Elders are free to talk and enjoy as a
child: sagacity is elder mysticism. For when we age, tho' we may
physically diminish it's the culmination of life, a crown of glory
and a time of heightened mental development.
chapter is for the elders and all the young people who fear aging. Take
joy--there is nothing to fear, only much to look forward to. As the brain
expands in old age the temporal lobe opens up to eternity and ecstatic
witness. End all fears--the future is only fullness with our
culminating perfection at life’s end ( our highest blend).
a sick culture that puts down the older generation through the glorification
of youth. It’s not only unfair, it is false because old age is the
culmination of life, a crown of glory and a time of heightened mental
The temporal lobes burst open to reveal eternity, and thus eternal wisdom can only be gained from the mentorship of the elder. We
should look forward with glee due to the facts you are about to see.
Everything you have been told--every fear-laden myth you have swallowed
whole--is false, for the elder is mentally superior in the sagacious
of life when physical powers wane mark the
beginning of the magnification of mental powers. It is the fact
that we don’t know this while simultaneously allowing a sick culture to tell
us the opposite which creates the degeneration we see all around. An ageist culture is a sick culture.
VISION QUEST INTO ELDERHOOD
Vision Quest is an ancient Shamanic rite of passage in which the seeker
retreats from civilization, goes to a sacred place in nature and cries for a
life vision of purpose. I took this Vision Quest twenty years
ago by leaving society to live in a small desert cabin on 230 acres of
This was the
happiest time of my life, in total solitude and natural beauty. I
loved the seasons, the times of day and sharing this beauty with five dogs
and a cat. I spent these years in solitude, fasting, prayer,
meditation, writing, studying, biking, working in the yard and taking long
walks. I entered an entirely new reality.
was a transition from the old to the new life--an initiation into elderhood,
or becoming a sage. By individuating into completion I was preparing early
for elderhood but by previously clinging to youthful things I was avoiding
completion, the thing I wanted most.
until I saw elder
mysticism—“eldering”--as an inner journey that I understood
human aging as a wonderful culmination which should naturally get better
until the very end.
SICK CULTURES HATE “OLD”
culture shows a deep-seated fear and loathing of old age, which should be
the greatest time of life. Due to the baby boom the elders are the
fastest-growing segment of America with 76 million. The age wave is a
tidal wave, yet it comes at a time when ageism is most intense.
To offset ageism
the boomers had better understand that aging is harvest time, the
culmination of a lifetime of lessons and the true party. They should
see aging as the badge of success it is, a time of unparalleled inner
growth--for only at harvest time do we gain the panoramic vision essential
to lead the tribe. Thus the elder is invaluable to the race, not a
liability to it.
old age with fear and trembling. Feeling betrayed by their bodies and
defeated by life they expect to suffer from reduced enjoyment, vigor and
usefulness. Their plight is made far worse by the trivialization
and minimization by society and family—the signs are all around that they
are obsolete, of no value.
and how false.
The elders are wisdom-keepers for society’s well-being by opening up
magnified intelligence transmitted as legacy. This joy crowns an elder’s
life with worth and nobility. Have you ever noticed their uncanny
psychic powers? They see through walls, they’re our wake-up calls! The
notion of sage or elder should replace all negative images while giving us
all something to look forward to.
“Eldering” will release tremendous vitality and vigor into the peak of our
life. It will be for me, as I see a life of work coming to its
culmination and reward. For the mature, old age is the opposite to
bored—for all through history it was the last phase when the saint’s spirit
Aging is not the problem. The problem
is the cultural images which tragically guide our lives into fear and
panic. If we have models which
are positive, healthy and active we can dramatically expand into a
mysterious adventure as we go forward.
Only this time of pure inner richness grows sages, healers and prophets—it’s the most
important time of life!
