Article: The Macrobiotic Genius of Walter Russell

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Walter Russell
  3. » Article: The Macrobiotic Genius of Walter Russell

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Fri 9 Nov, 2007 10:27 pm
this has been accessible from the web for quite some time, but let us post it here also to see what will happen:

By John David Mann

Copyright 1989 John David Mann


"The Times of July 21 [1930] contains an article stating that Walter Russell challenges the Newtonian theory of gravitation. This artist, who is admittedly not a scientist, goes on to say that the fundamentals of science are so hopelessly wrong and so contrary to nature, that nothing but a major surgical operation upon the present primitive beliefs can ever put them in line for a workable 'cosmogenetic synthesis'...
"It seems to me it would be more fitting for an artist of Mr. Russell's acknowledged distinction in his own field, to remain in it, and not go trespassing on 'ground which even angels fear to tread'.
"For nearly three hundred years no one, not even a scientist, has had the temerity to question Newton's laws of gravitation. Such an act on the part of a scientist would be akin to blasphemy, and for an artist to commit such an absurdity is, to treat it kindly, an evidence of either misguidance or crass ignorance of the enormity of his act..."
-- Dr. John E. Jackson, The New York Times, August 3, 1930.

"Dr. John E. Jackson's letter to you, a copy of which he graciously sent to me, is a perfectly natural letter of resentment for which I do not blame him in the least.
"It is true that I have challenged the accurateness or completeness of the Newtonian laws of gravitation, and will just as vigorously attack the other "sacred laws" of Kepler, and any others, ancient or modern, that need rewriting...
"I am sorry an artist had to do it, but Sir Oliver Lodge said that no scientist could make the supreme discovery of the one thing for which science is looking and hoping. He said that such a discovery would have to be the 'supreme inspiration of some poet, painter, philosopher or saint'...
"Newton, for example, would have solved the other half of the gravitation problem if he had found out how that apple and the tree upon which it grew got up in the air before the apple fell. I challenge the world of science to correctly and completely answer that question..."
-- Dr. Walter Russell, The New York Times, August 17, 1930.

"I now wish to modify my statements and criticisms, for, since writing that letter, my viewpoint has somewhat changed...
"What I considered to be the overnight inspiration of a 'crank' might be, instead, the result of an intelligent and prolonged study of Nature.
"I am immensely intrigued by Russell's 'two-way' principle, for it gives this universe of motion a meaning to me that it did not have before. In fact, we know very little of the why of anything...
"Why did not some scientist think of this instead of waiting 300 years for an artist to tell us about it?... I invite the collaboration and criticism of my fellow scientists at large to join me in this... If Russell is right, and he surely thinks he is, his claim that science needs 'a major surgical operation' is justifiable..."
-- Dr. John E. Jackson, The New York Times, November 9,

Dr. John E. Jackson was furious. What educated person would have the audacity to challenge Newton and Kepler? For months the debate raged in the New York Times' "Letters" page. Prompted by the release of an artist's heretical views on science, Nature and the universe, the Times' 1930 filibuster culminated in Dr. Jackson's dramatic reversal -- what began as a caustic attack was transformed into a call for his colleagues' support that had the fervent ring of religious conversion. Dr. Jackson, whoever he
was, had caught a glimmer of the genius of Walter Russell.
But in the end, Dr. Jackson notwithstanding, the world of science did not embrace Walter Russell, nor have sixty years of progress changed that position.

Today, despite the wide sphere of contacts and influence generated by Russell and his wife and colleague, Lao, their teachings largely await unearthing. However, the time for that rediscovery may be at hand; for
the Russells' vision suddenly has burning relevance to an acknowledged urgent matter of global health. And the role of advocate for the Russell perspective may best be fulfilled by those in the macrobiotic movement -- for the macrobiotic world view and Russell's practical cosmology have much in common.

Cloud Over the Ozone
Our story begins some ten miles above the Earth's surface in the stratosphere, home of the planet's ailing ozone skin and birthplace of the emerging global awareness of the limits of man's technology. In 1974, two scientists at the University of California made an announcement that shocked the world. When Drs. Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina warned of possible global ozone depletion, they touched off a controversy that was to involve scientists, industry, policy-makers, the press and the public.
The "Ozone War," as it came to be called, was principally responsible for ushering in a new era of planetary policy. [See sidebar.]
Fifteen years later, the ponderous gears of human response are finally grinding into action. Aimed at coping with the infamous "ozone hole, a spate of local and global policy-making is pushing its way forward in an unprecedented atmosphere of international cooperation. Rep. Al Gore (D-TN), the seasoned environmental advocate who helped uncover Love Canal and has stalked the Greenhouse effect for years, recently introduced
legislation to ban production of CFCs (the chemical generally thought responsible for the ozone crisis) within 5 years. As Gore observed this February:
"The political sentiment is changing very rapidly... I think people are mad about this and ready for dramatic action."
But are they the right actions? Not according to Walter Russell, who predicted the ozone dilemma 35 years ago -- a full 20 years before the Rowland/Molina research made headlines -- and ascribed it to an entirely different cause.
If Russell's views were correct, then the chlorine chemistry of CFCs is not the prime culprit [see sidebar], and no one is looking in the one direction that matters most. In fact, according to Russell, there is one overarching solution to the atmospheric emergency: stop making nuclear stockpiles --

