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MY HEALTH PLAN

 

I should like to explain the method I myself follow in keeping fit. This year I am sixty-seven years old according to the Western way of reckoning age, but I am more hale and hearty than many men in the prime of life. I frequently climb the hill on whose slopes our new headquarters is being built and always have to slow down for the younger people, who lack strength in their legs. I am almost embarrassed by their frequent questions as to whether Meishu-sama is tired, since I am not fatigued in the least. I go to bed at two thirty or three in the morning and sleep till seven or seven thirty, which means I have about four or four and a half hours' sleep. As my close associates know, I do the work of ten people. Younger people find it hard to keep up with me, but there is nothing to do but let them keep trying.

I do all these things as a result of my method of keeping healthy. Since my way is the opposite of the one generally followed today, I shall explain it here in the hope that it will serve as a reference for other people.

The modern medical prescription for good health is to exert oneself only moderately, to get plenty of sleep and nourishment, to chew one' s food well, and not to think too hard. My method is the opposite of this. I insist that people should exert themselves to the maximum (1) since this is a most effective way to improve health. Nonetheless, I urge sensible moderation, since overexertion can cause suffering. The amount of sleep a person requires varies with age, but for a person of about my age four or five hours is just right. Interestingly enough, as far as food is concerned, I am constantly worried about getting too much nourishment. There are so many offerings from members that we can scarcely cope with them, and I always make a point of eating at least a little of each in appreciation of their kindness, so that I tend, if anything, to eat too many rich things. To make up for this I unfailingly eat a considerable quantity of sweet potatoes after breakfast each morning. As a late-night snack, I often have a bowl of plain rice-and-tea and never miss a serving of sweet bean-soup.

Foods have yang (positive) and yin (negative) characteristics that must be kept balanced. Vegetables are yin and fish and meat are yang. These foods must be taken in a way that avoids leaning too much in either direction. I eat seventy percent yin and thirty percent yang foods in the morning, fifty percent of each at lunch, and seventy percent yang and thirty percent yin foods in the evening. Pickles too are yin or yang in nature: pickled green leafy vegetables are yin and pickled daikon, radish and turnip are yang. I eat them in a half-and-half ratio.

I chew my food only about halfway, not thoroughly, because chewing food fully weakens the stomach. Furthermore, I do not rest after meals but immediately begin some activity. (2) This is a way to strengthen the stomach. I have effectively cured stomach illnesses through this method.

I never set limits to the foods I eat. My basic dietary principle is to eat as much as I want of what I want when I want it. It is, however, impossible to be always as self-indulgent as this statement suggests, so I eat suitably.

Though it may sound surprising, thinking as much as possible is a kind of health regimen. People who use their brains live long, but worrying is a poor use of them. Instead, one should use them in interesting, pleasant ways. This is where faith reveals its value. Whenever you have a worry, if you take the attitude that you should leave it up to God, the worry will diminish considerably. In other words, let God shoulder the burden. Perhaps this seems conveniently selfish, but God finds such selfishness highly pleasing.

For a long time, no matter how it might rain or blow, I have never missed going out once a day. I walk as much as possible. Old people who continue to improve in health often say the same thing. I drink only about three small sake-cups of sake or one small glass of beer and smoke only an average amount (3).

This is my system for good health. I pay no attention at all to germs. Although the ordinary person might consider my method unwholesome, in fact it is the true way to be healthy. I guarantee that anyone who puts this method into practice will become healthy. There is no chance, at least, of your becoming a pallid indoor type, so I recommend that you put your mind at ease and follow the system I have set forth.

 

(1) Exert oneself to the maximum - This means that healthy people must not pamper their bodies. It does not mean that people who are confined because of illness or who are constitutionally frail should attempt to lead the same kind of active lives as completely healthy people.

(2) When I have finished eating, I immediately begin some activity - This order not pertain to the ill.

(3) Meishu-Sama did not inhale but only enjoyed the fragrance of cigarettes. He smoked four or five a day and did not recommend that others smoke.

 

April 20, 1950
 

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