The story does not go beyond seventy because it was originally told before man could expect to live more than seventy years. Seventy is the conventional age. If you are a conventional man then consult a calendar and die at exactly seventy. Any more than that is a little modern. Living till eighty, ninety, or even a hundred, that is ultra-modern, that is rebellious. That is going astray.
Do you know that in America there are people frozen in tanks because they were suffering from incurable diseases. Incurable at least today – perhaps in twenty years’ time we may have found the cure. So even though they could have lived a few more years with the disease, they decided to be frozen – at their own expense, remember.
In America it is always at your own expense. Even though they are frozen, almost dead, they are paying. They had to pay beforehand, in advance, for the coming twenty years, so that their bodies can be kept continuously frozen. It is, of course, an expensive affair. Only the very rich can afford it. I think the upkeep for a frozen body costs almost one thousand dollars per day. They are hoping, or rather they had hoped, that when a cure is found they could be unfrozen and brought back to life again, cured.
They are waiting – poor, rich fellows; there are at least a few hundred people all over America, waiting. This gives “waiting” a new meaning. This is a new kind of waiting; not breathing, and yet waiting. This is really waiting for Godot, and paying too.
The story is old, hence the proverbial seventy years. “The dog’s death” simply means the death of a man who has lived like a dog. Again, don’t be offended if you are a dog lover. It has nothing to do with dogs. Dogs are nice people. But “to live like a dog” means to live just for barking, enjoying the bark, shouting at each and every opportunity. Living like a dog simply means not living a human life but something subhuman, something less than human. And one who lives like a dog is bound to die like a dog.
Obviously you cannot have a death that you have not earned. I repeat: you cannot have a death that you have not earned, for which you have not been working your whole life. Death is either a punishment or a reward; it all depends on you. If you live superficially, then your death will be just a dog’s death. Dogs are heady people, very intellectual. If you live intensely, intuitively, from the heart, intelligently, not intellectually; if you allow your whole being to be involved in everything you do, then you can die a god’s death.
Let me coin another phrase, opposite to a “dog’s death”: “a god’s death.” As you can see, “dog” and “god” are made of the same letters, just written differently. The same stuff put backwards becomes “dog”; put rightly, becomes “god.” The substance of existence, your being, is the same; whether you stand on your head or your feet it does not matter. In one way it matters; if you stand on your head you will suffer. And if you start walking on your head, then you can visualize yourself to be in the seventh hell. But you can jump up and stand on your feet – there is nobody preventing you!