Category Archives: longevity

What Do YOU Think?

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I have an important question for you. Your thoughtful answer(s) are greatly appreciated!

Here’s the problem, wonderfully put in The Art of Growing Old – Aging with Grace by Marie De Hennezel:

. . . the worst is not inevitable. The keys to a fulfilling old age do exist, and it’s up to our generation to discover them and pass them on. It’s up to us, the baby boomers, to invent a new art of growing old – which is a paradox, as it means accepting the inevitablity of aging without becoming “old.”

She continues:

. . . we can grow old intelligently; we can accept what we cannot change, and look toward all that has yet to be discovered.

I totally agree. But there are issues. First, although she states the challenge (opportunity!) wonderfully and touches on important responses, she doesn’t really have The KEY.

Second, I do. It’s what The Phoenix Response is about.

Why is that an issue? That’s where YOU come in.

In 2014, I wrote about “The Key to Everything” in Rethinking Survival – from my point of view. For me, it explains “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth.” Looking back, I was clarifying my thoughts for me.

Now the burning question remains, How do I bridge the gap between where I stood then and where you are NOW? For me, The Key and it’s implications for ultimate survival are breath-taking. How could I present them better, in a way YOU can usefully relate to and enjoy?

Or is all this something you’d rather not think about? If so, Why not?

Please tell me. And while you’re at it, it would help to know your (relative) age, gender, and location along with any comments on what shapes your current needs.

So, what do YOU think about “The Key to Everything” and “The Mystery of Death and Rebirth?”

The KEY

The Key to Everything

My “take away” from yoga years was the parable of a young boy who asked his teacher, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known.” The implication to this question, put forth in the ancient Sanskrit Mandukya Upanishad,41 is that, with the right key, everything can be known.

It reminded me of the medieval masterpiece in the Prado Museum that grabbed my mind earlier, the one which showed me that it’s possible to see with a larger point of view, beyond time, where all history is like a static painting and everything is actually going on at the same time.

I ardently wanted that key to life and the universe. I asked myself this question over and over and compared everything I read to this standard.

Years ago, I put the question to a wise friend, “What is that, knowing which, all else is known?” His cryptic reply: “Look it up in the encyclopedia.”

“Huh?”

I parsed this one-liner for every hint and clue. What does this riddle in answer to a riddle mean? “Look upwards?” And “en-cyclo-pedia?” That which encircles (cyclo, cycles). Pedia meaning feet. The foundation? The fundamental base which supports the whole body. Perhaps the functional impetus of movement and action.

According to Webster’s dictionary, “encyclopedic” means “comprehensive in scope.” All-encompassing view. Aha! I got it!The Positive Paradigm is the answer to the riddle. Look there.

I’m now convinced that the Positive Paradigm of Change is the ultimate answer to the ancient ultimate question. It’s the literal proof that humans are made in the image of the Creator — the microcosm resonates with the macro. I AM that I AM.

Put another way, “God don’t make no junk.” In this context, the exhortation, “Ye must be perfect like your Father in Heaven” makes perfect sense.

Just as Einstein had the Unified Field Theory, but didn’t know it, each and every one of us on the planet is perfect in potential: made in God’s image. But we’ve forgotten.

And tyrants want you to sleep on. They’ll do anything to prevent you from remembering that you’re inherently okay. Because once you do, as Einstein did, no one can intimidate, control or dominate you. You’re aware that nothing anyone has for sale can make you more perfect. Nor can anything that anyone threatens to take away alter your essential okayness.

It’s your inalienable birthright. A given.

The Positive Paradigm is the viable basis upon which to build valid self-esteem. It’s the key to personal freedom — freedom from ignorance, freedom from fear.

One minor caveat: it all depends. While we all have the option to remember who we truly are, most of us are like Lambert, the sheepish lion. It takes a smack with a two-by-four upside the head before we’re finally ready to wake up. Often it takes the form of life-threatening danger to those we care for.

A personal health crisis will also do the trick. So will job loss or a run-in with natural disaster.

But, like Dorothy stranded in the Land of Oz, when you want dearly enough to return “home,” you can click your heels whenever you chose — and come to find out, you’re already there.

Innocence

The Mystery of Death and Rebirth

The yin-yang mysteries of life and death are embedded within every in- and out-breath of our lives. They alternate, however unappreciated, inside each unit of time: from minute-to-minute, day-to-day and season-to-season. They repeat on every scale of magnitude, from the individual, to families, corporations, nations, whole civilizations and even planets.

