Chapter 20: A Graceful Old Age Is Your Birthright
I said, “On this point you are right, but on the second point you are wrong. Who ever told you that I am a religious person? I am not yet dead! - to be religious the basic requirement is to be dead. If you are alive you can only be a hypocrite, you cannot be really religious.”
When you will see a bird on the wing, it is impossible not to rejoice in its freedom. And when you will see the sunset with all the colors spread on the horizon - even if you close your eyes, your very effort of closing the eyes will show your interest. You have been overwhelmed by the beauty of it.
Life is another name of love.
And love is nothing but being sensitive to beauty.
I said to that so-called saint, “I can renounce religion but I cannot renounce life, because life has been given to me by existence itself, and religion is just man-made, manufactured by the priests and the politicians; manufactured to deprive man of his joy, to deprive man of his dignity, to deprive man of his humanity itself.
“I am not a religious person in your sense. I have a totally different definition of being religious. To me the religious person is one who is totally alive, intensely alive, aflame with love, aware of tremendous beauty all around; has the courage to rejoice each moment of life and death together. Only a man who is so capable of rejoicing in life and death - his song continues. It does not matter whether life is happening or death is happening, his song is not disturbed, his dance does not waver?”
Only such an adventurous soul, only such a pilgrim of existence is religious. But in the name of religion man has been given poor substitutes, false, phony, meaningless, just toys to play with. Worshipping statues, chanting man-made mantras, paying tributes to those who have been cowards and escapists and who were not able to live life because they were so afraid of death, and calling them saints, religion has distracted man from true and authentic religiousness.
Devageet, you need not be worried about old age. And it is even more beautiful that people have starting thinking about you as ancient. That means you have attained to the real transcendence, you have lived everything. Now it is your maturity. You have not renounced anything, but you have simply passed through every experience. You have grown so experienced that now you need not repeat those experiences again and again. This is transcendence.
You should rejoice, and I would like the whole world to understand the rejoicing that is our birthright in accepting with deep gratitude the old age and the final consummation of old age into death.
If you are not graceful about it, if you cannot laugh at it, if you cannot disappear into the eternal leaving a laughter behind, you have not lived rightly. You have been dominated and directed by wrong people. They may have been your prophets, your messiahs, your saviors, your tirthankaras; they may have been your incarnations of gods, but they have all been criminals in the sense that they have deprived you of life and they have filled your hearts with fear.