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A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser

by Lewis Richmond

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-592-40690-6
Publisher: Gotham Books

A Zen Buddhist priest and meditation teacher offers “a user's guide to aging well” by celebrating “the joys and rewards of aging” while accepting the inevitable losses that accompany it.

Richmond (A Whole Life's Work: Living Passionately, Growing Spiritually, 2005, etc.) believes that diet and exercise are only part of the story. He provides a refreshing road map for facing old age optimistically but without the illusion of a fountain of youth. In his mid-60s and having suffered two life-threatening illnesses, Richmond draws on a depth of personal experience about the reality of overcoming fear while recognizing that certain changes are irreversible and certain options are closed to us as we age, even if we are not ill or infirm. The author describes four stages in the “journey of aging,” and he emphasizes that true contentment comes from looking inward. “The spiritual life is all about connection…to oneself as well as others,” and spending time with “your closest and dearest friend—yourself.” While Richmond applies traditional Zen techniques, he does so from an ecumenical standpoint. Each chapter is filled with anecdotes from contemporary life about how people he knew have dealt with the challenges of getting older. Referring to Erik Erikson's “groundbreaking 1950s book Childhood and Society,” Richmond suggests that we often fail to appreciate the wisdom that comes with age and what the elderly have to contribute as mentors.

A spiritual affirmation that provides a welcome alternative to the prevailing belief that maintaining the appearance of youth as long as possible is an antidote to aging.