Buddhist teachings reflect these mysteries, compatible with the Positive Wheel model and its central hub. For example, in Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death, Roshi Joan Halifax explores the transformative power of the dying process, advising readers to be still, listen and open to the unknown.

Indian film actor Rajini captures the Rethinking concept succinctly in his review: “This book helped me touch that divine part that we all share; it is the Deathless, eternal part of us that will never die because it was never born.”

“The strange thing about growing old,” Einstein wrote, “is that the intimate identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels transposed into infinity . . . ”

In the year before his death, commenting on the passing of colleague Michele Besso, Einstein wrote, “He has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. It means nothing.”

Making an observation that could have come directly from the Yoga Sutras, consistent with the Positive Paradigm, Einstein consoled Besso’s family, “For us believing physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubborn illusion.”

It is said that in the middle ages, Carmelite nuns retired to their cells each night to sleep inside the wooden casket in which, when they died, they would be buried. Taken out of context, this may seem morbid. But in fact, they had it right. They were aligning themselves with the patterns of nature, the better to ultimately survive them. For each in- and out-breath repeats the cycle of release and renewal. Each night that we sleep, we let go of bodily awareness and return refreshed the next day.

On every scale of magnitude, the pattern is the same. Paradoxically, survivors who have released unfounded fears of death are freed to live to the full, here and how.

Lao Tze’s work, which breathes I Ching wisdom, illumines this paradox. He describes the relationship between the Creator and creation in the first aphorism of the Tao Te Ching. From Two Sides of a Coin: Lao Tze’s Common Sense Way of Change:

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Figure II.8 shows what this vision looks like when the words are properly placed within the Positive Paradigm Wheel. To the uninitiated who live exclusively on the surface of the Wheel, the eternal may seem illusive. However, the inner vision is accomplished by daring to let go of the familiar surface to travel true home to the center, from which, completing the cycle, blessings then flow outward.

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(Reminiscent is God’s promise in Genesis, “Return unto me, and I return unto you.”)

In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:

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Here, Lao Tze’s sage not only repeats the vision of the hero’s journey. The methods of the journey are given — the meditative practice of stilling the mind and emptying the heart, followed by contemplation from the detached observer’s perspective. Lao Tze also details the consequences of failing to complete the life pattern: misfortune, pain and suffering.

Those who attain the source, however, (usually with the guidance of an enlightened teacher) achieve the overview which leads to acceptance, compassion and omniscience. Those who survive intact, merge with the eternal source and begin anew, like the New Adam and Christ in The New Testament. (See Figure II.9.)

II-9 rev

Preparation makes the difference, deciding who is most likely to survive coming transitions, emerging better than before through the experience. Here is the root of Positive Change, described in Hexagram 49 from The Common Sense Book of Change:

49. CHANGE. Day and night replace each other in endless cycles of CHANGE. The same natural law generates flux in human events. The unprepared see Change as a threat, but the well-prepared face the unknown calmly. They know that after degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows. Welcome the new. Avoid short-sighted fear.

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So, now it’s your Turn. Please tell me what YOU think about all this. And, thank You.

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Friends Coming Full Circle

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Thursday, April 20th of 2017 wasn’t an ordinary shopping day. Once every two weeks, I routinely make the hour plus drive into Madison to buy groceries. But this day became a one-year book-end to last April’s Magical Day. That day, two parts woven into The Phoenix Response appeared. This day, given hints as subtle as two-by-fours, I clicked on the missing third part.

I look forward to these drives as a time to collect my thoughts and make plans. Truth funnier than fiction, a few days earlier, our teething brindle hound puppy dog trotted off with my reading glasses and thoroughly mangled them. So part of this day’s errands was an optometrist appointment to get new ones. I always take incidents affecting vision as a cue that it’s time to start seeing things differently.

As I drove, enjoying the rural Wisconsin spring greenery, one thing led to another. It started with mentally composing an email about the puppy to Lynn, my college roommate and dear friend.

We go back a long way, Lynn and I. On the surface, we couldn’t be more different. Tall and short, blond and brunette, scientist and musician. Yet, to my mother, we looked alike. The similarity she saw was the same expression on our faces. In some intangible way, we were on the same wavelength.

Back then, our unknown futures lay ahead of us.

Over time, we lost track of each other. But just before Christmas, Lynn found me again through this website. Since then we’ve been writing back and forth, reminiscing and catching up on the last forty years.

Lynn says she’s not a dog fan, so, thinking to entertain her, I was mulling over memories of different dogs I’ve known — the point being that, as with humans, some are definitely more likable than others.