LESS MATTER, MORE SPIRIT
is physical decline which awakens this elder consciousness of expanded
powers. It is precisely the loss of one which elicits the other. Let’s
explore this further, for consciously embracing aging early triggers the
process of individuation and completion (eldering) while avoiding the
pitfalls of later becoming “elderly.”
of the youthful
body leads to the breakthrough of the elder’s higher consciousness. And so elderhood
arises in the context of decline: When the psyche issues a call to
engage in life completion, matter lessens to maximize energy and spirit.
matter, more spirit! It’s the icing on the cake, the celebration, the
party after a life of labor, pain and utterly being controlled by other
people. Why? Because less is more!
old age we heal relationships and our pasts, enjoy our achievements and
leave a legacy. The elder can bless all the triumphs and tragedies he came
through and re-frame the dreams, disappointments and betrayals into wisdom. The meaning of the play will now become clear in elderhood, the crowning
NO ROLE MODELS
culture provides no models for aging, so we’re all uncomfortable with it.
In contrast, “elder sagacity” or mysticism—eldering--rediscovers old
age as an achievement to savor and enjoy.
remorse over the
past, the elder recontextualizes his past through panoramic vision, reframing past
mistakes to “mine” them for wisdom. Postmenopausal women who feel
invisible in a youthist culture will suddenly become radiant as they release
The result is a peace, and this is
power. If we avoid distracting (and comparatively boring) worldly
amusements and just contemplate we gain a peaceful goldmine of invention and
wit as ageist stereotypes are replaced by a deja-vu of coming attractions.
We’re all so
starved for models that even knowing an expanding elder infects us with
enthusiasm. It’s like entering the senior year in excited anticipation of
attaining the high values we all crave.
beyond the drive for personal power, a deeper humanity emerges as harvesting
and deep reflection gives us our place in the cosmos.
CLING TO YOUTH OR SELF-COMPLETION?
either fall into depression and decline or strive to compete with youth.
But if we view age as the gold summit, we feel something very special
growing inside and nourish it to harvest the gold.
stay hooked to rushing around and conquering. Women must drop youthful
seduction to attain higher standards: the dignity of elder beauty—thus
reclaiming the right to age without stigma!
When elders identify
with early works or looks they end in conflict. The deep psyche urges
us to harvest our lives, not obsess with the outer world. Staying
stuck makes us prey to sadness, bitterness and defeat.
enjoy this sacred stage: relax, listen to the inner
voice, take naps! All our lives we conformed and catered to the
convenience of other people, not the promptings of the inner life. Society
completely ignores our bio-relationship to nature so grow up--go within.
Living to the
ebb and flow of this strong force is like ocean going through the veins:
this is your own inner nature, so take the reins! First contemplate,
then decide your new agenda for the last and greatest season of life—for the
fine finale may even be flamboyant fame and fortune.
ACHIEVEMENT OK, ENJOYING NO-WAY
culture schools us on achieving, but not enjoying the fruits of our
labor. We were never taught that enjoyment was enough. Instead it’s always
more--more pleasure, travel, possessions or relationships.
the help of mysticism to cultivate calmness and contentment, for this
breaks attachments to the social persona in order to reclaim the True Self
we abandoned to socially adapt.
Aging is really a natural monastery
stripping away these phony roles, attachments and pleasures and what emerges
is a miraculous sense of discovery and new energy transcending “doing” in
favor of “being.”
These are the
gifts of contemplative old age and I for
one aim to enjoy this phase way before it hits. Fearing it is the pits for on this hard-won
pinnacle wisdom sits.
YOUTH: NO TIME TO CONTEMPLATE
young one is just too busy to cultivate this quiet inwardness spawning
mystical experience. To please society youth must put the inner journey on
hold, shirking contact with the sacred to master skills instead.
to the sacred and takes the universe back in. Rid of demanding and
restrictive roles its like loosening a tight-fitting costume and slipping
into cozy pajamas. One should now see naps as the most productive
thing to do, for the higher brain is recharging.
finally become individualized we are entitled to do our own thing without
adapting to anyone else’s standards. What a wonderful period of life:
only the rich can afford this life of leisure when young!
ELDERS MUST SPEAK OUT
elder’s duty is to infuse the public with higher values, like telling
the powers-that-be they should be ashamed behaving like children playing
games of dominance. As world-mother you’ll see extraordinary things as
people bow down showering you with gifts-- that’s how starved they are
for role models.
transcend silly fears you’ll grow to full stature and speak out with greater
authority. At your age you’re sure of your highest identity and
beliefs--so speak publicly. Just hold your head up high and tell the
simple truth, for to cower before youth is simply uncouth.
