, macrobiotic student teachers of Michio’s attempting to develop and expand on his work resulted in a diverse variety of classifications and interpretations that sometimes conflicted with each other and with Michio’s own versions. Clients who consulted multiple counselors at the same time were bewildered by the conflicting advice and, in this way, Michio remained, intentionally or not, the final authority of his own yin-yang system of classification.

Without an objective framework independent of Michio (or any individual), the system of yin-yang classifications that he developed could not be sustained and grow beyond his years. After Michio’s passing, macrobiotic counselors had one of three options to pursue in order to continue their work:

1. To mimic Michio and continue their own subjective interpretations of his yin-yang classification system. Who had the right interpretation became a source of contention amongst counselors. As of today, there are few remaining counselors who follow Michio’s templates as many that did have passed away and many others have moved away from them.

2. To adopt the yin-yang classifications of Traditional Chinese Medicine as an objective and orthodox standard. Many who studied TCM and became acupuncturists did exactly this, relying less on Michio’s yin-yang classifications and joined the growing movement of Alternative Medicine.

3. To turn to the objectivity of science, specifically nutritional science, to inform their ongoing counseling practice. Over the years, even while Michio was active, many did this to gain wider acceptance and credibility and avoid any contentious differences with those who chose the first option.

From a larger perspective, the distinction that delineated macrobiotics from Western medical science evolved (or devolved) to become a branch of medicine, albeit informal, itself using “food as symptomatic medicine,” Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutritional science.

In the end, the mindset that transcends the duality of good versus evil where disease is seen as a means to prolonging life was never fully em- braced by macrobiotic students. Food became a new weapon in the symptomatic arsenal that “considers disease as an evil that cannot be too soon expelled.” The larger macrobiotic ambition of changing every aspect of one’s life based on a new perspective of life was too much of a challenge and struggle for individuals to take on, especially when it meant going against the values and priorities of the world today. The transformative life and world that macrobiotics promised was never comprehensively adopted and thus food just became another weapon in the arsenal of symptomatic medicine.

Food As Life, Life As Medicine

Instead of turning food into symptomatic medicine, the notion of “food as medicine” was meant to turn the entirety of our daily life habits, including what we eat, how we live, what we value and the everyday judgments that inform our moment-to-moment decisions in life into an ongoing nourishing, regenerative, healing, and joyful experience. Fasting, going for walks in nature, choosing to eat whole grains over refined grains and a productive, fulfilling occupation were all essential macrobiotic elements that turned everyday life into medicine itself. Food is not medicine but is life itself and living a joyful life is the medicinal practice of macrobiotics.

By reasserting macrobiotics as being primarily concerned with the mundane routines of daily life and living then, it can be clearly separate and distinct from medicine which, in contrast, is the entire domain of all symptomatic remedies and treatment includ- ing everything from home remedies like ume-sho-kuzu drink to herbal and nutritional supplements to over-the-counter and prescribed medications and to the more invasive and drastic treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. By the clarity of this distinction we can understand and see that macrobiotics never was against medicine but instead complements and embraces it as an integral part of a much larger life. In macrobiotics food is life and is only used as medicine as needed along with all other forms of symptomatic medicine.

Medicine Embraces Alternatives

While macrobiotic counselors have now become more like nutritionists, dieticians, and TCM practitioners, physicians who studied and saw the value of what macrobiotics had to offer fully embraced alternative healing modalities under the banner of “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” (CAM) and “Integrative Medicine.” The inevitable future is that all of medicine will not only incorporate preventative dietary recommendations as it presently is doing but also incorporate all aspects of symptomatic healing whether it be indigenous traditional food-based and herbal remedies, nutritional supplementation, probiotics and antibiotics, immunotherapy, and more invasive treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. The distinctions that once made macrobiotic counseling unique is less clear today and will disappear in the future. It will all simply be known as “medicine.”

In addition to losing their uniqueness, macrobiotic counseling services have failed to remain socially relevant due to the fact that independent counselors have never gone beyond the subjective anecdotal personal experiences of themselves and their clients. An objective, collaborative peer reviewed infrastructure was never established to collectively catalogue, evaluate, analyze, nurture, sustain and develop the multitude of healing experiences they produced. Whatever important and valuable health improvements experienced by clients remained mostly unknown to even other clients of the same counselor.

Likewise, whatever possible lessons learned from the problems, failures, and errors that counselors and clients may have experienced also remain unknown. Without a collaborative infrastructure, counselors concerned themselves only with their own practice in- stead of coming together to hold each other accountable and responsible for the larger impact of its own collective industry. In the end, to remain socially relevant, many counselors discarded macrobiotic yin-yang rationalizations and turned to the already established peer reviewed infrastructure of nutritional and medical science to inform and validate their own recommendations and work. While the future of medicine will embrace all food-based remedies and alternative therapies, macrobiotic counseling services will end and be fully absorbed by the medical and nutritional industry and science.

Bridging the Divide

The sharp social divisions of East and West and tradition versus modern that Ohsawa and Michio experienced in their earlier years are less significant today. The world has become global and integrated. Modern medicine has embraced traditional and alternative therapies as well as recommending whole-food plant-based traditional diets as a means of staying healthy and preventing non-communicable diseases.

Many macrobiotic counselors em- braced nutritional science and have more or less become indistinguishable from dieticians and nutritional counselors. Others have become TCM practitioners. Very few have retained the yin-yang classifications and protocols developed by Michio. If the yin-yang classifications of macrobiotics are to become socially and universally relevant then it must embrace objective science and medicine as its complement instead of rejecting it as an antagonist. The subjective experiences of macrobiotic individuals are not socially relevant without the objective corroboration of scientific study and research. In other words, macrobiotics needs to return to a complementary instead of antagonistic relationship to science and medicine as it originally once was.

Other social divisions that do persist have less to do with macrobiotics but more with the anti-establishment sentiment that began as a reaction to the traumatic events of the 1960s and have been revitalized over the years with the events of 9/11, the Gulf War, global warming, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Distrust in government, big business, and the mass media, and now the medical establishment remains a thread among those in macrobiotics who continue to remain antagonistic to science and medicine despite all the above shifts in the culture of medicine and macrobiotics.

