“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….
“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.
“A child can attain enlightenment, a man just on the verge of death can attain enlightenment because enlightenment is not concerned with your body; it is concerned with something which is absolutely bodiless. It is concerned with the within which has no age. It is non-temporal. Time is not at all a problem. You may not have observed this because you live such an unconscious life, and observation needs consciousness, alertness, awareness.
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….
“Just a few days ago I was reading about a man, a Dutchman. A few years back he reached one hundred and sixty-five years. And he was working when he was one hundred and sixty-five, doing everything normally. He lived in a very very distant village.
“Then some newspaper got the news; his name was published, his picture, and then people started coming to see him. Then doctors became concerned and they also came to study him. They killed him within two years, because with everybody coming and asking, “How old are you?” suddenly for the first time that poor old man became aware that he was one hundred and sixty-five, which was unbelievable! He had never bothered, nobody had ever asked. He had simply lived, not conscious of time.
When you are conscious of time you are in the grip of death.
“When you are not conscious of time, death simply cannot enter. It enters through time. Death is time, and life is eternal, timeless. You are life, not death….
“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 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, traveled on many, many paths. Frustrated, hopeless, helpless, you stand before death – trembling, just waiting, not knowing what to do. In the West particularly, the old man has become such a helpless phenomenon, just waiting for death with nothing to do. You cannot imagine….
“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 still more by medical science because they go on prolonging you.
They go on giving you injections and vitamins. For what? – to wait still more, a little longer? They go on pushing you back in the queue, but you are in the queue. What difference does it make when one has lost everything? And just waiting, just waiting, waiting to die. Never before! That’s why I say that man is so helpless before death.
“In the East, when death started approaching, when death knocked for the first time on the door, people became very very happy. Death was a door, it was not the end. Something new was going to start. And it was not the enemy, it was God coming in the garb of death. They had come to know that they are not the body, they are not going to die.
“The bodies will be left behind and they will go on an eternal journey. Death was not the end; death was a meeting, a meeting with the unknown. Death was a long, long-awaited moment – desired, dreamed, hoped for. It was the last desire: to leave the body and to meet the divine, to merge into it so totally that not even a trace of you is left behind. The body looked like a barrier, so when it was dropped you were completely free. Death was freedom and the culmination of life, it was not just the end.
If death is just the end and you simply finish, life cannot be meaningful.
“How can life be meaningful when it just ends? Then the whole life becomes gloomy; the shadow of death makes it sad. Whatsoever you do is meaningless, because you are going to end. Whatsoever you create is meaningless, because you are going to end. Whatsoever you do is just fooling yourself, because you are going to end.
“If death is a new beginning, if death is a rebirth, if death is a meeting with the divine, then life has a significance. Then whatsoever you do is meaningful. Then you are something significant, and the existence hopes for many many things through you.
“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.”
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Osho, Returning to the Source, Talk #2 – Throw It Out!