On December 28, 2014, our father, Michio Kushi, passed away peacefully in a hospital in Boston. On his last day his wife, Midori, and all of his sons, Norio, Haruo, myself and Hisao, were present and were able to speak with him for the last time. Later and after the holidays, on January 5th, 2015, our father’s remains were cremated in a private, family only service. A Memorial Service for the public is being planned for Saturday, January 31st, 2015 in Boston. Details and more information for the Public Memorial Service will be posted here: http://www.michiokushi.org . The following are impressions of our father’s last day by Norio Kushi, my older brother. – Phiya
There are three words that come to mind when it comes to my father’s passing. I intentionally use the word “passing” instead of death, because the death of my father felt much more like a transition instead of finality associated with the word death.
The first word is “magical.” In the same way, during the presence of my children’s birth, there is a magical feeling, this same feeling was present during the dying of my father. Any differences that may have been there between myself and other family members, whether it be with my father or his wife, as soon as I walked into my father’s room, was gone. It all simply dissolved and felt as though it had never been there.
The second word is “beautiful.” As I walked into my father’s room, he was awake, fully conscious and completely aware of what was happening. My father got to say all that he wanted to say and all that he needed to say. In the end, the only thing that mattered to my father, was that there be peace and harmony between all family members, including, of course, his wife Midori. At the moment of my father’s passing, Midori was massaging his feet, he was fully awake, peaceful and happy.
The third word is “gratitude.” Also present in the room was this overwhelming feeling of gratitude. I am grateful for my father and mother selflessly providing for me throughout my life. I am grateful for JoAnne and our children for their unconditional love and support. I am grateful for our family, my brothers, sister for their unconditional love and support. I am grateful for all our friends, who are all as intimate as family and live throughout our green planet. Thank you all for sharing in this gift of life.
One more insight that I want to share is the timelessness of birth and death and that the source of life happening, is not just in the manifest, time based reality, but simultaneously at a much deeper level beyond the intellect. In the presence of my father, I saw the limitations in assigning the time based reality of cause and effect to death. The witnessing of the passing, is a glimpse into the timeless, a reality void of cause and effect.
Thank you to all.
With great sadness we announce that our beloved husband, father and brother, Michio Kushi, 88, passed away peacefully the morning of December 28, 2014 in Boston, due to complications related to metastatic pancreatic cancer. On his last day, he was fully conscious and surrounded by his wife and sons. He is survived by his wife, Midori, brother, four sons, fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Information about memorial services will be forthcoming and will be posted at the michiokushi.org website..
THE KUSHI FAMILY
KUSHI INSTITUTE INTERNATIONAL 会長である久司道夫が、2014年12月28日 未明（ボストン時間）、享年89歳にて逝去いたしました。 ここに生前のご厚誼を深く感謝するとともに、謹んでお知らせいたします。 なお、日本における「お別れの会」につきましては、決定次第、ご連絡申し上げます。
KUSHI INSTITUTE INTERNATIONAL東京連絡先
I will be hosting a discussion for change on the morning of Friday, August 15 at 11am at the annual Kushi Institute Summer Conference (August 3-17, 2014) at Becket, Massachusetts. Below is the topic and description of the discussion and, if successful, may be extended to the internet on Facebook. For more information about the conference please go to: http://www.kushiinstitute.org/summer-conference/ .
Who are you? Why are you here? What do you want for your life? And…What are we going to do about it, if anything?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
(Note: This article was written for the March 2014 issue of the Russian Magazine, “Vegetarian” and has been slightly edited for this blog.)
Eye Of The Beholder
When I was young many years ago, I was greatly impressed by an episode of the television show, “The Twilight Zone”, that was entitled, “The Eye Of The Beholder”, which was taken from the familiar phrase that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Only 25 minutes long, the show left me with an understanding about the relative nature of beauty that I have never forgotten to this day.
(Spoiler alert!) The show depicted a woman in a hospital whose face was completely hidden by bandages. In the background you could hear the whisperings of the nurses and doctors expressing their shock at how ugly and horrific the woman’s face was. With the camera fixed on the woman’s bandaged face, coupled with the fearful comments of those around her, the suspense escalated to a point where you, as the viewer, were fearful to see the horrible ugliness that lay hidden under the bandages and yet you had to see her face, which would undoubtedly be revealed at the end.