A Different Scenario
The year is 1954. Sherwood Rowland's ozone prognosis is two decades in the future; Three Mile Island is a quarter century still to come. To most of us, the "Greenhouse effect" connotes little more than a better way to grow tomatoes. The word "ecology" scarcely exists in the mainstream lexicon.
This is the year atmospheric bomb testing has begun, both by the Soviet Union in Siberia and by the United States on the Bikini atoll. John Wayne and a company of actors and movie personnel are filming a Western in Nevada, and emerge from long days' of shooting covered with radioactive fallout. Years later, it will be discovered that nearly all of them have just received a death sentence. But all of that is many years away; for now, most of us are caught up in the promise of Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace."
This year, Walter and Lao Russell write their warning in a privately circulated newsletter to their students: Oxygen and radioactive stockpiles cannot coexist. Digging up the Earth's heavier elements, concentrating their reactions and releasing their products into the atmosphere is a recipe for disaster.
Three years later the Russells publish a book, Atomic Suicide?, whose principle message is that the development of the nuclear weaponry and industry, if allowed to continue, will eventually destroy the planet's oxygen.
"The element of surprise which could delay the discovery of the great danger, and thus allow more plutonium piles to come into existence, is the fact that scientists are looking near the ground for fallout dangers and other radioactive menaces. The greatest radioactive dangers are accumulating from eight to twelve miles up [in the stratosphere]. The upper atmosphere is already charged with death-dealing radioactivity, for which it not yet sent us its bill. It is slowly coming, however, and we will have to pay for it for another century, even if atomic energy plants ceased today." (Atomic Suicide?, page 18.)
Later in the book, they predict that the oxygen-destroying effects of radiation would not be noticed "until the late seventies."

Atomic Prophesies
It was an uncannily accurate forecast: ozone depletion was first noticed over the Antarctic in 1982 -- and scientists have since concluded that it first appeared in 1979. But then, as now, the Russells' voice received little notice.
The somber prediction of Atomic Suicide? was not the first time Russell had gone out on a limb with scientific prophecy.
His spiral charts of the atomic table, copyrighted in 1926, predicted the discovery of the transuranic elements Plutonium and Neptunium, as well as the now-familiar elements of "heavy water, Deuterium and Tritium" -- years before they were isolated in research labs.
Some have claimed that the 1926 Russell charts (for which he later received an honorary doctorate from the American Academy of Sciences) and his years of New York City lectures on the subject led directly to the laboratory research that resulted in these elements' later discovery. It is difficult to document such a claim at a half century's distance, but this sequence certainly is feasible. Russell himself evidently exerted considerable
energy for years urging the research labs of Union Carbide, Westinghouse, General Electric and others to verify his atomic findings.
In any case, the exclusion from the mainstream of Russell's charts is perhaps one of the most unfortunate snafus in the history of science. For in neglecting to credit Russell with these pivotal atomic discoveries, the world also lost track of the other side of the Russell equation: the larger scientific understanding in the spiral charts, the pragmatic warnings that accompanied them, and the breathtaking scope of macrobiotic thought his life and work revealed.

Who Was Walter Russell?
Russell's stunning achievements in science were but one facet of a career that was unconventional, astonishingly successful, dazzlingly versatile and unabashedly mystical. Often called "the 20th Century's Leonardo" and "the man who tapped the secrets of the universe," Russell maintained that a firm grasp of nature's universal principles would permit anyone to excel in any area of endeavor; thus genius was all human beings' birthright.
His own accomplishments exemplify this belief. A largely self-taught Renaissance man, Russell carved out his first successful career as an artist, achieving international reputation in such diverse fields as portraiture, poetry, sculpture and architecture. His accomplishments as a portrait
painter and sculptor, in particular, won him commissions from dozens of era notables, such as Mark Twain, Thomas Watson (the founder of IBM), both Roosevelts (Teddy and FDR), and Thomas Edison. He also designed buildings and urban layout -- New York City's famous Hotel Pierre, for example, is a Russell creation.
Forays into the world of athletics earned him prestigious awards in figure-skating, horsemanship and race-horse training.
To Russell, such bravura performance was significant mainly for its value as a demonstration that Divine Law and Balance could be tapped by human effort, and the world of art was only a starting point. Russell's yearning to imbue the social fabric of his era with principles of universal justice led to his long association with the Twilight Club, a contemporary "think tank"
of artists and social philosophers.
Through the Twilight Club, whose direction he assumed in 1895, Russell formed bonds that were to endure throughout his life; in the early decades of the century the work of the Twilight Club members, under the influence of Russell's teaching of Divine Law and Universal Order, produced a virtually endless procession of social innovations, such as the creation of child labor laws and child welfare laws, Better Business Bureau and the elimination of sweatshops.

