Youth is the time of romance. That’s why young people have never been taken seriously. The elders, the old people who have passed through all experiences of life, have been respected throughout history. You will not find a single civilization where the young man was respected – just tolerated; he was only a nuisance and nothing else. But the old people knew – they were also young once, they have also befooled themselves in many ways: “There is nothing to worry about, these young people will also get over their romantic ideas, ideas of revolution, of the future of mankind.”
As death comes, you will shrink to a single question: What is beyond death, what is going to happen? If there is a God, then I am doomed – my whole life I denied him.
If there is no God, that too is scary. Then you will become a ghost, without a body, a consciousness who wants things but cannot get them, because things are material and the ghost is not material, he has no material body. This is one possibility, which is not very appealing.
And ghosts have never been known to paint, or to compose poetry, music. They have never been known to dance and enjoy. Ghosts don’t fall in love, for the simple reason that the ghost has lost the body, the biology, the physiology; he is just a shadow.
It is not appealing to become a ghost and wander around hungry for all the things that he had desired in life. He would like to have a woman, but in ghosts I have never heard that there is any sexual difference. They are all alike. There is no beautiful ghost, and there is no ugly ghost; there is no male ghost, there is no female ghost. And they are stuck with all kinds of desires.
No, no old man would like to live like that; it is better to die completely. Death should be total, not only of the body but of the soul too. That will be a great relaxation, because if you are not, who is going to worry?
Just think back: when you were not born, do you remember that you were very much concerned about things – nuclear weapons, world war, Ethiopia? And do you think that before your birth, when you were non-existential, there was any problem? There was no problem. Not to be is the end of all problems, all sufferings, all misery.
But if there is a God, the old man who has denied him all his life is in despair. He cannot say now that God exists. It goes against his ego which he has cultivated for seventy, eighty years. And now he cannot stand up so strongly for his disbelief either.
It is my experience that any atheist I have come across is always young. I have never come across an old man who is an atheist. It is a similar case: you never come across an old man who is a hippie. To be a hippie you need to be between twenty-five and thirty-five. For those ten years you have strength to fight the society, to go against its morality, to do things which are not allowed – to take drugs…. It is a challenge.