Thursday March 30th.
The gathering together of participants from diverse places
took place for the welcoming dinner at 5.00 PM in the Vega Center
at Oroville. After the meal everyone present introduced themselves
and then we had the agenda setting session for Friday. This was
the first time we had held the conference at Vega Center and many
more people were attracted to it than had come to the previous
People came from far afield including Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Washington State, as well as the length and breadth of California. At the fullest attendance of the conference there were 85 people present, as not everyone attended the full conference. The bulk of the conference took place in a new church a block away from the center which had excellent conference facilities. The weather was mostly cloudy and wet throughout the conference and the mood of the conference very much reflected the mood of the weather, being somewhat subdued, watery and grey with occasional intermittent flashes of brilliance like the lightning storms we had on Saturday evening.
After we had decided on the agenda for Friday we all dispersed to our various abodes for the evening.
Friday March 31st.
1.) Future of Macrobiotics.
2.) What do we think we are doing in macrobiotics?
3.) Herbal Remedies.
1.) Concept of Hierarchy.
2.) Building & strengthening community as a healing impulse.
3.) What makes a good macrobiotic leader.
Saturday April 1st.
1.) Ice Age
2.) Summer Camps Preview.
3.) Healing Spiritually
1.) Rice Growing.
2.) Solar Box Cookers.
4.) Protein and Vitamin B12.
SUMMARY OF THE SESSIONS.
Friday March 31st.
As in the past I have to emphasise that the summary remarks I make on the sessions that take place at these conferences can in no way be an adequate substitute for participation at them. So, with that encouragement to all of you who have not been to any to come and participate as soon as you can, I will proceed.
The Future of Macrobiotics.
Herman Aihara lead off the first session on the topic of the future of macrobiotics. He noted that very soon all the original students of George Ohsawa would no longer be active in teaching. He wondered what would happen to macrobiotics when the teachers would all be third generation teachers. He gave us a short encapsulated history of George Ohsawa and macrobiotics and then related his recent experiences with Elizabeth Claire Prophet's Summit University community in Montana. This is a 'new age' community that began in 1956 and has about 70,000 members world wide. About 600 families recently moved from Los Angeles with Elizabeth Claire Prophet to a 3000 acre ranch they had purchased in Montana near Yellowstone National Park.
They are in the process of setting up a self-sufficient community, and have 20 years of food supply in storage. They have a printing press in operation and are going into food production. Recently they have, under the direction of Elizabeth Claire Prophet, adopted macrobiotics and they invited Herman to go to Montana and lecture to them. Herman described his experiences with them. He then told us that it had been a dream of his to form a similar community many years ago but had not been able to do it. It was his impression that this community afforded an example of what would happen in the future - that many different kinds of communities would adopt macrobiotics as the way to eat and graft it on to their own spiritual teachings.
There followed a discussion of the Summit University with whom some participants had had personal experiences. There were some grave doubts voiced about the community, specifically that they have a messianic mission to save the earth and that they have extreme right wing views politically.
What do we think we are doing in macrobiotics?
We then had a wide ranging discussion of what we think we are doing individually in our lives with macrobiotics. Donna Wilson gave an anecdotal example of how the railroad companies, who thought they were in the railroad business, failed to see that they were in the transportation business and as a result did not capitalise on developing the railways for transportation, thus leading to a tremendous shrinkage of the railroads in US.
This was a very interesting discussion as it showed a wide variety of views on how participants saw their macrobiotic activities in relation to society. Among the views presented about what activities macrobiotics is involved in were:
2.) Education - teaching people how to think.
3.) Community Health Service.
4.) Education - teaching people about the relationship of their food to their condition(physical, emotional and mental).
5.) Changing people's world -view.
6.) Self-discovery through self-healing.
7.) Information carriers.
8.) Having fun doing what we are doing in macrobiotics and being an example.
9.) Healing and being healers.
10.) An opportunity to be involved in 'new world' leadership.
11.) Becoming more effective communicators.
12.) Inner growth.
