Once I was visited by a young woman who was experiencing irregularities with her menstruation, along with a persistent, growing pain in her lower back, and facial blemishes. A medical examination revealed that she had an ovarian cyst, about the size of an orange, in one of her ovaries. Her doctor had advised exploratory surgery, with the likelihood that the tumor, and possibly the ovary itself, would be removed.
I felt that the problem was caused by improper balance in her daily diet, especially the consumption of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy foods. During her visit, I recommended that she begin the macrobiotic diet, together with several basic home remedies. She followed my instructions. To her surprise, the cyst was no longer detectable after six weeks of practicing a macrobiotic regime. Her physician, a well-known gynecologist, remarked that in all her years of practice, she had never seen a case like that.
During my years studying and practicing macrobiotics, I have witnessed hundreds of cases, involving a wide range of illnesess, with a similar outcome. My own experience with macrobiotic healing began in the late 1960s when I was a student at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was at that time that I started seeking a deeper understanding of life through the study of Oriental philosophy.
My search began with Vedanta, the traditional wisdom of India, proceeded through Taoism and Chinese philosophy, and then led to Buddhism and Shintoism. I discovered the macrobiotic teachings of George Ohsawa at that time, and realized that macrobiotics offered the means to transform humanity’s timeless spiritual wisdom into a living reality. Through macrobiotics, I came to understand that the spiritual knowledge I had been searching for was within myself and that my day to day eating played a pivotal role in the development of spiritual consciousness.
As I adopted the macrobiotic lifestyle, allergies and other minor health problems began to disappear, I lost excessive weight, and my outlook grew more active and positive.
In 1972, I moved from Philadelphia to Boston in order to study with Michio Kushi. In 1973, I began a five-year period of work at the East West Foundation, a non-profit educational and cultural organization started by the Kushis. During that period, I studied intensively with Mr. Kushi, and began to give basic lectures on various aspects of the macrobiotic way of life. I edited numerous publications dealing with macrobiotics and natural healing. I also gave personal advice on the macrobiotic way of life to hundreds of people.
Through these experiences, I came to realize that health, happiness, and freedom are actually the natural human condition. My observations and experiences with the effects of food on our physical and mental health have convinced me that the most fundamental way to achieve health and happiness is to begin selecting, preparing, and eating our daily food in accordance with the law of nature. This universal, common sense method is available to everyone. All that is required is a desire to enjoy a life free from sickness and unhappiness and the wish to claim the human birthright of a happy, free, and healthy life.
The age of dietary anarchy now prevails throughout modern society. Traditional patterns of eating–based around whole cereal grains and cooked vegetables as the staple foods–which were followed for thousands of years have been abandoned. The modern diet consists of large quantities of animal food, heavily refined and processed flour and grain, refined sugar, dairy products, fruits and spices imported from great distances, chemicalized, industrialized, and artificial foods, and powerful drugs and medications. Not only is the modern way of eating widespread in the industrial nations in both East and West, but it is being exported at an increasingly rapid rate throughout the world. As a result, in spite of great prosperity brought on by technological advances, we are in the midst of a biological Noah’s Flood which is reflected in the increasing worldwide incidence of degenerative disease and social breakdown.
Before the Second World War, Dr. Alexis Carrel, a Nobel Prize-winning physiologist at the Rockefeller Institute, foresaw our current situation and in his book, Man the Unknown, proposed a complete re-evaluation of our modern understanding of life, nature, and ourselves. In the preface to his book he stated:
•Before beginning this work the author realized its difficulty, its almost impossibility. He undertook it merely because somebody had to undertake it, because men cannot follow modern civilization along its present course, because they are degenerating. They have been fascinated by the beauty of the science of inert matter. They have not understood that their body and consciousness are subjected to natural laws, more obscure than, but as inexorable as, the laws of the sidereal world. Neither have they understood that they cannot transgress these laws without being punished. They must, therefore, learn the necessary relations of the cosmic universe, of their fellow men, and of their inner selves, also those of their tissues and their mind. Indeed, man stands above all things. Should he degenerate, the beauty of civilization, and even the grandeur of the physical universe, would vanish. For these reasons this book was written.
