A Macrobiotic View of Karma and Fate

On another day of macrobiotic class, we took up the topic of karma and fate. Our teacher asked us, “What is karma?” Like many Western people, I had the view that karma was somewhat like the Christian “do unto others as they do unto you.” If I do a very good deed for someone, then it is a natural law that someone else would return a good deed to me. If I treat people without kindness and respect, I could expect the same behaviors or results from others to manifest in my own life. I was surprised to learn of a new way to think of karma, from a perspective of yin and yang, or the balance of opposing forces in the universe.

Most of us are living our daily lives eating McDonalds, drinking Coke or Pepsi, snacking on Doritos and watching TV. This type of diet, along with the usual stresses of modern life, fills our bodies with toxins. These toxins get stuck in our bodies, like pieces of paper that get jammed into Xerox machines, and develop into cysts, tumors, or behavioral ticks and even pathologies. We tend to see the world with dualist thinking, or separating things into “good” and “bad” or black and white.

According to my teacher, the way to Tao, the path to totality, wholeness, oneness, or infinity has been impeded by our diet and modern way of life. Our bodies and minds have become stiff, and for this reason our judgment has also been impaired. We are unable to see our paths clearly. When our judgment becomes impaired, we are unable to avoid accidents. Our intuition is not operating at 100% capacity, and we are unable to see ourselves, others, and events objectively.

The way I think of this comes from a thought experiment I read on Yogen Kushi’s World Macrobiotic site. Imagine you are unable to see with your eyes, and you don’t know what an elephant is. Now, imagine trying to figure out what it is, We could walk up to one and touch its nose. We might think, “Aha! So this is an elephant.” Or perhaps we might walk up to it and touch its foot and leg, and think, “Oh! Now I know what an elephant is.” In fact, our perspective only allows us partial vision, rather than 100% understanding.

How does this play itself out in terms of yin and yang? As we navigate ourselves through life, we may have incredibly happy or wonderful events occur. However, the law of opposites states that to achieve balance, it is only natural that an equally “bad” event will occur. This fluctuation from “good” to “bad” continues to bounce back and forth, and thus we are trapped in a cycle of karma.

Recently, there was a young Japanese man traveling around the world. As he was traveling, others had been telling him how great Baghdad was. He spent some time in Australia, which apparently was very enjoyable for him, and then set off for Baghdad. He ran out of money, and no hotels would allow him to stay because he was a foreigner, and they did not want to risk being attacked by a suicide bomber or someone seeking retribution. He thus was murdered in the streets.

This was all over the news for days, and there were varied reactions. Many people thought, what a stupid young man to go to such a dangerous place! What was he thinking?

His judgment clearly led him wrong. But which was his mistake? Was his mistake to have gone to Baghdad? Or was his mistake to have gone to Australia? According to our teacher, it was having gone to Australia. Perhaps this time for him was the best of his life. He had a very “good” experience there, and the opposite for him was to suffer this tragic accident.

On the other hand, if our bodies and minds are clean, we no longer see the world in terms of “good” and “bad”. Our third eyes and intuition are operating efficiently, and we are able to avoid accidents. We are able to “see” that whole elephant. Someone who is seeing from their third eye would know not to go someplace, or would know when to leave someplace instinctually.

How do we get our bodies and minds “clean”? One efficient way is to eat a nutritious and balanced macrobiotic whole foods diet. When we eat well, our lives become more peaceful, and we remain on our true paths. Those toxins that are “jamming” our bodies and minds are released. Our health is premium, and we notice how naturally and happily life can flow. Being aligned with the universe, nothing “bad” happens to us.

Hijiki with Onion and Carrot for Laura

From Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

1 ounce dried hijiki

1 t dark sesame oil

1 onion, sliced into crescent moons

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

spring water

2 to 3 T shoyu (soysauce)

Put the hijiki into a bowl and soak for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Brush a frying pan with oil and heat it. Add the onions and sauté gently until they smell sweet and the color becomes translucent. Push the onions to the side and add the carrot to the pan with a small pinch of sea salt. (You won’t need any more oil.) Saute the carrots until they start to smell sweet, then mix with the onions and push to the side. Add the hijiki, and fry for a few moments. Mix everything together, and add water to cover to about halfway up the pan. The vegetables will not be completely covered with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn to low heat. Simmer slowly (no stirring necessary) for about 40 minutes. Add shoyu. The mixture should have a very mild salty taste. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Variations: Fresh lotus root, deep fried tofu, or dried tofu go well with this preparation.

Oden for Naomi

From Aveline Kushi’s Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking

Oden is a traditional Japanese stew, enjoyed especially during the colder months. It is cooked family-style on the table and eaten from the pot. Oden consists of tofu, daikon, and a wide variety of other ingredients in a broth and is frequently accompanied by hot sake. It is prepared both in the countryside and in the cities, where it is associated with taverns and spicy toppings and dressings.

2 strips kombu, soaked and sliced into 3- to 4-inch-long strips

2 cups daikon, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

4 to 5 shiitake mushrooms, soaked stemmed, and halved

Dark sesame oil

5 to 6 slices firm tofu, 3 by 2 by 1/2-inch thick

Spring water

Shoyu

Tie each kombu strip into a bow, with the knot in the center of the kombu strip. Place the kombu in one section of a pot. Add the daikon round in the pot next to the kombu bows and shiitake next to the daikon. Place a little oil in a skillet and lightly pan-fry each othe tofu slices on both sides for a few minutes. Add the tofu slices to the pot next tot he shiitake and kombu. Each of the ingredients should have its own separate section in the pot. Do not mix or layer the ingredients. Add water to half cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the daikon is soft and translucent. Season with a little shoyu to taste and cook until there is only about 1/4 cup of liquid left. Transfer to a dish and serve.

