Aging Body, Unchanging Spirit

Integrative medicine expert Andrew Weil talks about what we have to gain by embracing the aging process rather than fighting it.

Andrew Weil

Andrew Weil, M.D., a graduate of Harvard Medical School, serves as director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, and is the author of "Spontaneous Healing," "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health," among other bestsellers. In his latest book, "Healthy Aging," Weil encourages readers to embrace, rather than deny or fight, the aging process (and explains why he believes so-called "anti-aging" products do not work anyway). He spoke with Beliefnet about the spiritual virtues of aging, why no one should be afraid of getting older, the benefits of meditation, and how he feels about his famous white beard.

You write that aging can be "a catalyst for spiritual growth." How?

Aging as path to spiritual awakening


In the book, I used an example of the legend of the Buddha's enlightenment. When he was the young prince Siddhartha, he was kept by his father in a fantasy palace where he wasn't supposed to see anything that suggested aging and death or anything unpleasant. Then he goes out of the palace and the first thing he sees is an old man. Subsequently, he sees a corpse, a sick man, and a monk-these four sights or visitations are what really stimulated him on the path of enlightenment. So I think there is a way in which awareness and mortality and aging are certainly the most powerful reminders that we're moving in that direction; it can be a profound spiritual awakening.

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Lisa Schneider
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