When the time came to reveal her face slowly the bandages were removed to uncover, to your great surprise, the face of a beautiful woman. Why, then, were the nurses and doctors saying that she was ugly? The final end was that the nurses, doctors and everyone else in that world had horribly disfigured faces and that she was the only normal looking person, by our standards.
Beauty Is Relative, All Is Relative
The lesson I learned from that TV Show was that beauty is relative. What I consider as beautiful may be different than what everyone else considers as beautiful. I might think this person is beautiful while someone else will think that another person is more beautiful. I might think the mountains are beautiful while someone else may prefer the seaside. My perception of what is beautiful is different and relative to everyone else.
Not only is my perception of what is beautiful different from everyone else, it also changes depending on circumstance and time and this is true for everyone. Like the changing trends in fashion, our notion of beauty is constantly changing in relation to our changing world circumstances. Thus, what we may find as beautiful when we are young might seem ugly to us later in life and vice versa. I might think certain type of person is beautiful at one time but then find them to be ugly at another time. I might enjoy rock music in one moment but then prefer classical music in another. Our tastes and preferences and what we think is beautiful are always changing as time moves on. This changing view of ours not only applies to beauty but to all that we perceive and understand in all areas of our lives.
Yin and Yang
This dynamic changing view of the relative nature of, not just beauty, but of all things that we perceive is understood in macrobiotics as the dynamic interplay of yin and yang. This dynamic dance is not just limited to our relative perceptions of beauty but encompasses all of our experiences and all phenomena.
In this universe everything is changing and moving and is relative to us and everything else. Day turns into night, summer into winter, beauty into ugliness, wealth into poverty, strength into weakness, love into hate, life into death and so on. This dynamic dance is the dance of Yin and Yang. Thus, as the TV show depicted, a beautiful person by our standards, can be ugly in the world of ugly people.
Self-awareness and Beauty
Once we see and understand the relative nature of the universe and how everything moves in a dynamic dance of Yin and Yang then we understand that beauty is not fixed. With imagination and practice we can change our perception of what is beautiful. For example, when we put ourselves in another person’s shoes then we can imagine what is beauty from their eyes. The writer of the story of TV show did just that. He imagined a different world where ugliness is considered beautiful and beautiful as ugly.
Using our imagination in this way not only helps us understand the relative nature of beauty but also the causes and limits of our own perceptions. We begin to see that our view of beauty has been influenced by the culture and environment in which we were raised. If we were born in another country with a different set of values then we can easily imagine that we would see beauty in a different way.
If we were born in the center of Africa then we would understand beauty differently than if we were born in Northern Europe. If we were born in the Far East then we would see beauty in different way than if we were born in the West. If we were a different species of animal then we would see beauty in a completely different way than as a human being. The extent of our imagination is unlimited.
In this way, we realize that who we are and how we perceive beauty in our world depends upon our environment. This includes the natural environment, our home, family life, local community, society and the times in which we are living. We understand that our perception of beauty is based on how we were raised which is a function of our environment.
After we realize how different we all are from each other we also begin to notice our similarities. We notice, for example, that all humans, animals, plants and so on experience life here on Earth in more or less the same way. The motion of the earth influences us all in the exact same way as it moves through space. The entire Universe is like a giant constantly moving river that we all share. We are born in it and from it, we live inside it and we die in it. We are a part of it and it never stops. This river is can referred to as the order of the universe.
This Universal order has a natural pattern and shape. We observe it in the shape of giant spiral galaxies, in the movement of the planets, in the waves of the oceans, the swirling patterns of clouds and in the life of plants, animals and our own human form. It is naturally beautiful and pleasing to our eyes when we see it.
Nature is Beautiful
All life, as we know it, depends upon a very delicate balance of conditions that are found only on Earth. If our home planet were any closer to or further away from the sun then it would be lifeless. Yet, where it is now, life flourishes in infinite and wondrous variety. It is nature, as we know it, and it is beautiful.
When we look at nature there are several qualities we can identify as beautiful. We can say that all things are beautiful when they are:
1. Asymmetric and Unique
When we see things that are symmetrical we intuitively feel that it is unnatural. Nature is asymmetrical and expresses itself uniquely in different things. Mountains would look strange if they were all the same shape and height. Rivers would look strange if they were all straight without any curves. Trees would look strange if they all were exactly the same. Even we would look strange if we were all the same. If the left and right side of our face were exactly the same then we look strange. It is because our left side is slightly different from our right side that we look “beautiful”. It is our asymmetry and uniqueness that make us beautiful.
