You become old through others’ eyes. If mirrors disappear and nobody talks about your age, and there is no calendar and no time measurement, you will remain young longer.
Joshu was a master who started to study Zen when he was sixty…
“Remember, your age is not relevant. You may be a child or you may be very, very old. You may be young, you may be healthy, or you may be ill – it makes no difference. The basic thing is to be empty within. It has nothing to do with your walls, young or old.[…]
“If you look within can you feel the age, how old you are? If you close your eyes and look within, the emptiness within seems to be ageless, without age. Are you a child? Are you young? Are you old? The inner space seems to be non-temporal – it is! That’s why you become old through others’ eyes. You become old because of the mirror. If mirrors disappear and nobody talks about your age, and there is no calendar and no time measurement, you will remain young longer.[…]
“If you are too concerned with the body, you become the body. If you go on looking in the mirror, you become the body. That’s why women age faster than men – the mirror. And the miracle is, basically they live longer than men, but they age faster. On average, all over the world, they live four years longer than men. They lose their beauty and their youth quickly. The mirror kills them – continuously meditating on the body.
“Meditate on the inner being, not on the body. Find a mirror which reflects you, not the body. That mirror which reflects you is meditation. The more you meditate, the more ageless you become.
“Joshu was a master who started to study Zen when he was sixty… So it is never too late. Don’t be worried. Whenever you come, it is okay. It is never too late, it is always early, so don’t think about it.[…]
“A person who is ready to learn always becomes a child. Joshu again became a child at the age of sixty. You cannot start at sixty because you already know too much. You cannot learn, you cannot become a disciple – you are so knowledgeable; you are already wise. You have known so much, experienced so much, collected such rubbish. You are a junkyard, but you think you are very, very experienced. What is your experience? What have you known exactly? – nothing. I see your hands are empty, I see your being is just poor. You have not attained any inner experience which gives you richness, which gives you significance.
“But just by being old you have passed through many things of course, travelled on many, many paths. Frustrated, hopeless, helpless, you stand before death – trembling, just waiting, not knowing what to do. In the past only a few people had to wait for death, those who were sentenced to die. They had to wait in the prisons for a few days, just waiting – it was terrible agony. But now, everybody. Retired, you are sentenced to death. Nothing else to do, just waiting… any moment death will come. And the agony is increased by medical science still more because they go on prolonging you, they go on giving you injections and vitamins. For what? – to wait still more, a little longer?
“At the age of sixty Joshu was again beginning a new childhood; he started learning Zen. Remember, if you can learn to the very end, you will never become old. A man who can learn is never old. A man who cannot learn anymore is already old. A man who cannot learn anymore is already dead; now there is no purpose for him to be here. Life is a school, a discipline; it is a learning process. If you have stopped learning, you are already dead. Sufis say that ordinarily people die at thirty and are buried at sixty. When you stop learning, you are dead.”
Excerpted from Osho, Returning to the Source, Talk #2