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Excerpt from "I've Decided to Live 120 Years"

Next Generation Mentors – Not What You Think

by Ilchi Lee

I believe that the world can change for the better if we live the second half of our lives well. Life in old age holds an important key for solving many problems in our society and for ushering in a new age. We can find this possibility in the rapid growth of the older population, which is increasing the importance of senior culture and lifestyles through- out society. To put it another way, the elderly are becoming the center of society. As their share of the population grows, seniors will not only become targets for various consumer and cultural industries, but their voices will receive more attention politically and socially. 

The social impact of the older generation will inevitably grow with time, so the direction in which that influence is applied is important. Will it upgrade or downgrade society? One thing will determine the answer to this question: the consciousness of elderly people. Seniors can help develop our society in innovative ways, or they can simply increase the burden on the generations supporting them. That’s why I believe that a revolution in the consciousness of seniors and the emergence of enlightened elders are absolutely essential. 

I am convinced that a revolution in consciousness centered on the elderly is possible. A new culture of aging could be the solution for overcoming many problems of modern society. This culture would be one in which seniors awaken to realize that their substance is life energy and that self and other, people and nature—all of us—are interconnected as one. They would make completion the goal of their lives and have lifestyles directed to that end. As the number of enlightened elders grows, the more human consciousness will develop synergy and the more likely it will be that we can change direction toward a spiritual civilization centered on completion. 
Mentors for the Next Generation 

In traditional societies, enlightened elders were repositories of knowledge—like an encyclopedia or a library. The wisdom and experience that older people accumulated throughout their lives was considered precious back when the pace of social change was slower than in modern societies. The elderly were respected as leaders in their villages. Elders were asked about many things: when it’s best to sow seed, for example; how to teach a willful son; what to give a mother suffering from a stomach ailment; how conflicts with neighboring villages should be resolved. They were educators and healers, arbitrators and communicators, transmitting culture and wisdom from one generation to the next. Such roles maintained the values of their communities, granted stability, and brought balance. 

It is no exaggeration to say that ancient thought was formed by the wisdom of the elders. The name of Laotzu, author of Tao Te Ching, said to have been translated into more languages than any book except the Bible, literally means Old Master. The Buddha lived to be 80 and Confucius to be 73, teaching students and sharing their wisdom with the world. Plato continued to write until he passed away at the age of 81. 

Unfortunately, we find few traces today of elders sharing their wisdom as honored mentors. Young people no longer ask questions of the elderly; they ask the Internet. Older people have to learn from young people how to use smartphones and operate new devices. Younger generations often think of seniors as stubborn people who have fallen behind the times and with whom communication is difficult. Seniors who have life experiences and wisdom to share have a hard time communicating with younger generations, who instead chase after speed and sensual stimulation. 

The elders of old who acted as mentors to young people should be emulated once again. But first, the consciousness of seniors must awaken. Older people can act as mentors because they have something more than informational knowledge to share. Young people have easy access to facts; they want to hear deep wisdom from those who have lived before them. They need heartwarming and refreshing words that help them see the problems they have been anguishing over from a different perspective. Younger generations need tolerant, benevolent love that can warm their increasingly cold hearts. 

Such changes must happen, first and foremost, in each of our families. We must develop a worthy family culture, one in which grandmothers and grandfathers embrace their children and grandchildren with love and lead them with wisdom. The character of children who have grown up seeing their parents respect their grandparents, who have grown up in the loving arms of their grandparents, can never be corrupted. Such children don’t need to go to some private institute or organization to receive character education. Family members should be the people who provide it. 

However, the wisdom of the elderly must not remain only within the family. It should spread to the community, too. The wisdom of our seniors will never become a driving force for change if it is only used privately. It must also be used as a social resource for the larger good. For that to happen, individual seniors and society at large must work together. 

Individually, seniors must have compassion and take an active interest in the affairs of the world instead of turning their backs, considering themselves old fogies who are out of sight and out of mind. They need to accept old age as an opportunity for maturity and for the completion of life. They should pursue the joy and passion that comes from helping people around them and their communities. This kind of life promotes the completion of the whole, not just the individual, and we need more people who feel that such a life is what their souls enjoy most. A society with many older people who sincerely care for their communities and who work to make the world a better place is a blessed society. If seniors gather the wisdom and experience they have built up over their lives and work for the common good, it will have a positive effect on all areas of society, including politics, economics, culture, and education. 

Socially, seniors should be provided with abundant opportunities to share their wisdom and skills while being respected as precious members of their communities. When it comes to senior citizens’ welfare, there are varying opinions. What is certain, though, is that people who are always stressed and worried about where they will get their next meal have a hard time pursuing spiritual maturity or living lives devoted to serving others. 
As a society, we should look after and protect our elderly, ensuring that their basic needs are met. Caring for the elderly, however, is about more than providing meals, building senior centers, or sending social workers. Society must provide work that allows seniors to contribute to the community while feeling joy and a sense of reward. Money-making careers may end at retirement, but there are many jobs that seniors can do better than younger people. 

ILCHI LEE, author of I’VE DECIDED TO LIVE 120 YEARS, is an impassioned visionary, educator, mentor, and trailblazer devoted to developing the awakened brain and teaching energy principles.  The creator of many mind-body training methods including Body and Brain Yoga and Brain Education, Lee has written more than 40 books including The New York Times bestseller, The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart.  Other books include Change: Realizing Your Greatest Potential, and The Power Brain:  Five Steps to Upgrading Your Brain Operating System.

Ilchi Lee is also a well-respected humanitarian who has been working with the United Nations and other organizations for global peace.  He began the Earth Citizen Movement and serves as president of the University of Brain Education, the Global Cyber University, and the International Brain Education Association.  He is also the founder of the Sedona Mago Retreat in Arizona and the Earth Village in Kerikeri, New Zealand.  For more information, visit www.ilchi.com or Live120YearsBook.com

The book is available at www.Amazon.com, www.Live120YearsBook.com, www.barnesandnoble.com  or your local bookstore. 

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