To bridge this divide it will be helpful to better understand how macrobiotic philosophy is not only complementary to medicine and science but can bridge and transcend all divides.

Transcending Dualities: Macrobiotics As Complementary To Science

To have influenced the world with so many great insights from the rise of the organic industry to the acceptance and spread of traditional and alternative healing practices and to greater awareness and adoption of a whole-food plant-based diet for better health, the work of Ohsawa and Michio have clearly made its mark on the world through its many uncanny pioneering insights.

But where did these insights come from? They were not conceived and born from the results of scientific empirical evidence. Indeed, the opposite is true—they helped to inspire and guide future scientific research and discoveries. The idea to choose to eat, for example, brown rice over white rice was not originally based on any scientific finding. Medical and nutritional science revealed the benefits of fiber in one’s diet many years after it was a common staple in macrobiotic circles. The idea for organic agriculture was originally not based on any scientific study but was a philosophical conclusion, as was the idea to eat whole, natural, and local foods in season. In other words, it was the philosophy that provided these insights, which then inspired scientific study, which then confirmed (or disproved) their validity.

Ohsawa called this philosophy “the dialectical conception of the universe” otherwise known as the “order of the universe.” He combined ancient Eastern and Western philosophies into a new yin-yang dialectic known as the “unifying principle,” which he then used to reinterpret all areas of academia and science including medicine and macrobiotics, which then served as the basis for all his teachings and insights.

Questions And Answers

But what is dialectics? Dialectics originated in Ancient Greece as a method of discussion and debate to strive at finding the truth otherwise known as the Socratic Method. It was later revived by German philosopher, Hegel, who applied it to natural phenomena. Ohsawa likened the dialectical ideas of antagonistic yet complementary opposites to the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang which then served as the basis of his macrobiotic teachings. The result became a complex yin-yang cosmology that few people understand fully.

A simpler way to understand dialectics in comparison to science is this: If science is the answer then dialectics is the question. Dialectics is the domain of questions and science is the domain of answers. The two have a necessary complementary relationship with each other. Questions inform and lead us to answers and answers inform and lead us to more questions. While most are enamored by answers, few remember the questions that inform and define the answers we seek. Questions unleash the creative and imaginative mind while answers ground us in reality. When we stop seeking answers to our questions and stop asking questions about our answers then we no longer grow and develop. We need to continue to do both to continue to grow and evolve. Science is the seeking of answers, dialectics is the seeking of questions and they are necessary to and for each other.

The greatest thinkers, inventors, and scientists never lost sight of the value of repeatedly asking questions about the universe as we all did as children. Without the imagination and application of dialectical thought, Da Vinci could not have come upon his insights and inventions, Einstein could not have discovered that E=mc2, Darwin could not have imagined the existence of animals he never encoun- tered, and the genome, computer, and all breakthroughs in all areas of science and innovation could not have been made.

Ohsawa revered the inquisitive mind and called it “le grand appetit” and taught that preserving and developing one’s physical and intellectual appetite was key to a healthy and happy life. He called his centers “Maison Ignoramus” to honor our ignorance as the source of our questioning. He promoted the motto of “non credo,” not to be doubtful of others but to remind us to never stop asking questions.

The macrobiotic yin-yang dialectic is simply a more orderly way of asking questions. In this way, the insights of Ohsawa and Michio are not foregone conclusions but are inquiries to be explored and answered by scientific research, if possible. Indeed, all of macrobiotics is not a solution but a grand exploration and hypothesis conducted by those who find value in it. We have no solutions but instead offer insights into questions to be asked, topics to explore, and patterns and relationships we experience to better understand. Macrobiotics is not a conclusion but is the start of a journey of discovery. The application of science is to validate those discoveries inspired by our imagination and inquiring minds.

Science also does not offer final solutions that are set in stone but ones that allows us to question further and objectively explore our collective subjective experiences. Between the dialectics of asking questions and subjective experiences of macrobiotics to the unbiased objective research of science we can and will continue to develop ourselves as a species.

Questioning The Pandemic, Using Science To Find Answers

Applying the macrobiotic yin-yang dialectic means asking relevant questions of the topic at hand which, in this case, is the pandemic. The following is a comprehensive list of questions inspired by the facts and science of the pandemic.

  1. What is a pandemic? How do they arise and how do they end?
  2. What were the conditions that caused pandemics to spread?
  3. What were the conditions that cause pandemics to end?
  4. What are infectious diseases? Are they really infectious or not?
  5. What are bacteria, viruses and other microbes and parasites that cause in- fectious diseases?
  6. What are vaccines? How did they arise? Do they work?
  7. What is Germ Theory and what is Terrain Theory? Are they in opposi- tion of each other or do they com- plement each other?
  8. Can diet and lifestyle prevent infec- tious diseases? Is there a difference between bacterial infections and vi- ral infections and how to treat them?
  9. What specifically are viruses and how do they differ from each other? How do we know that the SARS- CoV-2 comes from bats? Why bats?
  10. Are there plant viruses? If so, why don’t they infect us? Or do they?
  11. What is COVID-19? How lethal is it?
  12. Is it the virus that is the cause of COVID-19 or is it the body’s response to it that causes COVID-19?
  13. Is COVID-19 preventable? Are any viral diseases preventable?
  14. What are the treatments for COVID-19 and do they work?
  15. What are the vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and do they work?
  16. How do these vaccines differ from previous vaccines?
  17. What is mRNA technology? Is it harmful?
  18. Is Genetic Engineering a threat to humans?
  19. What can people do to minimize risk and death during a pandemic?
  20. Are viral pandemics natural and in- evitable? Are they part of the natural evolutionary course of humans? Can we predict pandemics?

These are just some of the many questions to explore and many have been asked already by others. Some have already been answered through the work of many scientists. Their answers give rise to many more ques- tions. Some questions have yet to be answered. This is the dynamic and ongoing search for an order of the universe through the combined application of dialectics and science. Intuition and imagination alone cannot solve this and neither can unquestioned scientific results alone. They must work together as they have always done in the minds of great thinkers.

