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Let’s Ferment!

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The Power of Invisible Things

One way to explain Spirituality is the ability to believe in invisible things.

God, the Great Spirit of the Universe, energy, a state of heart — these are things you can’t see in daily life, but when you start to cultivate the ability to believe in those invisible things, your life will be much richer.

Microorganisms are also something we can’t see in daily life, but if you start to understand how they work, then your life will be much richer, too.

This planet was born about 4.5 billion years ago, microorganisms were born about 4 billion years ago, and humans are 300,000 years old. So, microorganisms are way older than we are. And they are everywhere.

Even in a single human body there are more than one hundred trillion microorganisms living in the skin, mouth, sinuses, stomach, and intestines. And they are especially numerous in the intestines, where they make gut flora to help with digestion and make it easy for nutrients to be absorbed by the body.

Sometimes food or other organic things go rotten, and sometimes they ferment. When the microorganisms in this food work well together, they ferment. And when they go off balance, for example, when one kind dominates too much, the food gets rotten. Although fermentation and rot are both the same process of microorganisms decomposing food (organic matter), the difference is that after food is decomposed, if it’s good for humans it’s considered to be fermented, but if it’s not good for humans, it’s considered to be rotten.

You know that fermented foods taste delicious, are good for your body, and make a nice environment in the gut. The same goes for cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, wine, and beer, too. I’m Japanese, and I love soy sauce, miso, natto, and sake!

About five years ago, I started to make miso and sake on my own. Sake is made with only rice, koji, yeast, and water. You steam the rice, then mix it with koji, a little bit of yeast, and a lot of water. That’s it! Very simple. After about one week, you can drink it. But what happens in this one week in the container is very interesting.

First, the starch from the steamed rice becomes glucose because of the fungus Aspergillus oryzae in the koji, and then at one point this fungus passes the baton to the yeast, which makes glucose into alcohol. It’s a very simple process, but if the environment or some kind of balance is off, then it gets rotten and becomes vinegar, which is very sad.

If it successfully ferments, it doesn’t get rotten. When the balance of microorganisms works well together with other systems of balance, great things are made. And these balances are not static, they are always changing, but they naturally find a good balancing point.

Human health requires the same the same balancing act that sake does: if the balance and environment in your gut are not good, as happens when you use white sugar and artificial seasonings, or when you overeat, then the inside of the gut starts to rot, and this can be the cause of all kinds of diseases.

It’s the same thing with a community. If the people in the community start to think only of themselves, the community starts to rot.

And it’s the same with regard to world situations. If people are intolerant with other’s opinions, the world starts to rot, too. We can’t eliminate the things we don’t understand or are scared of. Instead, if we accept them and work together, we can make something great.

Let’s start fermenting the world, accepting others, and co-operating — and let’s enjoy sake!


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