non-credo or non-belief

George Ohsawa 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 recognise this from Zen Buddhist and Taoist thinking.

This has provided an interesting paradox within macrobiotic principles 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 macrobiotic concepts and beliefs.

George Ohsawa talked about non-credo in terms of developing an 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 connection.

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 intuition?

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 our 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 our minds into narrow channels of thinking? Do we lose out on all the amazing, wonderful, beautiful, mind blowing things that are going on outside our beliefs?

is it possible that beliefs stunt our development?

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 beliefs.

are beliefs delusional?

As man made concepts do not accurately reflect reality beliefs often are to a certain extent delusional and if those beliefs are deep rooted we may even ignore 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 believe miso soup will help us recover from an illness about a third of the people in sample typically 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 help get 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.

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