What is clear is that the pandemic has given us an opportunity to ask questions and to appreciate the rigorous investigations of scientific research to answer as many of these questions as possible. The answers will, in turn, lead to more questions leading to mores studies and so on as we continuously strive to better understand ourselves and our universe. The greatest problem and threat to humanity is not the pandemic itself but is when we stop questioning our answers and stop answering our questions. Divisions arise. Distrust and fear set in and we lose the ability to embrace each other. We must not stop asking questions and we must not stop seeking answers. We are all in this together and we must all work together in this effort. This is how we can and will bridge this great divide of pandemic of 2020. Let us make use of and fully enjoy “le grand appetit”—our lives.

Addendum: Explorations Of Possibilities

Below are possibilities to explore based on preliminary reading done on the subject of this pandemic. They are not foregone conclusions but possibilities to consider.

  1. Viruses may be both a precursor and end product of life. They are much more abundant than all life forms combined. They are necessary for the evolution of life. The majority of viruses do not cause negative reactions in humans, otherwise known as infectious viral diseases. Only a very select few do.
  2. Viruses can be differentiated by the genetic content. Some mutate rapidly in their host, like RNA viruses, while others do not like double stranded DNA viruses. Some respond well to vaccines, others don’t, depending on their genetic content.
  3. The origins of vaccines can be traced back to ancient China and India, the Middle East and later in Europe. (See: https://www.historyof- vaccines.org/timeline#EVT_1) The idea uses a macrobiotic principle that views disease not as an enemy but as a useful ally to repel itself.
  4. Viruses are not “alive,” Bacteria are alive. Bacteria are subject to the body’s “terrain.” Viruses are not subject to the body’s terrain but the response to the virus is. Bacterial infections can be treated either with antibiotics or with a change in the microbiome through diet. Viral infections cannot be prevented (ex- cept through changes in behavior) but the body’s response to them, including risk of death, can be reduced through vaccines and through better diet and lifestyle.
  5. Plenty is still unknown about viruses and bacteria including how they interact with each other, with fungi, with the human microbiome, with excesses in the body and so on.
  6. The quality of one’s blood is essential in dealing with viral infections. Red blood cells do not have nuclei and therefore no genetic material and cannot be infected. The quality of one’s blood plays an essential role in the discharging of all excesses including all viral material.
  7. Viruses, being products of life forms are geographic dependent and make up the larger differences of viromes of different continents. Infections happen at the intersection of humans being introduced to new viromes from different sources. Pandemics happen at the intersection of new viromes from different geographies. Pandemics are the product of human exploration and globalization, especially during warfare.
  8. The present pandemic is made worse by the universal spread of poor diets of refined sugar and grain products and mass-produced animal products
  9. Biomes and viromes that were dor- mant in polar regions will become active with global warming and may or may not lead to new pandemics.
  10. Maintaining a healthy whole-food plant-based diet reduces risk of death at all times including during a pandemic.

You can download a copy of the original article as it appeared in Macrobiotics Today here:

Recording of Webinar of 02/27/2022 is now available on YouTube for viewing

March 18, 2022

The recording of my brother’s, (Lawrence Haruo Kushi, ScD), Zoom webinar on “Viruses, Vaccines, and Macrobiotics” is now available for viewing on YouTube here:

https://youtu.be/btXevkp9Ym8

Thank you for your patience.

Phiya

“Macrobiotics Today“ issue on the Pandemic is out now!

March 16, 2022

The new issue of “Macrobiotics Today” is out with my article on the pandemic plus Carl Ferre’s special report on the Pandemic Survey we did. To get a copy of Macrobiotics Today go here:

https://ohsawamacrobiotics.com/macrobiotics-today/subscription-to-mbt

The video recording of Haruo’s Webinar will be posted very soon in the next day or two.

Brief Update On Recording Of 2/27/22 Webinar

March 2, 2022

I know many of you are waiting for the video recording of Sunday’s Webinar to be posted. We are working on it. Specifically, we are redoing the introduction portion of the event as the recording feature on Zoom was turned on a little late and did not capture that initial part of the event.

Thanks for your patience.
Phiya

Viruses, Vaccines, and Macrobiotics – a webinar with Lawrence Haruo Kushi, ScD

February 7, 2022

February 7, 2022

Greetings Friends —

You, and especially those practicing, promoting and teaching macrobiotics, are invited to an event that we think will be of interest to you and your friends. As we experience the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to host a seminar and discussion on this topic with Haruo (Larry) Kushi.

Viruses, Vaccines, and Macrobiotics
SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Macrobiotics

with

Lawrence Haruo Kushi, ScD

Zoom webinar
moderated by
Leonard Jacobs

Sunday, February 27, 2022
5:00 to 6:30 pm GMT, 12:00 to 1:30 pm ET
No Cost

You can register for the event by visiting our registration page. We’ll then send you the link to join via Zoom.

Haruo (Larry) Kushi, the second son of Michio and Aveline Kushi, has been macrobiotic from birth and is an epidemiologist and researcher with Kaiser Permanente Northern California, where he has been for the past 20 years. Haruo has a Doctor of Science degree in nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health and has been able to integrate his lifelong involvement in macrobiotics with his professional skills and insights as a scientist. Additional information about him and his background involving SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 appear below.

There is no cost to attend this seminar. We also plan to record it and make it available afterward on a platform such as YouTube or Vimeo. A link to the recording will be sent to all seminar attendees. A full report will also appear in the next issue of “Macrobiotics Today” by Carl Ferre of the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation (GOMF).

So that we can provide useful and relevant content to you and address the general concerns of the macrobiotic community regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you respond to the attached survey. We know this topic is a controversial one, and that there are countless points of view surrounding this issue. Your responses will help us better understand your thoughts and concerns to be addressed in this seminar. Completing and submitting the survey is entirely optional and answers can be provided anonymously. Please respond to the survey by Sunday, February 20, one week before the seminar.

