Macrobiotics Beyond Food by David Briscoe
If we set aside for a moment the food aspect of macrobiotics, what is there to call macrobiotics? Anything? What is macrobiotics beyond its food and physical health benefits? Does it have anything else to offer an individual and society? When I first was introduced to macrobiotics in 1972 by a cookbook a friend had left at my apartment door, I didn’t have any interest in food, and I made no association between food and my health or any of the physical and mental challenges I was facing at the time
But reading that book changed my life. It wasn’t the recipes and the food ingredients printed there. I didn’t even know what those ingredients were, and I rarely cooked for myself. But something else in the book appealed to me. There was mention of “freedom,” self-responsibility,” “creative thinking,” “wholeness,” and other such concepts. I was surprised to find mention of these in a cookbook. Still to this day, these concepts are what fuel my on-going macrobiotic adventure. But I find this spirit of macrobiotics fading from macrobiotic teachings and consciousness today as the predominant view being promoted is that of macrobiotics as glam cooking for movie stars, gourmet recipes, and “vegan cuisine.” I understand that this is partly an attempt to make macrobiotics more appealing and to reach out to the masses who might be scared by the word “macrobiotics,” but it seems to me that promoting macrobiotics as another vegan or natural diet only, stripped of its spirit and creative principles, is missing the deeper opportunity to really help humanity and the planet.
In my opinion, the real beauty and true depth of macrobiotics is not in its food and health aspects, though some of us have experienced dramatic healing from this alone, but in the “spirit of macrobiotic living” from which the dietary aspect of macrobiotics has emerged. What is macrobiotic living between meals? How do macrobiotic principles and view of life express themselves outside of the kitchen? In our daily lives, how do we live and behave as a result of having looked at life through the macrobiotic view?
And what IS the “macrobiotic view?” I am curious to know how macrobiotics
touches your life besides the ways in which you eat. Please share this with me.
The Close-Up View & The Whole View by David Briscoe
If we look at the human body under a microscope, we see trillions of single cells. If we only knew this view we’d have to conclude that we are trillions of single cells. But if we take our eye off the microscope and step back, we see a totally different view. We don’t see individual cells. We see that the human body is one whole organism. Both views are real. The microscopic view shows us the close-up view and the macroscopic view shows us the big view. Both comprise the whole view.
In today’s world the is an ever-increasing tendency to view life only from the close-up microscopic view. From this view it appears that we are all separate individuals, separate nations, separate religions, etc. Of course, by nature’s design different geographical and climatic conditions have produced different cultures, traditions, languages, etc. But when we only live by this close-up view of the separate me and separate we, great problems and conflicts arise, individually and collectively. If the big view is missing, and we see only the close-up view, we miss the whole view.
As I see it, our challenge in today’s world is how to live with the close-up view, and its individual living circumstances of our families, personal lives, collective cultures and traditions, and at the same time have the big view in our consciousness
When the close-up view and the big view are together, our lives and actions are rooted in the whole view.
Know Your Physical Limitations: A Lesson From Herman Aihara by David Briscoe
Freedom is a wonderful thing. It is wonderful to feel unlimited. Even the prisoner in solitary confinement can be free in his imagination. Our culture teaches us to think of ourselves as free and unlimited. But we are actually free only in spirit. Physically, we are not free or unlimited
Probably one of Herman’s most powerful, simple and often repeated statements was “Know your physical limitations.” Many times this was misunderstood by his students. Some saw this statement as negative, and they didn’t pay much attention, but in this statement was contained the essence of many of Herman’s most positive teachings. In order to be in the physical world for a normal, healthy lifetime, it is important to know how the physical world works. It has rules. The body, being part of the physical world, needs to operate by the rules or it will get sick much more than it normally would, and then it will age prematurely.
We all know that we need oxygen. If we go into outer space or under the water, we must take our supply of oxygen with us. This is one of our physical limitations. We just can’t go anywhere we want, we can only go where there is oxygen. We all come to learn soon in life that the body’s temperature maintains itself at 98.6 F. It can go up a little, maybe down a little, but it can’t go up too high for too long or down too low for too long. If it does, our life is in real danger. This having to maintain a certain body temperature is another of our physical limitations. Nobody can buy their way out of this. So, knowing this, we make sure that our temperature never gets too high or goes too low. It’s become common sense.
We all have to maintain a constant blood sugar level, we all have to consume food and water. These things we understand easily. When we study more about the body, we discover that it has even more, not-so-obvious limitations. In our blood we have to maintain a certain concentration of minerals like sodium and potassium.
This concentration of minerals must be maintained constantly or we are in big trouble. Fortunately, there are automatic functions in the body that maintain this internal mineral concentration.
Perhaps one of the most important physiological limitations is pH or acid-alkaline balance. Human blood must be maintained constantly at a pH of 7.4. If it varies from this number by much, we would go into a coma or convulsions. Our lungs, kidneys and blood buffer system help the body remove acid so that the pH of 7.4 can be steadily maintained. It is a natural process going on night and day without stop.
When we select food and drink, it adds acid or alkaline-forming elements to our blood after it is digested. Protein, fat and refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour, white rice, alcohol, etc.) all add acid to the body. Of course, we need a certain amount of protein, fat and unrefined carbohydrate, the body can handle
them. It’s when we eat concentrated amounts of these nutrients that we create an acid blood condition. Many, many health problem have their roots in an acid blood condition. When we learn how to wisely choose foods according to macrobiotic principles, we discover that we can easily support our body in maintaining an alkaline blood condition. When we do this we are learning to live with a physical limitation, and we know how to stay healthy longer. By understanding that we do have physical limitations, and that be learning to embrace them and live with them, we become stronger and happier people. Living with our physical limitations allows us to root ourselves strongly in the reality of our biological life. When we accomplish this, our spirit is able to soar freely and without limitation. It is like a majestic tree, firmly rooted in the earth, supporting its branches in their reach to the heavens.
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