Michio Kushi On Illness


October 12, 2004


I would like to thank my sons for letting all of you know that I recently had a blockage removed from my colon.   Through them I have received many warm and supportive messages and prayers from you and I am infinitely grateful for your kindness.

As I hope you can imagine, my decision to have surgery was not taken lightly. My colon was nearly 100 percent obstructed and the risks caused by my condition were potentially fatal. It became clear that surgery was the quickest and most effective immediate solution.

Though the blockage turned out to be a malignant tumor, the medical doctors were able to remove all of it and I thank them for their expertise and support.

My recovery is going better than expected and I am slowly returning to full strength. I am not planning any further medical procedures.   I am also not planning any further trips or public activities for the next several months.

The medical doctors who assisted me through this surgery have recommended to me advice similar to that I have offered through the years to so many others: to focus myself on the day-to-day macrobiotic living of spiritual practice, high-quality local foods, happy thoughts and achievement of world peace.

In these recent years, I have allowed myself to grow too busy, to take too many trips, to accomplish too much at too rapid a pace.  I am grateful for this recent experience for teaching me the importance of rededicating myself to a quieter, though no less important, set of work.  I look forward to reconnecting with all of you soon and continuing our work together toward one peaceful world.
- Michio Kushi

Yogen Kushi: "Michio is getting plenty of rest, has the appetite of a growing teenager, and is recovering quickly."

Michio's recent illness brings much self-reflection for all of us. We all look to Michio as a role model and teacher, and his weakened physical condition may arouse feelings of fear and misgivings in many of us.

Michio once responded to a question by Lino Stanchich, who asked how he could guarantee himself a long life.   Michio answered that the best course to take would be to sit in a quiet room, take on little responsibility and exercise caution in all activities.   Of course this is a recipe for early death, but the point is that a great life (macro bios) entails great possibility.

Michio has never shied away from life's challenges.

Health is the natural state of well being when energy is flowing and one feels right with the world. Illness is when one cuts off that flow, and feels resistance.

Michio is a master at flowing energy.   So what went wrong?

When someone manifests illness (or anything unwanted), it means that he is putting up resistance. Something in his actions, body and thought is misaligned.  In other words, he puts attention on what he doesn't want.  Michio does this in three ways:

First, it is his freedom and pleasure to pursue some sensorial pleasures, including some "unhealthy" foods.  It is not easy for the body to assimilate these products over the long term.  Adding to the physiological effect, because so many of us interpret his teaching as outlawing certain foods, he may have picked up some hesitation or uncertainty about his body's ability to assimilate the products he takes in.  This inner conflict creates dis-ease.

Secondly, many of Michio's thoughts inevitably focus on illness, as he surrounds himself with people in situations of desperate physical deterioration.  It's hard to consistently maintain a vibration of well being when the surrounding energy is often heavy and dense.

Thirdly, Michio keeps a tremendous, almost super-human schedule.  He tries to be all things to all people, and pushes himself nearly to the point of no return.  When his body finally laid itself down in illness, he was able to be selfish and take time to self reflect.  Herein lies recovery.

When one wants to live and his body is jeopardized, the desire for recovery becomes very great.   I can imagine that Michio has generated hundreds of new desires and ideas now that he has had time to lie around and dream, because he is used to having many projects that extend his visionary energy. This summoning and flowing of life force will be a big help in his recovery. Because Michio's body has been in fairly good condition for many years, and his thoughts are mostly towards allowing life to flow, he will be able to recuperate well.

The humanness of a guru is often difficult to accept.  We expect our princes and righteous ones to be above difficulty.   Yet it is their tremendous love of freedom and adventure that creates their greatness.  We would not have the gift of macrobiotics in our lives if Michio were to sit in a dark corner and seek security.  The tremendous self determination that Michio demonstrates is the reason for his lack of restriction, and its consequences.  We would not have it otherwise.

Bravo, Michio, and keep allowing your energy to flow!

- Ginat Rice

From Phiya Kushi the Executive Director of the Kushi Institute:

Michio acknowledges that he has not been eating macrobiotically due to maintaining an extremely busy social and travel schedule that became even busier in the last 10-15 years.  During that time he ignored his own bodily needs and requirements and went beyond his own physical limitations.  His critical condition was a sharp reminder and wake-up call that, yes, he too is human, and is subject to the same rules of life as everyone else, and that he cannot continue to consistently serve humanity, without taking time out for himself.

Michio's present doctors recommend that he follow his own macrobiotic recommendations for which he is now complying, taking much needed rest and having quality meals prepared for him in order to recover from his condition.

Being Michio's third son, and recently, the Executive Director of the Kushi Institute for seven years, you might say that I have a pretty good understanding of the meaning, purposes and intentions of macrobiotics and the messages of Michio Kushi. 

I wish to add that life is full of contradictions - we are born, and we die, we get healthy and we get sick.  A macrobiotic life includes experiencing both health and sickness yet is not defined by either, but rather by the length of time that one lives on earth and the difficulties that one overcomes in that process, such that sickness and other difficulties can often be the means for prolonging and strengthening life.