Nature is always moving. It is dynamic and alive. When we see something as moving and changing, (even if it is a still photograph or painting) then it appears beautiful to us. We cannot explain why it is beautiful, but like a waterfall or crashing waves, what is dynamic and moves is beautiful.
When things move in harmony and come together effortlessly, as if they were carefully planned, like a well-rehearsed dance, then it appears to us as beautiful. Even if they are loud and sudden like lightning storms, and tidal waves, there is beauty in them. Things that are disharmonious and clash together appear ugly to us.
Taking into consideration all of the above points we can look at our own beauty. We understand that beauty is relative and is in the “eye of the beholder” yet we also intuitively and universally recognize beauty within each other and ourselves. When we see someone healthy, dynamic and alive we naturally find him or her to be attractive and beautiful, regardless of who they are and what they look like. We find healthy laughing babies to be attractive and beautiful. We find young children happily playing to be beautiful. What is clear is that we find humans to be most beautiful when they are happy and healthy. Furthermore, we are most happy and healthy when we are living in harmony with nature. Macrobiotics means to live in harmony with nature. This means we are most beautiful when we are practicing macrobiotics.
When we understand the Order Of the Universe and its relative nature, we understand that real beauty is more than just appearances. Appearances are fleeting and even deceiving. Wearing make-up, changing our hair, exercising our bodies for appearances, are all temporary and superficial measures to look more beautiful for specific circumstances. They may work sometimes for a specific moment but beyond that they do not last.
True physical beauty is based on health, which, in turn, is based on what we eat and how we live. The health of our skin, hair and nails, is a direct reflection of our health and specifically the health of our digestive track. While we can temporarily hide a blemish or a pimple on our face with make up the only way we can get rid of it permanently is by changing our health, which means changing our diet and lifestyle. Poor hair quality is a direct reflection of the quality of our intestines. To create beautiful and strong skin and hair we must create a beautiful and strong digestive system.
We must change our inside in order to change our outside. To do this we begin by changing what we eat and start to eat in harmony and accordance with nature. This means we must change what we take in from the outside to change our inside, in order to change our outward appearance. This includes the following:
1. Eating whole natural and traditional foods
2. Eating according to season
3. Eating according to geography
4. Eating human food which includes, whole grains, beans, fresh vegetables and fruits, cooked and prepared according to our environment and season
5. Eating traditional homemade fermented foods
6. Reducing or avoiding animal foods including meat and dairy foods
7. Reducing or avoiding all processed foods including sugar, white flour, and other commercial foods.
8. Eating less, chewing more and being more sensitive to the effects of foods
The way to physical beauty simply means to become a natural healthy human being again. To become human again we must eat human food. Human food are those foods our ancient ancestors ate that made us into human beings and include whole grains and modern vegetables, cooked and prepared in traditional and ancient ways including fermentation. By shifting our diets in this way, we create a closer, dynamic and more harmonious relationship with nature. This is the relative dynamics of Yin and Yang and by understanding it we can change our health and become beautiful naturally.
Psychological and Spiritual Beauty
In addition to physical beauty, we must also concern ourselves with psychological and spiritual beauty. Changing our diets will make us healthier and will improve our physical beauty but we must also develop our psychological and spiritual beauty.
Psychological beauty is love, kindness, compassion, generosity and forgiveness. Nothing is more beautiful than to see gentle caring and love between two beings like a mother nursing a child, or two young lovers together, or the compassionate and courageous acts of a stranger helping another person. These acts are beautiful to all of us.
Psychological ugliness is war, violence, aggression, selfishness, extreme behaviors, ignorance and arrogance. It is also know as insanity. We are horrified when we see images of war and violence and cannot even look upon such atrocities. Abusive behavior toward another person and oneself is ugly to look at. Guilt, shame and fear are also very ugly. These are all unhealthy and extreme emotions, behaviors and actions that are created by unhealthy situations.
Spiritual beauty is simply gratitude, humility, honesty, patience, understanding and unconditional love. Spiritual ugliness is arrogance, being closed minded, lying and being deceitful to oneself and others.
