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What is "Macrobiotic Science"?

©The Macrobiotic Guide - May 2005

Phiya Kushi who talks about macrobiotics as a science we asked him is itthe same "Macrobiotic Science" as Bill Tara wrote in his article The New Macrobiotics in 1995

Diminished reliance of scientific rationalizations for macrobiotic practice. Science is a powerful force within our culture. It can give us very real insights into the world we live in and our place in it. It is also often a trap. When we attempt to create a "macrobiotic science," we lose the essence of our work.

This does not mean we should ignore or minimize the importance of scientific work, but we should be sensitive to the fact that the practice of macrobiotics is not the application of a science, it is an art. When we reduce our philosophy to a series of dry and mechanical principles we remove its life.

We say that we want people to develop their intuition and to identify their personal relationship to their food, their relationships and the world we live in. What often happens is that the instructions they receive are very "scientific" and undermine those very qualities.

I often see people who are instructed to measure and gauge every bite of food, count every chew, and cut each vegetable with rigorous attention. There can be value in this as an exercise in awareness, but this is not how the instructions have been heard.

- Bill Tara

Q: What is "Macrobiotic Science"?

A: Phiya: I understand ablove what Bill Tara has and it is familiar to me because that is how I used to think. I don't think that way anymore. The shortest answer to your question is that Bill and I are talking about two different things.

In Bill's writing there is an over-generalization and reduction of science to a set mechanical principles that gets dogmatically pounded into the minds of innocent children. It is common for people to misunderstand science since much of our collective experience of science is from evangelical elementary school science teachers touting science as the ultimate end-all sacred fruit of all of western civilization's greatest minds.

I think the reason why it is familiar to me because it echos what I used to hear in lectures and talks by Michio, as well as read in Ohsawa's books. Michio has always expressed a certain disdain about science, putting it far beneath the unifying principle and the order of the universe.

On the seven levels of judgement or consciousness it is always placed on number 4, the intellectual level and below the level of social consciousness. Michio, to this day, criticizes the shortcomings of science pointing out that the pinnacle of science is represented by Nobel prize winners.

Yet these Nobel prize winners often end up becoming sick, commiting suicide, going insane, or experiencing some other unfortunate fate, which to Michio is an indication of their lower judgement. The other main critique of science by Michio is what he calls "the fragmented view" in which, for example, to take of one eyes one goes to an eye doctor and to take take care of one's ears one goes to an ear doctor and so on.

Whereas the macrobiotic perspective is to look at the body as an integral whole. Also, as Bill mentions, Ohsawa and Michio promoted intuition - a sort of non-thinking-one-with-the-univesre-approach- as being the highest form of judgement. So what Bill Tara wrote is an expression of a similar viewpoint.
It is Bill's adopted and adapted version of Michio's and Ohsawa's perspective

I think differently from this. First I think the reasoning and conclusions are flawed by Michio and I don't mind expressing this to him directly. I think much of this criticism is due to a naive understanding of what science really is. If the purpose of science were to live a long and happy and sane life then Michio would be correct in criticism, however this is not the case.

The purpose of science is simply "to know' or to be aware. As such, it is quite understandable how some might go mad in the pursuit of knowing. A sub-purpose within the pursuit of awareness as the discernment of what is truth, or what is real vs. what is imagined.

The base prupose of awareness is not different from the macrobiotic/unifying pricinple of humanity's evolution of consciousness. Indeed, I assert that what makes us most happiest is when we continually become more aware of ourselves and our environment.

This can be in many forms of experiences, study, travel, etc. Furthermore, the source of intuition is our awareness and the more we are aware, the stronger our intuition becomes. (Bill Tara does not explain what really is intuition and where it comes from).

A newborn baby has instincts. A baby will burn itself when touching a hot stove. But after several times of mistakenly getting burned it then develops the intuition to know, or at least to check beforehand, if and when something is hot.

This is the difference between instinct and intution. Intuition is knowing about something before it is actually known or verified. But intuition is developed after many experiences of trial and error and a general increase in awareness.

So what is science?

If we take away the label "science" and look at what it is trying to describe then one is left with a set of logical explanantions. I outlined the various types of logical structures used in science in a previous post. In other words, all that science defines are the various types of logical structures that we use to explain our universe. These logical structures are natural to the thinking of humanity regardless if it is called science or not. Michio and George Ohsawa (and Bill) uses them to describe and explain macrobiotic philosophy.

What Bill (and Michio) is critical of is what I call the logical structure known as "functional analysis" (mechanical thinking) and applying it to a domain that is better suited for another type of logical structure. Most people view "science" as using only the logic of functional analysis and that includes many so-called scientists. But this incorrect. Scientific arguements uses all forms of logical structures including the logic of yin and yang, although it usually not called that, and it usually varies based on what the subject matter is.

The only thing that can qualifies as "not science" is religion and the logic behind is what I call "intentional manifestation." In other words there is a presupposition that everything has and was made with a purpose, even if we may never discover what that purpose is. The difference with "science" is it does not pre-suppose this intention and therefore allows room for accidents and other unintentional occurrences. People who view macrobiotics as being the result of a divine purpose have turned it into a religion.

I would like point out here, that I differentiate divine intention with "order of the universe." The order of the universe is simply a description of the structure of the universe. There is no intention. How it has this order is actually best described schematically by Chaos theory even though you could use the infinite examples to be found in nature. The seven level spiral from Ohsawa and Michio along with the I-ching are gross generalizations of the intricate patterns of this order. There is much to be said about this in another discussion.

In conclusion, and with regard to "macrobiotic science": Macrobiotics is already science in that it is based on a consistent logical structure. The division that Bill writes about, in my opinion, is based on misunderstanding what science really is and lack of understanding where intuition originally comes from. His writing is flawed and in the end only serves to create a division where none exists. By creating this division, he unintentionally stifles the future of macrobiotics, by defining it as not having anything to do with "awareness."

I hope this help to clarify what I mean.

Phiya Kushi

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