The fastest growing segment of the population is the group 85 and older. Yet the idea persists that old age is mainly a problem to be addressed by science and medicine. In 1992, the Omega Institute, a holistic education center, hosted a conference where conscious aging was celebrated as a spiritual adventure. Over 1,200 people attended and were united in a desire to honor elders as bearers of wisdom, healing, creativity, and vision.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter, founder of the Spiritual Eldering Project, discusses the last stages of life as one in which we can download our mastery to others, passing on what is most meaningful to us. Jungian analyst and author Marion Woodman uses the drama of Shakespeare's King Lear as an image in eldering. She unfolds the way his heart is opened through suffering. Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, blows apart the six myths of old age and illustrates with anecdotes from her own life how elders can be prophetic activists for social change. Ram Dass explores the value of turning inward as we age. Bernie Siegel presents nine steps to a more fruitful old age. This six-hour audio presentation closes with a panel discussion led by Mary Catherine Bateson.