Macrobiotics for Personal Growth
The most important aspect of macrobiotics is personal growth, although, sadly, it is often misunderstood or ignored. Our physical health probably depends more on our mental and emotional maturity than on the foods we eat. The emotions of anger, fear, resentment and sadness weaken the body and make it more prone to disease. Emotional stress causes physical wear and tear, premature aging and even death. Every macrobiotic person considers food important, but the real question is, “What thoughts and feelings are you feeding your mind and body?
The cosmic cycle explains the macrobiotic process of mental, emotional and spiritual development. Every man, woman and child has his or her own cosmic growth cycle. The lives of people who never consciously practice macrobiotics fluctuate with changes in their cosmic cycle just the same. As with people who don’t consider themselves macrobiotic, your cosmic cycle is as unique as your set of fingerprints. There will never again be another cosmic cycle like yours. If you heed your cosmic cycle, it will lead you to more vitality, fulfillment, meaning, satisfaction and joy.
The cosmic cycle emerged from the basic teachings of macrobiotics. Yin and yang explain how everyone and everything cycles between two opposites. Instead of vacillating between yin and yang, the cosmic cycle explains how our minds and bodies alternate between the microcosm and macrocosm. If we are macrobiotic, we have so much appreciation for the environment that we experience the macrocosm like an almighty and omnipresent God. Hence, the macrocosm redeems our ignorance, mistakes and transgressions and offers us comfort, hope and inspiration.
Cycles of Yin and Yang
Yin and yang are as much about cycles as they are opposites. A cycle is formed each time yin and yang go full circle between rest and activity, hot and cold, and separation and togetherness. For example, we eventually feel exhausted from work or exercise. Next, our tiredness compels us to rest with a nap or sleep. Each time we fluctuate between rest and activity, we complete one cycle of what chronobiologists call the “basic rest-activity cycle.” The following table lists some other yin and yang traits and their cycles.
Virtually every macrobiotic student learns the “Principles of the Universe.” Four basic principles are listed below; more importantly, these simple macrobiotic tenets explain how the interactions of yin and yang produce cycles:
- Yang attracts yin
- Yin at its extreme changes to yang
- Yin attracts yang
- Yang at its extreme changes to yin
In Figure 1.0 we start with yin and yang, the two opposites. Yin is strongest on the far left, yang, far right. The bottom arrow shows yang attracting yin. At the end of this attraction, yin switches to yang. The tip of the bottom arrow is where yin at its extreme changes to yang. The top arrow shows yin attracting yang. At the very end of this attraction, yang turns into yin. The tip of the top arrow is the place where yang at its extreme changes to yin. Figure 1.0 has the shape and consistency of a cycle.
The yin/yang cyclical figure follows the words of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who said, “The motion of the Tao is to reverse.” If you look at Figure 1.0 you see when yin and yang reach their extreme they reverse as Lao Tzu had said.
Lao Tzu also wrote, “It flows far away, and having gone far, it returns.” Start with either yin or yang in Figure 1.0 and you notice each opposite flows far away from where it originated, but nonetheless, yin and yang always return according to Lao Tzu’s teachings.
Our beloved teacher Herman Aihara also spoke of yin and yang producing cycles. In Acid and Alkaline Herman said, “Yin changes to yang, and yang changes to yin. This concept is the result of the observation of seasonal changes. Therefore, this change is not lineal change, but cyclic change.”
Another macrobiotic principle is “yin and yang are never neuter.” In other words, yin and yang are never equal to one another. Since yin and yang are always uneven, their mutual attraction is non-stop. But even more essential, yin and yang are the proud parents of never-ending cycles.
The Cosmic Cycle
A cosmos is a world with order. There are two orderly worlds, not one, in this universe. One world is the microcosm, the other, the macrocosm. We distinguish one world from the other through size. Microcosm comes from the Greek words mikros and kosmos which means “little world,” and macrocosm comes from the Greek words makros and kosmos which mean “large world.”
