From Food to Health, Happiness to Freedom by George Ohsawa"
Scholar, healer, businessman, educator, poet, philosopher, George Ohsawa, known as the Father or Modern Day Macrobiotics, was all this and more. A persistent peace activist, he was at odds with Japa-nese leaders in the 1930s and 40s. Because of this, he was repeatedly jailed and tortured. Considered by many to be a profoundly skilled healer of body and soul, Ohsawa was called "dangerous" by some American medical doctors. A published poet and philosopher, he was also proficient in scientific labora-tories and in the business arena.
Ohsawa was a young man at death's door when he discovered macrobiotics. For the remainder of his life-fifty-four years-he devoted himself to fine-tuning his philosophy of natural living and sharing it with the world - from Asia to Europe to America.
Essential Ohsawa is the most comprehensive look at Ohsawa's philosophy ever presented. In it, you will learn the essence of Ohsawa's teachings-the need for and methods of simple, natural eating and drink-ing; and the concepts of the Order of the Universe and yin and yang. Finally, you will discover how the application of these principles can lead to happiness, freedom, and peace.
In Essential Ohsawa, you will also come to know the man behind the philosophy. Sprinkled with photo-graphs and anecdotes provided by those who knew-and loved - him best, the book includes a chro-nology of Ohsawa's life. Also included are a complete bibliography of Ohsawa's prodigious writings as well as his personal recommended reading list.
Discover what millions of men, women, and children around the world have found - the macrobiotic path to "infinite freedom, absolute justice, and eternal happiness."
* Paperback: 238 pages
* Publisher: Avery Publishing Group; (July 1, 1994)
* ISBN: 0895296160
From Macrobiotics Today, September/October 1994, Vol. 34, No. 5
"Introducing Essential Ohsawa" George Ohsawa edited by Carl Ferré
Foundation of Absolute Happiness
For thousands of years, the saints, the wise, and the scholars have attempted to unravel and elucidate the principle of one riddle, that of love. How does one love and behave so as to be loved like small children? When one loves or wants to love, there always seems to be a contradiction between that love and the freedom that everybody also wishes to obtain and no one wants to sacrifice. It seems the two cannot be established side by side. Parents' love for their children, a man's love for a woman or vice versa, is not necessarily love. This may, at times, be only one kind of sentimentality or egoism. It is well understood that love is a beautiful thing and everyone really wishes to love and be loved and yet, due to the territo-rial battle between love and freedom, they are in a state of confusion. No one knows how to solve this conflict between love and freedom.
Wise people and scholars of ancient times point out to us very forcibly that the unification of love and freedom is, in fact, the only exit from the problem. They point this out in different words but they are all of the same mind. People cannot seem to understand that the principle of freedom and that of love are one and the same. It is ignorance of this principle that causes all the unhappiness and tragedies of this world. Whence comes this ignorance? It is due to: 1. Bad memory, colorblindness of the memory; 2. Weakened powers of reason, colorblindness of the reason; and 3. The use of timeworn, outmoded, in-sensitive, and meaningless words. Imperfect words are the product of a colorblind memory and reason. This color blindness has a dominant influence on our spiritual and mental constitution, which is depend-ent upon our physiological constitution. Just as the function of a machine depends on its physical and mechanical construction, our mental and spiritual functions also depend greatly on our way of eating and drinking, which largely determine our physiological constitution.
Both the quality of our food and our way of eating have changed enormously over a period of thousands of years. In fact, eating and drinking, as well as our environment and way of living, have changed com-pletely just in the last two thousand years. The human function of adaptability, of which reason and memory are only part, has also changed with the ages and with the changes of the human physiological constitution. Yet we cannot return to the method of eating and the foods of two thousand or more years ago. We must create a new method of living, eating, and drinking that is appropriate to our own age and times. This is already long overdue.
But before we can renew our way of life, it is necessary to renovate some of the outmoded and inappro-priate definitions of words that we use for daily conversation and communication. This is much simpler and can be accomplished more easily and quickly than the physiological or dietetic revolution.
For example, one extremely important word is happiness. Absolute happiness means to accomplish all that one dreams (wishes), as much as one wishes, without depending on any tool or implement or help from others. What, then, is happiness in a relative sense? This question is very simple to answer if one grasps the meaning of absolute happiness.
Relative happiness (happiness of this world) is to accomplish what one wishes depending on various aids or tools and within the social circumstances of the age and times.
