VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 FALL 2021

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 3 7 Seongmin Hong 1 Introduction According to the 2018 Organization for Economic Cooper- ation and Development (OECD) statistics, the average per- centage of the elderly population in OECD countries reached 17,4%. The average proportion of the elderly population is increasing across OECD countries and is projected to con- tinue increasing in the coming decades, rising to 27.1% by 2050. In five OECD countries (Italy, Portugal, Greece, Japan, and Korea), the share of the population aged 65 and over will exceed one-third by 2050 (OECD 2019). Humanity is in a gray dawn situation today (Peterson 2000, 33–36) and is expected to face even darker grey noon ahead. What should we prepare for the aging society of the future? First, it is necessary to strengthen socio-economic welfare policies for the elderly such as improving the design of pub- lic pensions, incentivizing private savings, enhancing the effi - ciency of health care provision, and promoting employability, etc. (OECD 2019). Economic welfare is an indispensable foundation for human survival, so it must be guaranteed to elderly people who lose economic productivity. However, it can never meet all the needs of the elderly because it is only a necessary condition for happiness, not a sufficient condi - tion. To provide welfare sufficient for the elderly, it is crucial to understand the meaning of old age in the cycle of a lifetime. What is old age? At least it is clear that old age is the last period in life followed by no other life-period (Lieberman and Tobin 1983, 203). It means that, on the negative side, old age can be nothing more than a period of passive waiting for impending death. But on the positive side, it is a period when one can deeply understand the meaning of the entire life and complete one’s existence, a special period that cannot be experienced or understood in the earlier period. What are, then, the needs of the elderly? Erikson (Erikson and Erikson 1997, 102) claims in this regard: The last ritualization built into the style of old age is phil- osophical: for in maintaining some order and meaning in the disintegration of body and mind, it can also advocate a durable hope in wisdom. Wisdom can help the elderly understand the fundamental meaning of life and bring kind of fulfillment to their lives, even though minds and bodies disintegrated. Also, it can con- tribute to dispelling all psychological factors that make the About the author Doc. Seongmin Hong, Ph.D. , is an Associate Professor of philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and a Director of Institute of Philosophy and Culture at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), South Korea. His research focuses on Korean and Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, Buddhism, and compar- ative philosophy. He publishes extensively in these fields. Among his most important publications are books Emotions and Morality in Neo-Confucianism , Ten Diagrams for Sage’s Learning , and The Canon of Wis- dom . His email address is mean@hufs.ac.kr . lives of the elderly miserable, for example, aging, alienation, and incapacity. The elderly can not only transform their pres- ent lives through philosophical wisdom but also affirm the value of their existence without falling into fear and futility even in the face of death. In this regard, what should be pro- vided to the elderly is probably spiritual welfare (Jeong 2001, 15). Religion can play an important role in the spiritual welfare of the elderly today. The elderly need religion to fulfill their spiritual needs, and the spiritual function of religion will be a meaningful contribution to them. It will contribute encour - aging them to discover the meaning of their existence and enhance their spirituality in the existential world. Simply put, spirituality in life is required [1]. In this respect, it is worth

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