Macrobiotics and the Bible
Macrobiotics and Biblical precepts regarding nutrition have a lot more in common than many people may realize.
After the Pastor of our local church suggested I see what the Bible had to say about health and nutrition, I was amazed to discover the many similarities between Macrobiotic dietary advice and the ancient teachings of the Bible.
This discovery suggests that the teachings of the Bible and Macrobiotics are both based on universal truths. If this is true, then each supports the validity of the other. This is truly Good News, being that the Bible is such a highly-respected and authoritative text for so many millions of people around the world.
God’s dietary instructions to humanity, preserved through millennia at great cost of human life and the lives of its untold prophets, sages and martyrs, as well as Jesus Himself, are also reflected in the more detailed exposition of these eternal truths by modern Macrobiotics.
At the beginning of the Bible, in the 1st Chapter of Genesis, God proclaims to Adam and Eve, the first humans:
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (KJV)
These words were God’s original instructions to humanity regarding what should constitute our main food (”meat”). In one sentence a caring, loving God explains to His children what we should eat to keep the wondrously-made body He created and gave to us functioning properly.
God’s very condensed (Yang) way of speaking reflects His nature: the creative Source, which in the I-Ching (Book of Change) written over 5000 years ago in China is represented by a hexagram consisting of 6 solid (Yang) lines.
Breaking the sentence down to clarify what He was saying:
1) Every herb bearing seed – it may appear unclear whether the word “herb” is a noun here or an adjective. As an adjective, it makes more sense. The phrase should read: every herb-bearing seed. That is, our main food should be seeds that produce herbs (i.e., green, edible plants). These foods are grains, seeds, beans and other leguminous seeds, like lentils. These foods, over thousands of years, have continued to remain staple dietary items of traditional agricultural peoples throughout the world. This fact is further testament to the validity and meaning of God’s original dietary instructions to humanity throughout the world. As His original instructions stated, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth. For the most part, humanity still follows this advice and consumes seed-foods as their “meat” wherever they grow.
2) This argument is supported by God’s further dietary instructions after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden to eat the herb of the field. If “herb” in the original statement was meant to be a noun, then why would God later make the same statement again: …and thou shall eat the herb of the field. (Genesis 3:18)?
3) A similar question occurs in the next part of God’s instruction regarding the second item we should consume as main food: every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. Again, it makes sense that God would strive to be absolutely clear in His attempt to explain what would keep the humans he created healthy and long-lived. The fruit of a tree yielding seed would mean nuts and kernels or inner edible pits of fruits, not the pulpy outer part we now call fruits. Another way to express this phrase for clarity could be: every tree which produces seeds as its fruits.
4) Why is all of this so important? Because we need to know exactly what God meant by to you it shall be for meat. God was trying to be as specific as possible to explain what should be Adam and Eve’s meat (“main food”), so there would be no misunderstanding. The word meat, as used in this sentence, suggests that which provides condensed, life-sustaining nourishment. Meat in the old sense meant sustenance or nourishment. Grains, seeds and nuts are solid and condensed sources of nutrition that can sustain human life, but pulpy fruits are not. Fruits in the old sense meant that which endures from generation unto generation. Seeds endure, and produce more of themselves; pulpy fruits do not. Pulpy fruits are meant to attract by their sensorial sweetness and attractive color, for the main purpose of scattering the seeds (the true fruits) within. By their fruits ye shall know them. The fruits of our labors are those things that endure -- not that which is transitory and ephemeral.
5) Humanity’s primary problem today, as was true for our forefathers and mothers’, was a failure to listen, to understand and to obey their Creator. Instructions good parents give their children are meant to protect, not harm them, or restrict their freedom. God’s loving intention has been lost.
6) In light of what we know from studying Macrobiotics, seeds, nuts and grains make the most sense as the ideal main foods for health and longevity because they possess condensed, balanced, energizing properties that fruits do not. In Macrobiotic terms, fruits are too Yin to be considered main foods. The Macrobiotic assessment of fruits as not being ideal foods for health and longevity agrees with God’s original advice.
7) To sum up the discussion this far:
a) Our main food (“meat”) was meant to be grains and seeds (“herb-bearing seed”) and nuts (“fruit of a tree yielding seed”).
b) These condensed foods contain all essential nutrients needed for complete human nutrition (proteins, vitamins, minerals, oils and fatty acids, etc.) They contain few waste products that accumulate over time and cause the gradual deterioration we call “aging”.
c) Eating these simple, wholesome foods put minimal stress on the human system, allowing it to repair itself and continue in health for many years.