After a break there followed a short discussion on the use of herbal remedies in conjunction with macrobiotics. The general consensus was that under certain circumstances herbs are very helpful, and it was emphasised that the situations under which herbs could be used were unique to a particular individual in specific circumstances - that it was not advisable to give blanket recommendations for their use. Also that it was advisable that we all be familiar with the use of herbs or, at least, with someone in our community who is relatively expert in the use of herbs. Herbs were cited as being useful in cases where people were very weak or in cases where people needed an extra boost to their immune system or to give them more vitality. A discussion of eucalyptus relative to ginger followed.
Hierarchy/Levels as a concept.
This discussion arose out of the last meeting at San Diego where the topic had been touched upon and Chitra Turner, who brought it up here, felt that we ought to go into it deeper. A short description of the seven levels given by George Ohsawa was essayed with which most students of macrobiotics are familiar, viz:
But Chitra said that what she was referring to arose out of her experiences both personally and with going to the Summit University on occasions and being inspired by their strong devotion to what may be called the angelic or spiritual hierarchy. She feels that macrobiotics, when left at the level of physical eating and concentration on food is very limiting and that we need to develop a connectedness with the spiritual world, which could serve as a tremendous inspiration to us. Donna Wilson talked about how hierarchy is present in everything, and that everything in the world around us is subject to hierarchy and that it appears to be the universal process of organising reality. Also that in the Western Tradition, with respect to cosmology, their are many ideas of hierarchy including the spiritual hierarchies involved in the ongoing evolution of humanity and the earth.
Donna then talked about Scott Peck's book "A Different Drum" in which he has a schema of different levels in any community where at the initial level, which may be termed "neophyte", an individual is very inspired and enthused by, in the case of macrobiotics, the new ideas and concepts and practice of macrobiotics. At the second level, where the individual becomes more acquainted with this new world view and new practice of living, he or she becomes very dogmatic and rigid about the rules and principles of the practice. The individual hangs on to the framework of how it has to be done, that "these are the rules and anybody not practicing it this way is not 'macrobiotic' ". The next level in the development of the individual is the stage of disillusionment with the whole set up, doubts begin to emerge, one becomes unsure of its validity and one feels alone and it is a crisis stage which, if one goes through it one gets to the transcendent, fourth level, one undergoes a transformation and one become more effective in serving the community. Speck's essential point is that one should make a commitment to whatever we may be involved so that in the case of the PMC conferences we make a commitment to come to these conferences no matter what difficulties we may encounter in making the commitment, if we are going to gradually learn to work as community.
There then followed discussion on hierarchy in which, among others, the point was raised is that we have difficulty with the term word hierarchy because it has, over the centuries, taken on the connotations of power and autocracy and none of us feel that is correct. However, hierarchy as both natural and spiritual fact is evident because we find hierarchy everywhere in the natural, material world and if we posit that the material is a manifestation of the spiritual, so that the hermetic formula, 'as above, so below' is true, this suggests that there is a spiritual hierarchy.
Thus, in the case of the PMC - the material, manifest activity of the participants gathering for discussion at the conference - is the manifestation of the spiritual hierarchy related to the participants and their activity in the context of the PMC conference. Therefore we can at least infer that there is a "spirit or spirits of the PMC" involved in the conference.
Building/strengthening the macrobiotic community as a healing impulse.
We then went into a discussion on what are the aspects of community that build and strengthen the community. This was brought up by Kristine Turner and the focus of the discussion was related to the death of Richard Turner in January this year. There were several people present at the conference who were also involved in the weeks during which Richard became ill and eventually passed into the spiritual world. Unfortunately for the purpose of this report the tape recorder didn't pick up what was said because every one who spoke, spoke softly. As far as I can recall all those who were present during the time of Richard's deathing said that it was a moving and strengthening and inspiring event in their lives. One of the important aspects of community then is the sharing of experiences which members of the community experience in their own lives and one of the aspects which we could develop more. The discussion also involved discussing death and how to cope with the death of a friend or member of the family and community.
