It is interesting to note that the Indian (Hindu) culture puts the age for the most intense spiritual work at the end of life, in old age. When you get older you see more clearly that you have very little physical or will power left to create or even change situations in your life. Every age has its own job or task, and the task of old age is learning to live with loss of all kinds, not just loss of people around you who pass away, but also loss of your faculties, of your ability to see clearly, hear well, and move about in the world. These things begin to fall away and we must learn to let them go because no amount of struggle will turn back the years. It is in our acceptance that we see we need to deepen our trust in God, in what lies beyond our own effort.
In old age there is a loss of identity, of who or what you have been to others and in the world. Every older person knows personally how it is to fade into invisibility. These lessons, and the acceptance of their truth teaches you about the end of self. I have been at the bedside of people who were dying and who had not particularly lived what might be called a spiritual life in the modern jargon, but who were good decent people, people who believed in God. There is a process that takes place with many of them as they are going toward their death, where they seem to realize the profundity of what is happening to them and therefore are able to let go with a kind of hopefulness. This is the gradual erasing or transformation of self. And when self begins to be transformed or to fade, What Remains comes into view.