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Ageing as a Spiritual Journey

Metta, may you be well  Spirituality is often mistakenly thought of as  synonymous with religion, we can be spiritual without  being attached to any religion.The AA 12 step  program talks about a higher power which removes  the idea of a necessary supreme being. Having a  sense of something that is greater than the individual  applies to a wide sets of beliefs and experiences.  Occasionally we may, out of the blue, have a fleeting  sense of unity – no separation and no self – with all  and everything – such experiences can come when  we open to them. A prerequisite for such experiences  is that we slow down and make space – something as elders we can have time for.

bare tree at dawn, Dartington Estate A way of approaching the progression of ageing is to see it as a journey towards completion, to wholeness and to self-realization. In all times there have been people who have lived to a great age and who have seen ageing as spiritually important although this has often been seen as time to seek forgiveness of the deity, etc. It is only in the past century, thanks to advances in health, diet, sanitation and education has the opportunities of an extended elderhood been open to so many of us. (In 2018 there were 12 million folk over 65 and 5.4 million over 75 in the UK (ONS 2019).) In essence, ageing can be regarded as a spiritual journey.

bare tree at dawn, Dartington Estate  For many people religion  does provide for their  spiritual needs, for others  being part of nature fulfils  that need and for others it  might be through secular  meditation and the  practice of being present  to each moment. One of  the advantages in living at  this time in western  society is that we are free  to develop our own  spiritual paths rather than  have to blindly follow the  cultural norm without  question. We are free to explore our personal spirituality and to find our spiritual tribe.

Spirituality Resources

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, James Hollis, ISBN 1-592-40207-0, Gotham Books, 2006, esp. Chapter 9

The Spirituality Of Age, Robert L Qeber and Carol Osborn, ISBN 978-1-62055-512-5, Park Street Prees, 2015

From Age-ing to Sage-ing, Zalmon Schacter-Shalomi and Ronald S Miller, ISBN 978-1-4555-3060-1, Grand Central Publishing, this edition 2014

How, Then, Shall We Live?, Wayne Muller, ISBN 0-553-37505-9, Bantam, 1997

Come of Age, Steven Jenkinson, ISBN 978 1 6231 7209 1, North Atlantic Books, 2018

See also the Spirituality section of the Wisdom page

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