The Living Universe
It was in science, however, that Russell left his least known and perhaps his greatest legacy. While steeped in the discoveries and frontiers of his own time, Russell's science essentially is a thorough reworking of a Taoist or pre-Socratic world conception in modern terms. Freely blending mystic and
religious imagery with rigorous mechanical logic, Russell's scientific cosmology is rooted in the idea that all phenomena, from star systems to atomic systems, arise from the same infinite source to live, grow and die by precisely identical processes.
Hence, there is no fundamental difference between animate and
inanimate matter in Russell's universe -- all are living manifestations of God's universe.
"All bodies in all the universe are the same in all respects, whether they are electrons, cells, rocks, metals, trees, men, planets or suns. All of them live and die in the same manner. All breathe in the charging breath of life and breathe out the discharging breath of death. All of them compress heat and polarize when they breathe in, and expand, cool and depolarize when they breathe out." (Atomic Suicide?, p. 9.)
Thus, Russell's universal mechanics hinges on a reinterpretation of the ancient "unified field" theorem of yin and yang. Life -- not only biological life, but the existence of planets, gases and metals as well -- is caused by increasing compression; and death, by expansion. These two processes, which he also terms "charging" and "discharging," are not seen as separate forces but as opposite stages and directions of one process, much like the winding up and subsequent unwinding of a spring. Life dominates every form from its inception to the point of maximum compression, when the spring cannot be wound any tighter; compression then begins to decrease, radiation assumes dominance, and the process of releasing life's charge -- of dying -- unfolds.
To Russell, the elements of matter are also living entities in various stages of birth, growth and decay. "Carbon, the basis of organic life, is the expression of matter at maturity; elements of higher atomic weights are already dominated by the aging side of the pendulum's swing. In the heaviest elements, the force of decay reaches near-total dominance over the force of life -- thus radioactivity is death incarnate." [See sidebar,
"The Spiral of Elements."]

The Secret Life of Plutonium
The key to grasping Russell's understanding of radioactivity and ozone is the realization that all the elements, like all life forms, are ideally suited to existence within their own natural, local ecology. Thus, all the elements, when left in their natural dimension, serve beneficial and life-giving purposes, including Urium -- later dubbed "Plutonium."
Put another way, each octave or dimension of matter has its own natural pressure zone. [For an explanation of the octave idea, see the sidebar, "The Spiral of Elements."] The five elements of organic life (C, H, N, O and Si) all need the normal pressures found at the Earth's surface to exist normally. The natural dimension for the supercompressed, naturally radioactive elements (radium, uranium, plutonium, et al.) is deep underground, where they are widely dispersed in solid rock.
Here, far from being deadly or poisonous, they actually have made possible organic life on Earth's surface: through billions of microscopic explosions, they have gradually caused the surrounding rocky crust to break down and release water and other lower-octave elements -- something like a geological compost.
"Water and soil are decayed and dying rock. They are, literally, dead rocks. Out of death in Nature life springs... Think of the hundreds of millions of years Nature has to work to decay solid rock and metal planets sufficiently to create enough decayed surface, and an atmosphere, for organic life to become possible. The radioactive metals made that possible. Radioactive
metals are dead and dying bodies. They belong underground just as dead animal bodies belong underground. They are not poisons in their own environment... Man makes them poisonous by removing them from their purposeful environment."
"Just as the slight decay of an overripe peach will not hurt you, while a fully decayed one might kill you, so, likewise, the 'overripe' chemical elements of the earth which are not too far from carbon [potassium, selenium, iodine, etc.] will not hurt you, while the further they are beyond carbon the more deadly they become, and the more impossible it is to guard yourself from
their quick death." (Atomic Suicide?)
In short, said the Russells, the only structures naturally suited to exist together with the radioactive elements are rocks. Even concrete, durable metals, "glassified" tombs or salt beds -- structures presently considered to contain high-level radioactive wastes -- will eventually decay in proximity to the concentrated pressures of such supercompost. The soft tissues of
the fourth and fifth octaves, including our bodies, vegetation and the atmosphere itself, certainly cannot endure such a powerful unwinding.
So, then, what would happen? In Russell's estimation, the lighter pressures of the stratosphere would retain the majority of radioactive fallout, and would be the first region that would reveal the wholesale destruction of oxygen. That's oxygen, not just ozone: if played through to the end, the last act of the nuclear drama would see the disappearance of all oxygen on the planet, whether as ozone, water or the O2 we breathe. In this context, the ozone hole, as serious as it is in its own right, emerges as an early warning sign.

Our Depleted Personal Ozone
In addition to destroying ozone, Russell's logic would also seem to predict other early effects, including the destruction of oxygen mechanisms within our bodies; for the body concentrates far more radiation within its tissues than exists freely in the atmosphere. Dr. Tim Binder, a leading spokesman for the Russells' work, has postulated that "radiation may affect the oxygen-ozone in our white blood cells that is one of the principal [immune system] mechanisms used to destroy pathogens."
This line of thinking may already have been confirmed. For decades, a body of surprising data on health and radiation has been observed by a number of researchers, notably Dr. Alice Stewart in England and Dr. Ernest Sternglass in the US. Their figures show that long-term, relatively low-level level radiation may wreak up to 1,000 times more biological havoc than currently
accepted "risk levels" predict. The mechanism responsible for this dramatic trend was first discovered in 1972 by a Canadian researcher named Abram Petkau, and has since been confirmed by other researchers. [This issue's article by Sara Shannon details the Petkau effect and its dietary implications -- Ed.]
The little-publicized "Petkau effect" occurs through the creation of highly reactive oxygen molecules with a "negative charge" (the negative ion O2). But according to Russell, Nature produces no such thing as a "negative charge." All matter, he maintained, exhibits both charging and discharging properties; and all charges, whether of male or female polarity, are positive.
In Russell's terms, what Petkau observed is not a "highly reactive negative ion" but a changed form of oxygen that is abnormally balanced towards discharging its energy rather than charging -- unwinding rather than winding.
Thus, what Petkau first documented in 1972 and what Rowland and Molina first suggested two years later may prove to be precisely the same symptom, only on different scales. Perhaps we are already suffering from internal "ozone depletion;" or put another way, perhaps the Earth's ozone crisis amounts to radiation burn -- Gaia herself is already suffering from the
Petkau effect.

