Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser
Reviewed by: Joelle Bertolet
The title of the book, Aging as a Spritual Practice intrigued me from the start. I have been a spiritual seeker all of my life, and at this stage of my life, I am well aware that I am aging. Joining these two very personal realities was very attractive.
I found the book to be somewhat superficial, or maybe the better word might be, oversimplified, and elementary. Perhaps his perceived audience is people for whom these are new ideas, and as such, it is fairly well done. It’s a simple how-to-do-it book for approaching aging in a spiritual context. It’s also an excellent review for those of us who have been walking a conscious spiritual path over the years.
My so-called lightning strike occurred when I was merely 21 years old. My mother died at age 53, and I had to face the uncertainty of my own lifespan. Her death was an aberration. Most of my female relatives have gone on to live into their 90s, but of course no single life comes with a longevity guarantee.
I enjoyed reading the book and I did most of the reflections that closed each chapter. I found that it was good to be in touch with my spiritual self in this structured way. I did not do a “day away.” I’ve done these kinds of retreats off and on since I was in my 30s, and at this stage of my life, my happiest days are those I spend in at least partial solitude. It’s part of what to me is the joy of aging.
One of the phrases I bookmarked as a reminder of what I’ve learned myself is one from the introduction. In it he quotes one of his teachers who answered the question: “ Can you say one thing about Buddhism that I can actually understand?” Suzuki responded, “Everything changes.”
4 years ago — Karl HomannJoelle, your review resonates with me. Thank you. I, too, have done "days away" - silent weekend retreats - both as a young man and later in my fifties when I struggled with overcoming my alcohol addiction. And I agree with your assessment that the experiences and solutions presented are rather simplistic.