Conscious Aging with John Robinson, Ph.D.


Sacred Activism Through the Lens of The Three Secrets of Aging

March 5, 2017

If Conscious Elders are going to light a path through the darkness of this time, we need to understand where we are and how we can most respond most maturely. So let's look at the underpinnings of our current national nightmare and the many ways we can respond.

In many respects, Trump represents our collective shadow - all the repressed, censored, dark, eruptive energies we have buried inside us. But as Jung told us, the shadow is 90% gold! Jeremy Taylor, a specialist on Jung and dreams, recently wrote, "…the 'hidden gift' in the colossal projected shadow of Donald Trump is potentially granting us all 'permission' to explore and manifest our deepest creative energies and responses to the world, without concern for the limitations of conventionality, 'group-think,' or premature, merely habitual… moral restraint." He adds, "Not too surprisingly, when viewed in this light, the excitement and enthusiasm that he invokes and evokes in his followers is also a shadow parody of the liberating joy that always attends successful, transformative creative expression, where and whenever it manifests." In depth psychology, the shadow, trickster, or devil archetype unleashes huge transformational energies. Trump may be the precursor of an enormous change in the collective psyche.

And, as philosopher Grant Maxwell observes in his new book, The Dynamics of Transformation, the evolution of genuinely new ideas and forms is typically unpredictable, disruptive, and shocking. He also suggests that some great and as yet unknown archetype may now be constellating in the depths of the human psyche. In other words, this disruption may be opening a new chapter in the history of democracy, unconsciously inviting us all to participate in a more vital, creative and engaged citizenship. Something deeper is at work here, a new expression of the human enterprise and a new worldview.

How do we respond? Here are some ideas from The Three Secrets of Aging:

Secret I. Initiation. This is also a time of collective initiation. Elders are being collectively shocked into a new historical era, a time filled with new tasks, gifts and challenges. This is not the old world we were accustomed to and we cannot go back. But this is a time of psychological and spiritual renewal unprecedented in human history, one that creates a quantum leap forward if we participate meaningfully. This is a time for discerning what makes you come alive and doing that!

Secret II. Transformation. This situation is not what we think it is. The frightened mind always generates frightening ideas and emotional reactivity. This is likely something larger and more creative. Indeed, it may be the doorway to the next state of human consciousness. So we ask, "Can we look at the world without projecting so many distressing catastrophic fears and images, and instead engage discernment, creativity and love?" This is a time to deepen our awareness of eternal values and recognize the world as self - and then act from the deep oneness of being.

Secret III. Revelation. Shock and loss can awaken us to the infinite beauty of being. We are so often caught up in our head, thinking thinking thinking, and missing what is right before us - family, friends, love, and this amazing Earth. Crises bring us back to the present, and the present holds everything we need. I remember an old friend of mine telling me about the day her house burned down. She suddenly found herself feeling incredibly free, free to create a new life, to release the shackles of her old self and pursue a new adventure. The present is revelation happening. Get on board. Make this a time of growth, connection, awakening, and transformation.

Finally, in a paper I posted in the Newsletter section of my website ( and reposted by Chaplaincy Institute website, I argue that we need to respond the turmoil of these times in Four dimensions: the psychological, spiritual, mystical and Sage's Wisdom. Here are some ideas from that paper:
• There are many things we can do in the psychological dimension. For example, we need to work through our feelings rather than react blindly or collapse in despair. And we need to realize that anything we feel deeply will change, releasing new energies and creative insights for positive action. Decades as a psychotherapist have shown me this.
• In spiritual dimension, we need to ask ourselves bigger questions and about the spiritual meaning and purpose of this time in history. For example, "What are my ultimate spiritual beliefs about why this is happening?" "How would my personal spiritual heroes respond to this situation?" And we need to return to our spiritual practices to stay centered and grounded.
• In the mystical dimension, we need to spend time in the Presence, and let its nature and consciousness expand our awareness and response capabilities. Similarly we need to pray and ask for divine guidance.
• With respect to the Sage's Wisdom, we can review all we've learned from conscious aging books and workshops to respond to this nightmare with the wisdom and maturity of real experience. In activating this wisdom, we will find our own voice as enlightened elders and grow a community of loving engagement.

So you see, it's not a single response that matters but an integrative and multidimensional one filled with maturity, love and genuine wisdom. We have been to this kind of edge before in our personal and collective history, and we have the ability to stand in this fire and respond according to our deepest nature and principles. Trust and explore the possibilities of the psychological, spiritual, mystical, and Sage levels of response, and let The Three Secrets of Aging change you so you can change the world.

Selected Works

Mystical Aging
With our unprecedented longevity, aging has become a new developmental stage in the human life cycle. Conscious sacred aging now offers humanity the profound opportunity of realizing we are already divine beings in a divine world.
Spiritual Fiction
"Hold on to you seatbelts! A gripping story of the stages of the soul in later life." Harry R. Moody, Ph.D., Editor, Human Values in Aging Newsletter, retired Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs for AARP in Washington, DC. and author of The Five Stages of the Soul.
Aging Men, Mythology, Spirituality
Brilliant. Struggling to retire at age 78, I eagerly read this in search for a road map through my own disorientation and depression. The ideas in this book are illuminating, provocative and challenging. I know I will read it again and again.
Memoir, Mind-Body-Spirit
The Three Secrets of Aging invites us to uncover, discover, and recover our optimum Selves." Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., Author: The Second Half of Life.
Elder Fairy Tales
"A guide to finding hidden wisdom in classic tales … a rich feast." Jonathan Young, PhD, Founding Curator, Joseph Campbell Archives
Nonfiction, Mind-Body-Spirit
"The radical but universal teaching that the sacred marriage of heaven and earth is possible." Matthew Fox, author of 28 books on Creation Spirituality
Non-fiction, Body-Mind-Spirit
“A work of tremendous spiritual vision, courage and insight, Ordinary Enlightenment makes God as real and tangible as the morning sunlight.” John Gray, Author: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Psychology/Spirituality/Men's Issues
"Dr. Robinson has written a book from his heart...More than a book, it is a story, a meditation, a celebration and a map of the potential transformation of men..." Robert Johnson, Author He, She, We
"I wish you the very best of luck in bringing out your work...Its value is evident to me and you deserve a large and grateful audience for it." Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., Author Heading Toward Omega

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