8) The single act that caused the fall of humanity from its original state of perfect health and longevity involved not heeding God’s advice and eating the forbidden fruit that God told Adam and Eve not to eat. This act caused the perfect health and longevity God originally designed for us and built into our bodies to gradually decline:
God’s revised commandment following expulsion from the Garden of Eden:
(Genesis 3:17) …in sorrow shall thou eat of it (the fruit of the tree which God had commanded them not to eat) all the days of thy life; …and thou shall eat the herb of the field; (Genesis 3:18) and 19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
That is, we were commanded to eat vegetables and potherbs (the herb of the field) and to cultivate grains for bread (still called the staff of life). The grains were whole, not deprived of their outer part (bran). Bran contains fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and essential oils, so important for intestinal health, body strength and energy. In rice bran there are over 120 nutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants and alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocotrienol and tocopherol variants that nutritional scientists are only beginning to understand the value of.
The Bible records the extremely long lives of the early patriarchs like Adam, Methuselah, etc. This record supports the contention that following God’s diet leads to longevity.
However, as God knew, we would continue “to eat of it” (the “fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”) in our disobedience to His original instructions, and for that reason, we would continue in sorrow… to eat of it. That is, humanity would continue to eat what God commanded it not to eat, and for this reason, humanity would continue to experience suffering and tragedies as well as gradual shortening of lifespan.
Due to eating the wrong diet, the original genetic quality God built into our bodies has continued to deteriorate, generation after generation. Genetic drift is still occurring. It now causes many children to be born with birth defects, or to develop compromised immune systems and other genetic abnormalities that make it more difficult for them to live disease-free, trouble-free lives as God originally intended.
According to Macrobiotics, eating too much fruit causes lung weakness and other disorders, which are felt emotionally as sadness or sorrow, just as God originally told humanity eating the forbidden fruit would do.
We reap what we sow.
Genesis 3:23 –
Therefore, the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
This sentence further emphasizes Genesis 3:18-19 – that God told Adam (and his descendents) to be farm the land for sustenance, and eat food produced by tilling the earth – grains and vegetables. This way of life has constituted the major life-sustaining enterprise for most people throughout recorded human history, and continues to be the healthiest way to live.
Genesis 8:22 –
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
This verse eloquently sums up human life from that point onward, as long as Earth will continue to exist. It also suggests a simple, agrarian life should continue to be the basis of human society: --planting fields and harvesting them for our food through winter’s cold and summer’s heat.
Macrobiotics describes these cycles of nature as good examples of Yin-Yang alternation that promote healthy life, while modern urban life has deprived city dwellers of exposure to these life-enhancing rhythms.
9) Genesis 9:3 –
After the Flood, God revised his dietary instructions for the third time:
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
This is the first time God proclaimed living creatures were OK to eat, probably partially due to the simple fact that there was not much around to eat after the Flood. However, even this revised and less-restricted advice was qualified as follows:
Genesis 9:4 –
But flesh with the life thereof, (which is) the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
To some people it may seem unclear whether this verse meant we should not eat any animal flesh that contains blood, or whether we can eat meats that contain blood only after the blood is drained properly, as kosher practices of Jewish people observe. To me God is saying we can eat all moving, living things (like fish & fowl) except for those life forms that have red blood like our own (i.e., mammals).
If we substitute blood for life thereof, which it appears God takes pains to identify and qualify to make sure we understand what He is telling us, we come up with:
“But flesh that contains blood shall ye not eat.”
If we take this to be what God was trying to tell us, then we come up with a diet in which “clean” animals (i.e., those whose flesh is not bloody, like fish and fowl) are allowed in conjunction with whole grains (bread), seeds, beans, lentils and other legumes are to be our daily diet, as well as vegetables (the green herb).
This is daily fare for the majority of the people of the world, those who lead simple, agrarian lives without many of the “refinements” of “civilization”.
It also reflects the stages of dietary purity in George Ohsawa’s version of the Macrobiotic diet. The only difference is that God’s Levels are 3 instead of 7:
1) God’s original instructions were to eat grains, beans, seeds and nuts. This is similar to numbers 7 to 5 in George Ohsawa’s system.
2) After the Fall, God instructed Adam and Eve to eat grains and vegetables (bread and herbs of the field). This corresponds to levels 4 to 2 of George Ohsawa’s Macrobiotic instructions.
3) After the Flood of Noah, God relaxed His instructions further and said it was OK to eat anything except mammal meat (bloody flesh). This resembles the lower levels 1 to -1 of George Ohsawa’s dietary system.
