Friday, August 14, 2015

The Spiritual Meaning of Alzheimer's

Many incidences of expansion of conscience, and mental and psychic growth, are interpreted by you as senility. 
(Seth, The Nature of Personal Reality)

I remember once saying to my mother that I had a couple of ideas for her. But after I was finished with my first point I had completely forgotten what the second point was about, to which she simply replied, "Well, if you forgot it, it probably wasn't very important!" My mother has a point, doesn't she? In fact, today I live my life by that philosophy. What I say right now to you, or what you might be saying to me must be really important, otherwise why would we be talking? The "holy now" matters and everything else just has to wait. 

For a spiritual traveler the "holy now" appears like the light beams of a car; you keep following it until you have reached your desired destination. When you live your life that way, aging, and some loss of your cognitive powers don't have to scare you. Like a laser you zoom into "holy now" at your disposal, and everything you ever needed you find there. I titled this note "Alzheimer's", because many of our older generation suffer from a more pronounced loss of cognitive skills at the late stage of their life. Sadly, sometimes to the level where no cognitive power seems to be left at all. "Alzheimer's" is essentially the disease to forget! I do believe that our spiritual journey acts as a preventive medicine. It is our mission to face life here and now. If you do that, you heal the past and existing relationships, and you learn to fall in love with what is. With a mission like that, why would we have the subconscious drive to forget anything?

But spirituality may also have an uplifting message in store for those who suffer from this disease. You don't know what is happening inside the apparently confused mind of your loved ones. In all the irrational ramblings, there might be a Force at work that reinterprets the past, heals and transcends as well. I have an Indian family friend who was a spiritual guide for me over many years but more recently has developed a severe loss of his cognitive powers. In our last conversation he jumped from subject to subject and had to more or less hang up on him since he seemed tired and given that our conversation wasn't going anywhere. Before I could to that, however, he implored me in parting to finish my spiritual book. He said it three times with an intensity that seemed supernatural to me. This was my old spiritual coach speaking. Just based on that one parting comment I would conjecture that the world he lives in is peaceful and whole.

A second example is the case of my sister's mother-in-law who deteriorated rapidly when her husband passed away. The other day my mother visited her and when she asked her how her day had been going she replied, "Oh, I spent a beautiful morning with the boys in the garden." My mother realized that she wasn't talking about her younger son who picked her up that day, but about both of her sons. She must have lived through one of their childhood memories and she looked so happy and peaceful that my mother simply let it be. She lives in her own world and as long as it is beautiful and peaceful there, who are we to interfere with it.

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