Please fill in and submit the survey linked here:
https://form.jotform.com/220296522433047

Once again, please register for the seminar by visiting our registration page also by Sunday, February 20. We’ll then send you a link to the Zoom event, and you can share it with your friends.

With warm regards,

Phiya Kushi and Lenny Jacobs

Haruo (Larry) Kushi

Haruo (Larry) Kushi

Prior to joining the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Haruo Kushi was on the faculty of Columbia University and the University of Minnesota and worked at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Over the years, he has been involved in numerous research projects, most funded by the US National Institutes of Health, primarily the National Cancer Institute. Among the projects he currently leads are the Pathways Study, a longstanding prospective cohort study of women with breast cancer, examining the effects of multiple factors on recurrence, survival, and other outcomes; a study investigating reasons for racial disparities in ovarian cancer treatment and outcomes; and a program of research examining health care utilization and long-term outcomes in adolescents and young adults who are diagnosed with cancer. He also co-leads an NCI-funded study that is examining various aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 outcomes in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California population of over 4 million individuals.

Lenny Jacobs

Lenny Jacobs

Lenny Jacobs has been involved with macrobiotics since the late 1960s when he discovered the writings of Georges Ohsawa, and the value of whole grain brown rice, miso soup, and sea vegetables — while in his senior year at the University of Chicago. Lenny moved to Brookline, Massachusetts in 1969, soon to become the cook and lead chef at Sanae restaurant and eventually the Seventh Inn. Lenny’s enthusiasm for communicating the value of macrobiotic principles in all aspects of social and cultural domains led him to become the publisher of East West Journal, long the primary print medium for macrobiotic news and information. Lenny continued his work in print and eventually digital media as the associate publisher of the book company, Shambhala Publications for almost 20 years. He is now living in Asheville, North Carolina with his partner Becky Cannon. Together they are leading the company Becky founded: Green Sprouts, a manufacturer and distributor of healthful and innovative baby products.

Phiya Kushi

Phiya Kushi

Third son of Michio and Aveline Kushi, Phiya Kushi worked closely helping his parents in various capacities including at Erewhon Natural Foods, as General Manager of the East West Foundation, and twice as Director of the Kushi Institute. He developed and organized many programs and conferences that helped spread macrobiotics across the country and the world. In 2002, he presented the Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Best Case Cancer Studies (initiated by Haruo Kushi) to the National Cancer Institute which was positively received. Since 2010 he retreated from macrobiotic educational activities opting, instead, for a simpler life with occasionally traveling to give presentations when invited to do so. In the past two years, seeing how the pandemic has created widespread confusion, division, misinformation, and fear in the world, Phiya has become interested in bringing together and harmonizing opposing views and opinions toward creating a unified macrobiotic science-based effort that transcends all differences for the future benefit and development of humanity.

The Future Of Macrobiotics

May 7, 2021

The following is a response to a question asked of me on Facebook on March 11, 2020.

Phiya, what are your thoughts on the future of macrobiotics? And why do you think our movement is not growing at this time?

Thanks for asking this question and your patience for a reply. A proper answer to your question requires a full review and analysis of the history of Macrobiotics from the time of Ohsawa up to the present. A large part of that history includes the efforts of my parents and the many who helped them as they have had the greatest impact on the world.

This response is actually my fourth attempt to write a reply short enough for a Facebook comment. I failed each time prior because, in order to provide the necessary context, I found myself having to write several paragraphs on Ohsawa’s earlier work even before getting into the work my parents did from the late 1960s onward. It was a great personal exercise for me as I took a deep dive down memory lane. I will hopefully continue this process to flush out my full thoughts. The result is that such a response is much too large to post here and even for a blog article. So, instead, I will try to summarize my thoughts as best as I can.

The successes of Macrobiotics in the past have mainly to do with my parents being the right persons at the right time to introduce it to the world. These successes include creating the awareness of food and the impact it has on health and sickness, the creation and spread of the natural and organic foods industry, the rise of alternative medicines as a legitimate resource, the successful exportation and integration of Far Eastern culture into the West for the prevention of future wars and a vision of world peace, the introduction of a comprehensive philosophy and practical approach toward inner peace and spiritual development.

Most of the successes achieved by my parents can’t be replicated. They can only be done once. For example, once a person becomes aware of how food impacts one’s health then it can’t be undone and then re-done. It can only be explored further with greater insight and detail. So the challenge for those coming after my parents lies not in trying replicate their efforts but instead to build upon what they have created and many have taken various approaches to do this.

Among these, there are those exploring and expanding upon specific ideas and areas introduced to them by my parents. They are all having varying degrees of growing success and include those who work in the natural and organic foods industry, alternative/integrative medicine and environmental sustainability. Then there are those who try to fill in the gaps of what they perceive was missing in my parents teachings only to find a niche market that dwindles overtime, as their success is/was dependent on the continued successes of my parents which have ended. Then there are those who continue and try to emulate or replicate my parents efforts but are met with little or no success at all because it is work that has already been done and is no longer relevant. These last individuals are the ones who continue to identify themselves as “the macrobiotic movement”.

As you can see, depending on how you define macrobiotics and the movement there are different answers to the question of its present state and future. If we try to continue and replicate the success of my parents then we will fail. If we try to provide what we think was missing in their efforts then we will have limited success that will eventually become irrelevant. If we continue to explore and expand upon what they introduced then we will find varying degrees of success depending on the area of focus, though it will probably not be called, “macrobiotics”, but is a subset of it. All of this is happening now and has been happening for quite some time.

There is one element of both Ohsawa’s and my parent’s efforts that was key to their successes that anyone can replicate yet none have taken up, to my knowledge, which is to always be consistently relevant to the changing times. The way to do this is to continuously be curious and humble and pay attention to all that is going on in the world. It means to explore and study why things are the way they are and why things happen the way they do. It means to always ask and never be afraid of any question even and especially when it may require changing one’s entire approach to life. It means to appreciate our ignorance and always remain flexible and hungry to learn. This is why Ohsawa used to call his macrobiotic centers, “Centre Ignoramus”. However, most Macrobiotic promoters today ignore this key and instead strive to become experts in their fields thereby guaranteeing their future irrelevance. They have placed themselves in positions where they cannot afford to question everything especially if it means to question their own identity, livelihood and relevance.