Absolute happiness is eternal and free, while the other is limited in time and space and is often ephem-eral and illusory. Within the likes of a democratic society, in spite of careful thought and consideration for one another, still one may afflict another with a kind of happiness that is, in fact, the root of distress and sorrow for that person. Relative happiness can be purchased with money, authority, cleverness and trickery, knowledge, or ruthless sagacity. In other words, it may be gained through the use of a tool. On the other hand, happiness in the absolute sense can only be achieved through justice and it causes neither pain nor sorrow to anyone. It is inexhaustible and its usefulness penetrates into every aspect of life. The achievement of this kind of happiness may seem impossible at first, but if one truly grasps the compass of universal order, it is, different from Lockean liberty, within our power to actually embrace.
With this compass of judgment readily at hand and prepared for use, anyone can easily realize and main-tain all relative forms of happiness as soon as they present themselves. You will have the potential to realize at will both relative and absolute happiness as well as anything else you desire. This compass is an instinctive biologically and physiologically precise tool of justice.
Jesus stated: "To he who has justice, it will be given in abundance, but to he who has not, it will be taken away from him even what he has" (Matthew 25:29).
In the time of Jesus, the word happiness in the relative sense did not exist. This kind of happiness was called unhappiness. Indeed, it was Jesus himself who labeled it as such: "You see all this before you? Truly, I say unto you, there will not be left there one stone upon another that will not be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2). Here, I will once again revive it anew. The word happiness degenerated from that time up to the present day. If your happiness cannot last for a long time, make no mistake about it, it is rela-tive. Happiness limited either in time or space is nothing but unhappiness itself. If you were to inherit the throne of a king and you could do and have literally anything and everything that you wanted for a period of one, five, or even fifty years, and then in the end you were to be guillotined, would you call this happiness?
Jesus said, "For I tell you, unless your justice exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). The Order of the Universe, our compass, is the justice spoken of by Jesus. You must first possess it in order to enter the land of freedom and happiness. If you possess this compass and are able to wield it freely, you have already obtained the kingdom and you can accomplish whatever you choose for as long as you choose to do so. Now perhaps you can begin to see the true meaning and great importance of adaptability, the real compass of happiness.
If you wish to learn judo, that is, to enter into a dojo and study the way of the masters, you must change your view of life and become like a small child. If you can actually do this, you have not only realized the kingdom of heaven, but you are also already halfway towards becoming a master. You have already grasped the most important point. If you continue now, with this childlike, pure state of beginner's mind, to practice diligently and regularly, you will sooner or later gain mastery. The real problem is, how can you - without the aid of any exterior means or device - actually gain, and make a part of yourself, the fresh and wholesome adaptability of a strong, robust, and healthy child?
A little kitten has never gone into the school of judo, but when it is unexpectedly thrown high into the air for the first time by a mischievous child, it knows how to land with its four feet planted squarely on the earth. It knows judo! It is a born master! Indeed, all the animals, including humans, were originally like this. But education has stifled this marvelous adaptability in human beings. Judo is an art and method for reviving this spontaneous adaptability. When a kitten is just a kitten, when it is just born, it has a marvelous adaptability.
All the animals and all vegetables, including even microbes, lice, and fish of remarkable colors in the depths of the seas, have such marvelous adaptability. Giant bears living at the North Pole, sporting and delighting in their marvelous ability, regardless of burning heat or freezing temperatures of 30 or 40 de-grees below zero, know nothing of human problems. They never sell their time for money or go off to become soldiers. They attack when necessary and defend themselves bravely and wisely. They are ad-venturous and risk their whole existence constantly, but they never imitate our stupidity, attempting to destroy their own species as we do with our inhuman bombs. They are much more polite and courteous than we are.
What has become of human adaptability? Has it been lost? Fortunately not. It is, however, in a totally weakened and degenerated state. It often succumbs even to the attack of very adventurous and invisible microbes. These tiny microbes, who are able to kill this extraordinary giant - are they not great teachers of judo?
Jesus Christ, who fought alone against thousands of powerful enemies and, in the end, secured the most final and almost permanent victory, was a champion of judo. I have written of this in Chapter 8 on The Eternal Peace of Jesus.
Napoleon was also a champion, although he had never teamed the art that leads one to become an em-peror. He lost the final battle because he placed too much confidence in his own power. Kant and Hegel, Marx and Lenin are also remarkable champions. Marx was the strongest, however, because he utilized the power based on the greatest of algebraic functions (distance/time) and minimized the time factor. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Jean Jacques Rousseau, George Bernard Shaw, Anatole France, and Romain Rolland were all great champions and yet some among them died young. This indicates that they did not have time to practice physiological judo or that they were not especially interested in the preservation of health through proper nutrition or diet.