Nancy Crowell talked about the Seattle macrobiotic community and reflected her feelings about it since she has moved there about a year ago. And Robert Wambach brought up the topic of how does macrobiotics relate to the various crises going on in the world today and how these may impact us individually in terms of being macrobiotic community. He felt that these crises are difficult for an individual person and that there is or may be a necessity for us to gain strength from one another in this time of crisis. And one of the functions of the PMC conference is that we gain strength and inspiration from meeting together in order to be able to cope with the wide variety of crises that are going on in the world today. The world crises can be seen as symptoms occurring in the world collective community analagous to the discharges that occur when someone is going through a healing crisis.
What make a good macrobiotic leader?
The final session of the day was one in which we broke up into small groups of three or four and related to each other what was the most significant difficulty or challenge we personally faced in our macrobiotic practice and then, after hearing the story, the other members of the group were to come up with a word or two which described in an essential way the character of the person. After all the groups had been through this process we returned to the usual circular seating arrangement and each person related what they had been called by their peers. For example, after someone had related their story they might be named "enthusiastic nurturer". And after we had all told our "names" we concluded for the day.
The discussion revolved around how to inspire people to take on the responsibility of service that the community in which they live require in these days of the total lack of help forthcoming from the conventional social services, since the latter are largely dysfunctional and also in a state of crisis economically. This was a wide ranging discussion and a lot focused on what it means to be a 'leader' because the conventional notion of a leader who gives orders which the rest of us follow is no longer valid or works.
Friday, April 1st.
This topic also came up in the last meeting in San Diego and on that occasion we watched the video "The Coming Ice-Age" which is based on the work of John Hamaker which can be found in his book, the "Survival of Civilisation". On this occasion the video was shown after dinner on Friday so that those people who hadn't seen it could do so. The essential point of this scenario is that an ice-age is imminent due to global weather changes caused by the pollution spued into the atmosphere by industrial processes and agribusiness and the internal combustion engine. This process is thus thought to be man induced and the outlook is very alarming unless we take action immediately. The action that most people can take, according to this scenario, is to plant more trees and re-mineralise the soil so as to encourage the flourishing of trees and plants so that the re-invigorated vegetation and increased number of trees will take up more carbon monoxide so as to lessen the pollution and therefore allow the extreme climatic changes to return to a more normal pattern. Thus the bulk of the discussion centered on how and from whom to get the rock dust and all the technical details of using it and producing it.
It was also pointed out that although such physical remedies may be a good idea that it would be also appropriate to look at the destruction of the atmosphere as the physical manifestation of a psychological disorder or disorders. Kaare Bursell recounted that he had been reading a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner back in the 1920's where he said that if people continue to think in completely materialistic terms the thought forms created by such thinking will lead , in Steiner's words "to the breaking down of the atmosphere". It was suggested that everyone read a book called "The End", which is actually a hopeful book.
Victor Marren also suggested that since seaweed has a high mineral content and a lot of it washes up on the shores, it might be worth taking all of it and putting it on the soil as a method of re-mineralising the soil.
Summer Camp Previews.
The first session was given over to a preview of the three macrobiotic summer camps that will take place later in the year. They are the Three Creeks Camp put on by Patrick and Meredith McCarty up near Eureka where they have their center, the French Meadows camp in Tahoe National Forest put on by Herman and Cornellia Aihara and the Mendocino Woodlands camp being put on for the first time by Donna Wilson, Joel Huckins, David Jackson and Kaare Bursell just inland from Mendocino. The summer camp at Simon's Rock at Bard College put on by the Kushi Foundation was also discussed.