Rx For Disaster
A problem without solutions is not worth unearthing, and Russell's life was centered on practical solutions. As an immediate measure, Russell recommended that all nuclear stockpiles be dismantled and their materials dispersed in deep desert trenches. His reasoning here is three-fold. First, the goal ought to be to return these elements to their natural context -- that is, underground -- where they originally were harmless. Secondly, concentrating them in massed piles is a big mistake: they should be widely dispersed, as they occur in nature. Thirdly, remote desert regions should be selected as an added precaution, assuming that it will take some time for us to master Russell's atomic mechanics sufficiently to repatriate the volatile materials properly and, if possible, correct the existing stratospheric damage.
The key to such proper treatment may lie in the intriguing science of atomic transmutation, which holds that elements can change into one another freely within normal conditions (i.e., not requiring the tremendous heat and pressures of a high-tech particle accelerator.) Also like Georges Ohsawa, Russell asserted that low-energy, "table-top" transmutation of elements
was eminently possible.
Fueled by an early conviction that the civilization of our present time would require new sources of energy, Russell developed an approach to derive free hydrogen from the atmosphere through atomic transmutation. [The recent claims of several teams of scientists to have achieved "table-top" nuclear fusion may finally have provided mainstream evidence of this claim; as of this writing, not enough information has been released to evaluate the nature of the news-making discoveries -- Ed.]
Other energy sources suggested by Russell's work include devices using the winding-up "life principle" of nature, rather than the winding-down "death principle" exemplified by explosive technologies of combustion and atomic fission. In other words, Russell maintained that so far we have employed only half the possibilities the two-way universe presents. Examples of such
technologies include an "implosion engine" and a logarithmic solar amplifier. [Forthcoming issues of Solstice will report on the present state of several of these technologies -- Ed.]
This is a radical concept; it is not hard to see why the great electrical science pioneer Nikola Tesla once told Russell he should "lock up his work in a vault in the Smithsonian for a thousand years" to keep it for future generations who might be developed sufficiently to understand it.

Challenge to Science
Meanwhile, back at the labs of established science and the chambers of policy-making, it is highly unlikely that anyone is talking about Russell's assessment of the problem -- let alone his suggestions for solving it. Achieving such a discussion is an undertaking even more ambitious than it would first appear. For scientists to consider the hypothesis, they will have to face its author. And taking a hard look at Dr. Walter Russell may not be a
pill much easier for science to swallow in the 1990s than it was in the 1930s.
This is not hard to understand. For one thing, in the eyes of most scientists Russell always remained an artist -- a non-scientist. Moreover, his work is not merely unconventional: it overturns many of the cherished tenets of science. But what makes Russell's work so difficult for mainstream acceptance is that it spurns all divisions between physics and metaphysics, and proposes a comprehensive, logical explanation for God and atomic physics in the same breath. What are scientists to make of a man who writes:
"What is Atomic Energy? In answering this question let it be remembered that God is love, and that this universe is founded upon love. Every action and its reaction in Nature must be in balance with each other in order to carry out to the purposeful intent of the Creator.
As we suggested earlier, those involved in macrobiotics may be best positioned to understand the scope and practicality of Russell's views, and thus to help break ground where established scientists hesitate to tread. A pivotal question, then: how has Russell fared in the macrobiotic world?

Walter Russell and The Macrobiotic Movement
Considering the sheer scope of his vision and his remarkably practical understanding of the yin/yang principle, Russell would seem to cry out for macrobiotic attention. In fact, many of his most radical scientific positions have been echoed by the macrobiotic science of Georges Ohsawa and Michio Kushi. For example, Russell contended that matter is not held together by an attracting force generated from the center of mass, but by
compression generating from the outside toward the center. This view, one of the Russell statements that flies most abruptly in the face of accepted scientific tenets (and the one that got Dr. Jackson's goat in 1930), is echoed precisely in Kushi's cosmology, where conventional "gravity" is discarded in favor of centripetal "Heaven's force."
Moreover, the Russells' application of the yin/yang principal to physical entities, human relationships and the social order seems extraordinarily direct and simple to grasp, and as such would seem a valuable complement to the macrobiotic health/dietetic tradition.
While he did not proselytize any specific dietary regimen, he was meticulous in his own personal habits. (For example, while he maintained a prodigious work schedule, he carefully rotated projects so that his focus changed to a different problem or medium every two hours -- a rhythm known in macrobiotic circles as corresponding to the energy cycle of acupuncture meridians.)
To his strict adherence to natural law he credited his legendary ability to work long hours with ceaseless good humor and without fatigue -- quintessentially macrobiotic ideals, which he maintained until his peaceful passing, on his birthday, at the age of 92.
The following passages from his 1957 Atomic Suicide? shed some light on Russell's views on diet and health:
"The blood is of first importance of all the elements which compose the body. The nervous system could be entirely paralyzed and the body would still function, but the blood has deep instinctive awareness of its existence, and the body which does not have a happy, rhythmic blood condition cannot possibly retain its normalcy.
Even the food one eats should be 'happy.' It should be cooked with love and eaten joyfully, and there should be a joyful realization of love in one's deep breathing and exaltation during the process of taking food into one's body. The food you eat becomes blood and flesh of your body, and the manner in which you eat it, and your mental attitude while eating it, decides your blood count, the balance between acidity and alkalinity of your digestive machinery, and your entire metabolism. Your Mind is you and your body is the record of your thoughts and actions. Your body is what your Mind electrically extends to it for recording."

