Chapter 20: A Graceful Old Age Is Your Birthright
That is the truth of our being. Once it is understood, you are neither worried about old age nor worried about death, because looking around you, you can be absolutely satisfied that nothing ever begins, it has been always there; nothing ever ends, it will remain always there.
The idea of being old fills you with great anxiety. It means now your days of life, of love, of rejoicings are over, that now you will exist only in name. It will not be a rejoicing, but only a dragging towards the grave. Obviously you cannot enjoy the idea that you are just a burden in existence, just standing in a queue which is moving every moment towards the graveyard.
It is one of the greatest failures of all cultures and all civilizations in the world that they have not been able to provide a meaningful life, a creative existence for their old; that they have not been able to provide a subtle beauty and grace, not only to old age, but to death itself.
And the problem becomes more complicated because the more you are afraid of death, the more you will be afraid of life too. Each moment lived, death comes closer.. A man who is afraid of death cannot be in love with life, because it is life finally that takes you to the doors of death. How can you love life? It was for this reason that all the religions started renouncing life: renounce life because that is the only way to renounce death. If you don’t live life, if you are already finished with the job of living, loving, dancing, singing, then naturally you need not be afraid of death; you have died already.
We have called these dead people saints; we have worshipped them. We have worshipped them because we knew we would also like to be like them, although we don’t have that much courage. At least we can worship and show our intentions. If we had courage or one day if we gather courage, we would also like to live like you: utterly dead. The saint cannot die because he has already died. He has renounced all the pleasures, all the joys; all that life offers he has rejected. He has returned the ticket to existence saying, “I am no more part of the show.” He has closed his eyes.
It happened once that a so-called saint was visiting me. I took him into the garden - there were so many beautiful dahlias, and I showed him those beautiful flowers in the morning sun. He looked very strangely at me, a little annoyed, irritated, and he could not resist the temptation to condemn me, saying, “I thought you were a religious person.and you are still enjoying the beauty of the flowers?”
On one point he is right, that if you are enjoying the beauty of the flowers, you cannot avoid enjoying the beauty of human beings; you cannot avoid enjoying the beauty of women; you cannot avoid enjoying the beauty of music and dance. If you are interested in the beauty of the flowers, you have shown that you are still interested in life, that you cannot yet renounce love. If you are aware of beauty, how can you avoid love?
Beauty provokes love; love imparts beauty.