The Very Wholesome Bread Recipe God Gave to Ezekiel
(Ezekiel 4:9) --
Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches (spelt), and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof…
I think this verse also implies that God did not deviate from His original advice regarding what people should eat to enable them to function optimally, especially for His prophets. It also to me shows an extremely loving and caring God, who, like a parent who cares for the welfare of His children, constantly wants to make sure they nourish themselves properly.
natural bread-making company in the
God also speaks through Ezekiel further on regarding a future promise of food abundance for humanity:
Ezekiel 34:39 –
And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land…
Here continues a picture of a God who loves His children so much He will make a plant (not an animal) available to them so they will no longer die from hunger.
This indicates we must continue to derive our main nourishment from plants, not animals.
God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
A Wise Man Who Followed God’s Dietary Instructions and What Became of Him
Daniel 1:1-20 –
This is the story of Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
the siege of
Melzar consented, and at the end of the 10 days, their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh (i.e., better looking) than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. (Daniel 1:15)
Later, upon questioning them, the king found the young men ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in his realm. (Daniel 1:20)
It is interesting to me that George Ohsawa also taught of the healing value of the 10-day “Number 7” diet (strictly rice or other whole grains).
In summary, what I think the Bible says (as Macrobiotics does) is that we can eat whatever we want, but we should exercise prudence, as Daniel did, so we can remain in good health. As we become more aware of how what we eat affects our health, we naturally become more careful about what we choose to eat.
I think this lesson is particularly important in today’s world, with its vast array of sensorially-appealing foods, many of which are not best for health. I think we should still try to follow what God originally told us to eat, because after all, God is our designer, and He should know better than anyone what food will enable the bodies He created to function optimally, just as automobile manufacturers know best what fuel is correct for each vehicle they manufacture.
I think God did not want to make diet a stumbling block to life, so when He saw His people were not adhering to His original dietary instructions, he loosened them up a bit, realizing that loving Him was more important than making a big issue out of what we eat or do not eat, etc.
We attempt to follow this concept in our family – we try to raise our children on a healthful Macrobiotic diet, but the daily reality is that children are surrounded by temptations of many types of marginally-nutritious foods and beverages. As parents, we relaxed the stricter Macrobiotic rules so that diet will not become too big an issue and block us from nurturing what is really important – their relationship with their Creator, their family and friends.
Being raised Macrobiotically, our children have a reference from which they may deviate from time to time, yet they don’t forget what constitutes a healthy diet. When they sense they have strayed too far, they return to what they know is healthful; that is, what we have served them at home before and since they were born.
Perhaps this is the message we should try to understand: God’s original instructions remain the best way to eat, but knowing humans only too well – that they easily stray from what is proper and correct, He made allowances for human deviation because if He had insisted on strict adherence, few would come to understand His love for us. The original cause of human decline was dietary, but we can restore ourselves to health and the original quality of life God built into our DNA over time by returning to the principles explained in the Bible and in the Macrobiotic teachings.
We should try to follow God’s guidance in dietary matters and eat as healthfully as possible. That would be a diet built around whole grains (the way God made them), seeds, beans and other legumes (“pulses”) as Daniel wisely chose, with “herbs of the field” – i.e., vegetables -- as the mainstays of our diet. Whatever else we then choose except for mammal meat, can be balanced by careful selection and preparation. This is the same advice Macrobiotics offers.
It is my hope that, by writing this article, Macrobiotics can now be seen by the churches as a system that is in accord with Biblical principles, and as such, can help many Christian families, as well as anyone of any faith; to enjoy healthy, active, faith-filled lives as our Creator originally intended us all to live.
Regarding whether Macrobiotic dialectics of Yin/Yang is Biblical, one need simply refer to Jesus’ parable about the seed dying so that it may live, and relate that to one of George Ohsawa’s favorite sayings: “From one grain, ten thousand.”
Dialectics is the study of the cycles of nature, and how to harmonize our lives with these natural cycles. Jesus often referred to the cycles of life apparent during the time He lived as physical examples of the higher spiritual life. Just as a grain must die in the earth to be reborn into a greater, more abundant life, so we must constantly sow the seeds of His righteousness in our bodies, minds and spirits to inherit the greater, eternal life. There is a divinity in the bread that is the body of Christ, the greater, spiritual life. There is a divinity or holiness in the bread of life which God gave us to nourish ourselves so that we may partake of the Infinite life. This bread is physical as well as spiritual. We need to join the two as one in order to fulfill the plan that our Creator set forth for us at the very dawn of His creation.
As Jesus said, “When you make the two into one,... then you will enter [the kingdom].” (Gospel of Thomas, verse 22)
As Macrobiotics says, “Until we dissolve all dualism within ourselves and in our lives, we will not know the true life of eternal freedom, robust health and infinite happiness.”