Become a sage—they’ll line up to your booth.
speak from the
authority of the God-made True Self, something wonderful occurs.
Listeners re-discover inner knowing: that heart knowledge that links them to
nature and the world. As elders speak, armor drops and thus they maintain
the consciousness of the whole tribe.
turns to the elder they are yearning for something more: that vast
unexplored territory residing in a sage who is only now peaking
in old age. When old we can create a destiny from choice, not
ELDERING IS TRUE SUCCESS
Elderhood is a great success. The sage is charged with the evolutionary
task of guiding society: what a joy,
and you deserve it! You must inspire
society to replace it’s shortsighted bottom-line mentality with the
natural: spirit, nature and God. As sage-ing takes root in your heart
you’ll see a glorious future awaiting you, no matter what your age.
when the physical fades that the fire alights from within until in our
eighties we become most passionate, intense, flaming with a wild life beyond
expression--a swelling clarity that expands into lives with passion and
mystery. Our spirits will be questing, not resting. Our consciousness will
grow, not slow. Elderhood is a quantum leap into the second life of
LIFE STARTS AT SIXTY
Sixty plus is
God’s gift to humanity. No need
to compete and be “liked.” Un-caged energy releases
into pure capacities restrained in youth. No time for trivia--we begin to create. Sages
balance the inward ascetic with the outward human by expressing the
True Spirit in the mundane world whose only hope is growing beyond the materialism
which is only misery.
are the culmination of a huge life process. If we unfold we open to
incredibly higher being: the secret, mysterious, unique greatness of the
True Self seeking expression. If in a nurturing environment with just God
or other expanders we will experience a brain spurt linked to spirit.
happens in adolescence but emerging sexuality smothers it: then such a spurt
into higher evolution is mistaken for libido and the spiritual is misplaced
into sexual/social channels. The spiritual quest goes underground until now
MIND SHARPENS AS BODY DECLINES
Old age is a fascinating and exciting time of exploration,
mysterious adventure and spiritual discovery. As the body gets tired
the mind gets sharper. The
challenge is to risk all frames of reference and outer props opening the
mind to higher realms. Lifelong learning is the purpose of our species and
when we stop we defeat the plan.
Learning may peak in our late eighties
when we contact a “giant spring” of skill, giving spectacular
demonstrations, and the new habit of unlimited potential evokes new skills.
With limitless possibilities we are open to constant surprise and
anticipation--because of our age.
OTHER-DIRECTED LIFE WAS
you look back were you not lived by family, friends and fickle
society? Were you not kept by jail-guards
watching your every move? Did
you not curtail your every natural expression, just to adapt? Did you not
truncate parts of self just to fit in? What misery—I remember it well.
we are self-directed flowering spirits in an inner search for God. By our
detachment we promote a direct inner experience of Him and the divine.
Conventional religion fills the need for social belonging but not
necessarily contemplation and harvesting which reduces the ego as it opens
the spirit. How different from the safe and secure social-religious
identity--without access to the real depths, people cling to religious
brand-names, past fames and mind-games.
Through the inner
journey cells are rejuvenated and aging is retarded. If operating as
usual--in superficial, social and secular thinking--we speed up the aging of
cells. But as we move to the silent transcendent, mental activity
stops and cells revive.
I can sure
feel this change when relaxing after a stressful work or social situation.
Solitude in silence brings this instant shift to the revelatory rewards of
the right-brain. From too much “left” the elder must refrain, or
For those dismissed as “old” are actually agents of human evolution, for
throughout history the elder symbolizes the unique flowering of humanity: a
rare once-in-a-time event. In India the sage functions as father confessor
and spiritual guide.
These flowering sages have revelations and peak
experiences we can all have when older: mystical perception, creative
inspiration, scientific discovery, invention and extrasensory perception.
Intuition is nonlinear, bringing together simultaneous fields in knowledge
and perception—leaping way ahead of slow-moving logic by showing the “big
This instantaneous knowing brings the contagion of joy,
whereas everyday logic deadens like lead. Everyday man is concerned with
what someone “said” while the psychic-intuitive sage gives them simple truth
so they’re truly fed.