To become psychologically and spiritually beautiful, we must first take care of our own physical health and beauty by eating and living closer and more in harmony with nature. Then we must strive to develop ourselves through continuous and daily exploration and self-reflection. We must seek out friendships and company that support and nurture who we are and our vision and dreams. Lastly we must remember our own insignificance in this vast and amazing Universe that is always changing and moving; of which we are a part of and made from. In remembering our insignificance and humility let us always be grateful for this most wondrous journey and opportunity that is our life, through which we can experience all the beauty in the Universe. Our expression of gratitude and unconditional love is macrobiotic beauty.
Macrobiotic beauty is to be healthy and happy. It means to eat and live in closer dynamic harmony with nature. It means to understand the relative beauty of the every-changing universe. It means to joyfully play and actively explore life. It also means to self-reflect upon our own thoughts, behaviors and actions and constantly seek to develop ourselves. It means to remember and appreciate our insignificance in this vast infinite universe. It means to always express our gratitude and unconditional love to all for the wonderful opportunity that is our life. Such a person who embodies all these things will appear to be the most beautiful person in the world. This is macrobiotic beauty.
What is “home”?
Home is where one gives and receives unconditional love and support.
By this definition how many are “homeless” today? Whether they have a roof over their heads or live on the street how many have such a “home”?
Unconditional love can never be asked for but it can be given. It can never be taken but it can be received. It does not mean surrendering to those who may abuse or oppress you. It means to ceaselessly love from a place of integrity that is in keeping with a deep respect and gratitude for nature, life and each other.
You can make your home anywhere by loving unconditionally. So let us all make this place, this Earth and this Universe our home.
I have always wondered about what an ideal system of justice in a peaceful world might look like and what follows might come as close to anything as I have seen yet.
Two friends of mine from the Ionia Macrobiotic Community in Alaska recently took an extensive trip throughout Ethiopia this year. In an area where the Konso Tribe live they came across three standing stone. A local native explained to them what these stones were for.
There was one stone each for men, women and children and when someone was accused of a crime, they were told to place their hand on the stone and express their own verdict. If they lied then nature, or the universe, would punish them somehow in the future. They might become sick or have an accident or they might even die or a family member or close friend might become ill or have an accident or tragedy. In this way, they do not separate out destiny, natural events and justice. It was all the same thing and they put their entire faith into it. There was no human punishment. Nature is the judge and the punisher. In this way, they live peacefully and happily and in accordance with and with complete faith in the laws of nature.
Something to consider…
This question was asked of me recently and my first reaction was to write this post here. But this is a fair question and a timely concern so here are some my thoughts on this. I acknowledge that this analysis may be simplistic but my overall hope is that it helps people to look at issues from another perspective. I also realize that I may alienate those who might disagree with me but so be it.
Before I do, I should let you know that I come from a view and hope of a future world where weapons are non-existent, artificial borders like Nations do not exist, where all energy and resources are renewable and free and where our priorities are decided by the cycles of nature instead our own egos. But given that such a world is more of a dream for the distant future than a present reality then here are my thoughts regarding this question.
I prefer not to view this Election race as one between Republicans and Democrats nor Conservatives versus Liberals. I believe these over-used labels confuse the matter even further. Instead I prefer to look at the race as a choice between the Private Sector and the Public Sector.
The Private Sector is about free enterprise, freedom of speech and religious freedom. The Public Sector is about social values and services for the common good, civil rights, civil liberties and equality regardless of sex, race, religion, and wealth. The Public Sector IS the Government and these two gentlemen, with these distinct differing values, are in a race for the highest Public Sector office in the country.
This is a race between between the competitive entrepreneurial “we built it” mindset (Romney) versus one of civil obligation and service of “we’re in this together” (Obama).
It’s a race between championing and rewarding entrepreneurs, businesses, corporations, banks and Wall Street (Romney) versus promoting and creating government programs and regulations that serve the greater good (Obama).
It’s a race between “let Detroit go bankrupt that it can learn to be more competitive” (Romney) vs. “Save working class auto-maker jobs” (Obama).
It’s a race between privately owned media run by the likes of Rupert Murdoch (Romney) versus Public Broadcasting (Obama) or Fox News vs. Big Bird and Bill O’Reilly vs. Bill Moyers.
It’s a race about imposing private Religious values on abortion, woman’s health issues and marriage equality (Romney) versus supporting the civil rights of free choice and equality (Obama).
