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Book Review – “The Three Secrets” of Aging by John C. Robinson

Review by Carol Orsborn, Editor in Chief, Fierce with Age

This month’s Digest is a special edition, dedicated for the first time solely to the work of one thought leader. I encountered Dr. John C. Robinson’s work on aging 5 years ago. Until then, I thought of spirituality as a solution to the challenges of aging. Over time, I grew to view aging as a spiritual path. But it was John Robinson’s books that opened the portal to my understanding of aging as a mystical experience, in and of itself.

This awakening to the divine dimension in aging is not about escape from our obligations to the world—but a powerful shift to a new level of engagement. Writes John: “If we wish to transform our current human crisis, we must return to the mystical consciousness of a divine being in a divine world, an experience that becomes increasingly available in sacred aging.”

John will be addressing his body of work, particularly in relation to the question at hand for many of us: How can aging consciously make a difference in these challenging times? at several upcoming events. In addition, this urgent and timely topic will provide the theme for our upcoming March edition of Fierce with Age.

The first of John’s talks is “The Three Secrets of Aging”, a live webinar with Sage-ing International, Weds., Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. EST. Cost: $9. Bob Atchley and Carol Orsborn, panelists. To register, click HERE

John will also be a featured speaker at The Shift Network’s Transforming Aging Summit, March 7-9. A registration link will be provided in our March Digest. Until then, may we all be fierce with age together!

–Carol Orsborn, editor in chief, Fierce with Age



“What if people began to experience age-related changes in consciousness as essentially mystical in nature?…

As we move into old age, our familiar identity loses its importance. It is fading or long gone. We also begin to lose interest in thought itself—our thoughts no longer seem so important and seem to disappear more quickly, along with all the underlying ideas that structure our conventional understanding of identity, time, reality, and story.

As these contents of consciousness empty, we can become aware of consciousness itself, pure and omnipresent. Exploring this experience, we discover, as the mystics before us, that consciousness is not ‘mine’, but rather part of the vast and all-inclusive consciousness we call Divinity pervading the cosmos. When we experience consciousness directly, free of thought, we are literally experiencing Divinity, and a door to eternity opens in the human psyche…

Aging is enlightenment in slow motion.”

The Three Secrets of Aging: Seeking Enlightenment in the New Aging


“We actually live simultaneously in two worlds, the World of Man and the divine world. The World of Man is the land of ego, identity, problems and quests; the divine world is the realm of awakened consciousness inhabited by soul. Even though we may not sense its presence, divine consciousness has been with us all along, steadfastly guiding our journey and coming with help and wisdom when sincerely called…

In the late life passage into old age, this balance can shift. The conventional world begins to die, the subliminal world of spirit comes to the fore, and the soul begins to whisper its divine secrets more clearly, especially about the nature of divinity and the presence of Heaven on Earth.

As the mystics from across time and tradition testify, Heaven on Earth has always been here waiting for divine consciousness to open our eyes.”

Bedtime Stories for Elders: What Fairy Tales Can Teach us about the New Aging.



“Most aging men initially behave like Odysseus’ crew. Never questioning their lifelong warrior ways, they continue pushing ahead in everything they do …Until men experience the reality of aging bodies and accept the inevitability of personal death, Odysseus’ adventures merely represent a good story…Age is a force that changes us, but it acts through the first-hand knowledge of physical decline and personal mortality.

It is not that continuing to work is wrong; only that it may prevent a man from facing the developmental tasks and opportunities of aging until much later in life, when he may not have the time, energy, or wisdom to benefit from new experiences and lessons.

A man needs to ask himself whether his old work or work style are more important than finding untapped creativity, growing his unfinished self, or deepening relationships with spouse, adult children, and grandchildren. A man who works to the end may never know what he missed out, and as the story suggests, opportunities die along the way if one tarries too long.”

What Aging Men Want: The Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging.