GREAT ARTISTS BEST AT 80
History shows many elders producing great works of beauty and science in
later years. Frank Lloyd Wright did his greatest work at seventy, Picasso
at 90. Freer air blows in later years--what joy and vitality when free of
society (no more tears). The stakes are less, intimidating jailers are gone
and there are new reserves in courage, wisdom and open fields of
life is far more possible later as intuition
connects us to the natural environment: a much higher life, free of
strife--the power of God’s wife. Yes God will support you with power and
energy—if free of human society—for He knows you are physically weaker while
having His work to do.
More power is infused into a Majority of One
because you’re not with crew. How to get to God’s power: become weak.
Through you just let Him speak, for he always gives energy where needed
ELDER BRAIN EXPANSION
The most primitive brain is the reptilian,
dealing with basic survival--it is territorial and habit-driven. The
next area is the limbic brain which
relates us to the social world--it is rhythmic (hypnotic), ritualized
activity hooking us to the herd.
The third layer is the neocortex of intuition
exploding suddenly into communion with God. It is the social world and habits (we use to distract us from aging)
that prevents the opening of this marvelous goldmine.
frontal lobes of the neocortex have highest intuition, creativity and a
cornucopia of magnified perceptions awaiting the elder who opens to it. This interior universe is vast and infinite.
Moreover, the temporal lobes
of the neocortex are associated with paranormal and psychic experiences. But if you drag the past into the present you’ll be impervious to the
fulfillment, vitality and pure delight of your increasing unfoldment.
No matter what age the expanding elder faces the future optimistically.
But if at eighty
his consciousness is stuck at 40 he’ll stagnate and suffer a haunting
despair. Be advised, for you see it all around: from their hearts and
minds no sound, like their only hope is beneath the ground!
There is no wisdom here, only confound. Their only thoughts are
of the past when big in town.
BOOMERS FIXATED BY YOUTH
Heal, by giving up
youth appeal. Although baby boomers have grown through meditation, when it comes to aging they’re still fixated by youth culture. It’s to these peers that I speak: It’s so dangerous clinging to youthful things:--it prevents the sagacity to
lead the tribe and individuate, the
whole meaning of eldering.
Thanks to natural
diet and exercise, boomers are the fastest-growing elder group in
America and the over-sixties are growing twice as fast as the rest of the
population. So become an enlightened sage when older, the esteemed
member of your growing tribe:
to youth, but especially to peers—make them seers, banishing fears, drying
their tears. Tell them: “Evolutionary aging balances physical
decline with mental flowering and skills--as one recedes the other blossoms”
and watch their reaction (awesome).
ELDERS ACROSS TIME AND SPACE
In America “old”
is like being a leper. But in India “old” is an achievement of respect and
recognition, as people cherish wrinkles and look forward to gray hair.
Some exaggerate their age to gain greater respect, seeing old age as a time
to detach from obligations and just ponder and enjoy.
Japanese see old age as a source of prestige with a national holiday called
“honor the aged day.” Native Americans see elders as wisdom-keepers
safeguarding tribal survival.
is lavish in praise of elders as gray hair is a crown of glory and
wrinkles a mark of distinction. “Thou shall rise up and honor the face of
the old man.”
But the Greek world showed the gerontophobia
(fear of age) from negative stereotypes that we see today. They valued
youthful heroism, physical perfection and beauty--and aging was seen as a
catastrophe and divine punishment. Just like us: how myopic and
in ancient Rome where their wise counsel carried great legal authority in
the senate: “young men for action, old men for counsel.” Cicero
wrote “old age is respectable when it asserts itself and is not enslaved to
any one. I admire a young man with an old man in him, and an old one
with a young man in him--the man old in body but never in mind.”
this state he must have “sound nutrition, exercise, sexual moderation and an
active mental life of reflection.”
Puritans saw old age as a sign of God’s pleasure, divine election and a
badge of supernatural sanctity. At New England town meetings it was
not the rich but the elders who were given places of honor as repositories
of knowledge and traditional values.