Curiously, though, his work has elicited little recognition even from within the nominal macrobiotic movement. This is a significant loss for a community purporting to be ever on the lookout for Western cultural and philosophical roots: for Dr. Walter Russell may well represent the apex of what the West has to offer in original macrobiotic thought.
Two notable exceptions to this record of macrobiotic neglect have been the writings of Jerry Canty and the educational efforts of Dr. Tim Binder. Canty -- a long-time student of the Russells and himself a bit of a maverick even within the world of macrobiotics -- has drawn heavily on the Russells' work in his own books, The Eternal Massage, The Sounding of the Sacred Conch,
and the privately issued Spiral, Lord of Creation. None of them has really entered the "macrobiotic mainstream" (though The Eternal Massage enjoyed a fairly wide readership in the 1970s); they stand today as several of the lesser known but most challenging and adventurous books in the macrobiotic literature.
Binder, a naturopathic doctor whose client list includes John Denver and other well-connected environmental advocates, has studied and championed the Russell teachings along with macrobiotics, the climate crisis/soil mineralization thesis of John Hamaker, and other vital fields of perspective. Where Canty introduced Russell's thinking to a venturesome circle of macrobiotic students a generation ago, Binder is now emerging as
the Russells' leading contemporary standard-bearer.
Recently appointed president of the Russells' University of Science and Philosophy in Swannanoa, Virginia, Binder has undertaken the massive project of reintroducing Russell's revision of science. Next month (June 2-4), Binder and the University host an international symposium at Aspen, Colorado, entitled World Balance, aimed at exposing the core of Russell's
teaching and related perspectives both to the larger scientific community and to the public at large.
While his own interests naturally lean towards matters of human health and diet, Dr. Binder has thrown the University's focus and resources full-force into documenting and publicizing the possible ozone-radiation link. For Binder recognizes the irony of the situation: the imperative of the ozone crisis may provide the opportunity at last for the world to reconsider the
thinking it rejected 60 years ago.

In Pursuit of Evidence
As the centerpiece of this effort, Dr. Binder is coordinating a thorough scientific effort to test, verify and document radioactivity's role in ozone depletion. Combining an exhaustive review of existing literature with new laboratory experimentation, the project owes its impetus in part to Binder's
frustrated efforts to obtain accurate data from past observations.
Last year, to explore mainstream views on the possible radiation-ozone connection, Binder visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, where he spoke with NOAA researcher George Mount. He was told, "Oh, yes, we know that radiation destroys ozone, but we don't consider it significant." Pressing further, Binder learned of an earlier "insignificant" government finding: "during the bomb tests in the 60s [before the ban on atmospheric testing drove the detonations underground] they found a 2 percent reduction in ozone [emphasis ours]." Given the current alarm over a global reduction of 1.7
to 3 percent, 2 percent would certainly seem to us to be "significant."
Binder was told that a review of this data was in process; when he later tried to obtain this information in print, he received reports with figures that contradicted Mount's statements.
[Subsequently, we contacted Sherwood Rowland's office at the University of California; Sherwood himself was out of the country, but we spoke with one of his associates about the possible radiation-ozone connection. Offhand, he didn't see how radiation would be likely to have this effect, though the hypothesis apparently had never been suggested to him before.]
Commenting on his investigations, Binder offered this conclusion: "As the government is now reviewing the old data on the 60s' testing, it sounds like they are reconsidering the nuclear connection to ozone destruction, but don't want to tell [us] about it yet.

Beyond Ozone: The Human Factor
Shortly before her passing in May, 1988, we had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Russell at her mountaintop home in Virginia. The moment we met she looked directly at us and said, "I'm so glad you've come. You know, we really must do something about this ozone hole. The Doctor and I warned about this in 1954; nobody would listen to us then. Now the situation is
absolutely urgent."
Oddly, despite the dire nature of her subject, there was nothing dark or gloomy in her words nor in her demeanor. Her measured statements emerged in a melodious flow that was at once precise and comfortable; they seemed uplifted by a quiet, unshakable faith. We sensed a conviction that all events fall into their natural time and place, with ultimate benefit for the whole.
Later that day, she addressed the assembled group: "There is one central answer to all these terrible environmental problems, and that is a change in the nature of human relationships. It was impossible not to understand what she meant, and agree.
Thoroughly versed in her husband's cosmology and scientific perspective, Lao Russell held that technical solutions alone, no matter how cosmologically conceived, would not bring about the changes so urgently needed. That change, she taught, would come about only through the transformation of human beings, that we might realize our awareness of the infinite Source, the Law of Balance, and the Divine potential in ourselves and in each other.
In a 1986 message to her students she wrote, "Only the power of Love put into practice can put an end to all of the violence. Love will not come into the world until mankind understands Who and What he is. When he does understand, he will know that when he destroys another, he is in truth destroying himself."
The modern bull in the stratospheric china shop, whatever its identity may prove to be, is tearing holes in more than the ozone and its underlying biological fabric. It has already begun to clear away a stagnant web of parochial policies and human priorities. Perhaps it will even have the force to open a gap in our staunchly entrenched view of the world and our role within it.
The cloud over the ozone may yet reveal a silver lining. If it succeeds in prompting a closer look at the heretical macrobiotic science of Walter Russell, it may open a window to a two-way universe -- a universe seen in an altogether different light.