There is obviously much more to explore here including topics that I have not mentioned such as why Macrobiotics can’t seem to shake its cult-like image, how the doctor-patient business model of macrobiotic counseling no longer serves the movement and why many children of macrobiotic parents reject their ways. However, I hope that I have given you some insight into my thoughts on your question.

One last thing I would like to suggest is that if you are asking, “What is the future of Macrobiotics?”, then you have already failed. The question to ask at all times is, “What is the future of humanity?”. With that question you will never fail.

Thanks for asking

Macrobiotics and The 2020 Pandemic

April 22, 2021

The following is a response to a question about the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 posted on Facebook on April 15, 2021.

Q: In your estimation, what is the underlying cause/ effect of this Covid ‘viral pandemic’, and are these vaccines along with masks and distancing appropriate, enough and/ or what is the optimal way forward?

Thank you for your question and patience for a reply.

I think it should be clear that the damage this viral pandemic has done and the deaths it has caused have been made exponentially greater by the chronic consumption of highly processed foods, especially concentrated and refined sugars, and other excessive dietary choices. So any way forward in dealing with future pandemics should necessarily address diet and lifestyle choices as doing so will drastically reduce future morbidity rates. But this probably won’t happen until the majority of the world finally understands this and actually stops eating and producing such foods. Still, this does not take away the influence of viruses and the question of why they arise and how to best deal with them as your question is asking.

I appreciate your question as it is broadly about this pandemic and, by association, all pandemics and viruses and how we should go about addressing them and what we can do better in the future when this happens again. Previous questions to me on this subject were mostly concerned about the taking of COVID vaccines, which are important to consider on a personal level of choice, but are much better understood in the context of broader questions such as the one you asked.

I did write an unpublished paper on this subject a year ago that explores these larger points. However, until it is released, which is uncertain if it ever will, I will share with you some thoughts here.

First of all, I would like address some “macrobiotic myths” about viruses:

Myth #1: Viruses don’t cause diseases

Technically, refined sugar doesn’t cause diseases either. But once it gets into your body things do happen.

We generally accept the fact that there are, for example, poisonous mushrooms that, if eaten can be lethal. Why, then, do some deny the entire world of bacteria and viruses, which are greatly more diverse and abundant on earth and naturally must include entities that may be lethal to us but are fine to accept the existence of, say, deadly mushrooms and other potentially harmful substances that we are careful to avoid all the time. That makes no sense to me.

Myth #2: Terrain Theory is true (and “macrobiotic”) while Germ Theory is not

This myth maybe the cause of why some think that viruses, germs and parasites don’t cause diseases. While Terrain Theory was encouraged by Ohsawa there is nothing to show why both theories aren’t true at the same time. Certainly, depending on the host environment, like in the case of COVID-19, viruses can be much more much lethal or not but, as mentioned above, that fact does not take away the role that the viruses do play.

I believe the problem happens when two competing theories are viewed as a choice between one versus another when both can be true at the same time. If you only accept one theory and deny the other then you are missing half the picture. Mistakes made about viruses in the medical community stem from the denial of Terrain Theory while mistakes made in the macrobiotic community stem from the denial of Germ Theory.

I think Ohsawa’s emphasis on the importance of Terrain Theory was due to the fact that it was dismissed by those who denied it and exclusively believed in Germ Theory (like Schweitzer). It did not help that Ohsawa was very dramatic in his expressions and characterizations like branding Pasteur as a dangerous person. However, those who believe in Germ Theory today are accepting of the impact of environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle and other environmental influences on the world of bacteria and viruses. This is similar to those who only used to believe in genetics but are now discovering epigenetics and the even greater impact it has on us.

Myth #3: Vaccines are more harmful than the viruses themselves

This is obviously not true. Vaccines, given their widespread application, may certainly cause adverse reactions, even death, in rare cases and situations but this is true for anything and everything we do. If someone is willing to expose themselves to harmful viruses then there is no logical reason to avoid exposing one’s self to something that is designed to cause a similar reaction but in a milder and more manageable form. Opponents to vaccines will point to a list of harmful and questionable substances included in the vaccines which is important to note and improve yet seem to forget that we are constantly exposed to many toxic and questionable substances, often by choice, in far greater amounts on a daily basis and yet have no serious problem in discharging these from our systems.

Myth #4: There are alternative and “natural” ways to prevent exposure to viruses

No, there aren’t. There may be less invasive ways to suppress our bodies reaction to viruses, in other words, to better treat and prevent the diseases caused by them but there is no natural way to avoid exposure to them which is why masks and social distancing are an effective preventive measure for airborne viruses. The most natural way to approach new viruses is to be exposed to them, but preferably in amounts that are not lethal where the body can learn how to easily discharge them, which is the rationale behind vaccines. One can also eat better and strengthen one’s self to better handle viral infections and reduce their impact but that won’t prevent exposure to them.

There may be other myths that need addressing but these are the ones I can think at the moment.

So what are viruses?

Viruses are bits of genetic material surrounded by proteins. They are vital to the continued evolution and development of all life and we rely on them just as we rely on bacteria and archaea.

Viruses are not alive and can only reproduce themselves inside a living host. Viruses mainly come from diseased and/or dying cells of all types from bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes, like us. The more different the origin of the cell of the virus to us, the less likely they are to be harmful to us and, in most cases, are beneficial to us. Indeed among the trillions of viruses that exist there are very few that are actually harmful to us. For example, all plant viruses do not harm us at all and are even helpful to us in accessing the nutrients stored in plants. Viruses that are more of a threat to us are those that come from mammals as opposed to those that come from less evolved species. However, viruses that come from our own cells are no threat to us either as our own body knows how to recognize and get rid of them. So, in order for a virus to do harm to us it has to be different yet similar enough for our body to absorb without being discharged from us.

What is the immune system?

