Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Reflections on the Second Half of Life

I've long admired the work of Angeles Arrien, a cultural anthropologist who wrote The Four-Fold Way and most recently, The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom. In her new book, Ms. Arrien offers the following passage which I find especially helpful for creating an ethical will:

"Nonattachment, surrender, and letting go of the future are necessary if you are to reflect on your entire life and all that you have been and done, and enter the final threshold of your life. You make the conscious choice of living not in the past or future, but in each present moment. This takes great courage and the ability to make peace with your life: to live without hope or fear, to let go without regret, to know that you have lived fully.

  • Reflect on your life and notice the areas where you are attached or have unfinished business. Consider this: If you knew when your life would end, what would you do to live out your final days in a full and complete way? As you cannot know the moment your life will end, why not live each moment as though it were the most precious one left to you?
  • How do you honor your ancestors? What do you know about them? What qualities in your ancestors would you like to emulate?
  • What was your first experience of death? Who died? What impact did this event have upon you? How has your relationship to death changed since then?
  • Identify what you are grateful for in your life journey; what have you learned from this journey and what have been the many blessings and opportunities offered to you along the way?
  • Review where you have been positively affected and changed for the better by your life journey.
  • Where were you challenged, tested, and stretched beyond your perceived capacities?
  • What do you need to mend your life or where do you need to do rectification or reparations work? What final forgiveness work is needed for you to feel complete? What do you need to say or do to feel complete?"
Powerful questions to reflect upon for writing your ethical will ... and for the way you choose to live the rest of your life!
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