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Macrobiotic Harmony – What is it?

January 5, 2010

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“People think that the Spirit is within the Body but that is incorrect.  It is the Body that is within the Spirit” – George Ohsawa

A few days ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “Misconceptions About Yin & Yang: The Goal Is Not Balance But Is Imbalance” explaining how everything in nature is asymmetrical.  I know that for many it may be confusing, especially among those whom have studied macrobiotics and oriental philosophy. The obvious reason for this is that there has been much emphasis in macrobiotic teachings on the idea of balance and harmony. Now, if the goal of Yin & Yang is not balance then why has there been such an emphasis on balance and harmony?  The answer is simple and obvious.

With macrobiotics “harmony” really is a goal, but the question is: “harmony with what?” and the answer to that is: “with everything else” – which is to say the universe minus you.  The goal is not to create balance within one’s self, but to create balance in relation to everything else or the rest of the universe.

Everything is governed by the forces of nature such as the motion of the planets, the changing seasons, night and day and so forth.  When the temperature is cold (yin) we make ourselves more yang by contracting and become more active and when it is hot (yang) then we relax and become slower.   We can make ourselves more yang by eating more yang foods and more yin by eating more yin foods.  If we eat yin foods during a yin time then we become sick and vice versa. Those who studied macrobiotic philosophy understand this well.

We can also strive to be in harmony with our social environment and our relationships with each other by becoming more open and expressive or more focused and attentive as changing situations and interactions with others require.

Life is always like a dance with our total environment.  If we adopt Ohsawa’s view on Spirit and Body then our total environment is our Spirit which is none other than the entire universe: the cosmos, the movement of the planets, the changing seasons, day and night, all life on earth, all of humanity and all of our food.  This is our Spirit and it is our source and is where we, what we call our bodies,  came from. The Spirit, which is eternally flowing and changing creates our physical body which is ephemeral and comes and goes and is born and dies.

Macrobiotic harmony is the dynamic relationship between our body and our spirit or the universe.  When we become healthier by eating simply for long periods of time then we begin to experience this relationship and we naturally strive to be and move in harmony with the ever-changing universe.  Our physical bodies naturally seek to be in a peaceful and harmonious relationship with our spiritual body which is the universe itself.

But if we overeat and eat complicated, strange, and unnatural foods then we become pre-occupied with and consumed by smaller concerns such as material wealth, fame and power and we ignore our larger spirit.  If we continue on this path for longer time periods then we forget our spirit and connection with everything. As everything naturally changes and flows then it appears to us as being separate and distinct from us and we become defensive, fearful, protective and we believe that our very existence is threatened.  This is schizophrenia.

The only way to heal and recover ourselves from this schizophrenia is through the voluntary peaceful biological transformation of eating simpler foods and living a simpler life; one that allows us to observe, respond and react in harmony with the ebb and flow of the dynamic universe. By living this simpler life we create a greater polarity and harmony between our physical body (yang) which is infinitesimally small and ephemeral and our spiritual body (yin)  which is infinitely large and eternally changing and is known as the universe.  This is macrobiotic harmony.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce Gardiner permalink
    January 5, 2010 2:45 pm

    Dear Phiya –

    First thank you again for your continued blogging on important topics philosophical/macrobiotic topics. Lots of profound insights.

    I wanted to comment particularly on the statement: “Macrobiotic harmony is the dynamic relationship between our body and our spirit or the universe.”

    I think we are missing something very important when our spirit and the universe are equated. The world of Yin and Yang exists within the manifest world, which includes the physical, the physically energetic (electro-magnetic), and subtley energetic (ki, prana, and the like). But yin and yang do not provide a roadmap in one-iverse of the unmanifest.

    Beyond the relative world–and fully pervading it– is the Absolute/Unmanifest, that which GO called Tai-kyo-ku and we simply translated “Infinite Expansion.” This is pure emptiness, pure being, beyond birth and death, without qualties. Pure non dual.

    The re-cognition of this Absolute is the beginning of The Great Life. Mastery of the realtive work of Yin/Yang is important, very important, but not sufficient. Ideological Judgement is the penultimate wisdom–mastery of Yin/Yang. Supreme Judgment is longer imprisoned in dualistic perception–even the subtle dualistic perceptions from the “magic spectacles” of Yin and Yang. Suprime Judgment lives from within the mystery “I and the Abolute ” are not two. The Absolute and the Relative are not two. Or from the Buddhist perspective: Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.

    With this, we enter the marketplace–the relative world of Yin/Yang–with bliss bestowing hands…to quote the last of the Oxherding Pictures in the Zen tradition.

    This is why MB is shojin ryori (spelling?), food for spiritual development. Food to open up the Supreme Judgment…

    I believe that this is what GO was trying to express. I sure didn’t get it after buying the I Ching and Zen Macrobiotics on a summer evening on the 8th St. in New York’s Lower East Side in August 1967. Even though Melinda and I began eating Macrobiotically the day after we got married–September 9, 1967–I harshly judged GO. It was only this summer that the above became clear to me….a long time running the question “What is the Infinite Expansion” on the back burner of my brain.

    Peace and all good, Phiya…


  2. January 7, 2010 8:39 am

    Phiya, thank you for all your great articles!

    I would be very much interested about on particular thing – raw foodism. I have noticed you bought juicer machine yourself few months ago. Were you testing some effects of the raw food diet? I don’t mean eating raw vegetables/fruits occasionaly in the macrobiotic diet. I am talking about complete 90%-100% raw food diet. How do you see it from the macrobiotic point of view? Because if I oversimplify – it should be completely yin diet and people couldn’t be able to sustain it long term. They should shiver in cold, their teeth should loosen, their hairs should fall out, at least, these are stories that macrobiotic people say about raw fooders in general. But from my observation, nothing from this happens to them. They are doing very well, healing from cancers and not only cancers that have yang character, so the yin raw food should cure them, but they are also curing the yin cancers and other health problems very well.
    And even the people that are eating bananas, oranges, avokados and are living in the north Europe, US, Canada are doing pretty good.
    If it’s something that interests you to write article about, I think it would be very much interesteting for both parties, I know many people that would profit from your view.

    Thank you very much for all you do for us, here at blog and also Facebook, take care!

  3. January 7, 2010 11:33 am

    I love this post!!! Yes, people need to eat more simply and ignore the chemical food!

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