Wise grandparents or wise elders are content, at peace, equanimous, unconditionally loving, nurturing, grounded in spaciousness, stillness & silence. There is, of course, an infinite gradient in the aging process - from nasty miserable old cranks, all the way to fully enlightened beings embodying 'pure consciousness.' Most of us can do better - we can't imagine how much better!
Contentment is very different from the sugar-high we tend to associate with happiness. 'Happiness' compared to contentment is like the sound of metal garbage cans being beaten with sticks in comparison to Beethoven's symphonies. One is 'quick & dirty,' but soon annoys everyone; the other takes a lifetime to perfect, nurturing both the musician & audience to flourish. There are far more air-guitar players around than Eric Claptons.
Wise grandparents are equanimous - reliably stable, grounded, in good times and even the most challenging times. They're not afraid if they might die; they know death is imminent - no time left to waste. Through lived experience, they also realize that it's not worth sweating the small stuff and, that in the greater scheme of things, it's all small stuff. When a young child breaks a toy, he might be devastated, screaming as if life was no longer worth living. A wise grandparent simply smiles and comforts the child, knowing from lived experience that the event is meaningless, quickly forgotten. Yet in the heat of suffering, even adults are often blind to this critically important 'big picture' perspective.
"All of the astronauts that have been to the moon have had some similar type of experience ... Frank White called it ‘The Overview Effect’ - I call it “the big picture effect.’ And it’s this notion of wonder & awe at seeing the universe, and seeing life on Earth from that point of view ...” Edgar Mitchell, astronaut
There's a LOT to 'unpack' here. And today, it takes interest, patience & courage to immerse ourselves in areas beyond materialism. It's ironic that many adults continue to fearfully avoid this territory partially because they dread aging & death. Most of us lack the training, knowledge & experience to refute materialist theory that everything, including consciousness, is no more than a meaningless accident of physical particles.
"... it’s healthy for scientists to recognize what the scientific method can tell you, and what it cannot, so you can do good science, instead of bad philosophy." Bernardo Kastrup PhD
Especially in academic circles, being jaded, skeptical & cynical tends to be conflated with sophistication & intellectual superiority. If at a meeting, a new creative idea is proposed to solve an existing problem, kudos go to the first one to throw a wet blanket on the idea with, "I hate to be the devil's advocate, BUT ..." If everything is dead matter & everyone is a meaningless machine without free will, what's the point of doing anything? The notion that "life's hard, and then you die" hangs heavily in the air.
Fortunately, experience can knock some sense into us. Unexpected trauma can in roughly 40% of cases result in post-traumatic growth, a brush with death can cause near death experiences (NDEs), and other 'psi experiences' all
clearly show that materialism cannot be a 'theory of everything.'
• Bruce Greyson. “After. A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.” St. Martin’s, 2021.
• Jeffrey J. Kripal. “The Flip. Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge.” Bellevue Literary Press, 2019.
• Bernardo Kastrup. “The Idea of the World: A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality.” IFFS Books, 2019.
• Steve Taylor. “The Leap. The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.” New World Library, 2017.
Wise aging, meditation-mediated awakening, spiritual-practice-mediated mystical experience, entheogen-mediated experiences, spontaneous awakening, post-traumatic growth, NDEs, etc can all elicit at least temporary shifts into a higher, more evolved level of consciousness. This is not weird magic woowoo, simply glimpses into our next stage of human evolution. Such shifts occur when the noisy ego quietens down to a whisper. Then, temporarily or permanently, the self-centered struggle to get somewhere, to become someone, to compulsively do stuff, all stop. Under these conditions, our more evolved intelligence, wisdom, consciousness, true nature - naturally, spontaneously manifests.
“… consciousness is our true nature, and when we rest within it, we feel a powerful sense of ease and contentment.”
• Russel Williams, edited by Steve Taylor. “Not I, Not other than I. The Life and Teachings of Russel Williams.” O-Books, 2015.