Skip to content

More on the Mystical Mind

The Mystical Mind – it would seem a topic, not very many people are willing (or interested in) to engage with. Perhaps it is seen to be too abstract. To me, that is exactly why it fits with this discourse on dementia, moving away from the biomedical, so-called scientific, reductionist debate.

For any person who has made it their duty to engage or truly connect with someone living with forgetfulness, or even someone who is very, very old, it will be clear that there is more to their being than just the sum total of their physiological (dys)function. Yet, we keep our focus on the dysfunction of organs or limbs. In so many discussions around ageing, we hear about heart failure, blood pressure, falls, hip replacements or incontinence issues. Yes, these ‘wear-and-tear’ issues are real. No, they are not the definition of what it means to be old.

I am intrigued, and mostly disheartened, by the insistence of so many people that ageing is about decline. The de cit discourse bemoaning loss has framed and contextualised ageing as the worst possible thing that could happen to us.

Yesterday I had the honour of being invited to lunch with Professor Monica Ferreira, founder of the Institute of Longevity Center at the University of Cape Town. Now “retired” (I do hate the construct), Monica has become my Mentor for my PhD. We shared a scrumptious meal that Monica prepared and talked about her beautiful garden, art and the state of “care” in South Africa. Monica shared the most poignant story about breaking her favourite Corningware pie dish. (I will not share the whole story, as I know that Monica will write a short story about it one day soon!)

Not everyone is a Professor, I know. And not everyone has the privilege of a successful career with major academic achievements.

Earlier on the same morning I spoke to M, our builder. M is well into his 70s as well, working hard to make a living and care for his frail wife. His is not an easy life. We chatted about his transition to becoming a Caregiver for his wife, and how this role crept up on him and caught him off guard. He told me about his Maltese poodle whom he found dead in her basket one morning a few weeks ago. This was the tipping point that pushed him into a place of such grief that he sat weeping for three hours. His wife called his pastor brother in a desperate attempt to console M. It was clear that M did not want to be consoled.

My Grandmother used to joke about the fact that as she got older, she got shorter and shorter, and literally started sagging in her frame. (“Mens sak tussen jou bene in” she always said). As our bone density decrease, we do actually get shorter as we age. We are indeed ‘cut down to size. However, this is also a powerful metaphor for me – we start resting on our frame, becoming more and more who we are, more and more real, in touch, and in tune.

Our fight against the Mystical or adopting a simplistic dogmatic religious simplification of our lived experience denies us this gift of ageing. The more we kick against ageing the more we miss the Mystical Mind. The pragmatic attitude of defying ageing closes the door on this stepping over the threshold into our One-ness, our Own-ness, our coming unto our Self. Our ageing brain matures into reflection and contemplation by drawing on our journey with a pie dish or a beloved dog to shed new light on the dark corners of our souls. The Mystical Mind unfolds in directing us towards the inner sanctuary of our true Being. And when we start forgetting how to communicate with the outside world, I do believe that we have a stronger connection with this Mystical Mind. If only the world would honour us in that place, meet us there where we are on our journey, our forgetfulness will not matter. It will simply be the place where we are One.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *