2013
 No. 4

 

 

The Three Secrets of Aging

The Three Secrets of Aging
by John C. Robinson

John Hunt, 2012

Reviews by Barbara Kammerlohr

Books that map life’s second journey are easy to find in this time of aging baby boomers. The “age wave” focused attention on the aging process and the result has been a clearer understanding of the psychology of aging and the associated stages of human growth — a body of knowledge often referred to as a map.

But maps, by design, omit important factors that affect travelers and their enjoyment of the journey. As soon as we finish studying the map and itinerary of a potential journey, we begin the search for a travel video or book to give us the deeper flavor of the experiences we might encounter.

Unfortunately, such videos and books about experiences of the journey through the last part of life are difficult to find. Those of us committed to aging consciously are frequently on our own as we try to understand the changes that come with age and put them into a sensible context. This is especially true with experiences: changing consciousness, loss, encounters with the Divine, and the realization that we will not be here forever. These and other experiences seem to fall outside the information available in maps and itineraries.

In The Three Secrets of Aging, psychotherapist and minister John C. Robinson shares a unique perspective about these experiences — experiences that become more pronounced as we age. He recounts his own struggle and conclusions in exploring not only the psychological, but the spiritual and mystical forces of life’s final chapter. In doing so, he draws on his training and practice as a psychotherapist and minister as well insights gleaned from studying his own psyche, focusing both on the aging processes moving in his soul. The autobiographical section of the book is a moving account of milestones that every elder will recognize and identify with. Sharing all of this is, for Robinson, his attempt at “lighting the way for others.”

The Three Secrets of Aging has two parts. Part I is autobiographical — Robinson’s personal experience with the aging process, the experiences that led to the discovery of the three secrets important to us all. Part II articulates and explains each secret in enough detail to give the reader guidance in using principles of “the secret” in his or her own life.

While its stories is quite captivating by themselves, the book is actually a guide to conscious aging and dealing with the challenges of that path. Robinson tells us that, “The Three Secrets of Aging is how I have chosen to prepare for life’s final chapter.” It is also exactly how many readers of Itineraries and this column would like to prepare for life’s final chapter.

The three secrets are:

Secret 1 —Aging is an initiation into an extraordinary new stage of life... a time of personal and spiritual growth unprecedented in human history. While aging may represent the end of our old life, it is also the beginning of a new one (p.47).

Secret 2 — Aging is a transformation of self and consciousness — thin of it as enlightenment in slow motion. As we awake from the illusions of mind, we transition from personal identity to the consciousness of Divinity, giving birth to the enlightened elder (p.60).

Secret 3 — Aging is the revelation of Heaven on Earth. As the veil of thought dissolves in conscious aging, Heaven on Earth begins to shine everywhere, and the world is sacred once again. We have come home from our long journey through the world of thought and invite others to join us in a new consciousness of creation (p.74).

Robinson encourages cultivation of this new consciousness, of this different way of living; and the book contains his suggestions for doing this. But since this culture in which we live discounts and scoffs at such a way of being, many of us will find challenges as we try to birth the new being within our souls.

Robinson is aware that his book and its emphasis on a radically different consciousness is not for everyone. He tells us that he wrote it for those “who desire to face aging and death with honesty, dignity, humor, and wisdom and in the process be ready and grateful for all that will be revealed” (p. 4). Practicing this requires vigilance, intention, and energy. In sum, this book’s focus is on understanding and experiencing the psychological, spiritual, and mystical dimensions of the changing consciousness brought about by the aging process. As such, it represents a unique contribution of the author.

Readers may also be interested in two subsequent books on aging by John Robinson. The first, Bedtime Stories for Elders: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us About the New Aging (John Hunt Publishing, 2012), is a companion to the Three Secrets of Aging. The reader with recognized the same “secrets” symbolically woven into myths and fairy tales from around the world. The book makes for fascinating bedtime reading.

His second book, released last month, What Aging Men Want: The Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging (John Hunt Publishing, 2012) provides older men with a rich and colorful map of the journey home from the wars of adult life. Robinsons shows us that each adventure Odysseus encounters symbolizes one of the developmental tasks men face as they exchange the warrior archetype for a life of love and wisdom. To sample the think behind John's new book, read his essay, “The Long Journey Home,” which was published in the previous issue of Itineraries.

You can learn more about this author’s work at JohnRobinson.org.