By John Robinson
For most of our evolution, humans knew aging as painful and progressive decline. Coping with the inevitable scourge of senescence, we were, sometimes at least, treated more respectfully by family, strangers and society (i.e., dismissed as real equals). Eventually, however, all succumbed to the grim and moldering agencies senectitude. But this is a new time and, with the unprecedented longevity and manageable health challenges of the New Aging, our experience is changing. We have begun a new developmental stage in the human life cycle that now offers us amazing new purposes.
Research has long demonstrated that a sense of purpose powerfully maintains health, mood and engagement in life as we age. And with the New Aging’s revolutionary gift of time, we can also experience new and creative expressions of the True Self, generating unexpected life goals and satisfactions. But in addition to all this is the ultimate purpose of aging: our transformation from declining mortals to divine beings in a divine world. What does this mean?
Humans live as False Selves in a False World, that is, as self-fictions of our own creation in the projected landscape of the mind. We tell and retell the story of our personal identity and life history, clinging to its false security, continuity and meaning. We similarly maintain a fictional story of the external world based on scientific constructs, social memes, and personal prejudices. While stories are simply ideas about self and world, we forget this dualism and unconsciously dwell in the mind’s version of reality. But mystics from time immemorial have spoken a deeper truth: we are not who or where we think, and as the mind's perceptual lenses breakdown and fall away in aging, we can discover what Ram Dass calls Soul Land, where the immediate moment is our guru and the world is sacred once again. How does this happen?
We automatically store the world of ideas and beliefs in the left brain. Like a movie projector, the light of consciousness passes through this film of fantasy creating a consensual world of identity, time and story that literally disappears when we examine it directly, intensely, and without thought. Look closely at a pencil, paper clip, or flower, continue staring at it in a consciousness free of thought, and your perception will gradually change. The “thing” will grow ever more beautiful, fascinating, luminous, mysterious, and even holy as you remain in this mystical-perceptual state of awareness. Similarly, look intently at your own reflection in the mirror and watch it grow ever more unreal before your eyes. “Who is this person?” you wonder. We are not who, what or where we think we are! Hidden behind masquerading veneers, each of us is a divine being in a divine world. As Robert Keck proclaimed, “Heaven and earth are one. Human and divine are one. Eternity is available for us right now, right here, spread throughout the earth, inside us, and all around us. We need simply to awaken…to the ever-present heaven, the eternal now.”
When I explore the world in thought-free mystical consciousness, I see beautiful, luminous, joyful souls patiently awaiting their ego’s awakening, but it never happens. Why? Because each of us, fixated on fantasies of False Self and False World, remains hypnotized by our own projections, like a movie theater audience or nighttime dreamer, each tragically continuing on its own imagined journey to nowhere. We live in the heart of Creation and never know our true nature, place or destiny.
This universal mystical realization (extensively documented in Finding Heaven Here and The Divine Human) leads directly to Mystical Activism. Conventional activism, changing parts, costumes, scripts and scenes, can temporarily relieve specific suffering but will not change the endless drama of humanity”s constantly recycling beliefs, conflicts, violence and environmental degradation; rather we need to transcend our total identification with imagined identities and fantasized realities and discover that we and the world are both divine and infinitely precious. This is not crazy nor do we have to give up our left-brain science, technology and democracy to awaken; rather we need only add right-brain mystical consciousness to our left-brain ideas to function with vastly greater intelligence, maturity and love.
The changes healthy elders experience in their mental functions—forgetfulness, word finding problems, loss of ambition, disinterest in what others think—actually represent subtle mystical awakening not decrepitude, and this spontaneous transformation of self and consciousness, literally enlightenment in slow motion, now offers us the ultimate purpose of the New Aging. We can change the world with our consciousness!
Awakening elders pursue this evolutionary activism by understanding its purpose, evoking its mystical perception, and sharing their discoveries with others. Our work is to integrate the left brain’s False Self and False World with the right brain’s Heaven on Earth to live as divine beings in a divine world. If you pay attention, you can make this shift right now. Are you ready?
John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min., is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry (studying with Matthew Fox), an ordained interfaith minister, the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of the New Aging, and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging Conferences across the country. You can learn more about his work at www.johnrobinson.org.