You Mean It's Not All About Me?
by Morgan Jones
07 September 2002
Last week I wrote about how sad it is for me that so many people in our country are suffering from health problems that I believe to be reversible. (Please see Good Health is Easy.)
Several folks wrote back to tell me that while they appreciated my ideas, they felt I was a bit arrogant in the way I expressed myself—that my tone implied I knew the one true path to health and happiness.
Here's one of the more eloquent messages I received:
I enjoy getting the email
messages you send out regarding
Do you feel you have the inside
track on the right way
Are you intentionally or
unintentionally implying that
Do you really think you are a
living example for the rest
If you are answering yes to any
of these questions, then
Peace, Love and Respect,
I have to admit this was a bit painful to read, as I always like to think of myself as a being a positive influence. (OK, I'll be completely honest: I like to think of myself as always having the right answer. I'm a guy and a Capricorn and a 6-Metal, born in the Year of the Ox. Hey! It's in my job description.)
But upon reflection, I see there is truth in what my former student wrote. And I know the questions the student posed are probably the most important ones for me to consider on my never-ending personal pursuit of health and happiness. I guess I sounded a bit arrogant. (OK, maybe more than a bit. Give me a break! This self-reflection stuff is hard.)
My most revered teacher, Herman Aihara, a generous and playful man who I met when he was in his 70's and after he had spent a lifetime as a macrobiotic teacher and health counselor, explained to me that it is arrogance that makes us sick. Here's my favorite quote from Herman:
Macrobiotics amounts to
finding our physiological
After a few years of studying the macrobiotic approach to life I told David Briscoe, one of my favorite teachers, that I felt I would never know enough to teach others. I explained that I felt I could easily spend my entire life studying, and even after decades I would only have understood a tiny fraction of what the Universe could teach me.
David's response was simple: He said, “Morgan, what you know right now is enough to help some people—those who have not yet studied the relationship between food and health. Go teach them. The people who know more than you? Well, they don't need you to teach them anyway.”
And then he added, “You will be surprised how much you can learn from your students. In fact, you will learn more from them than they will ever learn from you.”
Smart guy, that David.
So now I teach—because I want to be generous ... and because I am most definitely selfish. (Ah, the old front and back once again.)
Do I think I have the inside track? Well, of course I do. Doesn't everyone? Heck, if I didn't think what I have learned was valuable then I wouldn't try to share it with others. But it's the approach I want to teach, not the details of my personal choices. (I guess you can see that I still need to work on this “arrogance” thing a bit more.)
Do I think my path is the only one? Nope, but it's works for me, otherwise I would try something else (and no doubt I will someday). In fact what we at The Natural Epicurean try to teach all our students is that each individual person on the face of the Earth is unique—that there is NO ONE PATH that works for everyone. We believe that each of us must find our own. (This was an especially difficult lesson for me to learn after years of being programmed to ask for the answer from doctors and experts and gurus—and finally from my macrobiotic teachers.)
By studying and working to define our own paths, we take responsibility for our lives, our health, our happiness, our destinies. And then, I believe, we can begin to figure out which choices we make lead toward better health and which choices lead us in the opposite direction.
I think George Ohsawa, regarded as the father of modern macrobiotics, summed it up best with his oft-repeated mantra of non credo—don't believe it just because I tell you, but go and discover for yourself whether it is “true” for you. I only hope I can convey this important message to our students half as well as George.
Do I think I am a living example for others to follow? Absolutely not! I am just me—doing the best I can—just like everyone else I know. (And I am delighted that no one I know wants to be just like me —heaven forbid! One of me makes my life difficult enough.)
Am I truly respectful towards all life? I keep trying to be. (I have to confess that I wouldn't object if the goddess eliminated all the mosquitoes from the face of the planet. Other than that, I guess I am mostly respectful.) But seriously, I know I have much work yet to do.
Here's my thinking: Everybody has something to teach. Or put another way, we can each learn from everyone we meet ... if only we can be open to this possibility. When it comes time to put a door to my deck in the living room, I will probably ask for help from someone who has worked as a carpenter. But when I am finally ready to do the much needed work on my own humility, I need only look to my students for the best lessons.
And if, by chance, you don't already know how to make delicious food that can heal and nourish your body and make your spirit soar, perhaps you will let me share a little of what I know about such things with you. (Better yet, go study with Dawn and Amy at The Natural Epicurean. They know a lot more about this stuff than I do. After all, girls are smarter than boys.)
Anyway, to my former student I send a very large Thank you! for reminding me that I will always be a student—whether I want to be or not.
Peace, love, and brown rice,
Last modified: 02/21/05