Have you ever thought about the distinction between childhood and old age? Ordinarily we think they are opposite to each other – childhood on the one hand, old age on the other. But what is the distinction between childhood and old age really? The difference is only of years, the difference is only of days; the difference is not qualitative, it is only quantitative.
For example, there is a child aged five. We can call him “an old man of five” – what’s wrong with that? It is simply linguistic usage that we say “a child five years of age.” If we want to we can call him – as is done in English – “five years old,” which can also mean “an old man of five.” One is just an old man of seventy, while there is someone who is five years old. What is the difference? If we want, we can call a seventy – year-old man a seventy-year-old child – after all, a child grows into an old man. But when we look at them separately they seem like two contradictory things. It seems like childhood and old age are contrary to each other, but if they are, then no child can ever become old. How can he? How can two contrary things be the same? Have you ever been able to note the day a child turned into an old man? Or which night? Can you note on a calendar that on such and such a day this man was a child and then on such-and – such a day he became old?
In fact, the problem is…. For example, there are steps leading to the terrace. You can see the lower steps and you can see the steps on the top as well, but you may not be able to see the steps in the middle section. It may look as if the lower steps and the steps on top are separate, far away from each other. But one who can see the whole staircase will deny such a distinction. He will say, “The difference between the steps below and the steps above only appears because of the steps in between. The very step at the bottom is connected with the step on the top.”
The difference between hell and heaven is not of quality, the difference is only of quantity. Don’t think hell and heaven are contrary, diametrically opposite to each other. The difference between hell and heaven is the same as between cold and hot, between the lower rung and the higher rung, between a child and an old man.
The same sort of difference exists between birth and death; otherwise one who is born will never be able to die. If birth and death were contrary to each other, how could birth end in death? We can only reach to a point of our natural growth. Birth grows into death – this means birth and death are two ends of the same thing. We sow a seed, it grows into a plant, and then it becomes a flower. Have you ever believed there was any opposition between the seed and the flower? The flower grows out of the seed itself and becomes a flower. Growth is in the seed.