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A New Vision of Conscious Aging

7 April 2017

United States

A New Vision of Conscious Aging

Recently I came across a wonderful article on aging that identified for me the three stages of aging and I would like to share the highlights of it with you.  It was written by John Robinson in his article entitled, “The Three Stages of Aging—a New Vision of Conscious Aging.”             

Aging as Initiation

Aging is an initiation into a new stage of life. The events and process of aging----change in body, fading identities, losses of all shapes and sizes----represent an initiation into an entirely new dimension of life, a time of personal growth. While aging may represent the end of our life, it is also the beginning of a new one.

“The second half of life is the ultimate initiation. In it we encounter those new, unexpected, unfamiliar, and unknowable moments that remind us that we are a sacred mystery made manifest. If we truly understand what is required of us at this stage, we are blessed with an enormous opportunity to develop and embody wisdom and character."  Angeles Arrien

Initiation means being moved from one stage of life to another. The idea of initiation is important because we need to recognize that we are entering a new time of life.  Initiations are not always positive or happy, like a retirement party.

Painful things initiate us too, like the ending of work life, the death of a family member, or close friend, or a diagnosis of cancer. But whatever ends your old life and pushes you into a new one is an initiation. You know without a doubt that your life has been forever changed.


Aging as Transformation

Aging is a transformation of self and consciousness. Aging is enlightenment in slow motion. It begins spontaneously, naturally and subtly. As we age much of our identity begins to disappear. Our bodies weaken, our appearances change, our social roles are no longer what they were. We look in the mirror and see almost nothing left of our younger selves. As we age, we experience the emergence of the true self---who we are inside. New interests, evolving talent, creative self- expression, and social activism---all sorts of things can happen.

But there is a second path that takes us into the spiritual-mystical dimension of this transformation. Most of what we used to be is now just thought and memory. What remains when the memory of our previous self fades is consciousness. If we focus increasingly on consciousness, something shifts. We no longer identify with thoughts of the past.  We are not what we think. No, we are the consciousness in which thought arises.

Where does this consciousness come from?  Mystics tell us that consciousness is not just in us; we are in it and it is the consciousness of divinity.  Ageless, timeless, eternal, pure, and transformative---these all describe consciousness. And this consciousness is God. To be conscious of consciousness itself is to experience God directly.


                                          Aging as Revelation

Aging is a revelation of heaven on Earth. As the veil of thought dissolves in conscious aging, heaven begins to shine everywhere and the world is sacred once again. We have come home from our long journey through the world of thought and invite others to join us in a new conscious of creation. You can view this idea from psychological, spiritual, or mystical perspectives. The psychological portion reflects the growth of a bright new life following the rebirth of your true self:  new interests, friends, and creative expression---a psychological heaven on Earth.

The spiritual dimension invites our personal questions and the understanding of the sacredness of life and the world. But this secret can also involve a mystical shift----a new state of consciousness. The practice of Centering Prayer or Mindfulness recommended by Thomas Keating helps to foster this new state of consciousness.

Adapted from the article:

The Three Stages of Aging:  A new Vision of Conscious Aging--John Robinson printed in PRESENCE vol.23,No.1 March 2017

Eileen Rafferty
US Province   


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