ELDERS ARE PATHFINDERS
Throughout history elders were the beloved pathfinders, luring us to old age in anticipation of
powerful usefulness. Tribal elders made their imprint all through the Near
East and Mediterranean cultures.
To be called
man” in ancient Israel was honored and wielded enormous religious and
judicial power. To the ancients, old men were natural leaders using
wisdom for problem-solving from the deep unconscious. The elders
reveal our potentials—what can possibly be more important than that?
models triggering these archetypal depths we are now lost in this world.
Is it any wonder the degradation of morals, literacy and families—the utter
hopelessness, drug addiction, divorces, fatherless homes? Society
needs the elders to sustain it at its highest peak—the elders are the only
check on certain degeneration.
TRADITIONAL AGING IS TRANSMITTING CULTURE
societies elders withdrew from everyday life to just think and
transmit highest culture. But now, sadly, this social identity is stripped
away and lost through “retirement”.
In literature we see the archetypal
elder King Lear divested of power, living a wretched old age and descending
into madness. Spiritual eldering provides the solution: an otherworldly
celebrational spirituality, healing the split between spirit and matter and
affirming sacred life—not the mundane, superficial, carnal materialism we
It’s the difference between a boldly flamboyant array and the
horror of old folk’s homes (thinking that’s “ok”). It’s the difference
between exciting life and optimistic anticipation of increasing unfoldment
to the very end, and the terror of turning thirty—the current trend.
Baby-boomers, unite! We are the majority so start the eldering revolution
now—won’t you, my friends?
TRADITIONAL CULTURES LOVE THE OLD
the world’s spiritual traditions have models of realized elders. The
roshi in Zen, in Buddhism the lama, in Tibetan Buddhism the
sheikh, in Islam the rebbe--all see aging as the phase of
For the Hindus, four ashramas map the changing
spiritual needs of the human life cycle, culminating in the True Self and
service to society. So the Indians think of life as a four-stage spiritual
Brahmacharya: gaining the intellectual and moral tools
for adult life. Grihasta: marrying, having children, being social
and working for wealth. Vanaprastha: detaching from family and
social identity to pursue the spiritual. And in the final stage sannyasa
one transcends all limited identification with family, religion, race and
As wondering single renunciates they become citizens of the world devoted to
self-realization, spiritual teaching and selfless service to society. We can remain in family and community
and still detach from social roles and deepen the contact with God.
Do it and receive love from a nation famished for elder models!
THE INNER JOURNEY OF ELDERING
Today we see the ageism of ancient Greece, every bit as offensive and
dangerous as racism and sexism. It discourages the elder influence, so
like any downtrodden group they sequester into retirement communities
to commiserate together and strengthen their shoddy identity.
movement called “successful aging” sees the solution in physical health but
leaves out the spiritual altogether: In a one-sided drive to alter,
reverse or control the aging process it just impoverishes it more by trying to
“restore youth” rather than appreciating aging as a wonderfully superior stage of the human
experience. The only solution is the inner journey! Go inside,
ride the tide and become cosmic, bonafide.
IT SHOULD BE EASY
Not Make Us
are not contemplative in our productive years, many face a painful abyss in
unstructured retirement. Let’s see retirement as the Indians do: a
spiritual vocation while being on vacation--something prepared for in middle
age by becoming contemplative, artistic, studious, sensitive and gentle.
Seek this and you’ll be
supported from both our own depths and on high. As we
detach from social and professional identities the whole universe
rushes in to support our “No” answers while “Yes” brings relapse into old
By doing inner
work when young we won’t disorient or panic when outer props go later, and
thank God they do! For we’re brand new: past props can’t enter the
stew. This wonderful apex must remain true, fearlessly and powerfully with
God through-and-through. Does this not thrill you too?
HARVESTING IS WONDERFUL
traditional cultures harvesting a life in old age is easy, but in ours it
is painfully difficult. Harvesting means: gathering the fruits of a life
and enjoying them. It can be from within as quiet self-appreciation or
without through honor, respect and recognition.