Part2:[Continued from part 1]


An Early Warning
August, 1954. "It will not take many years to utterly destroy the... encircling protective walls which surround this planet and protect the earth from burning up by the sun's hot rays," Walter and Lao Russell, Newsletter of the University of Science and Philosophy.
April 6, 1989. "Scientists reported yesterday that for the first time they have detected an increase in "biologically relevant" levels of ultraviolet radiation reaching the ground as a result of the ozone hole over the Antarctica. This is the first indication that the depletion of ozone... is beginning to cause the potentially harmful effect that has long been predicted."
(Washington Post)

A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma
In a way, the abrupt emergence of Russell's astonishing hypothesis is in keeping with the peculiar tradition of the ozone story, a tale rife with riddles and ironies. "One of the most striking features of the ozone controversy [is] the extent to which 'outsiders' played a crucial role in identifying the threats to the ozone layer." (The Ozone War, page 11.)
It was James Lovelock, now famous as the author of the controversial Gaia Hypothesis, who first found CFCs persisting in the stratosphere. Making the historic measurement required an ultra-sensitive device. Unable to obtain any funding for the research (he was dismissed as a "crank"), Lovelock built the delicate tool himself, using his family's "grocery money." Ironically, Lovelock thought the chemicals might serve as useful "tracers" for atmospheric study, and said they posed "no conceivable hazard." "I bombed," Lovelock frankly admits. "It turned out I was sitting on a time bomb." (The Ozone War, page 9.)
Sherry Rowland, who while on a "fishing trip for new ideas" happened to hear early rumor of Lovelock's measurements at a conference coffee klatch, was no more a part of mainstream ozone research than Lovelock. In fact, he was not an atmospheric scientist at all, but a chemist specializing in, of all things, the chemistry of radio-isotopes. He and Molina, a young research
assistant fresh from receiving his PhD, never imagined that their study would plunge them into the eye of a national cyclone of controversy.
If Russell is right, and manmade nuclear reactions prove to be at the root of stratospheric ills, then Sherry Rowland's involvement provides one further irony: prior to his becoming interested in the fluorocarbon work that led to the ozone finding, he was funded by the Atomic Energy Commission. His area of research? -- the chemistry of atoms produced in nuclear reactions.

Russell the Artist
The story of how Dr. Russell came to sculpt his famous bust of Edison is an example of his legendary versatility. At the age of fifty-six, Russell had been an accomplished painter, but had never handled clay in his life. As President of the Society of Arts and Sciences, he felt compelled to make good on a commission for the bust, which a fellow artist had accepted but was unable
to complete. He promptly got some clay and wired Mrs. Edison that he would go and do it himself -- akin to a great conductor suddenly picking up the violin for an unrehearsed recital.
"It was a very unwise thing to do, perhaps, because with such a great man as Edison as my subject, I might not have survived a failure," he later remarked. "But I never let the thought of failure enter my mind... The inspired belief that I should do this thing as a demonstration of my belief in man's unlimited power made me ignore the difficulties that lay in the way. So I went to Florida with a mass of clay, but on my way down, I spent the entire time absorbed in inspirational meditation with the Universal Source of all inspiration."
The resulting sculpture was to be one of the great mileposts in his career; other commissions followed immediately, producing busts of Franklin Roosevelt, General Douglas MacArthur, Thomas Watson, George Gershwin and Leopold Stokowski, and finally a twenty-eight figure monument to Mark Twain and the famous "Four Freedoms.

Russell the Social Reformer
Founded 20 years earlier as an "ethical and moral movement to bring culture, character and the Brotherhood of Man principle into world human relations," the New York-based Twilight Club brought together a network of such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Walt Whitman, Edwin Markham and Alexis Carrell. (Alexis Carrell wrote Man The Unknown -- a perennial favorite in macrobiotic circles -- during his association with Russell and the Twilight Club.)
Russell's long collaboration with Thomas Watson, another Twilight Club member and the founder of IBM, led to the introduction of moral standards and ethical principles in the world of business. In his first of many meetings and lectures for IBM personnel, Russell said he was "shocked" with the "jungle philosophy of every man for himself" that then permeated the
business world, and he effectively replaced the philosophy of "business is business" with the concept "that equal interchange of goods and services between buyer and seller is the keynote of tomorrow's business world." (The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe, p. 24-25.)
During the Depression years when so many businesses failed, IBM continued to thrive. When asked the secret of their success, Watson replied, "Go talk with Walter Russell."
Abandoned during the WWII years, the Twilight Club was later revived as the University of Science and Philosophy at Swannanoa, Virginia. After Russell's passing in 1963, his work was carried on at Swannanoa by Lao Russell, his co-equal partner in work as in marriage.