A truly great person is happy. Heaven belongs to him or to her. One who is great and strong does not engage in verbal disputes. One doesn't attack or ridicule. One embraces everything. One doesn't view hardship as suffering, but rather rises above it and uses it for personal growth and improvement. A truly great person is one who, with his or her own intuitive judgment of universal order, unites all the various miracles of life and nature. This is like the tailor dedicated to the making of an elegant suit, assembling all the material and binding it together by concentrated effort. People such as this are pure and seem to be invisible, blending through everything. Their heart and mind are the reality of peace and their total activity is justice and freedom. This is why I am telling you of a different medicine that is, in fact, noth-ing more than an application of the Unifying Principle of the philosophy and science of the Far East. This will assist you greatly in perfecting your art and your comprehension of judo's technique and its underlying principle. Furthermore, it will enable you to enjoy practicing for as long as you choose.
Macrobiotic medicine is a physiological art or technique for the realization of the single most important quality, the superb character of a small child. It is therefore the key to the kingdom of heaven. It is a special art that revives one's enfeebled adaptability to become more like that of a kitten.
It is a different kind of medicine, totally unknown in the West until recently. It is an art of rejuvenation and long life; a medicine and dietetic regime that restores youthfulness and freedom. It is a study of health that makes us younger every day without the use of any special treatments or techniques. It is a blueprint for a happy and healthy life. It is extremely practical, simple, inexpensive, and easy to realize for anyone, anytime or anyplace. This medicine has a history of more than five thousand years. It is a physiological application of the dialectic principle of life that has been totally ignored even in Japan since the importation of Western civilization about a century ago.
Now we can answer the riddle of love. To love in the absolute sense is to lead others, born in the midst of eternal happiness and yet unaware of its existence, to trade their insatiable attachment for worldly possessions and their incessant search for ephemeral and fleeting pleasures for the practical realization of eternal happiness. The most practical step towards this is the rejuvenation of our physiological consti-tution, which is, as we have seen, the foundation of absolute happiness.
The Secret Medicine
Severe tuberculosis eliminated in two months by Mr. Wago; a thirty-year-old case of leprosy overcome by Mr. Tsutsumi; colitis cured by General Matsui in three weeks; a combination of asthma and skin dis-ease that had lasted for forty years gone in one month; cancer of the womb, cancer of the breast, rheu-matism, arthritis, poliomyelitis, female baldness and infertility, the inability to speak, tuberculosis of the spine and kidney . . . I have been witnessing the disappearance of these and many other diseases for many years in those individuals who have deeply understood macrobiotic living.
The thought of all the people who have been saved by macrobiotic living in the past, plus the fact that I too was rescued from certain death many years ago, makes me feel nothing less than endless gratitude and thankfulness every day.
A very few people, possibly one in ten, do not respond in the usual one to two months. They have come to macrobiotic living too late and unfortunately cannot be helped. They have waited much too long be-fore seeking help and are regrettably destined to die.
It is usually so easy to help the sick that I am amazed when I think about it. I then wonder why so many people (including myself) fall ill in the first place and why they tolerate suffering for so long.
The answer is a simple one: We are all ignorant of the simple, clear relationship between food and life. Anyone who understands this basic macrobiotic teaching knows how foolish it is to become ill; with such knowledge, one can be sick no more. Yet at times I think that it would be interesting to be sick once again because it has been many years since I suffered last.
In macrobiotic healing we never use medicine; our pharmacy is the kitchen. My method is based on the potency of daily food - simple things like brown rice, carrots, onions, radishes, burdock root, miso, and sea vegetables.
How such commonplace foods can affect so many strange ailments and eliminate them in one or two months is very puzzling to people with a scientific orientation. "Why do so many desperately weakened victims thrive on it?" they ask. "What is the secret?"
When a man falls ill, his friends offer the usual sympathetic advice. "Take it easy, eat some good food, rest..."
But illness is not a precious jewel. If we nurture it, we preserve it for a long time. The disease - not the human being - must be thrown away like the useless thing that it is.
In theory, we all know that we live because we eat. Not one of us, however, seems to have a practical answer to the important questions:
- What is the right food?
- What is the right quantity?
- What is the right method of preparation?
- What is the right manner in which to eat?
