Book Review: The Grace in Aging

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by Jane Ganahl

The Grace in Aging
Awaken as You Grow Older
By Kathleen Dowling Singh
Wisdom Publications

The Grace in Aging, by renowned Buddhist teacher Kathleen Dowling Singh, establishes guideposts in the fog for those seeking greater meaning and fulfillment as they edge toward life’s grand finale. She urges us to reclaim the process of aging.

No longer content to take up knitting and watch reruns of “Seinfeld,” many of us instead embark on a spiritual path. Far from being “too late” to change our lives, Singh says the timing of middle age or seniorhood is perfect. “We can,” she writes, “dedicate these last years to waking up.”

Singh, who is a grandmother, a Dharma practitioner, and a psychotherapist, is also the author of The Grace in Dying. She offers wisdom from teachers from different spiritual backgrounds, including Chogyam Trungpa, the apostles, Annie Dillard, and more. She speaks often of death, and asks pointed questions without answers. But rather than feeling disheartened by her challenging lessons, the impact is exhilaration—for the most part.

As The Grace in Aging progresses, Singh’s rhetoric can become so complex that it threatens to leave the layperson behind. “The overview understanding of a path, the map of it, is a skillful means,” is one sentence upon which I dwelled far too long without illumination, and there are many others that indicate this volume was written for people not only already on the path, but far along it.

But, as she notes, “the spiritual path is not an airlift out of suffering.” Nor is reading this book. But both have their ample rewards.

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