The natural laws of which Dr. Carrel wrote are expressed in macrobiotics as the principle of dualistic monism: yin changes into yang, and yang changes into yin, everywhere and forever. The most grandiose civilizations have all experienced eventual decline and decay. Nothing is exempt from this fundamental law. At the same time, however, within the decline of modern civilization, the seeds of the biological, psychological, and spiritual restoration of humanity are beginning to grow, just as the depth of winter produces spring, and the peak of night leads to dawn.
During the 20th century, the most fundamental way to achieve the restoration of humanity has been taught throughout the world as the understanding and practice of macrobiotics. When Michio Kushi graduated from Tokyo University after the Second World War, prior to coming to the United States for graduate studies at Columbia, his interest in world peace through world government led him to investigate the work of George Ohsawa. Mr. Ohsawa proposed that only with the biological reconstruction of humanity on an individual basis through the means of daily life and diet, could world peace be established. Observation of the human condition for over half a century had led Mr. Ohsawa to such a simple but profound insight. His conclusions are contain in three works available in English: Zen Macrobiotics, The Book of Judgment, and The Macrobiotic Guidebook to Living. (George Ohsawa’s basic writings have recently been compiled in the book, Essential Ohsawa, published by Avery Publishing Group, 1994.)
Inspired by the macrobiotic view of life, Michio Kushi has been teaching, writing, and lecturing throughout the world in order to further the understanding and practical application of the macrobiotic way of life. Many of his conclusions are presented in The Book of Macrobiotics: The Universal Way of Health, Happiness, and Peace, published by Japan Publications, Inc. He is the author of more than a dozen books on macrobiotic philosophy, health care, and way of life.
The aim of macrobiotic healing extends beyond the relief of individual symptoms to the eventual realization of a healthy and peaceful world. The goal of planetary health and peace, toward which so many of history’s greatest personalities have dedicated their lives, can at last be realized as increasing numbers of people begin to apply the order of nature to their daily lives. A healthy nation is composed of healthy communities, which are, in turn, the product of strong and healthy families. The basis of family health is the understanding and ability of each member to take responsibility for and successfully manage his or her own health.
Health is a natural result of maintaining dynamic balance between the two primary forces in the universe. Thus, with a simple scale used for measuring weight, balance is achieved by placing equal amounts of material on either side. If one side contains less weight, it will begin to rise, as the heavier side sinks. The side that falls does so as a result of the influence of downward, or centripetal force, while the other side rises because of the influence of centrifugal, or expanding force.
These two forces, known in the Orient as yin and yang, are universal tendencies that govern all things. For example, on the earth we are constantly receiving an incoming, downward force from the sun, stars, planets, and constellations that pushes everything onto the surface of the planet and causes the earth to turn and revolve around the sun. At the same time, the earth, because of its rotation, generates an opposite, expanding or outgoing force. The interplay between these two forces –centripetality, or yang, and centrifugality, or yin– creates all things on our planet and throughout the universe.
Each force creates respective physical tendencies. Centripetal or yang force creates contraction, density, heaviness, rapid motion, and high temperature. Centrifugal, or yin force creates expansion, diffusion, lightness, slower motion, and low temperature. At their extreme, each force changes into its opposite, as high temperature causes expansion and low temperature results in contraction. Yin and yang are not static conditions but rather tendencies that cycle continuously or change into each other as is obvious in the sequence of day changing into night and then night giving way to the day. The progression from winter to summer and then back to winter is another example of the interplay of opposites that governs life.
Health is the natural result of maintaining a dynamic balance of yin and yang in our daily eating and way of life. An understanding of the laws that govern these two antagonistic, yet complementary tendencies can unlock the secrets of life and health. It can lead to an understanding of our origin and destiny as human beings. My hope is that, through the practice of a macrobiotic way of life, all people can come to will discover the wonderful order of nature and realize health, happiness, and infinite freedom.
Source: This essay is from the Introduction to The Macrobiotic Way of Natural Healing, East West Foundation, Boston, Mass., 1978 ©, all rights reserved.