How to have good luck in 2005

Sometimes over the weekends, I go to Macrobi Garden in Osaka, where I study macrobiotic cooking and theory with Hiroyuki and Mie Naka. They are incredibly kind, compassionate, and intelligent people who glow very brightly. The most recent lecture with Hiroyuki was “How to have good luck in the New Year” The two parts to this topic were “How to get more money with no effort” and “How to get a boyfriend/girlfriend with no effort.” The following is my understanding of his answers.

He asked my friend and me about money first, saying, “How do you think we can become rich?” We went through many possible answers, such as “Do your best at everything” “Be mindful” “Keep the flow of money in circulation so it doesn’t get stagnant” and various other replies. While we were racking our brains thinking of things — still firmly in the material world (requiring effort), I knew he was aiming for something in the invisible world (focusing on the flow of energy). Our brains were having a hard time wrapping around this concept. We gave up and listened to his teaching….

Good Luck with Money

His main point is that if you think of money, what energy does it have? Is it more yin or more yang? Is money like our blood or lymph traveling and circulating? Hmmmm…… Maybe not? Perhaps it is actually more stationary, because if you put it somewhere, such as in the bank, it has strong gathering energy. Ok, so according to him, money is more yang. Is it really more yang?

Well, if you think of all the rich people out there, they have some characteristics in common. How do they stay wealthy? For the most part, they avoid spending excessive amounts of money. In other words, they save (gathering energy). Also, many rich people love alligator leather shoes and bags (an extremely yang animal skin), they love diamonds (the most yang object we can imagine), and they carry large amounts of cash close to their bodies. Even if they carry their gold VISA or MCs, they always have that cash, because it will attract more cash to them — strong gathering energy.

How can we attract more money to us? Logically, one answer is to save your money. Another answer, according to feng shui, is to keep your money both on your body, near one of your chakras, and also in the north west part of your home. You can also put a diamond in a glass of water, and drink this water daily, for about one week. If you are a singer and want to improve your voice, wear a diamond over your throat.

Be mindful, however, that if you increase your luck with things in the material world, other areas of your life may be more unlucky — the balance of yin and yang. For this reason, it is important to maintain a balanced diet avoiding extremes. When you pray, pray both for your health and for more money in your life.

Good Luck with Love

The way to get a boy or girlfriend is based on the same ideas of how energy works with money. Many of us have Mr. or Mrs. Right in our mind’s eye, that million dollar mate, and we are waiting and waiting for that person to come. We may meet other single people, but they somehow do not fit that image or that ideal, so we discard them as options, perhaps even without knowing them at all.

Where are we going wrong? Isn’t it OK to have high standards? Well, it could be that our judgements and pickyness suppress this energy from flowing into our lives. It would be better to date lots of people at first (the $1 dollar type) to stimulate this flow of energy. As we keep dating the $1 people, suddenly we will notice that the people we begin dating are $5 dollar people, and then $10 dollar people, and then $100 dollar people…. You get the point. As soon as the energy gathers in our lives, more people, and better choices will be attracted to us.

This logic should hold true for anything we want in our lives. If we want to be healthier, we should surround ourselves with healthy people. (Conversely, avoid hospitals, drugs, and other things that carry the energy of sick people). If we want to have a strong macrobiotic practice, it is a good idea to spend time with macrobiotic people.

Does this mean we should avoid sick people? (For the purpose of this article, sick people are defined as those who immediately and/or automatically take drugs or visit the doctor when they feel out of balance.) If our condition is stronger than the sick person, we will give some of our energy to them and lift them up. If however, someone is sicker than you are healthy, then be careful. You can take on their sickness.

Learning from Hiroyuki always provides a lot of interesting ideas to consider. I don’t know if they are true or not, but it is fun to think about and test through personal experience. Mom, can I borrow you diamond ring for about one week?

Start where you are

This whole concept of blogging is new to me, and suddenly, the whole thing feels a bit intimidating. How does it work? What do I do? What do I write? Is anyone listening? Strange! Even though this is a whole new realm of the internet for me, it seems important to stay up-to-date on current technology and phenomenon occuring in pop culture, especially since I live in Japan and am out of touch with daily things in America. In yoga, they say to “start where you are”, so here I go.

What is on my mind at the moment? Well, on my mind is the fact that in two months I will be leaving Japan and heading back to America — back to Hawaii. My plan is to leave the field of teaching English (though retaining all the wonderful experiences and lessons through being a teacher), and start my own business in macrobiotics. What form that will take is of yet unclear.

For the past two years, I have been studying macrobiotics in Osaka, Japan and a whole new beautiful world has opened to me. This beautiful world encompasses more inner peace and a greater sense of happiness. Old worries and fears have not completely left me, but have consistenly dissapated, opening my mind and my eyes to the light and love the world has to offer. My goal is to share this with people in Hawaii.

Check for more postings as I learn how to enhance this blog.