Given the right food, we can live a happy, healthy, peaceful life. Given food that is not right, we are no longer right men - we are inhuman beings. We become weak, sick, poor, incapable of working - joyless.
What then is the right food?
If our approach is analytical, this is a very difficult question to answer. Protein, fats, carbohydrates, vi-tamins, minerals, calories - so many things to consider. No one as yet has given a concrete, livable an-swer to our question in this way, not even scientists, scholars, or specialists.
Take protein, for instance. Are there two experts who agree about the kind and quality needed by human beings?
Vitamins and minerals are in the same category. People say, "Apples are good for you." But who tells us how many ounces to eat, when to eat them, and how to prepare an apple properly so that it is fit for us to consume? Are apples good for every person, all the time?
I know of one boy who ate too many apples and eventually died of children's dysentery. An elementary school teacher died after eating thirty-two apples in four days on the advice of her physician. One fa-mous doctor of nutrition, a great believer in the effectiveness of apples, died recently from an excess of them. I could go on and on - the list of casualties from food abuse is a very long one.
There obviously is a right amount for everything. 'Too much of even a good thing is not wise." But who knows what is too much?
Vitamin C is supposedly very important for good nutrition. How much and how often? Since no two people have the same constitution or character, since everyone's physical condition is different, can we establish a standard amount that would be practical in every situation? We suspect that whoever seeks this answer is running a fool's errand.
But what if by some strange miracle the experts were able to determine the right amount? Some nations might not be capable of producing enough of it to supply an entire population. Some places could not store enough for everyone. And many individuals could not afford the price of their basic needs.
It is so difficult to apply such a theory practically and even theoretically. There must be a simpler way.
Throughout history, men have lived happy lives without complicated analytical concepts of nutrition. Although our ancestors gave little thought to apples, they were healthier, happier, and wiser than we are. Even beasts seem to be able to live joyfully without concerning themselves with chemistry or scientific detail. Perhaps, there is hope for us too.
We are so far removed from simplicity. We hear and read things like this: "Lack of scientific informa-tion and illness go hand-in-hand." "Health is the result of research; research costs money; money is therefore essential to health."
But what about the millions of people in the history of the world who led full lives long before science became so important, and on much less money than we spend today?
"Animal protein and calcium are basic to good nutrition." Isn't it curious that a cow can produce not only the meat and milk that we feel is so essential for us but her own massive bone structure as well from a diet of grasses alone?
If the modern, superstitious belief in science, money, and meat is a valid one, how miserable we are. A poor man is forever excluded - he can neither be healthy nor enjoy his life. Existence is no more than a game of chance in which the cards are stacked in favor of the rich, the educated, the knowledgeable.
It cannot be that God would create anything so unfair. Anybody can live joyfully in health.
If we compare the food that we eat today with that of our ancestors, we are struck by the vast difference between the two. So important a staple as whole rice was once cultivated with natural fertilizers while today the laboratory supplies them. We begin to suspect that the biggest problem lies in the area of what is natural and what is unnatural.
Few of us question the fact that it is natural for man to be born, to be active, to grow. And we agree that it is natural to depend upon food for life and survival. At this point, however, we fail to see the obvious.
Of all things that grow on a farm, the strongest seem to be the natural grasses - the weeds. The farmer easily spends as much time and effort eliminating them as he does cultivating his produce - and still they grow again and again naturally, by themselves, in the face of every chemical obstacle. Any farmer who has battled weeds will agree that they are more resistant than anything he grows for human consump-tion.
Here is the clue to successful existence. The ingenuity of science is juvenile as compared to the quietly irresistible force with which nature animates the entire universe.
- To live and be active, man depends upon food;
- To live naturally, he must eat natural food;
- If he lives naturally, a man can be healthy and happy.
Since man is a natural product of a natural environment, he must live as close to nature as possible; to be healthy and happy he must eat natural foods. But what are natural foods? They are the ones that our an-cestors have used for a thousand years. And they differ from one country and climate to the next. This is why there are so many nationalities, religions, societies, and customs.
One might say that macrobiotic teaching is rooted in the concept of principal food. It is a reaffirmation and reapplication of the ancient wisdom and has produced the miraculous results that lead to an inevita-ble conclusion: we must re-evaluate, relearn, and apply the concept of principal food in our daily lives. We must know that natural food is important and know the reasons why it is vital to our present and fu-ture well-being. Otherwise, we are unqualified to be healthy, happy, and peaceful.
This is the secret of macrobiotic healing.