Our body essentially has two functions: to consume and absorb what it needs and to discharge what it doesn’t need in order to grow and live. What it discharges includes all the dead and dying cell material as well as all the things we take in and process every day. The immune system is simply an integral part of this discharge process. If we over-consume in general or consume any one thing in excess then we compromise our ability to discharge effectively. One particular food item that greatly compromises our immune system is the over consumption of concentrated and refined sweets and sugars, specifically, monosaccharides.

In addition, we rely on a variety of bacteria, archaea and fungi to assist us in the process of digestion and elimination otherwise known as the microbiome which, in turn, are assisted by the tremendous amount of viruses in us, known as the virome, which is even greater than the microbiome. If the microbiome is impacted in any way we can also compromise the immune system.

What are pandemics?

Bacteria and viruses are geographic and climate dependent. Since viruses come from life forms then they are subjected to geographic and climatic differences. Every distinct geographic area has its own unique bacterial and viral makeup just as, for example, kangaroos and koalas are only found in Australia, penguins in Antarctica, and polar bears in the arctic and so on, not to mention all the diverse plant material and microbes in the ground, air and water.

Thus pandemics in humans arise when humans, bacteria and viruses from different areas come together for the first time. In other words, they are the natural result of the globalization of the human world. On an individual level it is common for persons first visiting, for example, Alaska from the lower 48 States to become ill during the first few days of their visit. This generally happens whenever one travels for the first time to any new and vastly different environment that their body is not used to. It is the body (and microbiome) naturally adjusting itself to a new environment teeming with different bacteria and viruses. But this adjustment only happens once. The next time they visit the same place it does not happen again because the body has already made the adjustment. This adjustment phase can also happen, to a lesser extent, when seasons and climates change. But these changes aren’t necessarily the result of exposure to new bacterial environments but rather the body and the microbiome simply reacting to changes in the season and weather, which is why many experience seasonal colds and flus. This can also happen when a person newly encounters the microbiome of a different person or animal and any other similar situation.

What do viruses do?

There are many kinds of viruses and they can be classified by the type of genetic material they carry, otherwise known as their “Baltimore Classification”. They can also be organized by how they infect their host (e.g. blood borne, airborne, etc.) as well their shape, origin and other factors. Depending on all these varying attributes different viruses infect different areas in the body. But what they all generally do is exploit the weaknesses and excesses of their host and cause their host to try and discharge those excesses. The amount of excesses in our system will determine the severity and duration of the infection. In addition to over eating, these excesses can come in the form of excess animal and dairy food consumption, excess oil, excess sugars and sweets, refined flour products and so on.

In the case of COVID-19 the body goes into overdrive and seeks to discharge these excesses as fast as possible. If there is plenty of excess to discharge then the resulting cytokine storm can become lethal by overwhelming the host. In any event, with COVID-19, the body goes through an accelerated process of discharge which is why people temporarily lose their sense of taste and smell and why some may get tinnitus and other issues related to discharge. These symptoms will generally go away when the body eventually recovers its normal intake and discharge processes.

SARS-CoV2 Characteristics

What is clear about the corona virus (SARS-CoV2) is that it did originate in bats. Whether it was modified in a lab from the first SARS virus and then was released by error or came in the way of wet markets is still unclear. Personally, I think the accidental lab outbreak is a more plausible scenario as the people most interested in bat viruses are researchers of the previous SARS virus which actually did come from bats.

That it came from bats is significant from a yinyang perspective and why doing things in the opposite of what bats do seem to have beneficial effects against the impact of virus. For example, being out in the sun more as bats are nocturnal, hence why people with increased amounts of vitamin D seem to do better with COVID-19.

Bats also consume plenty of fruits. The best way to prevent severe COVID-19 effects is to cut out the consumption of all concentrated and refined sugar and fruit, or mono- and disaccharides. They not only cause inflammation and weaken us the ACE2 receptor, which is the entry point for the coronavirus, is coated with these. Cutting these out from one’s diet will naturally reduce infection and inflammation.

Vaccines

Theoretically, vaccines should work very well in creating herd immunity. If we are talking about a confined and limited population being vaccinated quickly and completely then that is the ideal scenario. However, the idea to vaccinate the world is unwieldy and, for all intents and purposes, practically impossible. This is due to several reasons. First, we don’t live in isolated communities but in a global economic world of high speed transportation. It’s one thing to vaccinate a small village of people who do not travel much as opposed to trying to vaccinate an entire bustling city like New York where people and things are constantly coming and going from around the world. So naturally, a small island country like New Zealand with a population of only 5 million can better control the virus far more effectively than the USA or Japan. Another reason is that it is a logistical nightmare and the potential for errors and problems increase exponentially both in the making of an effective and safe vaccine on such a large scale and having an efficient and timely delivery system. Timely delivery is crucial because of the third and, perhaps most important factor and that is that the virus mutates overtime as it is passed on between hosts rendering a specific vaccine ineffective for these new mutations. Fortunately though, mutations occurring among humans generally evolve toward safer and less harmful viruses and serve to strengthen our ability to deal with future similar viruses.

Masks and Social Distancing

As temporary measures to slow a viral spread, masks and social distancing can be very effective. Masks work extremely well in the operating rooms of hospitals so there is no reason to believe that they won’t be effective in other enclosed environments.

Indeed, proof that these measures work is in the considerable worldwide drop in the occurrence of all other more common viral diseases once these measures were put into place. You can read an article about this here:

A sharp drop in flu cases during COVID-19 pandemic

Diet and Lifestyle

It should be noted that the aim of all these measures including vaccines is not to stop the spread of the virus but to delay its spread to a more manageable (less lethal) state and to ultimately move toward achieving herd immunity with the least number of casualties. However, what is missing in this scenario is the understanding of how diet and lifestyle can also reduce the mortality rates of viral infections.

It should be obvious to anyone familiar with macrobiotics that preventive dietary measures can help reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and, therefore, mortality rates. For maximum efficacy against pandemics, people should ideally implement these changes before they occur. Regardless, making dietary changes are beneficial at any time. There might be some rare instances where COVID patients may be better served with gentler dietary changes. These changes include simply eating less and reducing consumption of meat, dairy, all refined concentrated sugar products while also increasing fermented foods and fresh vegetables.

