Human adulthood and Eldership

Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.” ~ Maya Angelou

A human adult is a sovereign human being…not an adult of this or that culture but a human adult.
The systematic, psychological neoteny of our society means that there is no cultural pressure to reach adulthood and consequently there is a constant movement into power as people try to find their way to the power state that is the human adult. Only the adolescent is continually trying to discover power.

Adults live in their own authority:
…have completed their child/adolescent authority issues
…are emotionally independent
…have a sovereign sexuality
…have sometime rather than permanent identification with the content of their own thought
…have a living relationship with death
…and are intimate with their life-force and through that with nature.

The movement into adulthood within individual lines of development is as big a transformation as the one from physical childhood to physical adolescence. This is not well known because not many folk make the journey; not since our people lost our Elders in the march of civilization. Even in the time of the 13th century, the Persian Sufi Master Rumi said, “All people on the planet are children, except for a very few.”

“Most people are kidults” – Patrick White

It is a disappointment to be raised in all the cultural expectations, armed with the many tools to succeed, only to discover that you need to pioneer your own growth into adulthood. Indeed, to discover that the very culture itself is juvenile and is in serious need of growing up.

Neoteny: The retention of juvenile features in the adult animal: Oxford living dictionary

Evolutionary psychiatrist Bruce Charlton at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England writes that in traditional, first nations societies, maturity came by the late teens or early twenties.
“By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people…(who) are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to overreact.”
This is called psychological neoteny.

The goals of the methods and attitudes of Tanaiki are a growing into the power of self-knowledge and consequently through the initiations into human adulthood. These are not initiations of a particular culture, but into conscious culture.


It is essential to learn about pain and pleasure. “I think it’s childish to want to avoid the pain of life” ~ Joseph Campbell

It is essential to learn about our hungers.

It is essential to be in direct and intimate relationship with our life force (ki,prana, mana, chi) in each moment.

It is essential to take responsibility for our conditioning so that we may grow into our own authority.

It is essential to mature our sexuality from the animal and the adolescent into the mature sexuality that is commonly called “Tantric” or “Sacred” sexuality, where the cultivation of the inner use of this vital force makes us powerful.

It is essential to mature the emotional life until we become emotionally independent.

It is essential to mature our morality until it becomes intimate with all things, morphing into compassion and love for the ‘other’.

It is essential to be aware of the two diets, conscious diet and cultural diet.

It is essential to be intimate with the primal elements of nature.

It is essential to be intimate with the cultural and individual Dreamwork.

…and it is essential to develop an adult mind which can heal quickly and fully, which can discriminate the moment from yesterday and raise the young to be conscious…

One’s lifestyle needs to be able to accommodate the ending of adolescence.
Through discriminating the differences of the animal, cultural and Spirit selves and creating community through conscious relating, we grow up the young parts of us in the various lines of development.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another”
~ Anaïs Nin – The Delta of Venus

The transition from late adolescence to young adulthood is more dramatic than that from physical childhood to physical/sexual adolescence – it is a complete alteration in the movement of the underlying energy of life…brought on by the wonder and consciousness of it …the adolescent falls in love, the adult rises in love…
​So it takes a very great deal of energy to penetrate the cultural imperative that is within and all around us.

It takes an adult discipline to awaken the animal body and to use its energy for this purpose instead of simply feeding its largely unconscious hungers. It requires a natural discipline that arises out of the deep feeling field rather than one imposed by an external authority.
Feeling is the conduit for our Spirit. It is through feeling that we engage with the life force and rise above our cultural imperative. It is in the direct perception of that life force that we are matured, that we are transformed into adults in our various lines of development…

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