Catherine Beu brought up this topic and addressed the problem that in macrobiotics it is widely believed, or at least there is the currently held notion among people who come into macrobiotics for the first time, that "macrobiotics cures everything" and she recounted having worked with a person who had cancer and did everything conceivable to heal herself macrobiotically, yet eventually died. What Catherine noted in her practice was that she totally focused on the physical, material aspects of macrobiotics and approached it without any love for what she was doing or even looking at the psychological, spiritual aspects of her life. The wide ranging discussion that followed included saying that a macrobiotic practice that is done physically and materially without the inclusion of, among other aspects, a spiritual practice and also a change in how one thinks about oneself and what one is doing from the habitual, conventional modes of thought is unlikely to lead to the resolution of any disease on a deep level. It was also pointed out that even if a person does die it does not mean that that person 'failed' to heal themselves, it may well mean that their death was what they needed to go through as part of their healing process. Of course, we as a culture seem to have a very difficult time in coming to terms with death as an inevitable aspect of every one's existence simply because we are such a deeply materialistic culture that we cannot, or at least do not find it easy to, accept that death is not the finality that it appears to be from a materialistic standpoint.
We then broke up into small groups of four or five and discussed the subject in these small groups for about twenty minutes or so after which we heard a brief synopsis from each group before breaking for lunch.
Lane Seiger began by introducing Eldon Lundberg of the Lundberg Family Farms who grow the organic brown rice that a large number of us eat. He received a warm round of welcoming applause and then gave us a short history of rice in America after which he described the planning of a crop of rice and the process that is gone through from the time the rice is planted until it is harvested. This was a fascinating and illuminating description of how the rice is grown on their farms. He couudn't stay long and after a question and answer session he was followed by another member of the Lundberg Family Farms, Dick Harter.
Dick Harter talked mainly on the philosophical and political aspects of growing organic as opposed to chemical rice and since a lot of what he had to say was or, at least appeared to be, politically sensitive, it is best to say that it was a talk of some interest. It appears that this whole business of growing food organically is very sensitive due to the enormous support that the conventional, chemically based farming industry gets from the government, and the fact that a farm bill was currently under negotiation in congress. He suggested that we get in touch with our congress representatives to place more of the money that currently goes into chemical farming research to go toward research in organic farming. There was also a lengthy and very interesting question and answer session.
Carlos and Jean Richardson of Goldmine Natural Foods then gave a short presentation of solar box cookers. Unfortunately it was not possible to get a solar box cooker to the conference so if you are interested in finding out more about them contact Carlos and Jean.
Betsy Holliday gave a short presentation on the oceans and how threatened the quality of the ocean water is by the sewage spilled into it every year and the damage caused by oil spillage. There are two bills before the two houses to address the issue of oil exploration and to try and stop the drilling of oil along the coastal shores, there is the bill HR 48 before the House of Representatives and S 49 before the Senate. We are encouraged to call our own representatives and voice our concerns about the dangers to the environment posed by oil drilling.
Protein and B12.
Herman Aihara then gave a talk on why he is not recommending that people eat as much beans as has been usual in macrobiotic dietary recommendations. In the human organism, both fats and carbohydrates have a storage process so that if we eat too much of them they can be stored in various places in the body. With protein, which should be consumed at not more than 26 -30 gms daily, when it is eaten in excess there is no natural storage process for it in the human body. Mostly protein is used in the creation of 280,000 cells being created very second ( 280,000 cells are also destroyed every second). The main reason for recommending very little protein in addition to that found in the grains and vegetables is that cancer cells need three items to grow - water, sugar and protein. Thus by cutting down on the protein intake(as well as simple sugars) we lessen the chances of getting cancer, and if we have cancer, of allowing the body to eliminate the cancer cells, since if there is not an excess of sugar and protein, they cannot live.
We also had a presentation by Sylvia Ruth Gray on the Vitamin B12 question and she is interested in conducting a survey so that if you are interested in participating in it you should send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to her at 315 First Avenue, Salt Lake City, UT 84103.
Sunday April 2nd.
The morning session was given over to final remarks on the conference followed by a discussion on when to hold the next conference which had already been decided at the last conference to be in Oakland/Berkeley. The dates decided on are Thursday September 21st through Sunday September 24th. A letter will be sent to members on this very soon. Then we decided to have the Spring '90 conference, the twentieth, in San Diego at the East West Center. It was voiced as a hope that we may be able to have the conferences in the future in Phoenix, Arizona and in Portland, Oregon.
We finished up the session with setting up a simple altar and having a ritual closing ceremony. After that we had the final, farewell brunch and we all made our ways home.