A Living and Dying Universe
Walter Russell often asserted that God's universe "is a two-way, not one-way universe." The death force or "winding down" principle is familiar to us as the force of entropy, the famed Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Law of Entropy states that all systems gradually lose energy (that is, energy becomes less organized and therefore unavailable to perform work) through dispersal of heat; hence, the universe is destined to die a "heat
Russell disagreed, and detailed the mechanics of an opposite, balancing force -- the life-organizing force, which he also termed "generoactive." This force is the answer to the riddle of Newton's apple, to which Russell alludes in his 1930s Times letter. (Years later, Buckminster Fuller coined the term "syntropy" to describe entropy's complement.) Russell also likened these twin forces to the charging and discharging of a battery, or the winding and unwinding of a spring.
How rapidly or gradually a system unwinds after reaching maturity depends on a variety of factors, principally its degree of balance within its local environment. Thus the relaxation and dissolution of life may occur as slow fermentation, decay, a burst of flame or an explosion.
"We do not say that a decaying tree, which takes fifty years to go back into the ground, is exploding. If you burn it, however, the flame is a series of quick explosions which will do in two hours what Nature intended should take fifty years." (Atomic Suicide?, page 23.)
Central to Russell's scientific conclusions is this observation: the state of rest, the source from which all life arises and to which it ultimately returns, is the "normal" state (to which Russell often refers as God, Mind or Magnetic zero.)
In other words, it takes increasing effort to "wind up" into greater density (to live), while it takes literally no effort at all, once a system reaches maximum compression, to unwind again -- to die. Most significantly, the force of the unwinding/death phase is proportionate to the total effort expended in winding up to that point.
For example, it may take many years of consuming steak and ice cream, perhaps along with exposure to chemical contaminants, to reach the condition disposing one to bowel cancer. The effort expended by the individual, the food industry, the chemical factories and even the cattle involved, are considerable; at the point of maximum compression (when the body cannot hold itself together any tighter) that mass of effort reverts into a forceful, effortless unwinding. What goes in, must come back out.
To arrest the course of the disease at this point requires a tremendous, renewed exertion of compression and life effort, commonly observed as the "will to live" factor or, in macrobiotic thought, as the capacity to self-reflect and change one's personal habits.
In the case of human illness and dying, such a reversal through renewed compression is often possible, just as it is possible to arrest the burning of a tree with cold water, or to slow fermentation with salt. It is not so easy to halt the unwinding process of gunpowder, an electrical short-circuit -- or the decay of radioactivity.

The Spiral of Elements
As in the life of his contemporary Georges Ohsawa, the modern founder of the macrobiotic movement, Russell was absorbed in his later years with both the cosmic meaning and the immediate dangers of atomic science. Also like his Oriental counterpart, Russell vividly and brilliantly expressed his grasp of universal dynamics in a spiral chart of the elements.
Russell's atomic charts placed all the atoms as points along a continuous spectrum of increasing compression, much like the notes of an ascending musical scale. The musical simile is not casual: Russell's atomic scale is harmonically organized in octaves, with the inert gases (helium, neon, argon etc.) acting as the "keynote" of each octave. (Not surprisingly, Dr. Russell was also an accomplished composer.)
Russell held that the hydrogen octave, far from being the beginning of the atomic scale, was in fact preceded by three "inaudible" atomic octaves, yielding a full spectrum of nine octaves. These first three octaves, involving wavelengths too vast to measure, would be beyond the threshold of physical sensing (that is, beyond detection by normal instruments of science). It was the lack of this knowledge, Russell contended, and the misconception of hydrogen as the first element that forced scientists to view deuterium and tritium (which he had originally called Ethlogen and Bebegen -- now well-known as components of the "heavy water" used in today's nuclear reactions) as isotopes of hydrogen instead of true tonal elements in their own right. ("Isotopes" might be compared to the
"accidentals" -- sharps and flats -- of single musical notes.
On the other hand, he asserted, that many of the higher octave "elements" in fact are but isotopes of higher-octave versions of carbon.
Carbon, lying in the center of the fourth octave, is held to be the balance point of perfect stability and the mature expression of the entire spectrum, and as such serves as the basis for organic life. Russell pointed out that roughly 98 percent of organic life forms are composed of carbon and four
other elements (hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and silicon) which all are grouped together with carbon in the fourth octave (except silicon, a transmutation of carbon in the next octave up, which forms the basis of the Earth's crust and of soil). In a sense, the "purpose" of the entire atomic spectrum is to create carbon life forms.
The further one compresses past carbon, the more readily will the pressure and heat of compression explode into decay. The supercompressed elements of the 7th, 8th and especially 9th octaves (radium, plutonium, etc.) are simmering at the breaking point -- hence the tremendously explosive pressures of the radioactive metals.