“The three secrets of aging—initiation, transformation, and revelation—may generate painful and disorienting experiences, especially if you resist them! Everything you believe and count on can disappear overnight in the aging process, sometimes erasing all the familiar landmarks of our life. But remember, loss and hardship often precede great transformations…

We grow psychologically, spiritually, and mystically only in so far as we are willing to accept change, work on our self, and strive to find the next step on a pathless path. Keep in mind that this is not just another self-improvement project; rather it invites us to experience an extraordinary consciousness in which the whole idea of self-improvement disappears as well.

From this consciousness flows revelations that would never come from the project of me…Aging in the twenty-first century can herald a completely new stage of human evolution, one that holds the key to our future on Earth, if we understand and embrace it.”

The Three Secrets of Aging: Seeking Enlightenment in the New Aging



“The one hope for the future lies, I believe, in Sacred Activism–the fusion of the deepest spiritual knowledge and passion with clear, wise, radical action in all the arenas of the world, inner and outer. –Andrew Harvey

Staying centered in the True Self and Soul through the seasons and cycles of life is critical for truly meaningful and effective Sacred Action and Activism…The joy of service comes when we are most deeply aligned with our own divine nature and the divinity we see in others.

As conscious Elders, we have so much to offer the world but we waste it when a path is not our own. In aging, years of experience ripen into vision, perspective and wisdom. Add mystical consciousness and we grow into Divine Humans, whose loving presence can change the energy field of the world. If you want to help, become who you really are.”

The Divine Human: The Final Transformation of Sacred Aging



“I have been searching for Heaven on Earth my whole life, following an invisible compass setting that would never let me go.

Whenever I strayed too far afield from this setting, I felt restless, lost, or discouraged. Sometimes, on the other hand, when feeling especially peaceful, rested, or centered, an indecipherable joy would erupt inside—an intuition of a place I already knew but could not quite identify.

This unyielding compass led me through countless spiritual waters, practices and experiences. It has driven my writing and pushed me relentlessly past traditional dogma and beliefs.

Long before I knew what I was searching for, this unseen arrow held my course and knew its destination. Then, at long last, I realized where I was going and why.”

Finding Heaven Here



“A lot of the problems of the spiritual path come simply from too many complicated words and ideas that completely lead us astray. They confuse us with beliefs and fantasies of what God realization will be like, but truthfully they all separate us from the direct experience of God here, in this moment, in every moment. So there comes a time to dump words, goals and identities and settle into the language-free awareness that comes from opening the senses…

Don’t make it complicated by thinking about it, just experience it. And when you merge consciousness and being, you find bliss, joy, love, freedom, and spontaneously ‘right’ responses to life situations.

I think Sri Aurobindo described it well (though with far too many words) in recognizing that this inner consciousness is in fact the divine self. Give it space, focus inward on it, and it will become ever more available and gradually move to the fore, steadily becoming who you really are.”

John C. Robinson’s commentary inspired by my memoir:
River Diary



“We now have this new kind of aging, but what is it for? I believe something very different happens in the second half of life and especially in our maturity. At this time, the ego—the personal ‘I’—turns from issues of survival, competition, identity and achievement, to personal and spiritual growth, even transformation.

And this shift, I believe, is inborn. The psyche now releases a new kind of consciousness, re-introducing the mystical awareness that was prevalent in our early ancestors and temporarily known to us in childhood. But now the ego is more mature and can understand this consciousness in a new way. This consciousness is the breakthrough of our time.””

Breakthrough , a novel



“In the face of pain and suffering, men want to solve the problem of aging and death, but it cannot be solved. They want to reduce it to tasks that can be mastered, but it cannot be mastered.

Aging is a conundrum that defeats the ego. Instead, we need to learn how to adapt to this new world of aging, to let go of the hero, and open into the consciousness of love in whatever happens. One man explained to me that his mantra in old age is ‘accept, forgive and love”, a mantra that transforms his suffering into growth.”

What Aging Men Want: The Odyssey as a Parable of Male Aging.

Purchase “The Three Secrets of Aging: Seeking Enlightenment in the New Aging”

Review & Commentary