it simply, I was seeking enlightenment. This was the
original impetus that brought me to macrobiotics.
At age 17, I had eaten a bud of peyote which momentarily
threw open the doors of perception revealing a brief
glimpse into life's infinite depth. Perhaps guided
by a little reading into Zen Buddhism and oriental
philosophy, or maybe it was just common sense, or
both, I felt that the answer as to how to find lasting
enlightenment could not lie in a repetitious use of
hallucinogens. Yet I did not know where it was to
be found. I was in limbo. And, I was on the lookout.
years of later, something called "Zen macrobiotics"
crossed my path. While at a dinner party, a bit of
casual conversation hit my ear about people who were
"eating brown rice and vegetables as a way to
expand their consciousness". Something in my
mind clicked, "Eating whole rice, oriental food,
must produce mentality of oriental philosophy!".
Quickly I found out where to get the food and a book,
and I locked onto macrobiotics as my way, as the way
to achieve health, happiness, enlightenment, and save
consider 'enlightenment" and saving the world
a loftier impetus than other's reasons for getting
into macrobiotics, although I did at the time. As
I see it now, it is a symptom. George Ohsawa called
it arrogance. The separated mentality, trapped in
it's illusions of who it thinks it is, senses something
is missing or wrong and wants something. Wanting and
seeking of this kind can be another form of avarice.
Trying to get beyond one's mentality with one's mentality
is a neat trick.
In my beginning
years, I was focused on the power of food and infused
with a sense of inspiration. I was a missionary and
a crusader. I traveled with my pressure cooker, rice
and condiments in my backpack, ready to cook in any
kitchen into which I was invited. I augured stints
of fasting and diet number seven into my regime to
accelerate my progress. 'Nirvana now' was the cry
of the psychedelic sixties.
It had it's own expression in the young macrobiotic
movement of those times too. There is a well known
quote from Albert Einstein that goes "The unleashed
power of the atom has changed everything save our
modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled
catastrophes". In my particular case, everything
had changed: my diet, my life style, my body, my opinions,
Yet in spite of these seemingly significant changes,
without a shift in "mode" of thinking, I
still drifted toward my own personal "catastrophes".
Inevitably, I fell into a few pitfalls. Unable to
eat my way out, I got stuck in some of them for years.
I did not even know I was stuck until a vague sense
of numbness gave way to a more tangible sense of desolation.
What had surfaced in my situation stemmed from pretty
standard ego stuff: feeling superior/feeling inferior,
living life from a concept, concern with my image,
investment in being right and so on.
I had brought this program to my practice of macrobiotics
and so, after the initial excitement and convincing
myself that I was "going somewhere and saving
the world", after the "honeymoon",
I was left with myself and my mentality and I was
just like everybody else. New food, new beliefs fed
into the same old program. In terms of finding the
holy grail, I had come up empty. And empty was my
cup for many years to come.
to me after years of macrobiotic involvement, all
the while claiming to have the "magic spectacles",
was that what I was seeking was not coming to me via
a practice of macrobiotics. So eventually, I gave
up. My life was unhappy, I was on the verge of divorce,
and I was traversing a very dry piece of desert in
terms of satisfaction in life.
I did not give up eating grains and vegetables. What
I mean is that I gave up thinking of macrobiotics
as my path or my savior. My path had brought me to
a dead end, and I was certainly not saved. Here I
lingered, not knowing what to do but to somehow just
keep on keeping on. I had joined the ranks of those
I once secretly felt superior to, working not to save
the world but just to feed my self and my family,
and keep a roof over our heads.
the advantage of hindsight, I see an important lesson
in coming to the end of my sense of "specialness".
I am just like everybody else. Sure, my fingerprints
and coloring and personality are distinguishable.
But I am not different. I am not separate.
After years of seeking a breakthrough in consciousness
through macrobiotics, I had discovered that it is
not possible. For a shift in consciousness to take
place, it is necessary to abandon everything to which
the mind is holding. Hold on to nothing: not to an
idea or to an ism or religion, nothing , including
an idea about nothing. Only when the mind is stripped
of the conditioning that it brings to anything and
everything, no matter how "good" the thing
may be, is there freedom from the known and a lifting
of the veil which covers the experience of reality.
This too is an interesting paradox. Enlightenment
is not an experience of something "else"
or a place to "get to".
It is simply the cognition of what is, unobstructed
by our conditioning. In my observation, the eating
of a whole grain and vegetable diet helps to harmonize
the body with this experience, but it is not initially
necessary for the experience and therefore not primary
in order of importance for the occurrence. In other
words, a transcendental experience is available to
all, regardless of diet.
It is worthy of note, however, that the sensibilities
of the body after being overhauled by an awakening
experience tend toward grains, vegetables and fruit
and away from meat and rich food. So, although not
primary in order of importance for the experience,
it is harmonizing and therefore beneficial and potentially
catalytic as it may, to some degree, ready the body
for the experience.
let go of my identification with macrobiotics, it
was not a rejection but a releasing. In fact it wasn't
really so much a letting go of macrobiotics as it
was a letting go of the "me" created by
borrowed thoughts and opinions. If I had been a "true
believer" about something else, I'm sure I would
have had to release that too. It was just that so
much of the "me" that I was carrying around
had been tied up with "macrobiotic" thoughts
and opinions. The words of the John Denver song, "Sweet
Surrender" were especially poignant to me then:
"There's nothing behind me and nothing that ties
me to something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open. Right now it seems to be more than
enough just to be here today."
at the paradoxical nature of life. This freedom can't
be found through macrobiotics. Yet I was involved
with macrobiotics and this freedom found me. It will
find you anywhere when you are lost and you are honest
and you don't know and you know you don't know and
you are available to listen instead of putting thought
(which is always based on the past and therefore limited)
in the space where receiving could take place. George
Ohsawa apparently knew this.