Encountering the Russells
On a quiet afternoon in 1979, I sat in a coffee shop preparing my Kushi Institute lecture for that evening. As I sipped my coffee -- I was allowed to, after all, I was a teacher -- I was interrupted by two friends, both "senior" teachers. (This particular coffee shop served as a hangout and meeting place for macrobiotic teachers.) They joined me and began discussing the usual topic of the day: How to get everyone else to eat macrobiotically so as to establish one peaceful world. One of the seniors noticed my recently acquired book, Dr. Walter Russell's The Secret of Light, lying on the table beside me; and they asked me who Dr. Russell was and what the book was about. After the first few sentences of my reply, they both proceeded to criticize both the book and its author for a good half hour.
In the Boston macrobiotic community where I lived at that time, I soon learned, to mention the Russells and their work was like admitting that you did not understand the unique principle of macrobiotics. The philosophical and scientific works of the Russells were (and perhaps still are) considered unclear, confusing and impractical. I, like my fellow students and teachers, certainly did not want confusing or "foreign" philosophical ideas to disrupt our established belief system concerning the nature of macrobiotics. As far as we were concerned, the macrobiotic truth existed here, and only here, in
our little community. The sun flag was raised high, and I was dedicated, loyal, stubborn and very confused. So, I laid the Russells' work aside, along with all else that did not fit into my small world of dogma.
Several years later, being a little older, not necessarily a little wiser, but a whole lot more curious and frustrated with apparent inconsistencies and impracticalities in my own understanding of macrobiotics, I secretly began to explore the works of Dr. and Mrs. Russell. At first I became more confused and found myself resisting, especially when I read such bold
statements as, "Opposites do not attract," or "Like attracts like." Wait a minute, I thought. Maybe my macrobiotic friends were right about Russell -- there do seem to be inconsistencies here. I soon discovered that the inconsistencies I was encountering were not in their works, but in the limitations of my own prior understanding. Gradually a new comprehension began to open up.
Their words penetrated deep into my soul. They were honest words, words of wisdom, of love, and they were steeped in the unifying principle of macrobiotics. Their expression was extremely clear and to the point. The message was practical and not at all confusing. There was nothing there to instill guilt or fear.
They spoke of the difference between knowing and thinking, and how we all know all there is to know, yet do not always admit it to ourselves. Dr. Russell was a perfect example of one who knew. He had very little formal education, and used this to his advantage. Through inspiration he became an accomplished scientist, philosopher, artist, sculptor and musician.
They spoke of how we as human beings can reinspire others, yet can only be inspired by the One. And most of all, for me, they explained the mechanism and process of the logarithmic spiral -- the foundation of macrobiotics. The more I absorbed their understanding, the more it seemed to add to rather than detract from or conflict with my prior macrobiotic learning.
Through the years that followed I began to incorporate their understanding of macrobiotics into my own teaching and counselling, always with the thought that I would meet Mrs. Russell some day. For the past eight years I traveled throughout the United States, teaching and encouraging people to study the Russells' works, and giving out the address of the University of
Science and Philosophy. During this period I had not once contacted the University to introduce myself. Why? I have no idea. In 1987 I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia from New York.
Why? I have no idea, other than it seemed to be the proper move for me. I soon learned that the University of Science and Philosophy was only a twenty minute drive away.
I called the University and introduced myself, and said I would like to meet Mrs. Russell; I was given an appointment.
Days later, I drove out to Swannanoa with John Mann, who had recently relocated Solstice from upstate New York to Charlottesville. [Editor's Note: Why had we abruptly relocated? We had no idea.] Arriving at the requested time, I introduced myself to the staff and they said they would inform Mrs. Russell that I was there. I stood among a group of approximately twenty
other visitors and watched as the most elegant lady I have ever met began to descend the carpeted stairs.
We had never met, yet she recognized me in the crowd immediately, and invited me upstairs. As we sat, she proceeded to tell me my life story in detail, from the beginning to the present. She spoke as if she knew me when I was a child. She did!
And that wasn't all she knew -- for she, too, was a living example of her and her late husband's philosophy.
We spoke for a few hours on many subjects. She told humorous stories about Dr. Russell and herself as if he were still alive.
"He is!" she said, "You can never die!" She spoke with a simple, quiet conviction that was utterly disarming, and I felt as if I were in the presence of honesty incarnate. Meeting Mrs. Russell was an experience I will cherish forever.

-- Steve Gagne Editor's Note: Mrs. Russell was a perceptive person. Early
in our conversation, she looked straight at us again and said,
"This started in 1954." She was referring to the '54 University Newsletter, no doubt; but she spoke so emphatically, Steve and I could not help glancing at each other -- could she have known that we were both born in 1954? She smiled. Later, she abruptly turned to us and nonchalantly commented, "You know, Dr. Russell never smoked cigarettes or drank coffee." Bingo, I thought.

-- Ed.


"Atomic Suicide?" (1957, 304 pp.), discusses the nature of matter and its relation to the world of spirit. It also provides a broad introduction to Russell's general cosmology. One fascinating section is devoted to excerpts from the contemporary popular media about the dangers of nuclear power. A lengthy introduction by Lao Russell includes a biographical essay on Russell's life. (Solstice Library)

"The Secret of Light" (1947, 288 pp.) is a thorough exposition of Russell's cosmology, more completely and systematically presented than in Atomic Suicide? (Solstice Library)

"The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe," by Glenn Clark (1953 edition, 57 pp.), is a short, highly accessible biography. (Solstice Library)

"Home Study Course." Available from the University, this is a thorough, comprehensive course of study of the Russells' work in all its dimensions. (See ad this page for the Home Study Course and other Russell books.)


"Holoscene" (formerly "Spiral, Lord of Creation"), by Jerry Canty; 144 pp. Canty's most thorough explanation of Russell's work to date. Available directly from Canty in photocopy for $25 ppd. Jerome Canty, Box 5256, Chico CA 95927.

"The Atomic Age and The Unique Principle," Georges Ohsawa. Written towards the end of his life, The Atomic Age presents Ohsawa's most incisive perspective on the atomic frontier and the 20th century challenge. (Solstice Library)

"World Crisis Solutions Foundation Newsletter," issues 1-4. Written by Dr. Tim Binder, these four newsletters contain brief overviews of some of Dr. Russell's insights and Dr. Binder's efforts to pursue the radiation/ozone-depletion connection. The Newsletters also contain condensed articles on a variety of other vital health and environmental issues. $20 for set of four. NW 169 Blodgett Camp Road, Hamilton MT 59840 (406) 363-4041.

"The Ozone War," Lydia Dotto and Harold Schiff, Doubleday & Co., 1978. A fascinating account of the discoveries and controversies surrounding Sherwood Rowland's work with the Ozone Hole.

"Protecting the Ozone Layer," Chapter 5 of The State of the World 1989, Worldwatch Institute, NY.


  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Walter Russell
  3. » Article: The Macrobiotic Genius of Walter Russell
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.07 seconds on 03/03/2024 at 12:53:56