The Opportunity Aging Offers

Awakin Feature

One of the best parts of aging is entering the "don't know," learning to be someone who can rest comfortably in uncertainty. There are as many ways of embodying wisdom as there are people on this earth. Each of us brings his or her own particular temperament to the project of his or her own conscious aging. Just as there is no right or wrong way of doing this, there is no optimal picture of how you will look, live, or love, as you wake up in this new phase of being. You will simply be more of who you've always been. [...]

One of the reasons that old age is so disconcerting to many people is that they feel as if they're stripped of their roles. As we enter old age and face physical frailty, the departure of children, retirement, and the deaths of loved ones, we see the lights fading, the audience dwindles, and we are overwhelmed by a loss of purpose, and by the fear of not knowing how to behave or where we now fit in this play. The Ego, whose very sustenance has been the roles it played in the public eye, becomes irate, despairing, or numb, in the face of its obsolescence. It may harken back to roles in its past to assert itself, but these strategies bring only more suffering as the Ego fights a losing battle.

As we learn to distinguish between our Egos -- marked by our mind and thoughts -- and the witness Soul -- who's not subject to them -- we begin to see the opportunity that aging offers. We begin to separate who we are from the roles that we play and to recognize *why* the Ego clings as it does to behaviors and images that no longer suit us. Stripped of its roles, the Ego is revealed as fiction. But for the person without a spiritual context, this is pure tragedy, for seekers of truth who are aware of the soul, it is only the beginning.

Rather than wonder what new 'role' we can invent for ourselves in the world then, the question that concerns us might be better put this way: How can we, as aging people, make our wisdom felt in the world? By embodying wisdom.

--Ram Dass

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8 Previous Reflections:

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    On Oct 9, 2007 Gautam Chaudhury wrote:
    Dear sir,
    I am a Rotary foundation alumni & seriously interested to set up a similar organisation promoting The Opportunity Aging Offers in Orissa, reply,

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    On Oct 9, 2007 Krishan Lal Chhabra wrote:
    What Ram says is very apt.I am 61; i retired as chief engineer from Indian Railways and did have ego because of the authority during 35+ years. But for the spiritual talks i attended from time to time and the gains of sudershan kriya (learnt in the Art of Living Ashram, Bangalore) i might have felt miserable after my retirement. With God' grace now I am busy in teaching the under privileged children. this gives me immense happyness and i have no problem of spending the day gainfully.
    I wish all the best to the senior citzens througout the world and would request them to keep sharing their experience that might help the society.

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    On Oct 9, 2007 Dr.Eddie wrote:
    as we age we learn how to go into present time consciousness to control life's stressors.
    Exercises such as deep breathing ,wejght lifting ,resistance bands.
    Others can help go into present by organizing or nerve system with spinal adjustments and pressure point treatments.

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    On Sep 22, 2007 Whoami wrote:
    There are so many things and wonderful nothings to do in life that I don't find time to think about aging. Let nature continue it's work on aging while I enjoy doing and observing what I want and is happening. I am just micron of a of dust, a tiny spark or a minutest part of eternal time in this unending universe. Just being in the moment takes away any sense of aging despite spects, hearing-aid, dentures, walking stick or even oxygen mask. = Whoami

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    On Aug 31, 2007 Wendy wrote:
    "One of the best parts of aging is entering the "don't know," learning to be someone who can rest comfortably in uncertainty."
    Yes, yes and yes! I don't feel old either, at 72 - I used to think that was pretty old. And I'm certainly not frail, though bits of me don't function as well as they might. I smiled hugely when I read this from Ram Dass; he expresses just what it is that so delights me, sometimes, about aging. In my gloomy moments I think it is just because every day gets me closer to not being here at all. But really I think it's because so many things simply don't matter. Love matters, and I have had, and still have, that in plenty

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    On Aug 28, 2007 Xiaoshan wrote:
    We are certainly not the social roles that we play. It is not too late to realize this in old age; but it is much better to realize it when we are still young.

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    On Aug 28, 2007 sue wrote:
    Good on you 55 I don't either!
    Many people do feel despairing and that their 'audience' has dwindled and they become bitter and hateful. I feel sorry for them. It should be a time of freedom and not worrying about how things seem or were. But many see the 'audience' just become more selected as friends and acquaintances are always being nurtured. As I get older I do not want to spend my time with people who do not reciprocate, and that can include family! So good friends are very important. Some people do not stop growing on their journey...but some do just waste their final decades.

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    On Aug 27, 2007 maryann moon wrote:
    I appreciate what Ram Dass says here, yet
    at 68, I don't at all feel frail or despairing.
    These are extraordinary times, and are as
    refreshng and filled with wonder as any other
    time I've ever lived. I will join him in the
    idea that I will embody wisdom. There are
    so many wondrous beings now who are
    urging us on, to stay the course, remember
    who we are, and they bring us a sense of
    being loved as in no other time in history in the history of mankind!

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