Macrobiotics: A Universal Philosophy and Way of Life


Grounded in the traditional teachings of East and West, the term macrobiotics comes from the Greek root words "macro," meaning long or great and "bios," meaning life. It was coined by Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, nearly 2500 years ago, whose approach to health and healing was based on his famous proverb, "Above all, do no harm," and who offered environmental, lifestyle, and dietary advice to his patients and students.


In Europe, the term was used by Herodotus, the historian of ancient cultures; Rabelais, the French humanist of the Renaissance; and Christoph W. Hufeland, an 18th century German philosopher and physician to Goethe who wrote a famous book, Macrobiotics or the Art of Prolonging Life (1796). In the 20th century, macrobiotics has been popularized by Michio Kushi, an educator from Japan; Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous baby doctor; and Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, the former mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, and leader of the peace movement in the United States Congress.


As the foundation of a great or long life, modern macrobiotics has introduced and popularized the art of living in harmony with natural order, inspiring and empowering individuals, families, and communities to respect and preserve the natural environment, live with awareness and compassion, and contribute to making a world of lasting peace and harmony.


As a view of life, macrobiotics seeks to unify all antagonisms as part of a common whole, including Eastern and Western, the traditional and the modern, and the intuitive and the analytical. As an educational movement, macrobiotics offers guidance, insight, and instruction in many fields, including philosophy; music, culture, and the arts; organic farming and gardening; and traditional food processing and natural foods cooking. Macrobiotic educational centers around the world cooperate with governments, non-governmental organizations, schools, scientific and medical research bodies, businesses, and other institutions to develop a world community with abundance, opportunity, and freedom for all.


By harmonizing with nature and living in a spirit of gratitude, macrobiotic individuals and families seek to maintain optimal physical health and vitality; develop a calm, clear mind; and embrace all challenges and difficulties. By studying together the laws of balance and change, they strive to realize the interdependence of all phenomena; understand the unity of diverse cultures, traditions, and practices; and awaken to their oneness with nature and each other. By honoring all those who have come before and all who will come after, they cultivate an openness to the universal forces that create and sustain life. By integrating these values into their daily lives, people following a macrobiotic way of life endeavor to create a joyful home, working, and learning environment that serves as a model for society as a whole.


In the United States and other societies, macrobiotic principles are beginning to enter the mainstream and receive official recognition. The Smithsonian Institution opened a permanent collection on macrobiotics at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. several years ago, and announced plans for periodic public exhibitions, publications, history-oriented symposia, research fellowships, and internships. Recognizing the contributions of macrobiotics to public health and well being, the Smithsonian's Division of Science, Medicine, and Society stated:


The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution is honored to present the Michio Kushi Family Collection on Macrobiotics . . . The significance of macrobiotics in American life is little understood although it relates to such broad historical issues as the postwar move toward a more healthy diet, our increasingly global culture, alternative healing, peace studies, and traditions of grassroots activism.


Macrobiotics embraces the universal heritage of humanity, the collective wisdom of all cultures and civilizations, and the common dream of a world of enduring health and peace. Under many names and forms, macrobiotics will continue to guide and inspire humanity to harmonize with the order of nature and the infinite universe, as its most fundamental and intuitive wisdom. It offers a key to restoring health and happiness, a vision for preserving the planet, and a compass for charting a voyage toward freedom and peace.