Are you destined to become a spiritual Elder?
In our world, spiritual elderhood is a rarity. Since birth we are conditioned to believe that money, power, fame and success will bring us happiness. But eventually we realize that this is a grand delusion. Even the richest, most respected people continue to suffer from emptiness, depression, drug abuse and meaninglessness.
Yet somehow, many of us still feel pressured to continue our soulless pursuits, always chasing for the next “fix” and next temporary stimulation to fill our inner voids.
On the other hand, those of us who have woken up have realized that something in our lives needs to change. We have stopped looking outside for our happiness and have begun to go on an inner quest within the realms of our minds, hearts and souls for answers.
Yet despite our spiritual awakening, many of us are left wondering, “WHAT NEXT?” In other words, after you have experienced a spiritual awakening, what are the next steps to take?
Inside you might have this vague feeling that the next steps involve some kind of self-examination, but with so many paths available, which one do you take?
Spiritual Elderhood and Inner Work
I’m not here to give you a path — whatever path you choose is uniquely up to you and your soul purpose.
Instead, I’m simply here to give you my message. In fact, all of the articles on this website reflect this one message:
The need for inner work.
Whatever path you choose, you will not get very far without listening to your soul. Wherever you go, you will not progress without letting your soul ripen and blossom into maturity.
Inner work is the core need of every path and every pursuit. Without it, our lives feel empty, dead, directionless and meaningless. Without it, we remain psychologically and spiritually immature. In other words, without inner work we can never ripen into our fullest potential.
Right now, you might be wondering what inner work is.
It’s simple: inner work is the process of working with your mind, heart, and soul. This is done through the active practices of self-discovery, acceptance and healing.
Only when we actively commit to inner work every day can we grow into what I refer to as the spiritual Elder.
As master Lao Tzu once said:
One who knows others is intelligent. One who knows himself is enlightened. (Tao Te Ching verse 33)
11 Traits of a Spiritual Elder
Many people have asked me whether being an Old Soul is the end of the spiritual journey. My response is no, it’s not.
You can be born as an old soul, you can be born sensitive, intelligent or with intuitive gifts, but does that make you spiritually mature? Or even wise? Not necessarily.
Spiritual maturity comes with practice, effort and dedication. It’s something mankind rarely cultivates — but we all have the potential to develop it. Unfortunately, only a rare few do. And that is why true spiritual Elders are scarce in our society.
How many spiritual Elders have you met in your lifetime? Likely, you haven’t met very many, because very few people have ever put in the effort, or have the deep thirst for illumination.
Thankfully, within us all lies the capacity to develop wisdom. This ability to cultivate wisdom is not only reserved for old men and women, but it’s also available to us right now no matter how young or old we are.
Below I’ve compiled a list of 11 traits of the spiritual Elder, both from my own experience and those I have encountered on my path:
1. They have no interest in condemning other people
Spiritual Elders have no interest in judging other people for how awakened/unawakened, spiritual/unspiritual, kind/unkind, they appear to be. Everything is as it’s supposed to be in the grand scheme of things. They are aware that at one point they were in the same place, and that there is always a painful story behind every action and word. They realize that judging is more about the judger, than the one being judged.
As a famous quote says, “Once you awaken, you will have no interest in judging those who sleep.”
2. They have a deep respect for the earth and all of life
Elders honor and show compassion to the earth, its wisdom and every expression of Spirit. They are aware that they do not “own” or possess the earth, but are instead an equal participant. No living being is “superior” or “inferior” to another.
3. They are aware of the role of the ego
Elders are aware of the voice of the ego within them and its role in creating division and suffering. For this reason, their attachment to the ego is loose and their attachment to Spirit is much greater.
4. They are highly sensitive and empathetic without being reactive
Elders are highly sensitive to the thoughts, emotions and impulses both within themselves, and within other people. They are aware of the play of energy dynamics in different environments, and can easily put themselves in the shoes of others. However, Elders don’t suffer at the hands of their empathy or sensitivity because they have learned to establish boundaries, cultivate self-responsibility and non-resistance.
5. They are natural teachers
Elders have an innate desire to share their wisdom and they are the living embodiment of their teachings. No official position, degree or title is required for them to share the lessons of the soul.
6. They are able to embody unconditional love
… both for themselves and for others, even despite the worst circumstances. They realize that to love unconditionally, wholly, is to attain Divinity.
7. They are aware of spiritual bypassing traps
Elders know how prevalent and pervasive spiritual bypassing is, and they can easily discern truth from illusion. As a result, they are easily able to identify tricks of the mind and ego traps which lead to stunted spiritual growth.
8. They have few attachments
Elders have learned the importance of losing attachment to promises, prestigious titles, money, property, relationships, beauty and even health, knowing that all of these things are passing. Instead, they have cultivated strength at the level of Spirit and Soul.
9. They know that peace is now
Long ago Elders learned that the pursuit of happiness is an endless quest that perpetuates unhappiness. As a result, they are aware that the only true inner peace and joy that can be found is in the present moment. Consequently, Elders carry a boundless and changeless sense of peace that remains despite inner or outer circumstances.
