Alzheimer’s Part 2

In his work Meditations on the Tarot, the great spiritual master Valentin Tomberg, writing under the pseudonym Anonymous, stated that people engaged in spiritual life and practice have an immunity against developing Alzheimer’s disease. My personal experience of knowing such people through the 50 or so years spent along this pathway has confirmed this for me. My own spiritual teacher, Colette Aboulker–Muscat died at nearly 95 with intact mental functioning. Now, an article has appeared in the May 22, 2009 New York Times about people over 90 not developing Alzheimer’s. There the discussion described a number of seemingly contributory findings including one by a gentleman in his 90’s who said that he lives for the day. One factor that appears seems to corroborate a finding made a number of years ago in a study of people living over 100 years. While that study was not about dementia, there was a common thread I noted: response to loss. There seems to be a correlation relating to bearing loss and increased longevity in the earlier investigation and the decline in a person’s life when inability to bear loss occurs.

What was absent from the Times report was any mention of longevity tied to God, that is, a strong spiritual or religious feeling or practice. The spiritual dimension was almost touched upon by the respondent who said he "lives for the day." Living for the day is the hedonist’s national anthem. It is to gain sensory pleasure, especially at any cost. Had he said living "in" the day he would have made a spiritual statement.

The essential difference between a spiritual and hedonistic direction is that of "in" or "for". If you are conscious spiritually, then "in"; "for" if you are conscious materialistically or hedonistically (they are synonymous). Being conscious of both, i.e., connected to both, leads to confusion, self-deception and can be called spiritual materialism.