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Old Age and Mental Health

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

26 October 2021

I have always felt that as we grow older we must be able to live with mind’s health.I think, with the power and potential of the mind and intelligence we must be in harmony with the bodily decline.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

Yesterday I was speaking about physical sickness – how to deal with it so that in spite of ill-health, life becomes endearing, joyful and involving. I was explaining the ways to ensure that we will be able to continue, without any difficulties, our activities and interactions that we are expected to take up.

As I mentioned last night, I have always felt that as we grow older we must be able to live with mind’s health. The body will start declining after the age of around twenty one. That is the time we become full grown adults in the prime of youth – we come to know of our ability to think and take decisions. So, as the adult life commences, body reaches full growth and thereafter starts declining, but the mind opens up. This is the law of nature. If this is what nature has designed, I think, with the power and potential of the mind and intelligence we must be in harmony with the bodily decline.

Understand that as seekers, we are given to austere life. An austere life always aims at invoking the deeper layers of the mind, intelligence and heart, thereby deriving greater strength. There will be reconciliation and harmony with the factors around. So, you should develop an austere temper as a result of which, even under physical sickness – of course, you should give proper medical attention to it – your mind is not subdued by it. Let not any physical sickness paralyse or weaken your spiritual mind. If the body suffers from ill-health attend to the physical condition medically, but for most part rely on the virtue of your mind – its strength and inspiration. Have that reliance.

I sometimes give a special mantra to the seekers of Truth. Of course, it is not necessary to have a separate mantra during ailment. The one given during initiation (deeksha) is sufficient. But sometimes the mind feels an insufficiency. The purpose of the mantra is to enable the practitioner to survive all forms of crisis. The crisis can be physical, bodily – may be by way of an incurable or threatening disease, or disability of the body. Or it can be a mental crisis. Whatever it may be, your mantra will look after the impending difficulties.

What do you have to do? You must resort to the austerity – austerity of reconciliation and harmony with factors around, as well as the reliance on your mantra – by virtue of which the external or bodily situation is remedied. It is possible. You should remember this. Try to induce your austere temper and austere dedication to develop this inner strength and health.

During a teleconference from Jamshedpur, Sri PN Tiwari told me: “Swamiji, as we grow older, we get many kinds of sickness, ailment and other problems. They cause a lot of pain and discomfort. How to tackle these and be at home with them? What can be done?” He also seemed to indicate that as age advances, joy and happiness of life decrease. But, is it true?

I have heard two important people say: “Life becomes more beautiful as we grow older.” What does it mean? Look at your own days of youth! You were not able to enjoy life when you were young. You were busy – running to the office, and pursuing different kinds of careers. You had no time to talk to the children. Extra hours of work were dragging you to the office. Because of all these, interpersonal relationships suffered a great deal. It could not have been otherwise. You did not know how to look after the first child. You bungled. You meddled with the task, and a lot of misdoing was there.

When you become older, you find that you are able to appreciate the grand-children. You become more tolerant, forbearing and patient. As you become mature, you become better in your interactions. That is why, generally children like the grand-parents more than the parents.
Our ‘S’ Mama’s mother was quite old. She was in her eighties. I once asked her: “How do you find life now?” She said: “Very good.” “Is life more enjoyable at a younger age or at an older age?” In her own characteristic manner, she told me: “Swamiji, in young age we have no patience. We can not enjoy life. Life is more beautiful when we become older!”

Keep this as an ideal and you must find life more beautiful as you grow older and older. It is possible that you are sick. When it is so called for, take a little rest. Seek the assistance of medicine. But ultimately, understand that your own body has to provide the strength.

By the way, my reply to ‘T’ was: “No, I do not agree! Here, in my satsang, there are quite a number of old people. How do you say that old age is always a problem? It cannot be!”

You have to understand your own body more and also have an idea of the science of physical health. Consult the doctor, get informed from different sources, take exercises, have a little of supplements in the way of medicines.

But the mind should not become fatigued and weak. For every ailment of the body, you must say: “I will surmount it. I will live with it with tact.” The whole life is only to live and outlive. So every disease must be faced with mental strength. Have that constant reliance upon your mind. This is where spirituality helps you. Austerity is the way. Have that sense of austere dedication. How will you develop it?

Tell your God mentally: “Dear Lord! You have created this world. You brought me here! As long as I am alive, I have to look after my affairs. How can I do that, if I become so weak? Do a little alteration in my body and make me healthy. Either let my body drop, or make it fit. I give you the choice; accept the better!”

In this candid way you should converse with your Lord. What does it mean? This intimate conversation is the process by which you become more confident. This is the way to become more austere. Your faith will become stronger.

That is the way to look at your health and afflictions. For a little thing here and another small thing there, do not magnify matters! Do not brood over your disease. This is what I have to tell you. And it is possible.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

– From Vicharasethu–Feb 2008

“You must resort to the austerity – austerity of reconciliation and harmony with factors around, as well as the reliance on your mantra – by virtue of which the external or bodily situation is remedied.”

“ You must find life more beautiful as you grow older and older. It is possible that you are sick. When it is so called for, take a little rest. Seek the assistance of medicine. But ultimately, understand that your own body has to provide the strength.”

“For a little thing here and another small thing there, do not magnify matters! Do not brood over your disease. This is what I have to tell you. And it is possible. ”

“If the body suffers from ill-health attend to the physical condition medically, but for most part rely on the virtue of your mind – its strength and inspiration. ”

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