Drawing on the insights of Buddhism, In Praise of Ageing invites the reader to meet the challenges of growing older with an open mind in order to age with grace, understanding and wisdom. Written by an Israeli human rights lawyer who specialized in bio-ethics, including end-of-life care, the book looks at the current cultural context of youth versus age, and weaves the author’s personal experiences of her own and her parents’ ageing with ancient Buddhist wisdom that accepts growing older as a natural process. All phenomena appear, fade and disappear. So, too, our lives proceed from birth to death.
The four parts of the book address reality, vulnerability, identity and meaning. We can acknowledge reality, see the impermanence of the weakening body, and accept that we are subject to ageing, sickness and death. But we also must deal with the social prejudices against ageing that bring new vulnerabilities, such as the questions of identity that arise when we retire from the workforce. This book shows that it is nonetheless in our hands to shape our place in the world and find meaning as elders with love, compassion, joy and equanimity.
Ageing, indeed, has its hardships. Yet we have a choice how to relate to our experience – with animosity or friendliness. If we open our minds to ageing with a compassionate, curious and courageous heart, we can find treasures of wisdom to share as our heritage to future generations.