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Chapter 9: On the Wise Ones of Old

If you are very very alert then a single experience can give you much. If you are not alert you will go on repeating the same experience and nothing will be gained.

A wise man falls in love only once, then he knows everything about it. He penetrates the whole mystery, he lives the whole mystery of it, he moves into its world, but so totally that not even a corner is left unlived. Then he comes out of it. Then there is no question of falling in love again - he has lived and he has known. He has become wise through experience. A foolish man will repeat the same thing again and again and again, and will never be able to learn anything from it.

Awareness and a courage to live have to be there, so it will happen only rarely that a child or a young man will be wise. Ordinarily a man will become wise when he is old, when he has lived all the seasons of life, when he is seasoned, when he has known all the climates, all the moods - when he has known the river of life in summer, when it is just a dry bed and nothing is left except a thirst, a hunger, a dry bed, a burning desire, and nothing else; and he has known the river of life in flood when it becomes vast, dangerously vast and it pretends to be an ocean.

He has known all the moods, he has moved in all the ways that life allows. He has lived as a sinner, he has lived as a saint, he is enriched by all experiences. When all the hairs of the head are white, a beauty comes to the face which can come only to an old man, never to a young man. Young men can be beautiful as far as physique is concerned. Shape, proportion, strength - yes, young men can be very beautiful. But as far as the soul is concerned, which evolves, grows only through much experience, only an old man can be beautiful.

Rarely it happens, because rarely are people aware; rarely do people live through life with meditation. Otherwise no young man can compete with the beauty of an old man. The beauty of an old man has a grace to it, a depth; a young man’s beauty is shallow, on the surface, just skin deep. An old man’s beauty has a depth in it - you go in and in and in and you never come to the bottom of it.

An old man is like a snowcapped peak of the Himalayas. Silent. The storm has passed. All that was needed to know he has known, nothing more is left to know. The ego has been dropped on the way somewhere because it was a burden, and with the ego and that burden you cannot reach to such a peak. When one moves toward the peak one has to leave everything by and by, by and by; the final peak is when you have to leave yourself also. You reach the peak as a non-being because even being becomes a burden in the final stages of life.

The East respects the old. And if you respect the old you respect the past. And the East has a nostalgia for the past.

Now this sutra:

The wise ones of old had subtle wisdom
And depth of understanding.

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