Sage-ing with Creative Spirit



in Kelowna

Creative By Nature

Nurses Day

Learning in Retirement




Okanagan Institute ArtsCare

Produced in
association with the
Okanagan Institute

Exploring the Arts of

Listening, Sharing and Reaping

Develop exciting, perceptive new ways of being and interacting. This is a collaborative experiential course in which together we will probe our creative imaginations to develop personal reference journals for building new ways of being with ourselves, with youth, and with the environment. Through discerning acceptance of the skills we have developed and letting go without judgement into new areas of creative expression, we can transform the future. The group will be open to exploring visual arts, writing, drama and music.

Recommended reading:
From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald S. Miller "Using tools for inner growth ... harvest wisdom ... transmit a legacy to future generations"
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

The Kelowna Art Gallery July 24 to September 26: The Tree: From the Sublime to the Social



  • To expand self perception and vision through contemplative and creative inquiry.
  • To foster belief in Creative Aging
  • To give opportunity for developing personal direction to achieve Spiritual Elderhood, a concept developed by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald Miller in their book From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older


  • Each of us has ... an 'elder within' made up of all the images we possess about later life. - Ken Dychtwald and Joe Flower Age Wave

  • Much like software that we insert into the active memory of a computer, the program that we run dictates whether we will have a fearful, unattractive old age, or a creative fulfilling one. - Zlman Schachter-Shalomi From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older

    In their vision for growing older Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald Miller present a new model for Spiritual Elderhood drawing from three sources:

  • Models of the traditional tribal elder whose wisdom has guided social order for thousands of years.

    "In the past Native Aboriginals of North America lived their lives in harmony with nature and their own nature. It was a way of thinking, a way of being. It was not a way of adversary, of being adversarial to nature and one's own nature. Their ways were to understand human nature and the environment and their part in it ... the life force involved in and articulated through the unique 'creative process' used by Native people is one which could make a necessary contribution to the thinking of many peoples." - Canadian Architect Douglas Cardinal

  • State of the art breakthroughs in brain-mind consciousness research
  • The ecology movement which urges us to live in harmony with the natural world

    Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald Miller propose that these forces can converge in the contemporary sage, seniors whose explorations in consciousness can achieve an elderhood that is appropriate for modern man. The model for developing elderhood not only restores the elder to a position of honour and dignity, it envisions elders as agents of evolution propelled by the future of humanity's expanded brain-mind potential and guided by the wisdom of the past. The authors suggest that with an increased life span and emerging understanding of how the brain can function to expand the mind's frontiers, the concept of spiritual elders heralds the next phase of human and global development. They call this sage-ing. To sage one uses contemplative techniques and creative process to awaken the intuitive capacities of mind associated with inner knowledge, wisdom and expanded perception. By activating dormant powers of intuition, we can become seers who feed wisdom back into society. Sages will serve as evolutionary pathfinders offering hope and guidance to all those searching for models of a fulfilled human potential.

    When I read From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older, I felt my heart open and my mind fill with vision. It presents an invitation to each of us to look at ourselves with clear loving eyes as we age, to savour the wisdom we've gained and to offer the best of who we are to ourselves, to those we love, to our communities and to our planet earth. Reflecting on my twenty-seven year career as a Visual Arts and English teacher and fifteen years as an active learner in retirement, I developed Sage-ing With Creative Spirit: Exploring the Arts of Listening, Sharing and Reaping.

    Since February 14th 2008 I have facilitated a co-operative painting group which I call heART FIT. It is founded in my passionate conviction that Creativity is the language of the heart. It is the gift each of us has received to share with each other. Creativity is life force propelling us to evolve. From Age-ing to Sage-ing resonated with the goals I perceived for heART FIT and I developed the program Sage-ing With Creative Spirit to achieve the development of elderhood in my community. This program is funded by the Federal Government's New Horizons for Seniors Programs.

    From Age-ing to Sage-ing explains that ... Elders are wisdom keepers who have a responsibility to safeguard society's well-being and the health of our ailing planet Earth ... Using creative tools for inner growth elders come to terms with their mortality, harvest the wisdom of their years, and transmit a legacy to future generations. Serving as mentors, they pass on the distilled essence of their life experiences to others. The joy of passing on wisdom to younger people not only seeds the future, but crowns an elder's life with worth and nobility.

    Sage-ing With Creative Spirit is the product of my life's experience as an English and Visual Arts teacher, a painter, a writer and a keen researcher. Antiquity identified a sage as a wise person. Aristotle noted that "wisdom is a form of goodness ... not scientific knowledge but another kind of cognition". A pronouncement of the sages was to "Know Thyself.", a stance that has been expanded and reinforced through the ages. From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older was released in 1997, the year I and the first of the baby boomers turned 50. The twenty-first century will have the largest senior population in the history of humanity. We have had rich lives. I see divine intent. At university, I was intrigued by the theories of Carl Jung and his studies on self discovery and the need for each of us to individuate. Jung spoke of himself as "a natural being" who sought to penetrate his inner self and link his experience to ancient writings and artistic expression. This Self he described as "God within us." Jung's conviction that, The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity strongly impacted my way of thinking and teaching. Unfortunately, this perspective did not impact teaching curriculum in the twentieth century which emphasised the passing on of facts and scientific knowledge deemed significant for our culture's advancement.  Teaching curriculum did not encourage authentic creativity. When the individual looks within for the source of inspiration, he/she gains confidence and self respect. Acts of authentic creation nurture Self. Scientific advancement in the twentieth century has brought progress, but for many self knowledge and individual self esteem have lagged and many are afraid to explore their creative urgings. There is work to be done for many seniors to find the integrity that a life deserves. After retirement, I was fortunate to be mentored by a number of contemporary sages, octogenarians whose lives had explored the arts from a variety of perspectives. I sat with them; I listened to their stories; I observed and I grew in cognition, a questioning that cultivates perceiving and knowing. My personal search for meaning, commitment to age wisely and to share my understandings has given me purpose. Respect must be restored. Health must be created. Cultural transformation must be sought. Elders are needed.

    If we gain the ability to look into ourselves with honesty, compassion and with unclouded vision, we can identify the ways we need to take care of ourselves. We can see the areas of the self formerly hidden in the dark. The potential for wholeness health, resides in all of us ...

    There are two basic values that can assist us to heal and remain whole, if we honour them. The first value is our own creative self ... The gods, we are taught, created humankind in their own image. Everyone has the urge to create. Its expression may flow through many channels: through writing, art or music, through the inventiveness of work or in any number of ways unique to all of us, whether it be cooking, gardening or the art of social discourse. The point is to honour the urge. To do so is healing for ourselves and for others; not to do so deadens our bodies and our spirits ... "What is in us must out," wrote Hans Selye, "otherwise we may explode in the wrong places or become hopelessly hemmed in by frustrations. The great art is to express our vitality through the particular channels and at the particular speed Nature foresaw for us."

    The second great affirmation is of the universe itself - our connection with all that is. The assumption that we are cut off, alone and without contact is toxic, but - no matter how cruelly and how consistently life has shown us this dark shadow - it is no more than a bitter illusion. It forms part of the pathological biology of belief ... We are part of the universe with temporary consciousness, but never apart from it. Not by coincidence is the word seeking so frequently employed in relation to spiritual work ... Faced with illness, many people seek their spiritual selves almost instinctively, often in surprising ways.

    - When The Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, Gabor Maté MD

    Click here to download my story of Sage-ing With Creative Spirit - "Recycle the Source: Leave a Karmic Footprint"

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