Michio Kushi Memorial Service Speeches – Horriah Nelissen
This post is part of a series presenting full transcripts of speeches given at the Michio Kushi Memorial Service in Boston on January 31, 2015.
Hello everybody! Dear friends, my name is Horriah Nelissen. I am the oldest daughter of Adelbert and Wieke Nelissen from the Kushi Institute of Europe in Amsterdam. I will read a message from my mother, Wieke Nelissen, and in spirit of my father who recently passed in the beginning of September.
Both Wieke and Adelbert, my parents, have seen Michio and Aveline as their great teachers and guides on their path of macrobiotics. For their children, I am the oldest of five children, Michio and Aveline were like grandparents to us. For a long period of time Michio and Aveline were both present several times per year in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities where seminars took place. Their first encounter was in 1975 when Michio and Aveline visited Europe for the first time. At that time Adelbert and Wieke were already practicing macrobiotics for 8 years. They started in 1968, learning from the book of “Zen Macrobiotics” by George Ohsawa. Their understanding of macrobiotics was little, limited at the time – writing down in a diary “Horriah”, me, “got one raisin! Oh, oh, oh will that be okay?” I read that diary and, oh, I’m glad that I’m still alive! They started already, the first macrobiotic food store in Amsterdam and sourdough bakery called, “Manna”.
And the first Michio Kushi Seminar of Europe took place in London and Michio was speaking there for a group of acupuncturists. My father was there and he attended those lecture and he was so overwhelmed by Michio’s teaching that he immediately phoned home to all the workers of Manna Company which was already growing at the time. They had to drop their work immediately and come to Paris where Michio and Aveline would teach next, as soon as possible.
Paris was for Michio and Aveline like entering the Lion’s Den since in France several of the old students of Ohsawa were teaching there and Michio was a little bit seen as an intruder with too many modern ideas about macrobiotics. The seminar was very successful and Michio and Aveline took the most challenging step into the world of macrobiotically successfully.
That same year in the fall, Michio came for the first time to Holland and taught for over 300 very grateful students. For Adelbert and Wieke Michio was it was like Michio and Aveline made order in their macrobiotic life – their daily experience. Suddenly everything made more sense to them so that one raisin became a normal box, I think.
And it was in the beginning for them, for a long relationship, between my parents and Michio and Aveline. Adelbert organized more than forty times all kinds of seminars with Michio and Aveline with students from all over Europe in many different languages. You cannot maybe imagine, but it had to be translated always in maybe eight different languages for all the teachings.
The Kushi Institute of Europe was established in 1978 as an educational center for leadership programs. Here are some of the absolute highlights of the seminars and conferences Adelbert and Wieke organized for Michio and Aveline. In the 80s a conference for medical professionals was organized for the World Health Organization in Brazzaville, former Congo resulting in to a conference in France in Bergerac for very interested Doctors. In Brazzaville Adelbert visited markets as preparation before Michio came and in small villages he would gather all different kinds of products as samples to present the macrobiotic standard diet to those World Health Organization Doctors. Even he found brown rice and tofu. So it became clear that in a poor country like Brazzaville, a macrobiotic standard diet was possible to eat.
In the 80s the Kushi Institute in Amsterdam organized a number of conferences on AIDS and Cancer. Although Michio and Adelbert had various meetings with the Chairman of the Governmental Cancer Organization, the interest in healing power of macrobiotic food was very low at the time. Healthcare in Holland was so well organized, why would people take care for their own health if everything was paid by the Government? On the contrary and at the same time there were numbers of people very interested in the philosophy and the macrobiotic diet and also in family members, which became, at the end, one of the trademarks of the Kushi Institute of Europe.
Between 1980 and 2000 Michio and Aveline conducted several times, four levels of spiritual development training in the south of Holland in a monastery. And other very popular seminars were “New Medicine for Humanity”, “The Destiny of Mankind”, “The Cause of War and the Art of Peace”, “The Essence of Macrobiotics”.
When Michio and Aveline came for the first time to Holland, Wieke and Adelbert made them taste sourdough bread from their bakery. Especially Aveline was immediately very fond of this traditional Dutch bread. And also they introduced them to Tempeh. You might well know Tempeh by now, but Tempeh was originally a fermented soybean product from Indonesia, a former colony of Holland. And Aveline and Michio didn’t know this food – not originally Japanese. So they decided to put this immediately, together with the sourdough bread, into the macrobiotic standard diet and now tempeh is spread actually all over the world.
Michio loved Amsterdam but not the weather. Still some of you maybe also know. He would always make a joke saying, “Welcome to the Winter Conference!” even in the middle of the summer. And once he tried to adapt to the Dutch habits by trying to ride a bicycle. But he didn’t come far. After a hundred meters he gave up, actually. In Holland you have also bikes with side wheels. Maybe we should have given one like that.
The last time Michio visited Amsterdam was to celebrate his 80th birthday. Many of his old students gathered for a big party with delicious food and artistic performances of professional macrobiotic musicians and dancers. It was a wonderful evening during which everybody could express his or her gratefulness for Michio’s teachings. In Holland his many students and especially our family will remember and cherish Michio and Aveline for their wonderful teachings and guidance for so many years. Adelbert always spoke so highly of them and always felt extremely connected with both of them. May their spirits guide us all to One Peaceful World. Thank you.