August 13, 2012

The Genius of Second Maturity.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

Written by Jean Houston.

For many of us, our years are being extended as our options and opportunities are being increased. We now have the time to become who we are; no longer men and women working a few short years in search of subsistence, we now are gaining a life span that allows us to become sages, richly actualized human beings able to transcend the particularities of our local selves, able to deal wisely and creatively with the enormous personal and planetary complexities of our time.

In terms of popular perception however, most of us are going to spend the longest part of our life being what used to be called old. And yet something very mysterious is happening. As lifetimes have grown longer, the process of physical aging has gradually and rather mysteriously slowed down. We are not only living longer, we are entering physiological old age much later in life. In effect, there has been a postponement of the physical aging process, most of us feeling its effects one way of another. Middle age has now been extended to some years beyond 75 and lengthening with every decade. This is resulting in a transformation of the whole life course, a whole system transition of life's stages as it were. Whereas before the aging phenomenon was largely associated with gradual debilitation, illness, frailty and nursing homes, now we have to rethink the entire phenomenon as one with extraordinary opportunities, and many positive shifts. Many recent studies show no difference in intellectual abilities between older people and young adults proving, among other things, that our functional abilities are maintained to higher degrees and later in life than we previously thought.
Projecting from this, life expectancy might well reach the biologically natural life span of one hundred and twenty. I say "biologically natural" because the human being is one of the few members of the animal kingdom that does not live ten to twelve times the age of puberty. Further, recent mitotic and cellular studies of human tissue have been taken by some gerontologists to indicate that we could have one hundred to even 150 good years—which we certainly do need in order to deal with the growing complexity of life and the necessity for both long-term and constantly renewed education and deepening. What does that do to society's expectations? There would have to be many more careers in one lifetime, one study suggests an average of 8 to 13. Education would have to be periodically renewed every 20 years, or, never really stopped. All technical institutions would have to have ongoing training branches, where its employees would be required to regularly attend course work. We would swiftly become a learning society and teachers would be at a premium. A much broader background of general knowledge would be required of all in order to deal with the changing realities and careers. 

 We are gradually coming to see that the years beyond sixty five or seventy, the years of our second maturity, may be evolution's greatest gift to humanity. Relieved of the armoring of authority of one's first maturity, as well as its accompanying narrowing of vision, one gains in these years the liberty to inquire rather than order, to question rather than reply. No longer encapsulated by ends and goals, delivered from specialized commitments, the old are free to explore the fullness of their psychophysical powers, the latencies of their human potentials. New ways are emerging in which we can reset the cellular aging clock and thus send senescence on its way to obsolescence.

One of the greatest capacities of second maturity is the capacity for spiritual development. Having known the breadth of existence, we now have the capacity for knowing the subtleties of the depths as well in ways that few could have known them before. No longer needing to compete, to be acceptable, likeable, and all those other things considered respectable in society, people are finally being uncaged in their elder years, free to release energies and capacities that the culture restrained in them when they were younger. With this new freedom they gain also both the time and the abilities to join the ecology of their external existential existence to that of their internal essential existence. Thus can we become in later years living exemplars of the fact that Reality is a continuum in which subjective experience is as real and important as objective experience, and that our depths open up to a larger universe and a richer knowing, one in which a more complete "use-full-ness" is to be attained. The spiritual growth that follows is therefore grounded in one's biological and everyday existence. For the elder, daily life can become a spiritual exercise, whereas for the younger, too often the pursuit of spiritual realities is divorced from common experience.

 Without the same needs for personalized ego satisfaction that they had when they were younger, elder persons are capable of expressions of unconditional love, perhaps the most healing and empowering force in the world today. The expression of this love among elders is rooted in some sense in the return on a deeper level to the generalized awareness that we had known as children. As elder, one no longer has the specialized commitments that dictate so many of the concerns and obligations of one's first maturity. Now one is free to express a generalized affection and good will, to explore many more choices and options, and, in one's relationships with others, to express an anxiety-free concern and a dispassionate approbation. With so broad a view and so expansive a feeling, it is no wonder that the elderly become seers and visionaries, detecting the deeper levels of events and the wider fields of life.


Write Your Comment

  1. Nessaco12

    As a young woman in her early twenties, I expected the usual sensation of awe and wonder that I receive from a 2nd age perspective. But with this beautiful commentary I felt more than that. I couldnt help but think of my mother, who has seemed to blossom into an angel of wisdom in her latter years... After accepting she finally reached those years that is. I hope others find themselves adapting to this transition with grace as I hope to do one day. And remember, your children are as excited as you are to see whats next.

  2. Tee Garcia

    Several years back, you Dr. Chopra turned me on to " A Mythic life" written by Jean Houston, I read the entire book in two sittings. I was fascinated, enthralled, I don`t know what happened but that particular book touched me spiritually. I returned it to the library and I could not find the book for a long time. 10 years later I ordered the book and now for the second reading. Jean Houston has a special gift of communicating the spiritual just like you do Dr. Chopra, you have that gift. I have not read this latest book, but I understand what its communicating to us older life has been deeply enriched and touched by you and Miss Houston. Thank you for educating the spiritual deficient masses. we"ll get there.

  3. Hoakan

    why wait for an old age to enjoy your life? I dismissed all the imposed dogmas long time ago... so to say left them for those who are interested - he he he he he

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