But without eldering
consciousness our own gerontophobia destroys the harvest. The cure-all
is to exchange secular for sacred power—making us shamans, healers and
In the new
aging, elders have a wild almost prankster-like quality which sees the humor
in all situations. Like Buddha they laugh at everything they see or
think! This new reality is like going from shabby cotton
to mink, but only if elders are respected (not rejected) do they stay in the
Jung developed elder psychology in terms of individuation, the
process of becoming the complete human being of our destiny. In the
afternoon we can’t live by morning’s program but rather turn inward to
reconnect with the self which was silenced by our social slots or slovenly
cosmic being is our personal center speaking
through dreams, visions and images. A human being would not grow to 70 or
eighty if longevity had no meaning for the species--later life has great
significance of its own, not merely a pitiful appendage. Whoever carries
youth into old age pays through soul-damage, for spirituality must take
precedence when energy wanes and friends and family are lost.
spiritual outlook cure—so make the grandkids call you ma’m and sir! And
never envy youth (the false lure) for despite the glorified image there is
much trouble there (in this evil age it’s often impure). You are much
better off here, in the radiant cosmic elder tour.
LIFE IS EIGHT TURNING POINTS
Erikson saw life
as a sequence of eight turning points which can turn to good or bad results.
Resolving each step leads to new growth and maturity while failure at any
point ends in neurosis and stunted growth at that level.
In the final
stage of ego integrity vs. despair, completion and self-acceptance is
achieved—and it is this which offsets the physical decline. Wisdom is
the acceptance of our one and only life as something which had to be by
necessity and permitted no substitutions.
And to think we
spent our lives
in shame and self-doubt for the very destiny that had to be!
Acceptance without shame makes us handsome, ageless blueprints made by God,
while shame and guilt makes us aging deformities—a clod.
FAIRY TALES AND ARCHETYPES
Fairy tales give insights into youth and elder psychology, reflecting the
different concerns of the emerging growing personality: separating from
parents, struggling for world placement, making commitments to spouse and
The elder tales symbolize the tasks of the second half of life:
not growing old but of growing through transcendence and knowledge
of self and God. Elder tales begin with the old man in isolation and
barrenness. Then by miracle he rediscovers the magic: by accepting his
losses of family, friends, fickle society and it’s “fun” he is transformed
as he confronts issues repressed since youth--the dark unknown side called
breaks free of society and faces this shadow he gains “emancipated
innocence.” He comes together whole an ageless child--by having faced
what he had always denied and by detaching from the chaos of the social
world. As the age wave continues we elders must put the spiritual central
to our lives.
To not do
so is like
being cut with knives for the messages are everywhere that we are obsolete,
of no value—a fiction, a pack of lies! But spiritually we are
the highest achievement, essential, transcendent—as high as the skies.
The cosmic elder is way beyond cries, since he know his source--it’s
eternity and heaven he sees with his eyes.
THANATOS: FACING DEATH BRINGS LIFE
It is the
presence of death which deepens our appreciation of life and prepares us for
harvesting. The more we embrace mortality as a call to life
completion the more anxiety turns to awe, thanksgiving and appreciation.
death end their days in zest and joy. All through life they spent
energy avoiding reminders of mortality, but this very avoidance saps
vitality and hope. All experience of life loses clarity and depth in
this denial, which hurts: There’s always a free-floating anxiety
unsuccessfully drowned out through frenetic activity, entertainment,
conquests or obsession with youth.
de-repressed the fear of death that energy is now released and reclaimed.
Wow! Now we feel buoyed up as streams of creative energy courses
through the body, mind and nervous system. By facing what usually
depressed and terrified we feel lighter, freer and more alive as a shift in
attention makes us aware of how precious life is.
Then we can
accept ourselves, love and lose the anxiety making us grasp at power, wealth
and fame to feel confirmed. Then we can truly see the immaturity of
youth (often so uncouth). And to think we wanted to be like them or
that we actually tried to get their approval!
face death even a wonderful humor emerges. What a relief transcending
the boring, mundane, material world of flesh and games and overnight
gained-and-lost fames and flames! We come in and go out alone and
everyone else is now irrelevant.
FREUD: SEX (STRIVING/LIBIDO)
Freud saw two forces driving the human experience: libido the life
instinct and thanatos the death instinct. Life is a ceaseless
struggle between these two forces. Libido surges with vitality, seeking
pleasure and experience while thanatos longs for silence devoid of all
striving and conflict.
