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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

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob De Pourque permalink
    May 7, 2021 8:05 am

    Dear Phiya

    Do you have some information about Marc Van Cauwenberghe ?


    Bob De Pourque

    Op vr 7 mei 2021 12:41 schreef Phiya Kushi :

    > Phiya Kushi posted: ” 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 you” >

  2. jozef deville permalink
    May 7, 2021 8:05 am

    as Oshawa pointed out : the essence of macrobiotics is not about to cure illnesses ( that’s primary school ) , it’s about the healing of the person(ality) ; from that point of view there is no ending or limitation to macrobiotics ; the ending of success came because of the limitation to ingredients , recipes , techniques only ( like a diet is fashionable for a limited time ) , without including the the whole person , which Oshawa called the development of the highest judgement and so to understand what is off all times and thus universal . On that way macrobiotics places itself amongst and shares all great philosophies in history , transcending time and space , and making the question irrelevant. They show up when asked for .

  3. claire daring permalink
    May 7, 2021 8:07 am

    thankyou for your thoughts , I remember when I was staying with you and your family in Boston , once you have touched macrobiotics you cannot get off and it is so true , thankyou and your family for putting me on this path many years ago, I am still alive at 81 because of it thankyou sincerely Claire

  4. Robi Salazar permalink
    October 7, 2021 11:10 am

    Sorry this is 6 months later…I am just now rereading Ohsama’s Book of Judgement that I apparently read back in 1971. Despite having many written margin notes and underlinings, apparently the message of the book was not easily absorbed by a 20-something gal. Now I am astounded at the profundity of Ohsawa’s thinking. He seems to be a dedicated bodhisattva, an altruistic teacher who only cared about enlighetening others. He really wanted people to think for themselves, not just follow a prescribed way of eating. His disciples, my teacher Herman Aihara and of course your father were following his example as best they could. It is our sad karma not to appreciate what they were teaching

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