Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Survey on Aging

I recently took part in a survey about aging, and I thought I would share both the questions and my answers, in the hope that I might get other people thinking about their own lives.

1.     When is a person old?  And why did you choose your answer? Try not to think about this question too long. Just reply with what comes to mind.

I think a person is old when they spend more time looking back at a life already spent, rather than staying in the present and keeping one eye on the horizon. I believe working toward important dreams keeps the mind young, and hopefully the body will follow.

2.     What has surprised you about growing older?

How much fun it is. I’ve seen so many bitter old people, always complaining about this or that. At age sixty-two, I’m having the time of my life. I’ve stopped worrying about things that don’t matter. I’m doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do, world travel, enjoying friends, writing the stories I really want to write.

My greatest joy is sharing my time with my husband, which brings me to the other surprise. When you have found that special someone to share your life with, love keeps growing deeper and deeper with each new day. Love flowers into a more beautiful thing between older couples. When sex is no longer a driving force, one looks past that wrinkled body and more fully appreciates your partner’s soul.

3.     If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?

I would treat everyone with kindness and respect, never raising my voice in anger, even to those people who were against me, even those who did everything possible to belittle and harm me. I would not spend one second on hard feelings toward anyone.

The other thing I would have done is taken better care of my teeth at a young age.

4.     Do you have a favorite quote or expression about aging?

Wisdom from my 96-yr-old aunt: If you want to be seen – stand up. If you want to be heard – speak up. If you want to be loved – shut up!


There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy. ~ Ralph H. Blum

5.     How do you see the future?

As a Buddhist, I pretty much stay in the present and not look toward the horizon. I don’t know what life will bring, and I’m not sure I care. Whatever comes, I will try to face it with compassion and dignity.

What else would you like to share? Here’s your chance to share your thoughts, experiences, opinions. Vent, expound, explain. Be humorous or serious or be a little of each. Need some ideas? Here are some possibilities.Choose one or more of the suggested topics or talk about your own experiences on any topic related to growing older. If you have a humorous or inspiring story, share that instead. The choice is yours.

I retired from corporate America in 1999 at the age of 45 years old. That was far and above one of the best decisions of my life. At that point, I stopped doing what was necessary to make a living, and I started living.  I embarked on a second career in writing fiction—short stories, novels, screenplays. That has led to a satisfying, creative, wonderful life where I spending my time a slave only to my own creativity. And for my money (or lack of it), that is the only gratifying way of living.

There were times, of course, when I wondered how the bills would get paid, but somehow they always did. There was never a time, however, when I even considered going back to a nine-to-five, working for someone else. Hopefully my luck with hold out and that will never, never, never happen again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A God With Qualities or Without Qualities?

I recently read that a Western theologian once asked Hindu saint, Ramakrishna, to talk about God. Ramakrishna replied, “Do you wish to talk about God with qualities (sa-guna) or without qualities(nir-guna)?”

What makes this question interesting is not so much the answer, but the fact that it was asked as a way of creating a flash of understanding, to bring the theologian to the brink of enlightenment, that abyss that lies beyond all human knowing.

Hindus and Buddhists believe that the moment one begins to talk about God, one plummets into the realm of human concepts and categories—a human knowledge (or in this case, lack of knowledge), not divine. It is only in the wordless absorption ofSamadhi (something similar to a state of Enlightenment) that one unites with the transcendent Source. In other words, God is beyond human understanding, beyond man’s ability to define and comprehend. God can only be experienced by merging with God, through that silent part of the mind that transcends language and human understanding. God can be felt, but not talked about.

Once one achieves this merging with the Source, with God, the experience can never be communicated to others. I’ve had some amount of experience with this, while meditating with monks in Asia. The one thing I can confidently communicate about my experiences is that this Divine Source, this energy, this God, permeates all life, binds everything together, and one can experience it, be one with God.

Please understand, my concept of The Divine Source has nothing whatsoever to do with the God worshiped by Christians, Jew, and Muslims.