Keep It Simple

The older I get, the more I value simplicity.

Everything is simple at the beginning. As everything grows, however, it tends to become more and more complex over time. In Macrobiotic terms, simple is Yang and complex is Yin.

In complexity we can lose sight of the goals we set at the beginning. As things become more complex they can also become problematic.

When we are children, we dream about what we will be when we grow up. Children live in a very simple world. Their wants and needs are simple. They want to be loved and cared for. Do we ever really lose these primal desires?

To maintain the youthful vitality you enjoyed as a child is to keep yourself Yang. If you let yourself and your life become too Yin, you can lose the ability to enjoy life like you did when you were a child.

How do we become too Yin? By consuming too much Yin food and drink over our lifetime. It is that simple. How do we become Yang again if we have become too Yin? By simply eating and drinking more Yang -- not too Yang, or you may become too Yang (contracted, tight). Balance is vital.

The Macrobiotic diet is in itself more Yang than the average modern diet, so you do not have to eat all the Yang foods, deprive yourself of fluid intake and salt everything heavily to become Yang. That is a mistake some people make when they start Macrobiotics.

You should instead just gradually phase out whatever you have been eating and consume more cooked brown rice and vegetables, take miso soup with seaweed and drink twig tea (kukicha). That is Yang enough to bring anyone safely back from a condition of physical, mental and social collapse that characterizes "Life in the Yin Zone".

You really do not need much more than that. Life is really that simple. The rest you can fill in according to your temperment, activity and body type. It is not easy for most people to believe life can be that simple, so accustomed are they to complexity as the basis of life which modern society promotes in an all-pervasive manner. The true base of life is simplicity. In simplicity is the re-generation of the world.

It is hard to raise children in today's society to appreciate life as being in essence simple. Children mature in a world where thinking on all levels is complex. Yet all great thinkers and their ideas, inventions and improvements are essentially based on very simple concepts.

Macrobiotics is essentially simple. It may seem out of step with modern life, which has become more and more complex. Yet it is needed more than ever because the answer to all of life's difficulties lies in simplicity of means.

Macrobiotics says we need not much more than a few handfuls of brown rice, some vegetables, sea salt, and condiments made with sea salt, soy or bean products for protein, some vegetable oil for cooking and tea-bush twigs to be healthy and happy.

Children, like the rest of us, see TV ads and are offered coupons for foods of complex ingredients and tastes but devoid of simple nourishing value. Their friends eat these foods and seem fine. Why they should maintain a diet that seems strange, odd or out of step with the rest of society? Once they begin to experience the modern diet with tastes intensified by refined sugar and artifical flavorings, the Macrobiotic diet can seem bland and unappetizing. Once they are taught in school that you need a wide variety of foods high in various vitamins and minerals, they can begin to reject Macrobiotics as inadequate or malnourishing, as many adults do.

Yet the fact remains: if the modern diet is superior, why do so many people get cancer, heart disease, nervous disorders, immune dysfunctions, and the host of other modern ailments? Macrobiotic people on average suffer far less illness than their modern diet counterparts. The facts fly in the face of modern theories of nutrition. Yet so beguiling and believable is the modern system of scientific nutrition that even in the face of the facts that it does not keep people free of illness, it still holds the majority mesmerized by its false doctrines.

Like a religion, modern science and medicine maintains a strong grip over its followers, even though cures for cancer and a host of other illnesses are far from resolved. How many more years do they need? They have been claiming that a cure for cancer is just around the corner on a road that leads nowhere and has cost billions of dollars so far.

Recently, however, even the US Center for Nutrition and Public Health is acknowledging that a diet based on whole grains, vegetables, fowl, fish salads and fruit is the healthiest one. This is a broader Macrobiotic diet for those who cannot or do not want to be vegetarians.

Yet the meat and dairy interests continue to try to convince everyone they need meat and dairy products to be healthy. As long as people buy their products they will continue to provide them. It is up to each consumer to become educated and discerning regarding what maintains and restores health for themselves and their families.

Keeping a mind that is open to new ideas is essential to survival and growth. I believe those who are capable of, and willing to, examine life more carefully will arrive at the truth.

I had the great good fortune to meet an elderly gentleman recently who arrived at an understanding of nutrition that closely parallels Macrobiotic teachings. This amazed me, yet it confirmed what I have always believed: that Macrobiotics is simply a natural way of living that should be common sense to the majority, not the minority, as it largely is in the Western world today. This fellow is healthy, alert, energetic and strong. He climbs mountains, skis, plays golf and works out at the gym, yet is advanced in years. He feels like he is not advancing in age, but getting younger.

His diet is mainly cooked whole grains and vegetables, as well as some fish, salad and fruit periodically, and a little rice-based dessert called "Rice Dream" -- a non-dairy, naturally sweetened "ice cream". He arrived at this diet on his own. He did not study Macrobiotics.

To me this amazing person is like the "noble savage" -- someone who, left to his own devices, comes to the truth on his own -- the same conclusions that George Ohsawa, the founder of Macrobiotics, did, through his own studies and efforts to restore health and build a strong body out of a sickly child who had been abandoned by Western Medicine as "incurable" in his early years.

That he succeeded is a testimony to the system which he christened "Macrobiotics".

--Fred Pulver