Understanding Old Age
Everybody is sooner or later bound to become old. We have to understand the beauty of old age, and we have to understand the freedom of old age; we have to understand its tremendous detachment from all things that go on in the lives of people who are still young.
Old age gives you a height. If this height can be joined with meditation...you will wonder: why did you waste your youth? Why did your parents destroy your childhood? Why was not meditation given to you as the first gift, the first day you were born? But whenever you get it, it is still not too late. Even just a few moments before your death, if you can get the meaning of your being, your life has not been a wastage.
Unless you accept everything that life brings to you with gratefulness, you are missing the point. Childhood was beautiful; youth has its own flowers; old age has its own peaks of consciousness. But the trouble is that childhood comes on its own; for old age, you have to be very creative.
Old age is your own creation. It can be a misery, it can be a celebration; it can simply be a despair and it can also be a dance. It all depends how deeply ready you are to accept existence, whatsoever it brings. One day, it will bring death too - accept it with gratitude.
Afraid of being old......
Life, if lived rightly, is never afraid of death. If you have lived your life, you will welcome death.
It will come like a rest, like a great sleep. If you have peaked, climaxed in your life, death is a beautiful rest, a benediction. But if you have not lived, of course death creates fear. If you have not lived, certainly death is going to take time from your hands, all future opportunities to live. In the past, you have not lived, and there is going to be no future: fear arises.
Fear arises not because of death but because you have not lived life. And because of the fear of death, old age also gives fear, because that is the first step of death. Otherwise, old age is also beautiful. It is ripening of your being, maturity, growth.
If you live moment to moment, to all the challenges that life gives, and you use all the opportunities that life opens, and if you dare to adventure into the unknown to which life calls and invites you, old age is a maturity. Otherwise, old age is a disease.
Unfortunately, many people simply age, they become old without any maturity corresponding to it. Then old age is a burden. You have aged in the body, but your consciousness has remained juvenile.
You have aged in your body, but you have not matured in your inner life. The inner light is missing, and death is coming close every day. Of course you will tremble and you will be afraid, and there will arise great anguish in you.
Those who live rightly, they accept old age with a deep welcome, because old age simply says that now they are coming to flower, that they are coming to a fruition, that now they will be able to share whatsoever they have attained.
Old age is tremendously beautiful, and it should be so because the whole of life moves towards it; it should be the peak. How can the peak be in the beginning? How can the peak be in the middle? But if you think your childhood is the peak, as many people think, then of course your whole life will be a suffering because you have attained your peak - now everything will be a declining, coming down.
If you think young age is the peak, as many people think, then of course after thirty-five you will become sad, depressed, because everyday you will be losing and losing and losing - and gaining nothing. The energy will be lost, you will weaken, diseases will enter into your being, and death will start knocking at the door. The home will disappear, and the hospital will appear. How can you be happy? The peak waits for the very end.
And if life flows rightly, by and by, you reach higher and higher peaks. Death is the ultimate peak that life attains, the crescendo.
But why are we missing life? Why are we ageing and not maturing? Somewhere something has gone wrong, somewhere you have been put on the wrong track; somewhere you have agreed to be put on the wrong track. That agreement has to be broken, that contract has to be burnt.
When you were small children, you compromised. You sold your being. For nothing. What have you gained is simply nothing. For small things, you have lost your soul. You have agreed to be somebody else other than yourself; that is where you missed your path.
The mother wanted you to become somebody, the father wanted you to become somebody, the society wanted you to become somebody; and you agreed. By and by, you decided not to be yourself. And since then, you have been pretending to be somebody else.
You cannot mature because that somebody else cannot mature. It is false. If you wear a mask, the mask cannot mature - it is dead. The face can mature, but not the mask. And only your mask goes on ageing; behind the mask, hiding, you are not growing. You can grow only if you accept yourself - that you are going to be yourself, nobody else.
You can never mature like somebody else. You can only mature like you. The 'shoulds' have to be dropped, and you have to drop too much concern about what people say.
What is their opinion?
Who are they?
You are here to be yourself, you are not here to fulfill somebody else's expectations - and everybody is trying to do that. The father may be dead, and you are trying to fulfill a promise you have given him. And he was trying to fulfill a promise to his own father, and so on and so forth.
Try to understand, and take courage. And take life in your own hands. Suddenly, you will see an upsurge of energy. The moment you decide, 'I am going to be myself and nobody else. Whatsoever the cost, I am going to be myself' - that very moment you will see a great change. You will feel vital. You will feel energy streaming in you, pulsating.