Developing a friendly relationship with old age by making the most of each day
By Louis Bourgious
We discussed in past segments of this series the first two “Faces of Freedom,” these being Freedom from The Past and Freedom from the World. Now we are prepared to take on the vital third Face of Freedom, Freedom from the Future.
It would seem quite obvious that Conscious Dying requires this freedom. When we have entered this phase of our lives, called here in Ecuador “tercero edad,” it behooves us to develop a friendly relationship with this third age. There are many factors involved but key for me in my Conscious Living program is to learn how to enjoy living in the present, making the most of each day. There is a long standing tradition in many cultures, past and present, that encourages a regular meditation on our mortality. By doing so each day becomes a precious gift, not to be taken for granted.
When we are young, our life is filled with dreams and plans. You might say that many young people are obsessed with the future, as the future represents an escape from a present that might be quite unsatisfying and even painful. The culture of North America supports a focus on the future. We plan; we do all that we can to safeguard our future. Banks and insurance companies make fortunes from our insecurities about the future. And one of our greatest fears is the fear of disability and death. Conscious Living in our retirement years demands that we come to terms with these fears. Our potential disability and our certain death is no longer something off in a distant future.
Those whom have survived a “near-death experience” know the actual freedom that comes with an imminent death. We are forced to surrender, and with this surrender comes a great peace. Surviving a brush with death gives us a much deeper appreciation for the gift of life as compared to our lives before the experience. Wisdom shows us that our psychological addiction to a certain future is evidence of some failure or disappointment in our past. If we accomplish the first two “Faces of Freedom” in the Conscious Dying process we have made peace with this past. In our process called Freedom from the World we learn how to take away the burden we have placed on others. We no longer carry complaints from the past or expectations for the future. No longer a victim of the past we no longer need to hold the future hostage.
I had the unusual opportunity of becoming a father for the first time at the age of 63. Now 66, my little girl, Amelie, will soon turn 3. I take a special delight in watching her sleep each morning, as I have no demanding schedule that calls me to be somewhere else. It is easy for me to take time to savor each day with Amelie, as I have a clear perspective on this gift. It is very clear to me that I will not experience Amelie becoming a woman, nor is it likely that I would see her off to some university. I might be lucky enough to miss any teenage broken hearts. Because I am fully aware of this, I can focus on one thing and one thing only. I can I adore this little girl simply because each day is a special bonus in my life.
When I watched my father die a very painful (psychologically) death I thought that my freedom with him was simply that I would never replicate the tragedy of his life, especially in his role as father. It never occurred to me that the universe had this amazing bonus in store. I never could have dreamed and, certainly never could have planned, that I would become a father. This is the benefit of Conscious Dying, that by letting go of our need for a future we allow the universe to give us something beyond our dreams. This is perfect paradox playing out. In our unconscious life we are endlessly seeking a solution to an old problem, and this seeking never pans out. Wisdom would offer that just by the act of seeking you are affirming what you do not have.
When we let go and we learn to trust a very friendly universe what might appear as a miracle becomes a reality. This is a proven fact in my life. I take a certain delight in the opportunity to teach others through my Conscious Living program how to manifest miracles in their lives. And it all begins with Conscious Dying, and specifically the need to control our future.
Louis Bourgeois lives in Cuenca with his wife and baby. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org