In the process, it dawned on me that our renewed connection was the missing piece that ties The Phoenix Response together.

A year ago, I blogged:

Did you ever have a magical day – one that stands out even amongst the countless miracles that abound, most often unnoticed and unappreciated, in the midst of daily life?

Today offered one of those rare and precious moments to me. It had to do with basic life questions important to us all – about the quality of life and our purpose for surviving.

It was an encouraging day . . .[that] shone as a confirming ray of hope, strengthening my resolve to complete the book listed on CreateSpace as The Phoenix Response.

The initial cue came from finding The Longevity Book on a bestseller store shelf. Carmen Diaz’s first book was written for young women. This, her second, focuses on women entering middle age. But where’s the third?

An amazon reviewer’s Re line states “Wish she would have taken it to a woman’s age when she’s elderly.” The comment continues “There are so many things mothers did not tell daughters that many many of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have had to find out on our own – sadly.”

I observed: The Longevity Book begs for a sequel – one Im eminently qualified to supply. The Phoenix Response fills many gaps crying out for completion.

That day, however, thoughts about the aging process triggered personal memories. I wrote:

I thought back to my grandmother, Ellie West, who gave up a promising singing career to marry my grandfather, Hubble.

Late in her life, Ellie told me about the day he proposed. During a walk in the local park, he stopped in front an enormous sun dial set in granite and pointed to the attached plaque. Engraved onto the metal were the words of poet Robert Browning. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”

It won her heart.

As she described the event, now gray and ill, she shook her head. If not cynical, she seemed at best remorseful. For her, life hadn’t turned out the way the poet promised.

Her story left me with questions to ask in The Phoenix Response. Why did the poet associate growing old with the best yet to be? Why wasn’t this Ellie’s experience? What are the implications of her disappointment for Lynn and me as we come full circle, now even older than Grandma Ellie was when she told the youthful me about Hubba Hubba’s proposal?

Over time, the phoenix concept has expanded. In the blog with that title I wrote:

. . . here is the solution recorded in notebooks over the years. Whenever circumstances or people push me to suicide, I will die – but only to be reborn in this lifetime, over and over, each time better than before.

I called it The Phoenix Response.

I associated this intentional positive decision with the death and resurrection of Christ, whose archetypal pattern is an example for each of us to follow, at any time, as a matter of personal choice, commitment and dedicated follow-through.

Later I added:

My message for baby boomers: it’s still not too late. It’s not over til its over. Even for those of us who’ve let go of self-care and made mistakes along the way, there’s always a second chance. There’s always the Phoenix Response of regeneration – returning to the creative process of genesis itself, repairing not only original DNA of the body but of the soul.

Not only is this book dearly needed. The way for it is actually being paved and readiness created.

This April, I was receiving powerful hints from the powers that be that it’s time to start writing again. Further, I should seek out whatever assistance it takes to assure the widest publication possible.

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the eye exam. My long-distance vision has actually changed for the better! And because I was from out of town, it was arranged to have the new reading glasses ready within an hour. I was able to take them home and start working the same day.

There was also a special cup I “knew” was waiting for me to find at the grocery store. A month earlier, I splurged on one with a geometrical blue-gray-violet Native American design. It bears this hopeful omen: “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”

This day’s companion cup pictured a scene reminiscent of ancient Asian landscape paintings. A bridge connects a valley in the foreground with distant mountains disappearing into a vast sky. The cup’s quote confirmed my experience: “Some days have God’s fingerprints all over them.”

The cup now sits directly above my computer. As I continue to gaze on it, the bridge image grows on me. For we both are inevitably approaching life’s completion in death. Lynn has had bouts with breast cancer. I’ve had my share of physical health scares as well.

But I am of a certainly that death is a bridge to another dimension, whereas fatalistic Lynn probably thinks of it as a dead end, an abrupt full stop, a dark extinction.

This, then, has become the central challenge of The Phoenix Response. How do I lovingly, persuasively communicate to her, to our whole generation, and for that matter, her daughters and their children, about our marvelous but sadly forgotten, neglected and denied potentials.

What practical, proactive methods can we bring to our life and death questions while there’s still precious time left to make positive changes?

How can we make friends with the opportunity inherent in our ultimate transformation, accepting physical death as integral to the larger pattern of repetitive, cyclical change?

How do I bypass tenaciously held prejudice and culturally enforced taboos to help reconnect others once again with the innate birthright we all share in common?

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