Macrobiotics mainly focuses on the large orderly world for good reason. The macrocosm supplies us with the food, water and air that we need to survive. The macrocosm also periodically graces us with inspirational thoughts, mood elevating feelings and spiritual awareness that reunites us with our soul. Have you ever heard people refer to macrobiotics as microbiotics? I don’t know if the “microbiotics” comment is a Freudian slip or a veiled insult. Nonetheless, the micro world view is a very different perspective than a macro world view. According to the cosmic cycle in Figure 2.0, the macrocosm is solely responsible for the microcosm’s physical, mental and emotional changes.
As with the yin/yang cycle in Figure 1, the cosmic cycle consists of two mutually attracting opposites. The bottom arrow represents the microcosm’s attraction to the macrocosm, and the top arrow represents the macrocosm’s attraction to the microcosm. The strength of the attraction between the two cosmos is perfect. The cosmic attraction is strong enough to keep the microcosm and macrocosm joined together, but weak enough so that the two worlds don’t merge into one. The cosmic cycle is also consistent with the macrobiotic principle of “everything changes.” Thanks to the two dynamic cosmic attractions between the micro and macro, our lives are in a constant state of flux.
Macrocosm: The Silent Partner
Each of us is a thinking and feeling microcosm living in the large macro universe. Our dynamic relationship with the macrocosm produces a cycle through which we mentally and emotionally evolve. As a microcosm, we must account to the macrocosm for everything we did or didn’t do. Not one public or private indiscretion goes unnoticed by the macrocosm. The macrocosm scrutinizes every deep, dark thought and unexpressed feeling. Are you trying to keep a fear, secret or worry to your self? You can’t hide anything from the macrocosm; it penetrates and knows all. The macrocosm is your silent partner who bestows rewards and punishments, pleasure and pain, or success and failure upon you.
The cosmic cycle ends with the microcosm evolving to a higher stage of mental, emotional or spiritual development (small straight arrow, Figure 2). The microcosm cannot move to the next level of human growth without the aid of the macrocosm. Once the microcosm accepts insight, truth or wisdom from the macrocosm, it leaps to a more advanced stage of development. As soon as one cosmic cycle concludes, the next cosmic growth cycle immediately begins. The wheels of the cosmic cycle never stop spinning because the microcosm and macrocosm always maintain their mutual attraction as opposites are supposed to. The continuous cosmic cycle is the reason why our potential for mental, emotional and spiritual development is endless.
On a physical plane, the macrocosm balances the microcosm’s acid and alkaline, oxygen and carbon dioxide, and sodium and potassium levels. The macrocosm is also responsible for each human microcosm’s mental, emotional and spiritual homeostasis. Herman Aihara often said the body must reach balance, and then it will heal. The same is true for mental and emotional healing. If we stay out of the macrocosm’s way, our silent partner will return our thoughts and feelings to balance.
In every second of every day, the microcosm is under the influence of the macrocosm. The macrocosm is not cruel or out to harm the microcosm; on the contrary, the macrocosm corrects, educates, guides, and regulates for each microcosm’s own good. The cosmic cycle is self-correcting, self-educating, self-healing self-guiding and self-regulating. Is there anything more we could ask from our cosmic human growth cycle? Do you doubt your ability to physically and emotionally recover? The cosmic cycle is a self-healing cycle that has the perfect remedy for what ails you. Don’t want to learn but don’t have the time to attend college? The self-educating cosmic cycle will teach you the most important lessons through your life experiences. Are you afraid to try something for fear of making a mistake? Don’t worry, your cosmic cycle is a self-correcting mechanism which rectifies your errors.
In my book Sacred Cycles I explain several other mental, emotional and spiritual cycles of development. Each sacred cycle is similar to the cosmic cycle: two opposites, their mutual attraction and their cycle. Thank you Herman and Lao Tzu for revealing yin and yang and their cyclical nature. For most of us, macrobiotics started with food and physical healing, but the real beauty of macrobiotics lies in its ability to promote mental, emotional and spiritual growth. The next time your debating brown rice or udon noodles, leafy greens or root vegetables, beans or fish, remember macrobiotics includes a silent partner whose invisible hand is also guiding you for much higher purposes.