10. They are happy both alone and with others
Elders have completed their solitary path of self-discovery as lone wolves, and have returned back to the pack with deep insight and understanding. They have learned to carry the peacefulness, wholeness and authenticity that they discovered in solitude in the company of others as well.
11. They have found wholeness
Finally, Elders have rediscovered the truth that they are already whole and complete at a core level – and the same applies to all human beings regardless of whether they know it or not. Consequently, Elders no longer feel the need to pursue happiness or contentment in anything outside of themselves. Life is seen to be perfect, just the way it is.
Can you imagine what would happen if we had more spiritual Elders within the fields of teaching, politics, science, medicine and religion? Imagine what the world would look like.
What are your thoughts about spiritual Elderhood?
I was always told I am a young soul, but look at it from a life of my 51 years and as the years progressed, my empathy and intuition has increased. I can read people from a minute of talking or meeting, my initiation has spooked me and now I see why..As a child of 8 years I almost died from a post operative haemorrhage to the throat, as they worked on me all I could see were three heavy medieval doors on a dark grey stone wall. I felt I had to choose. I feel drawn to all monastic music too. I thinks somehow I was alive back then, it must be 1300..I guess I am on the side of older than a young one.
I do not think i can be a spiritual leader; have no love for my fellow human but I have the chance to cross the path of 2 illumined ones, only briefly but you know who they are when you meet them, there is no doubt at all that they are there ( we all are in someway but stuck in somekind of cloud). The first one Arnaud Desjardins (french autor) go to one of is kind of spritual talking, wanted to know if this guy for reel (used to read his books ; very interesting) A lot of peoples around him cannot approch the guy, but at the end of the event he look at everybody in the eyes brifly but he take the time. I said to myself that is my chance to see who he really is, so i am ready, when my trun come I lock my eyes whith him and he stop and stay with me, do not know how long for me seem like 15 or 20 min. but at that moment I have not doubt he is not another new age bullshit phony want make monney kind of guy. the others start looking… Read more »
Sol&Luna together you are the light! Thank you for running this website!
The anonymous architect was tired and had lived to always follow the heart to fall in love with ideas, to fall in love with beauty to learn to have it broken to fall in love with partners, to fall in love with children to learn even better how to get the heart broken to learn how protection will become a prison to learn to breath in to learn to breath out very very slowly to learn that power often is delusion to learn what else could break this heart to only wonder if breathing helps to fall in love with eternity’s icy beauty to only wonder if the ideas, the beauty and the children will turn into ice as well. The anonymous architect wonders what his old master, the gardener, would have done. The master gardener had told to live to learn the difference between good and evil. But life gave no answers. Eternity was cold like ice. Maybe there was no answer to this question. Maybe it was a test. The anonymous architect was lonely, all this building had become lifeless and pointless. The old beloved garden seemd so far away. The anonymous architect decided to become a gardener… Read more »
Sol, what you share here is beautiful and wise. I have one question: how does a spiritual elder responds when he/she is pushed by force or emotional manipulation’s to do something that’s not aligned to his or her own values and being?
I am without a doubt an Elder soul. I’m 22 and had my spiritual awakening about two years ago. It can be lonely sometimes, there are moments when I wish for someone to confide in or advice on certain things and when I look into the world physical and internet I see no one who can help on the same level. Whenever Im within a spiritual group or class I can feel my spirit above, watching, and smiling at the young souls trying to figure it out. I wish there was a group or something of Elder souls.
The world is not broken, all is as it should be. Humans must go through a learning experience that will take many lifetimes. Mistakes are just part of the curriculum. When you boil it all down, there are only two things that affect all of sentient behavior, Fear and Empathy. Everything else derives from these two. Fear is the primordial survival instinct, it shows mercy to none. Empathy is the language of the heavens, what it is all about. As a soul progresses, the natural course is to abandon fear and embrace empathy. Without fear, you have no lust, greed, hate or any of the other “deadly sins”. With Empathy, you gain a connection with every living thing. Understanding and acceptance of all that is can be had.
From birth, everything is different., an at the same time., it’s not.
Doesn’t everyone do this? When you thought you were the same. Then noticed you are the one that is different.
I would def be an elder soul and i have the need not to be conceded nor humble..my biggest hurtle through my progression as a soul is being able to let go (go with the flow)+(go against the grain) at the same time..existence had a finesse or balance you must find for yourself weather or not you want to. this list of 10 items is me at this moment to a t..it was interesting and it made me realize something..I believe that all people should study religion(S) and think of how you would define a higher power compared to yourself..
This is the one and only topic in my life and all else revolves around it. I have been on a spiritual journey since childhood….innately. I understand, even as a senior, that due to ego I have so much growing to still do in a spiritual sense. It hasn’t been an easy journey most of the time, but a most rewarding one. On the other hand, due to the work I have done, sometimes I notice a great change in myself and I don’t even know quite how I got to this change…..nevertheless, I am grateful. I do love this article and I would love to keep up with this site. Thanks, Laura S.