It’s about supporting the interests of Big Oil and other Private Sector Energy Companies (Romney) versus pushing for National Energy independence as a priority (Obama).
Romney is a career businessman and even though he may have been a Governor, his decisions are and will be based on his business experience and mindset which ultimately is about free enterprise and reward by effort. Romney is also a man who will allow his private and personal religious values influence his decisions. Romney and his ideas clearly comes from the Private Sector.
Obama, on the other hand, is a career civil servant who has worked his entire life in the Public Sector. He has Public Sector values and strives to make decisions based on those. He has repetitively demonstrated those values throughout the last four years and most recently in dealing with the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
So the question for me is this: Do we need more Private Sector values influencing in the Public Sector or not? My answer is an emphatic “no”! We’ve had plenty of this with eight years of the Bush Administration and earlier. Even Obama’s Administration, to the extent that he has career businessmen in his Cabinet, has been influenced by the Private Sector despite his Public Sector values.
The main problem that I see in today’s politics is that it has had too much influence from the Private Sector where there should be none at all. I believe that we need to keep the Public Sector public and the Private Sector private and that means getting business and religious interests out of government and keeping them out.
When the Founding Fathers chose the first President, they chose a career civil servant, a soldier; they chose George Washington. They did not choose the best businessman nor the best clergyman among themselves. Since Washington’s time business interests in government have only grown and they now dominate and run public policy. Corporations are now given the title and rights of “Personhood” which is absolutely ridiculous. I believe this trend has been disastrous for this country.
If Romney is elected then we can all be sure that this trend will continue. He will promote Private Sector interests that include ignoring Climate Change and Genetic Engineering Concerns. Obama, on the other hand, will continue to push for policies that prioritize and strengthen the Public Sector while diminishing the influence of the Private Sector. Romney and his backers naturally criticize his efforts as creating a “culture of dependency”. But don’t be mislead by this. This is a matter of divorcing the values of the Private sector, meaning business and religious interests, from the Public Sector, meaning civil rights, equality, social programs for the needy and so on. Public sector values do not interfere with Private Sector values at all unless they cause harm to people. However, Private Sector values that influence the Public Sector serve only the special interests of those Private groups and this should not be allowed to continue as the default way of government and as has been done for far too long.
I personally believe that, ideally speaking, all government services should be voluntary-based, like a small community might have a volunteer fire department. I also believe in free public education, free libraries and free emergency response services and all other services which are already in existence. I also believe in free healthcare services including free macrobiotic education as I don’t think anyone should profit from the sickness and death of another human being. There are many more services that I think belong in the Public Sector which aren’t in it now. In other words and in my humble opinion, the Public Sector is really not doing enough at present.
I also believe that Public Sector services do not impede or interfere with the growth and development of competing Private Sector enterprises at all. There are private schools and private mail and package companies and many other private businesses that co-exist with competing Public Sector services. In other words, I believe it is a mistake to think that Public Sector Services means that the country is becoming “socialist”. Being for greater and stronger Public Sector services does not mean that one is against Private Sector free enterprise or “capitalism”. We’ve got to stop thinking that it does.
Just as I believe in a strong Public Sector, I also firmly believe in a strong Private Sector: in free enterprise, in a free marketplace, in religious freedom and in freedom of speech. These things are alive and well in this country and in no way have they ever been threatened or will they ever be. While the Public Sector services provide for the common good, Private Sector endeavors satisfy the needs and desires of private individuals and groups.
The two sectors should remain distinct and separate and the private sector should not influence the public sector and the public sector should involve itself in the private sector except when it is harmful to and endangers the people or the environment. The Public Sector provides the foundation from which the Private Sector can flourish. Without this strong Public Sector foundation the businesses and religious values of the Private Sector cannot thrive. If the Private Sector interferes with the Public Sector and, if it’s business, then we risk becoming a Plutocracy and if it’s Religion then we risk becoming a Theocracy. The continued Private Sector influence over the Public Sector has and will make both weak.
To make the Public Sector strong it must be separate from and can not be run by Private Sector values. So, in regard to this Election, the choice between Obama and Romney for the most important Public Sector job is clear: the seasoned civil servant, Obama. Meanwhile, let Romney be the great businessman that he is. Let him operate fully in the Private Sector, which he is better at doing and in that way he can help this Nation by creating more jobs and improve the economy.