Remembering Herman This Father’s Day
by Cynthia Briscoe
On Father’s Day, we honor the men in our lives who lifted us up when we fell and raised us with the hope we would grow to be strong, happy, resilient functioning adults. These values and more were centerpiece in Herman Aihara’s teaching, and for that reason I celebrate Herman this Father’s Day. Through his dedication, hard work, wise counsel and thought-provoking teaching style, he helped raise many of us “macrobiotically”. Generationally, Herman was a key link in carrying forward the lineage of macrobiotic teaching for future generations.
For those of you who spent time with Herman, I hope these words bring smiles of recognition to your face. For those of you who never met Herman, I hope these words bring smiles to your face as well and convey something of Herman’s teaching spirit.
The last evening of every two-week program at the Vega Study Center, Herman and his wife, Cornellia, made it a point to join students and staff for the farewell celebration dinner. Many students passed through the Vega doors and many asked the same questions. Even though a hundred different students had asked Herman the same question, he still enthusiastically launched into an explanation as if this was the first time someone had posed this most interesting question.
I don’t exactly remember the preceding conversation, probably some question about insomnia or kidney health. All I remember is Herman’s response: “Night time, I go Infinity. Morning time, I come back.”
Herman had this way of understating something profound. He could ‘haiku’ a complex thought in very few words. He also had a habit of wrapping the words in a space large enough to magnify the thought. His teaching style was not one to aggressively launch into any immediate extrapolations. He would simply unmoor some dirigible thought and give it ample time to float around freely, watching to see where it might travel.
During this silent intermission, Herman passed his attention around the dinner table as generously as the food. Each person’s eyes were a destination along the way as his gaze travelled around the table, his eyes inextricably lit like a smile tickled free from some child within.
Next, he would typically lean back, peering skyward into some far off place like a fisherman who had cast his line and hooked a star. Then he would reel that thought back in and repeat the same question: “Night time, I go Infinity. Morning time, I come back.”
Sometimes, a brave soul would offer his or her reflection on his statement. Whatever the response, Herman considered it “veery inter-resting.” Even if it the response was way off the mark, he would simply say, “Aah. You think so?”
Revisiting that evening dinner and reflecting on it, Herman”s words still inspire me years later. I set forth these notions as an ongoing student with the caveat being that there is no solitary “correct” interpretation. I love it that Herman’s idea is still alive in its movement and evolution. So please carry your own thoughts forward.
At night, when we pull down the shades on our windows, we also pull down the shades on our active daytime mind. When we sleep, our minds rest in the infinite field of conscious vibration letting rest the waking consciousness of everyday living in the relative world – the world of me and mine, everyday worries, the concerns and doubts born of the bifurcate world.
At night, we lie in bed flat, receiving greater charge from the heavenly bodies. Our kidneys recharge. Our organs’ functions in general slow down to rest, cleanse and repair. Our discerning brains take a rest from daytime problem solving and logic. We exist more closely to our universal state of non-differentiation.
As the sun rises, so do we. We stand up vertically like a pole. This position inherently creates a greater polarized charge. The greater the polarization, the greater movement between two poles, stimulating activity. Consequentially, we are more physically active during the day. Our brain is more activated as well. We function more so from our ego state as a separate human entity rather than collectively.
Just to give a visual analogy, think of a vial filled with oil and water. Oil and water separate. In a vertical position, the demarcation of oil and water is very apparent. In a horizontal position, the oil and water separation is not as noticeable.
In the illustration to the left, the yellow and blue are the same in square area pixel size, both in the vertical and horizontal representations.
The Macrobiotic Guiding Principle is based upon the interplay of opposites. This interplay on a large scale originates from the influx of cosmic waves moving toward our planet, interacting dynamically with the energetic force spiraling outward from the earth’s rotation. Mixing up this energy in differing proportions of expanded and contracted energy waves gives rise to all phenomena as more dense physical form as well as non-physical form such as thoughts and feelings – indeed the whole playfulness of creation and consciousness.
This exquisite notion of playful awareness perhaps best describes Herman’s countenance when he posed thoughts or questions. His smile transmitted a child’s wonderment at the playful miracle that we even exist. His eyebrows would lift higher on his forehead like the tops of two question marks facing off with eyes completing the dots.
No doubt Herman resides in the infinite world. Perhaps now though, he leans forward gazing from Infinity to this finite world, bemused and still smiling. I like to think he still enjoys fishing, casting a line of thought in our direction. I’m certain that he comes to visit now and again in the minds of his students where his poignant questions and sage humor still live. He visits particularly when one is needing counsel. Or when one is searching for a guiding principle larger than oneself, or maybe just exploring the next bend in the river. I feel that little tug and smile.
“Life is veery inter-resting. You think so?”