Aging as a Preparation for Death
If we’re sensitive to it, aging prepares us for death. Growing old and falling apart is nature’s way of teaching us how to release our obsession with form. It’s humiliating. Old age, sickness, and death are the ultimate insults to your ego, but the best compliments to your spirit.
Even before we enter the actual stages of dying, our body, and even our mind, starts to let go as we age.
We lose our hair, our teeth, our vision, hearing, mobility, flexibility, endurance, memory, and countless other physical and mental aspects of our form.
We lose control, productivity, independence, security, dreams for the future, and even meaning.
Aging is a preliminary practice (Tibetan: ngöndro) for the letting go that is forced upon us at death.
The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle writes:
The return movement in a person’s life, the weakening or dissolution of form, whether through old age, illness, disability, loss, or some kind of personal tragedy, carries great potential for spiritual awakening—the dis-identification of consciousness from form …
Since death is only an abstract concept to them, most people are totally unprepared for the dissolution of form that awaits them. When it approaches, there is shock, incomprehension, despair, and great fear …
[But] what is lost on the level of form is gained on the level of essence … [If related to properly,] old age or approaching death becomes what it is meant to be: an opening into the realm of spirit. (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, [New York: Penguin Group, 2005], 284-287.)
Source: Holecek, Andrew. Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition. Boston & London: Snow Lion, 2013. P. 72.