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.”
. . . 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 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.”
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.
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:
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.
(Reminiscent is God’s promise in Genesis, “Return unto me, and I return unto you.”)
In Passage 16, Lao Tze goes even further:
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.)
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.
So, now it’s your Turn. Please tell me what YOU think about all this. And, thank You.