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July 2022

Spiritual community in later life: A modest proposal

Journal/Book: J Aging Stud. 1996; 10: 55 Old Post RD-#2, PO Box 1678, Greenwich, CT 06836-1678. Jai Press Inc. 103-116.

Abstract: Aging is often associated with a series of losses. But these can be redeemed by a vision of the significance and value of later life. In this regard, I examine the deficiencies of certain of our cultural models of a ''good old age,'' and suggest an alternative paradigm from ancient India. In a Hindu notion of the four-staged life cycle, the elder years are set aside for spiritual development. The losses of aging are recontexualized as modes of liberation, and as the stimuli to self-development. To foster this creative alchemy in the West I suggest the formation of ''Elder Spirit Centers''-spiritually-oriented communities and resource centers for older adults. After exploring in detail how such model centers would work, I discuss the needed reformation of existing institutions. The goal is to better support psychospiritual growth in later life.

Note: Article D Leder, Loyola Coll, 4501 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21210 USA

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