This must be the reason he named his school "Center
Ignoramus", the center of ignorance. Thought
is necessarily useful for many aspects of life, but
when it is left to it's own devices, unexamined and
made the master rather than the servant, then we have
reactivity and a future like the past. In this way
reality cannot be perceived and so no true responsiveness
in the present situation can occur.
something deep in the being of everyone, closer than
flesh and bones, which is aware of our connection
with a larger whole than the mind can comprehend.
This can be forgotten or overlooked but not lost.
Not just a link, this is our true Identity. A moment
spent in perception approximating this reality is
enough to begin to awaken to the True Self. The True
Self looks on nought but itself. There is no "other".
Perception coming into alignment with reality has
been called 'the reality reversal'. Of course, it
is not really reality that is reversing. It is our
perception of the illusion of separation that reverses
to align with the fact of our non separate identity.
This is the simple truth of who you are.
must have known something about this too. For before
he coined the name Zen macrobiotics for the west,
he used the Japanese words "musoo genri"
to name the philosophy that he was teaching. Musoo
means 'not two', and genri means 'fundamental truth'
or 'original principle'. So a fairly literal translation
would be, 'the fundamental principal of not two'.
This was translated into English as "the unique
principal' , which can be misinterpreted as "there
is only one like it" in a exclusive sense when
it was intended to mean, "there is no 'other',
life is not divisible".
That which is 'me' is in reality not bounded. I am
the all and everything as well as the nothing and
unmanifersted, and so are you. There is no separation
of anything in reality. In this manifold universe,
that which appears as differentiated all stems from
one and still is one. Even in relative terms this
expresses itself in that we are related and we are
all in relationship.
can say, not from a conceptual ideal, but from the
living consciousness that embodies the truth of Jesus's
statement, "What so ever you do onto the least
of them, you do onto me.", then there has been
a change in mode of thinking and we are on the road
to effectively attending to the dilemma Einstein speaks
of in the earlier quote. It would take an unusual
circumstance for someone to knowingly chop off his
As I look
back on my early experience with macrobiotics, I see
that one of the pivotal lessons I learned was in the
pitfall of putting the cart (macrobiotics) before
the horse (spirit). I didn't notice that when I was
first starting out because I was so busy being psyched
about the cart and its potential.
I was fixing it up according to the instructions:
working on the wheels and the seat and streamlining
the storage compartments et cetera. But when I was
no longer "becoming macrobiotic" and for
all practical purposes I "was" macrobiotic,
when I had already put the cart kit together, then
what? The cart was more or less ready to go, but I
was not in touch with where or how or what for.
I was overly invested in the cart, very conceptual
and out of touch with myself. The dry desert years
of feeling like I was going nowhere (that's Erewhon
spelled backwards) were inevitable.
When I was finally worn down enough to admit that
my great "way of life" had come up dross
and that I did not have the answer, the events and
people in my life began to divinely collaborate to
reunite me with my True Self. Once this commenced,
I could see that I had put the cart before the horse,
and I shifted priorities. Now that the cart is hitched
behind the horse I notice that a balanced diet of
grains, vegetables and fruits makes for an efficient,
There is less "drag". But for me the call
of the spirit to Self-realization is number one. So
that leads me. I am pulled by that. I no longer think
in terms of the "macrobiotic way". Words
are already a difficult medium to communicate in.
For me, it is enough to just say "life".
this shift in approach to macrobiotics, hasmade it
easier to share with others. Firstly, I am never seeking
to convert anyone. I do not push it. I don't know
what is right for anyone else, but within each person
is the wisdom to know and I have the faith that they
will choose accordingly once they have enough awareness.
At all of the workshops and gatherings that I host,
we serve the very best quality macrobiotic style food
that we can.
Spiritual awakening, self discovery, emotional healing
(which often turns into physical healing) are the
focus of the gatherings, and the food just fits in
like a silent servant. Everything that people get
from the food is experiential.
Invariably, those who are coming from unhealthy diets
begin to make significant changes in their food choices
and start to ask questions. At the same time, the
people who have come from a macrobiotic background
start to become unburdened of conceptual thinking
and all the dogma their karma may have run into on
the macrobiotic road.
This too occurs in a context of freedom and the simple
process of experience replacing belief. Paradoxically,
when life is not about food, the food can do a better
job, and we bypass the fanatical food cult detour
this, I do not mean to infer that this approach is
better than any other particular way. Taking the emphasis
off of food is simply an approach that may be helpful
sometimes for some people. Certainly putting the emphasis
on food can by very helpful sometimes too. This is
simply the approach that suits what I'm up to.
is spiritual, and we are not separate. When we awaken
to this truth, powerful force allies with us and we
are charged with new life. Since living my life from
the perspective of Spirit coming first, I have felt
rich. And I have no regrets. Everything along the
way was needed in just the dosages and durations I
got for this particular pilgrim's progress. I am grateful
for it all.
by Evan Root
For more information
go to www.kindlingpoint.com.