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Quotes and Poems

Session 1 - Being an Elder

Susan B. Anthony

The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball -- the further I am rolled the more I gain.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Elderhood is a time of unparalleled inner growth having evolutionary significance in this era of worldwide cultural transformation. It is a call from the future, a journey for the health and survival of our ailing planet Earth.

Why should anybody live longer than the time of begetting and raising their children? If we do live longer, then nature must have a task. There must be a purpose. The purpose is to hothouse consciousness, generation by generation, So that the older generation can transmit something to the younger.

The model that I’m proposing does more than restore the elder to a position of honor and dignity based on age and long life experience. It envisions the elder as an agent of evolution, attracted as much by the future of humanity’s expanded brain-mind potential as by the wisdom of the past. With an increased life span and the psychotechnologies to expand the mind’s frontiers, the spiritual elder heralds the next phase of human and global development.

Young and middle-aged people certainly can awaken their intuition and help preserve the earth from eco-destruction. But, because the evolutionary plan calls for developing latent brain potential in the afternoon and evening of life, elders have  a special responsibility to act as leaders in healing of the planet and ensuring our continued survival.  

Ron Pevney

These are times of crisis. The world teeters on a knife edge between cultural and ecological collapse and cultural transformation. Our world cannot afford to have millions of its citizens (many-highly educated and skilled) believing that they are incapable of making a difference in their elder years. The world needs conscious elders who shine as beacons of hope in the darkness of fear, elders championing and modeling life-sustaining values and using their wisdom and compassion to heal a wounded planet. 


When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Breath, you invisible poem!
Pure, continuous exchange
With all that is, flow and counterflow
Where rhythmically I come to be.

 Sage’s Tao Te Ching - William Martin

A youth may have ambitious goals
But the sage has no need for ambition.
A youth strives for perfection
But the sage is content with imperfection.
A youth is always on guard against loss
But the sage has let go already.
Therefore, despite the apparent advantages of youth,
It is the sage who shows the way.
It is the sage who can be trusted.
It is the sage who is the example to follow.
It is the sage who has succeeded. 

You cannot fulfill your destiny
by hanging on to the qualities of youth.
If you do not display an alternative to blind ambition,
our world will be depleted beyond recovery.
If you do not live with acceptance and grace,
our world will be consumed by the fires of hate.
If you do not become a sage,
from where will guidance come? 

If not you,

Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness:

The soil of your brain is more fertile for weeds than flowers. So it’s really important to plant the seeds of inner strengths by repeatedly taking in the good.

Lao Tzu:

When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you. 

Sylvia Boorstein:

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross:

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth—and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up—that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had.