That’s why children look so beautiful: because they are yet full of hope, full of dreams, and they have not yet known frustration. Old people start looking very, very dead. Hopes have leaked out, by and by, and there is only frustration – a very bad taste on the tongue. Experience makes people bitter. Experience makes people lose their innocence, lose their hope, lose their trust. But it is not experience really – because they wanted to make their dreams real, that’s why. Otherwise you can remain as innocent to the very end of your life as in the beginning – in fact, even more – because the innocence that happens in childhood is just natural. It has not been tested against fire; it is very fragile. It has no crystallization in it. It is just a gift; it has not been earned. But when an old man is childlike and innocent, then nothing can destroy it. Then it has a solidity to it, then it is substantial; he has earned it.
But how does one earn innocence? – by learning from frustrations, by going deep into frustrations and realizing the fact that each frustration is an outcome of a certain dream. If you don’t want frustrations, drop dreaming. Life is not frustrating, dreaming is frustrating.
I have heard Mulla Nasruddin say to his son, “It is none of your business to know or inquire how I first met your mother, but I can tell you one thing: it sure cured me of whistling.”
If your life can cure you of whistling and dreaming, it will be enough, more than enough, more than life can give to you. It will be a great realization.
But what happens? The moment one dream is frustrated, we immediately replace it, substitute it with another dream, maybe an even bigger dream. We never look into the reality. We go on saying that man proposes and God disposes. God has never disposed of anything. It is you, in your very dream, who both proposes and disposes. It is your own proposal that carries the seeds of disposal because it is not in tune with reality. It is your expectation that carries the seeds of frustration.
God, or call it reality, has never frustrated anybody. It is always showering on you; it is always ready to fulfill you to the deepest core of your being. But you won’t listen to reality. You are too much with dreams.
This is what I call religious conversion: listening to reality and dropping the dreams is religious conversion. It will be difficult, hard, arduous in the beginning, because the dreams persuade you so easily and they show you such wonderful visions, fantasies. Dreams are great poets: they paint, they poetize, they fantasize; they create such beautiful hopes in you, paradises, heavens. They are all dreams. But you can live hoping, and today’s misery can be tolerated because of tomorrow’s dream.
It is very difficult to drop tomorrow’s dream because then suddenly you become aware of the misery that is here today. But remember, that misery is created by yesterday’s dream. It has nothing to do with today. Yesterday’s dream has created the misery today; tomorrow’s dream will create misery again. So when you drop tomorrow’s dream, you will not suddenly become happy, because yesterday’s dream will still linger on. You have sown the seeds – who is going to cut the crop? But half is done when you drop tomorrow’s dream. Yesterday’s dream, its frustration, has to be passed through. That’s what in India we call tapas, austerity. “Yesterday’s dream was my dream. I have sown it, so l have to go through the suffering. I have to pass through the frustration. I accept it; it is my own doing. Nobody else is responsible, but now I am not going to sow any more seeds.”