Chapter 20: A Graceful Old Age Is Your Birthright
You have not been coming for so long that now the gossip has changed about me: that I am no more old, I am really ancient. What should I do now?
Devageet, all these days that I have not been coming, I have been watching. An ancient tree, just by the side of my house, has been dancing in the rain, and its old leaves are falling with such grace and such beauty. Not only is the tree dancing in the rain and the wind, the old leaves leaving the tree are also dancing; there is celebration.
Except man, in the whole existence nobody suffers from old age; in fact, existence knows nothing about old age. It knows about ripening; it knows about maturing. It knows that there is a time to dance, to live as intensely and as totally as possible, and there is a time to rest.
Those old leaves of the almond tree by the side of my house are not dying; they are simply going to rest, melting and merging into the same earth from which they have arisen. There is no sadness, no mourning, but an immense peace in falling to rest into eternity. Perhaps another day, another time they may be back again, in some other form, on some other tree. They will dance again; they will sing again; they will rejoice the moment.
Existence knows only a circular change from birth to death, from death to birth, and it is an eternal process. Every birth implies death and every death implies birth. Every birth is preceded by a death and every death is succeeded by a birth. Hence existence is not afraid. There is no fear anywhere except in the mind of man.
Man seems to be the only sick species in the whole cosmos. Where is this sickness? It should really have been otherwise.man should have enjoyed more, loved more, lived more each moment. Whether it is of childhood or of youth or of old age, whether it is of birth or of death, it does not matter at all. You are transcendental to all these small episodes.
Thousands of births have happened to you, and thousands of deaths. And those who can see clearly can understand it even more deeply, as if it is happening every moment. Something in you dies every moment and something in you is born anew. Life and death are not so separate, not separated by seventy years.
Life and death are just like two wings of a bird, simultaneously happening. Neither can life exist without death, nor can death exist without life. Obviously they are not opposites; obviously they are complementaries. They need each other for their existence; they are interdependent. They are part of one cosmic whole.
But because man is so unaware, so asleep, he is incapable of seeing a simple and obvious fact. Just a little awareness, not much, and you can see you are changing every moment. And change means something is dying - something is being reborn. Then birth and death become one; then childhood and its innocence become one with old age and its innocence.