With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Michael Toms is host of the New Dimensions public-radio program and head of the New Dimensions Foundation in Ukiah, California.
The phrase “growing old” suggests the only thing going on during aging is the passage of time and the deterioration of the body. I think something else is happening, however. I believe that, as we enter the second half of life, the side of ourselves that is neglected asserts itself more powerfully; I call that wholeness.
The guilt that we ordinarily carry is trivial compared to what one feels when one uses Naikan. But, again, that guilt is always balanced by the sense of having been loved and taken care of in spite of one’s own imperfections, and that’s a wonderful gift. The result is a desire to repay the world. But in fact you can’t repay the world because it keeps giving too fast.
We have to get back to that sense of raw reverence. And by reverence I don’t mean this bourgeois thing of nodding your head and being pious. Reverence comes from the word to revere, which means to stand in awe. The Bible has been mistranslated; where we read that wisdom begins with fear of the Lord, it should read awe. Awe is the beginning of wisdom.