by Simon Brown
the founder of modern macrobiotics
during the first half of the twentieth century embedded
the idea of non-credo or non-belief in his macrobiotic
philosophy. You might recognize this from Zen Buddhist
and Taoist thinking.
This has provided an interesting paradox within macrobiotics
as although for many westerners in the 1960s and 70s non-credo
summed up the whole Zen macrobiotic movement, through
the 80s and 90s non-credo was replaced by a plethora of
concepts and beliefs.
George Ohsawa talked about non-credo in terms of developing
and endless curiosity. Practically this could be interpreted
as asking more questions and not looking for answers but
enjoying the process of discovery and exploration.
It is, I think worth revisiting this founding principle
and see how it can influence our current practice of macrobiotics.
Let's look at the basic ideas behind non-credo.
For me the idea of non-credo applies to man made ideas,
concepts, dogma, principles, theories, doctrines rather
than self belief, feelings, intuition or any kind of spiritual
DOES ONE BELIEF EXCLUDE OTHER THINKING?
Once we take on a belief is there a risk that we will
find it harder accept a contrary belief at the same time?
We could argue that the more beliefs we have the smaller
our world becomes making it micro rather than macrobiotic.
DO BELIEFS GET IN THE WAY OF
If we take on too many beliefs do we overule our intuitive
feelings if they do not match our treasured beliefs? If
we have an internal data base of all the foods we have
ever eaten and a deep biological knowledge of how these
foods effect us, what happens when our body cries out
for a certain food to address a nutritional deficiency
and it is not on our version of the macrobiotic diet?
Rather than develop our intuition and creativity in general
do beliefs stunt this powerful side of our beings?
CAN BELIEFS MAKE ARE MINDS SMALLER?
Should we be walking along a busy shopping street and
a pink elephant flew across we would see it but most of
us would not register it in our minds as a flying pink
elephant is not within our belief system. If we had a
young child with us he or she would jump around looking
at it as for a young mind pink elephants are possible.
This begs the question that as we take on more beliefs
are we imprisoning are minds into narrow channels of thinking?
Do we loose out on all the amazing, wonderful, beautiful,
mind blowing things that are going on outside our beliefs?
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT BELIEFS STUNT
When we take on a belief do we then stop the inquiry,
the search, the discovery and halt our own development?
If for example I believed that eating macrobiotic foods
would solve all my problems and I just ate macrobiotic
food would I still make the effort to work at forming
better relationships? When we take on a belief we tend
to close that subject and just start using it rather continue
the process of evolution.
DO WE NEED TO BELIEVE IN SOMETHING
TO DO IT?
Will someone take on the effort to eat macrobiotically
if he or she does not believe in it? To me that depends
on what we want macrobiotics to be. If macrobiotics is
a creative, artistic, intuitive way of exploring the relationship
between food, emotions, spirit and health then beliefs
might just get in the way of that journey.
If macrobiotics is a science with the aim of developing
the ultimate healthy diet then a degree of belief may
be required if the promise is a long life and freedom
from illness. For me the greatest pleasures in life come
from music, art, film, fiction, food, friendships, sex,
love.....and yet none of these require any conceptual
ARE BELIEFS DELUSIONAL?
As man made concepts do not accurately reflect reality
beliefs ofter are to a certain extent delusional and if
those beliefs are deep rooted we may even ignor reality
and favour our pet theories.
WHY HAVE BELIEFS?
There must be a reason we like to find things to believe
in otherwise I could argue that we would not have that
propensity in our characters. The most common and researched
advantage of a belief is the placebo effect. If we belief
miso soup will help us recover from an illness about a
third of the people in sample typical will show signs
of improvement from that belief alone.
That belief might be strengthened by some kind of theory
whether yin and yang or something more scientific. It
then becomes a point of discussion as to whether we need
to believe in something else or can we simply believe
in ourselves to get that placebo? Do we need the concepts?
I think we all might have experienced difficult times
and here beliefs get help get us through but do problems
build up if we then cling on to those same beliefs later?
HOW DOES THIS EFFECT MACROBIOTICS?
Where does non-credo leave us with macrobiotics? I think
non-credo is the essential counter balance that can reduce
the risk of becoming dogmatic, conceptual and even fanatical
with our practice of macrobiotics. Non-credo can help
us be imaginative, creative and intuitive with our cooking.
Perhaps most importantly non-credo encourages us to practice
macrobiotics from our own heart and experience and not
someone else's belief system and for me this is the golden
nugget in George Ohsawa's philosophy.