Returning Back To “Normal”

Of course, many feel and felt constrained and even oppressed by the shutdowns and social distancing measures and look forward to returning to life pre-COVID-19. Many lost their livelihoods on top of the health risks brought on by the virus. Efforts are being made by governments and organizations to correct these issues as well as looking at what systems need to be in place in order to prevent whatever economic and social damage may arise from future pandemics such as in the Great Reset

However, what’s missing here from a macrobiotic perspective is a deeper reflection about ourselves that is normally done when we encounter an illness on a personal level. That deeper reflection involves looking at who we are, what have we been doing and that we probably need to change our entire orientation in life. In other words, the pandemic should give all of us pause to reflect on the entire direction of humanity.

With that in mind then there are some things to consider about the occurrence of viral pandemics and what we consider as a “normal” life. If you notice, all pandemics of the past are associated with catastrophic war and aggressive conquest and subjugation of others – the Spanish Flu arose out of World War I, the Bubonic Plague out of the wars between Europe and the Middle East, the devastation of Native Americans out of their exploitation and subjugation by European conquerors.

Since the industrial revolution, humanity has been on a war footing that has only accelerated since both World Wars and the Cold War. What we call our “normal” pre-COVID way of life is an extremely accelerated way of life designed to fund global wars and aggressive economic competitiveness against each other. To me, this way of life is actually not normal at all. Indeed, the pandemic shutdown of our war-inspired economy, is a step toward a reduced economy of self-reliance, cooperation and peace which also happens to, not coincidently, benefit the natural environment as well. In other words, there is no one to blame for this virus, the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns but ourselves and our xenophobic, competitive attitudes as we race against each other to deplete the earth of every last remaining natural resource. The more reckless we are to beat each other at this game of global economic dominance the more we risk creating new pandemics to interfere in exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. There is nothing “normal” about our modern way of life and we can be grateful to this pandemic for giving us a glimpse into this insight.

The other way to look at it is that if we wish to consider our global accelerated way of life as “normal” then we should also expect global catastrophes (pandemics, climate change, economic and political struggles) as “normal” as well. One goes along with the other. It’s really a matter of what we wish and choose to do for ourselves and our planet.

So what is the way forward?

Since you are asking me, I personally think we should be striving for herd immunity against certainty, arrogance, blame and the unquestioned acceptance of our values including what we consider as normal. Hopefully then, in our new found wisdom, we will be able to easily solve these problems before they arise.

There is obviously a lot more to discuss here but I think the above gives you a broad understanding of my thoughts on this subject.

Thanks for asking

7 Requirements to Change Sickness Into Health

March 11, 2021

Note: this was previously published as part of an earlier blog post.

1.  Cultivate your will and desire to live

Having the will and desire to live is primary and essential to avoiding premature death, be it by accident, sickness or any other method.  The desired life that I am talking about here is not the normal day to day living that most people do.  I am talking about living an extraordinary life full of passion such that you look forward to and are happy to wake up to every single morning.

Many are unhappy with their lives yet instead of doing something about it they settle for a life of stagnant resignation. As a result, they get what they settle for and create their own demise one way or another.  Those whom I have seen reverse their sickness cultivated their will to live and became hungry for life.  Their illness was a wake-up call and they believe it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to them.  They accepted and took full responsibility for their situations, and from that moment on they became alive.  They became greedy and egocentric in a positive sense.  They became hungry and famished for life and because of this they were able to transform their situation and avoid premature death by illness.  If you want to become healthy, you must first and foremost cultivate the will and desire to live life in a way that you have never done so before.  It will not always be easy.  It will not always be comfortable and it will not always look the way you imagined.  But that is the nature of life itself.

In the future you might eventually satisfy this hunger for life and become full again.  At that time you may again become sick and you may die. That will be up to you.

2.  Be flexible and willing to change anything and everything in your life, if necessary

Many would rather die then change their life and that is exactly what happens to them.  But those who avoid an early death and live longer are those who are willing to change anything in their life including the food they eat, where they live, the relationships they are in, and the beliefs that they hold.

Life and aliveness can be defined in many ways and one them is the ability to respond and adapt to the environment, in other words, be flexible.  If you lose that flexibility then you are doomed.

3.  Develop your sensitivity and respect for the environment. Be aware how you respond to it.

The natural environment creates your food and you.  Pay attention to it, accept it fully, take care of it and nurture it.  If you don’t, it will destroy you. What you eat, drink and otherwise take into your body is how you interact with the environment.  What happens to you when you eat one type of food versus another?  What if you changed the water you drink? What if you changed where you live? How does your body respond?  Only you can know this for certain, not your doctor or other professional.  Not even those close to you. By becoming aware and begin paying attention to this you will know when to make the necessary changes in your life that lead you to either sickness or health.

On a larger scale, because of humanity’s insensitivity and lack of concern for the environment, our agriculture and our food, we have made the Earth toxic and many plant and animal species are becoming extinct and we have made countless others, including ourselves, sick.  If we continue in this way and do not develop our sensitivity and respond, adapt and take care of our environment then we will naturally perish.

4.  Be willing to eat anything and be willing to prepare your own food

Sickness is not an enemy but is only the bodies natural attempt to discharge excess and regain a dynamic harmony with the environment.  In other words, if you didn’t get sick you would already be dead.  Our food, everything we ingest,(and expel) is how we interact and create harmony with the environment. The principal way most people get sick is by over exercising their freedom; abusing their bodies through eating, drinking and doing other things excessively. Some may be able to get rid of symptoms through medical treatments but unless the source is addressed, which is what they have been eating, drinking and doing, then they will never get rid of their problems. In general, most people in developed nations eat too much animal food and therefore feel better when they switch to a plant based diet.  But there are no specific rules.  Some, who may have avoided eating meat their whole life, may need to eat some to feel better, while those who ate meat everyday may need to stop it completely for the rest of their lives.  It depends on the individual, which is why you, who are sick and wish to get well, must be willing to eat anything.

