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 4 5 Seongmin Hong death in detail and study them as ideal models for life. The Record of Decent Death of Toegye provides the following de- scription (Hong and Yi 2007, 268): On November 15, 1570, the master’s [Note: Toegye] condi- tion became more serious. At this time, Gi Daeseung, who had been having an academic discussion with for eight years, sent a letter to ask after the master. The master was lying down but wanted to write back. He asked his student to write a reply to Gi and acknowledged that his claim about the theory of Investigation of things was wrong. On the morning of December 8, the master asked a student to water the plum pot. The weather was clear, but clouds sud- denly gathered around 5 p.m. and snow fell and piled up about an inch on the roof. A little later, the master asked a student to organize his seat and let him sit down. When a student helped him to a seat, he passed away in a sitting position. The clouds dispersed and the snow stopped. This story gives a truthful account of the death of a great master without any exaggeration. Toegye participated in political affairs until middle age, but in old age, he resigned from all government posts and moved to his hometown and concentrated on self-cultivation and education. His character and scholarship were praised by all, and the kings respected him. He never spoke rudely to anyone younger than thirty, and never ignored a servant girl. His daily affairs were always modest and reverent. He never neglected his studies and dis- cipline until the end of his life, and continued his academic discussions as usual, even though his health was so deteri- orated that he was about to die, and he willingly acknowl- edged the mistakes in his argument. And he loved a trifling life like a plum flowerpot as he usually did until the moment of his death. He continued his ordinary daily affairs with mor- al reverence and died decently. His death was a very quiet, ordinary, and peaceful event without surprise. He did not accept death painfully, nor did he feel sad about leaving. The reason he was able to maintain his daily routine in the face of death was because of his long self-cultivation and moral self-satisfaction. This attitude toward death was achievable because he only followed heaven’s mandate and was not afraid of death. This is called decent death (Ko. jeongjong ). 5 Conclusion It seems that there is no country for old men in the world, but it is also undeniable that there is no country where only young people live. It cannot be denied that the society we live in is becoming an aging society, and although this fore- cast is a serious future facing mankind, the alternative is not yet clear. Although various efforts will be required to address this problem, it does not seem appropriate to seek a solution that only focuses on providing material well-being to the el- derly. It is considered that the most important and basic need for people who have reached old age is spiritual welfare that allows them to recognize the meaning and value of old age and live with self-esteem and a sense of happiness as the subject of their own life. For the spiritual welfare of the elderly, religious and philosophical awareness, and education about the purpose of life and the whole process of life are necessary. This study attempted to clarify the contemporary meaning by investigating how traditional Korean Neo-Confu- cianism understood old age and how they hoped for spend- ing their old age. To this end, this study adopted a compara - tive method with the theory of gerotranscendence. This study first summarized the theory of gerotranscen - dence and compared it with the Confucian view of old age. Second, it examined that Confucianists gained emancipated innocence and immerse themselves in self-cultivation after retirement. It explained the two ways of cultivation, keep- ing reverence in tranquility and embodying the truth in the sage’s classics to transform an egoistic self into the cosmic Self. And finally, it considered life metaphysics and cosmic unity, and how Confucianists stipulated a decent death in the state of moral transcendence. In conclusion, this study claims that old age is a significant period of achieving the comple - tion of spirituality but not just as a period of bodily decrep - itude, and Confucian cultivation may play an important role on the spiritual lives of seniors. This study will have the following significance and prospects. By interpreting Confucianism as a source to be utilized for spiritual lives of seniors, it is possible to lay a cornerstone of Confucian gerontology in terms of applied religion. Also, this will open up the possibility of intercultural and interdisci- plinary communication, as well as facilitate an interreligious dialogue of spiritual experiences between different religions to create better spiritual welfare for seniors.

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