A few times a year I host "Ask The Elders", an event that features a panel of LGBTQ+ elders, ranging in ages 60-90 (plus). Most of these trailblazers were on the front lines of social equality movements and continue to stay active in the community, sharing their wisdom and guidance to support the health of their "tribe". At this event, adults ask questions of the elders. Any question about life qualifies. The topics include sex and relationships, family, health, politics, spirituality, addiction, aging, and activism. The answers are always thoughtful and practical, helping those in the audience to expand their perspective and heal. At one event a panel member clarified the difference between an elder and what they termed an "older". An older is anyone who grows old, an elder is an individual who harvests the wisdom from their path and shares what they've learned to offer support to the next generation and beyond. I thought that was an interesting distinction.
It inspired me to take stock of my personal experiences. How was I keeping unhealthy patterns active in my life by not applying practical wisdom that will help me move on? Am I paying attention or am I simply growing older? I constantly tell my students that without application, all the spiritual text we study will just be information floating around in our heads. Transformation requires the application of what we've learned. If we don't apply these tools we'll remain stagnant. The same principle applies to our life experiences. If we don't devote time to contemplate our past experiences chances are we'll continue to repeat the mistakes we've made. By applying the wisdom from our past we better align with our loving hearts and grow.
Caring for our elders and listening to what they have to share is so valuable. Applying their wisdom is how we evolve as a society. Caring for ourselves and remaining willing to apply the wisdom from our own past is how we grow as individuals.
True wisdom is of the heart. Through contemplation and forgiveness we strengthen our ability to view ourselves and others as we truly are which sets us all free and inspires forward-moving creativity; in our own lives and the collective.
Jesse Brune-Horan is a spiritual teacher and happy living expert. He's the co-founder and spiritual director of Inspire Spiritual Community. Over the last decade he's given hundreds of teachings, workshops, and classes on spiritual living.