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Macrobiotic Principles


Macrobiotics, noun, (used with a singular verb)

1. a way of life that guides one's choices in nutrition, activity, and lifestyle.

2. a system of principles and practices of harmony to benefit the body, mind, and planet.

macrobiotic, adj., such as macrobiotic philosophy or macrobiotic diet.

Origin: from Ancient Greek: Macro (large or long) and Bios (life or way of living).

Definition agreed upon by the International Macrobiotic Conference 2017 in Berlin, with 45 macrobiotic teachers, along with GOMF, SHI, Macrobiotic Association, IMP, IME, Chi Energy, IMS, and other schools, institutes, and organizations.



Japanese peace activist George Ohsawa started macrobiotics as a philosophy supported by an awareness of foods. The foods focussed on a range of natural, whole foods, essential straight from nature. His book Zen Macrobiotics was published in English in 1960.

The macrobiotic philosophy is made up of a range of ideas that have come from Taoism, Zen Buddhism, Wabi Sabi and European Philosophers. It's philosophy includes:

When we become attached to a belief do we potentially limit our thinking? As we find it difficult to have contradictory beliefs, does one belief rule out almost an infinite number of other possibilities, if our universe is infinite? To be open to new possibilities, can it help to play with ideas and try them out, without feeling we need to be stuck with them? Can we study subjects like yin and yang in depth and develop our understanding of how we relate to the world we inhabit and keep that process of discovery alive by avoiding fixed beliefs?

Questions encourage us to explore, and out of this we make our own discoveries, gain insights and experience revelations. When we think we have the answer does the process of exploration stop? If we want to keep exploring ourselves and the world we inhabit, it is the questions that will help us most? Will the alleged answers get in the way?

As children we often had so many questions. With our education and age we think we have answers. We move from exploration and discovery to application. Do answers define how we live and if we become attached to those answers, does the way we live becomes limited? How much time do we spend defending our chosen answers and trying to persuade others that our answers are better than theirs? Can curiosity help us back into a freer life with potentially greater opportunity for change and self-evolution?

It is easy to go though life on autopilot. Do we sometimes operate on automatic, day dreaming through life, whilst real life passes us by? The more we are used to an event the easier it is to disconnect from it. When we are doing something for the first time is it easier to be more engaged? If every time we listened to our favourite music, ate our favourite meal or saw someone who is close to us, we were able to do so as though it was for the first time, how much easier would it be to fully engage? With our beginners mind is it easier to be curious, question and think for ourselves?

To what extent do we need someone else to tell us what to think and how much can we think for ourselves? How much do we impose our thoughts on someone else, when we could encourage him or her to think for him or herself? Is it better to have a head full of other people’s ideas or to exercise our minds by trying to think for ourselves, even if we develop different ideas? For more on thinking for ourselves.

To what extent are we trapped inside dogma, rigid thinking, doctrines, ideologies and patterns of thought? Is our behaviour partly defined by ingrained thoughts, leading to repeated reactions? How far can we go in one lifetime to deconstruct the thoughts that imprison us in unhappy or unhelpful places? What would life be like beyond the thoughts we have become attached to? How many of those thoughts our really ours? Have we adopted our parent’s, culture’s, teacher’s and peer’s thoughts and now living out of them? We think our problems are ours, but how much of them have been created by adopting other people’s ways of thinking?

We have the choice to perceive challenges as being interesting, difficult, exciting, frightening, testing, worrying, helpful?.. In our lives how much have we evolved through challenges? To what extent would we continue to evolve and grow if our lives were very easy?

Do we inhabit a changing universe, in which we are changing and our relationships to our universe are changing? Does life become more interesting if we experience change? Do we only experience life through change? If the temperature, colours, textures, light, sounds and smells around us remain consistent, do we experience them? Does life become richer through change and if so is accepting change the secret to living a fuller life? For more on change.

Is our cup half empty or full? Are we happier living a life out of appreciation and if so how much can we appreciate? Is it simply a question of training ourselves to be more appreciative? Can we develop ourselves to see the wonder, amazement, beauty, magic and mystery in more? Does the macrobiotic philosophy help in this pursuit? For interesting research on appreciation.

How big is our appetite for life? To what extent do we feel enthused, excited, energised by life? Are we as engaged in living as we could be? Has living out of the same old answers and beliefs dulled our lives? Is it time to start exploring again?

To what extent do we want to take responsibility for our own lives? Is it easier to blame other people and circumstances, giving away responsibility? Do we want to take responsibility for our health, emotions and thinking? How would life be different if we reclaimed some of the lost responsibility, would we feel freer, more in control of our own destiny and self empowered?

Part of thinking for ourselves, taking responsibility for our health and living through awareness is to have our feedback system turned on. It helps to know how we are from one day to the next to be aware of whether our food and lifestyle are taking us in the direction we want. George Ohsawa encouraged students to be aware of their energy, sleep, appetite (digestion and cravings), emotions and mental state, to be sensitive to their daily condition.

This has been written with a great appreciation for George Ohsawa, through whose writing and teaching I have become aware of these potentially life changing thoughts.

Author: Simon Brown