Can We Grow Old Better?

shutterstock_155036117I’d Rather Die Today Than Have To Fix This Computer!

That’s what I said to my son when he returned my desperate call about the virus that snuck into my computer, and he was going to help me fix it over the course of the next 2 1/2 hours.  Talk about bardo: the time between when the virus first struck and the time I got my computer back.  I’m sure that many of you have been through this, and maybe you go through it with less panic than I do.  Yes, my computer geek son laughed but it was the last time for 2 1/2 hours.  So this is social and cultural change.  “This is the time of miracle and wonder.” (Paul Simon)  This is The Digital Age we live in.  The bones of our society now run in cyberspace.  I had a small intuition that the influence of personal computers would be pretty remarkable and so, we got our first computer when our son was 6 yrs old.  Yet, it was only when he was about 30 that I learned, from our daughter, that he had been programming games from instructions in his magazine ‘3-2-1 Contact’.  He knows computers.  I used to consider myself computer savvy, after all,  I started using one very early in the revolution.  But I’ll be hog-tied and spit-roasted, things are changing so rapidly it is hard to keep up.  As I indicated in the previous post, our society is changing in many ways, and, as the advancements in technologies are, so is the way we grow older speeding along at cyber-speed and seemingly out of our control.  Even with all the safety precautions of Advanced Directives, Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, Insurances, Living Wills, Financial Planning, etc., we are operating within an Illness Care Industry that thrives on our exorbitant use of life prolonging medicine and treatments, we often wind up dying under circumstances we could not have foreseen.

Do We Have Any Power?


Tricycle Daily Dharma November 27, 2013

Concern for Others

For modern Buddhists, the world shows us daily that our own awareness cannot thrive indifferent to what is happening to the awareness of others. As the old sociological paradox puts it, people create society, but society also creates people. Our economic and political systems are not spiritually neutral; they inculcate certain values and discourage others. As our awareness becomes more liberated, we become more aware of the suffering of others, and of the social forces that aggravate or decrease suffering.

– David Loy, “Why Buddhism Needs the West”


“…. The Greeks realized that, unlike nature, whatever is social convention can be changed: we can reorganize our own societies and in that way determine (or at least attempt to determine) our own destiny. ”

We’re People, and We Create Society

We already have a history of Social Change in this country: the abolition of slavery; expanded voting rights; same gender marriages, and other emerging family constellations.  As Jared Diamond says in his TedTalk “It’s no picnic to be an old person in a youth-oriented society”.  But, the very encouraging part of his work is that there are ways in which ‘we can grow older better’ if we want to.

The talk is 15 minutes long but is packed with information about Traditional Cultures and Modern Cultures.  Many of us leave stuff to our progeny, friends, charities, etc.  We leave assets, and we leave liabilities – you know that old couch that Grandma and Grandpa have had since you were 10, it’s yours now. Mazel Tov.  As a generation, wouldn’t it be great if we could leave more assets than burdens?   Remember …

“… unlike nature, whatever is social convention can be changed: we can reorganize our own societies and in that way determine (or at least attempt to determine) our own destiny. “