Give Respect to the Elderly if you Want Respect from Younger People – 10 Dec 10

Today we came from Tornesch to Lüneburg. In the morning, before Regina dropped us in Lüneburg, we went to say good-bye to her grandmother, too. She is 88 years old, about the age of my own grandmother. She lives in one house with Regina’s mother, just next to Regina’s own house.

There is a shloka in an old scripture that I remembered when meeting her this morning:

Abhivadan Shilasya Nityam Vriddhopasevinah
Chatwari Tasya Vardhante
Ayur Vidya Yasho Balam

An English translation could be:

For those who are humble and always serve the elderly, four things of life steadily increase: their life span, wisdom, fame and power.

It is beautiful to have an older person around because they have so much experience that can guide us. Of course we have to learn our own lessons and life today is very different from what is was for them when they were your age. Still however you can listen to what they have experienced and see where they came with these experiences.

If you want to be respected by those who are younger than you, you should also respect those who are older. Your children will see how you pay respect to the elderly and in the same way they will love and respect you, now and when you are old.

Your grandparents may sometimes seem to you like children, who forget how things work, what happened and some other, more or less unnecessary details. They often don’t like being alone and they want to do things their way. Love them like you love children, with much patience and without big expectations.

When we said good-bye to Regina’s grandmother, she said exactly the same words that my grandmother in India always says when we leave the Ashram: ‘I don’t know if I will still be alive the next time that you come.’ And we replied the same thing that we always say to Naniji: ‘You said the same thing last time and you are still here. You will be here the next time, too.’

29 Replies to “Give Respect to the Elderly if you Want Respect from Younger People – 10 Dec 10”

  1. I think you are right – we have to make respect for every age – child – grown ups and elderly people – every age can contribute with something …

  2. Awe! It is so sad when someone thinks they will be dead before they see you again. Walking away from someone like that is so hard. You know once they are dead they won’t mind not having seen you but… God, it takes a lot to come to a point where knowing that matters enough to give you peace. I’m scared of being old- I’m bad enough at being young, I can’t imagine what being old will be like. God bless you older people! your life is so different and we have no way of knowing until we’re there. and then there’s no way to go back, that takes strength.

  3. It’s just the natural order of things really, I always say we are animals too and in the animal world everyone is happy when they stick to the natural order, that involves respect for olders and also discipline!

  4. Does what you say to your grandmother seem to comfort her? It reminds me of the times I have felt great fear or sadness and people have told me something that wasn’t true. It scared me more. Why do you say this to her when she it is not true? Does it not feel like pushing her aside? I hope this question doesn’t seem insulting. I am genuinely curious because I trust your actions so much and don’t understand this one.

  5. Haha, I have never considered my memories of my parents treating their parents like unwanted children having an effect on the lack of respect I gave to my parents growing up. But I can see a strong connection now.

  6. A lot of people have said “I don’t want to be like my parents,” and you hear about midlife crisisies where men and women panic saying “Oh my gosh, I’m just like my mother!” Haha, the horror (I hope to be like my parents)! But this saying is around for a reason…Because whether or not we intend to we often follow in our parents footsteps. I really value what you have said here Swami Ji.

  7. I’m really poor at handling my father’s demand to have things his way. And yes he is always lonely. Visits with him are very tiring. I’ll take this advice to heart.

  8. My mother is one of the wisest people I know but it took me years to discover that because I wasn’t listening. She really speaks a different language.

  9. The elderly are an untapped resource in my capitalist nation. There is a lot of knowledge lost pushing them to the fringes of society. Are we so def to differences?

  10. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I don’t see my mother as having much to offer me. But I do love her and I do not want her to be sad or afraid or alone. She has given me a lot at least in certain ways and I have every intention of giving back. That is the respect I can offer her and she deserves it.

  11. Galatians 6:7-8: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

  12. I think that it is really interesting that both grandmothers were saying the same thing. It makes me feel sad, to think that they feel scared and alone. It reminds me of the tone of my daughter when she is afraid. That breaks my heart. I think you said the perfect thing.

  13. This is an excellent point. I have always said you should respect children if you want their respect but, respect elders is actually really important too to teach children.

  14. One thing I have always respected about more traditional cultures is the way in which they take care of the elderly. In America, we are likely to put our aging parents into nursing homes so we don’t have to “deal with” them in our busy lives. How sad! They brought you into life and you won’t help to ease them out of it?
    I am sad to say that my parents did not help foster a positive or close relationship with me and my grandparents. But they believe they had good reason.

    I promise to set a good example for my children by honoring, respecting, and caring for my parents as they age and prepare to leave the planet.

  15. The elderly are like children. They need a special kind of attention and in some way they need to be protected. We can learn from the youngest and also from the eldest. We can only expect respectation if we respect others. One of these days we will also get old and see how it feels, to have someone who cares.

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