You also must be willing to prepare and be responsible for your own food.  Ultimately, only you know what you need most. No one will be able to figure that out for you.  If they did then you would owe them your life.  The wealthy, who rely solely on the best chefs and best restaurants in the world, become slaves of their own doing and will never find true health and freedom.  Likewise, the poor who subsist solely on processed precooked  foods, like junk foods and soda, and inexpensive take-out meals also become slaves to the food industry and prisoners of their own doing.  Essentially, what must be done is to establish or re-establish a direct connection to your food and to minimize your reliance upon others for this. Study food, learn as much as you can and experiment until you master it. Become a master of your own food and you will become a master of your own destiny. Until then, you will remain a slave to those who control your food.

5.  Be honest with yourself and everyone else, all the time.  Constantly review and monitor your own situation.

If you ignore your bodies warning signals and pretend they don’t exist, then you will not get better. If you aren’t honest with yourself and don’t confront and deal with your own issues, then there is no hope. If you don’t listen to your loved ones and address their concerns then there is no purpose to your life.  If you aren’t honest with and don’t serve humanity then your life has no value.  Being truthful, no matter how painful, with ourselves, our world and reality, allows us to know ourselves and monitor our progress through life.  Knowing who we are, where we are and what progress we have made is critical to exercising our freedom to transform our health.  A useful way to gauge one’s level of honesty is to look at how large our sense of humor is and if we are able laugh at our own folly.

6.  Be grateful to all, especially your difficulties

Without sickness we would not know health.  Without the possibility of a premature death we could not appreciate life.  Without our health we could not abuse it and become sick and so on.  Whether we feel sick or feel healthy the experience of life is a gift to be cherished and be grateful for.  This gratitude is not mandatory but is a choice for each of us to make.  We can choose to be grateful and to appreciate every moment in life, or we can choose to be ungrateful, feel victimized and blame everyone and everything for our problems.  Choosing gratitude makes us responsible which, in turn, give us the freedom to change our destiny.  You can be grateful, or you can be ungrateful. It is your choice.  If you choose not to be grateful then you are also choosing to give up your freedom.  So choose wisely.

7.  Choose and actively pursue a goal and dream that benefits everyone

What is your life about? What do you dream of being and doing? What do you wish to accomplish in this life? What do you wish to do this year,  tomorrow, or even in the next moment?  Regardless of the state of our bodies and our health, life is about dreams and having the passion to make them come true.  The most important aspect of becoming and staying healthy is to know why you are doing so.  What you dream and wish to accomplish is the “why”.  You can choose to do anything you want. If you wish to be a mean and hateful person and make people unhappy then you will be miserable and your life will be cut short, if not by yourself then by others.  If you choose to serve others and make them happy then you will be happy regardless of the state your body.  Everyone who recovered from a terminal illness with macrobiotics, had a dream and vision for what they wanted to do with their lives.  They all lived long enough to achieve those dreams.  The greater your dream is then the more your body becomes only a vehicle to achieve that dream.  If your dream is great then it will continue long after your body has died.  That is true health.

Rise Of The New Human Race – a lecture by Michio Kushi from 1984

November 23, 2017


“Rise Of The New Human Race” is a 1984 lecture by Michio Kushi, presented in its original with added English subtitles for clarity.  (Click on the CC icon at the bottom right of the video to enable the subtitles).  The lecture was presented at the Mid-Atlantic Macrobiotic Summer Camp sponsored by the East West Foundation of Philadelphia.  A full transcript edited for clarity will soon be provided below.  Thank you and enjoy!

If you can’t say, “No” then “Yes” means nothing.

October 23, 2017

if you cant say no -bill johnson

“If you can’t say, ‘No’ then ‘Yes’ means nothing.” – Bill Johnson

I first heard these wise words from the late Bill Johnson, one of the founders of the Ionia Macrobiotic Community in Alaska.  The words are simple yet profound and efficiently exemplify a dialectical understanding of life. There are variations to these words and others have expressed and made them popular such as singer-songwriter, Meshell Ndgeocello but who said it first is uncertain.  It could have first been spoken by someone proposing marriage to another and who would not accept their “yes” if they could not authentically say, “no”.  What is certain, at least for me, is that it is a profound and simple truth that is essential for creating harmonious human relations.

The opposite of this wisdom is when one person can not or will not accept “no’ as answer.  In a goal oriented world where “failure is not an option” we praise those who “won’t take ‘no’ for an answer” and while this attitude seeks to build up our self-confidence, without the temperance of mindful presence and respectful listening it can turn into a nightmare of domination and abuse. Instead of a healthy competitive spirit it can unleash an underlying fear of failure where we threaten all who refuse to get out of our way as expressed by the iconic, “make him an offer he can’t refuse” from the “Godfather” film.

In a world that idolizes material wealth and fame and the “self-made” hero, we have also come to idolize our refusal to accept “no” and to normalize the abusive treatment of those who do say it.   “Speak softly and carry a big stick”, “Gunboat diplomacy” and “Nuclear Deterrence” are all ways of threatening anyone who dares to say, “no”.  Strength and power is viewed as those who get what they want and instill fear in those who might say “no”.  Is it really any wonder that in today’s world we have created many who adore Trump as well as persons like Harvey Weinstein and so many others who threaten others who say, “no”?

When a person can not freely say, “no” and walk away without fear, without any threat of harm to themselves or others; when a person can not say, “no”, and be fully respected and appreciated for speaking their mind and making their own free choice then any “yes” (or silence that is taken as a “yes”) is the result of abuse. If we can’t speak freely and be respected for doing so; if we can’t protest freely and be heard and appreciated; if, in response to our “no” our jobs, livelihood, reputations and lives are threatened then we are being abused.  Abuse is done by those who wish to silence the objection of others and seek revenge and control of others.  Abuse is accepting “yes” from those who can’t say “no”. If you can’t say, “no”, then “yes” means nothing. Thank you, Bill Johnson, for sharing these wise words.