Libido yearns for sex and creative activity while thanatos drives for death and the cessation of all activity. Freud’s view
ignores the spiritual for his thanatos is seen as the psyche’s bleakest
force especially since our culture denies death.
It’s a serious
since our bodies know about dying and at one point are totally committed to
it and yet the culture abhors and avoids it. It deals comfortably with
libido expansion and achievement yet panics at contraction, silence and
inwardness--the domain of thanatos.
Eldering work--the inner
journey--embraces and ennobles the death instinct removing its mask and
welcoming it’s guidance to a much larger life—the comfortable happy
existence of mere contemplation and relaxation.
Thanatos is the messenger
of transcendent love and wisdom—this is God. But how could a culture hating
death and aging ever accept the inward life of the saint and mystic? It
cannot—it makes it impossible.
DEATH IS THE MYSTIC
Thanatos is synonymous with the ego transcendence and enlightenment
portrayed by Hindus. Yogis break attachment with desire to attain samahi--a
totally suspended transcendent state of thanatos. Sufis practice fana,
a blissful state of non-self. Buddhists enter nirvana, a desireless state
They all teach there is a natural inborn reflex to seek
quiescence as a balance to outgoing energy. Centrifugal complements the
centripetal energies. Thanato’s inward force brings self-actualization and
We are detached from the more indiscriminate social world to
extreme selection in relationships and projects attuned to this emerging
self: a time to rest and reflect, a time to act and decide, a time to
become inspired, a time for creative action and (most importantly)--a time
to be very careful in choosing associates (not less careful because you’re
Libido and thanatos
are bipolar electrical forces with two
settings: on/off, life/death, activity/rest. When we are young we make a
mark on the world. When we grow old we gradually experience less energy and
The “off” switch is exactly what brings the completion,
contemplation and carefully selected actions and friends--all stamped with
the seal of growing uniqueness. The OFF is what makes us energetic,
attractive, glowing cheekbone-carved older specimens that the younger
generation is so grateful for, looks up to and tries to emulate.
The ON is
what makes us embarrassing caricatures—baby Janes bringing ridicule and
rejection—plastic surgery’s election, a lost affection, a useless dusty
THANATOS IS INDIVIDUATION
Thanatos is the urge to individuate: cutting loose everything in the second
half of life. Aging people should know they are no longer
conquering and expanding but inexorably contracting. For youth, self-preoccupation
is a dangerous sin but for an elder it is a necessary duty!
contemplation by limiting libidinal activity. It replaces quantity for
quality of experience by insisting we deepen our awareness when we can’t
expand or conquer any more.
But modern drugs like Viagra prevents this
natural joyful inwardness--with age libido should shift from sex to
mentoring and harvesting and other ways to generate like preserving a legacy
through writing and teaching. We are now passing on wisdom, not propagating
THANATOS MEANS COMPLETION, NOT DEATH
Libido is the instinct to begin, while ignoring meaning and wisdom. It’s
only interested in self’s experience--exerting and establishing self in the
world. As libido sows seeds, thanatos collects them and brings them as
fruits to the harvest.
As it’s more interested in closure and meaning thanatos is the completing instinct. Only by facing my death could my books
come out for thanatos does not always seek physical death but acts
as a magnet drawing together and arranging patterns of meaning from our
lives. This may mean death or completion of a life’s work with
decades left to enjoy the bounty coming from it.
celebrate it. But when
thanatos first appears we panic---exercise madly to compete with youth,
redouble our work to prove our worth or have cosmetic surgery--anything but
come to terms with thanatos which destroys youth’s idols.
dissatisfaction appears this is thanatos. Having no training for it we
mistake the cue-to-completion as a call to death. Not so—the opposite is
true: Thanatos marks the appearance of the enlightened self behind the
Kellock Ph.D.: If we accept
our aging we simply start spending more good time
with loved ones, take long walks in nature, play good music and just ponder
while looking out the window to the mountain vistas and starlit skies at
night. As for me I’m looking forward to old age—it ends the fight, solves
the blight, means I’m finally right and higher than a kite. Baby-boomers