Why am I always afraid of being old? Show me how to get rid of the fear.
Life, if rightly lived, if really lived, is never afraid of death. If you have lived your life, you will welcome death. It will come like a rest, like a great sleep. If you have peaked, climaxed in your life, then death is a beautiful rest, a benediction. But if you have not lived, then of course death creates fear. If you have not lived, then certainly death is going to take time from your hands, all future opportunities to live. In the past you have not lived, and there is going to be no future: fear arises. Fear arises not because of death but because of an unlived life. And because of the fear of death, old age also gives fear, because that is the first step of death. Otherwise, old age is also beautiful. It is a ripening of your being, maturity, growth.
If you live moment to moment to all the challenges that life gives and you use all the opportunities that life opens, and if you dare to adventure into the unknown to which life calls and invites you, then old age is a maturity.
Otherwise old age is a disease. Unfortunately many people simply age; they become old without any maturity corresponding to it. Then old age is a burden. You have aged in the body but your consciousness has remained juvenile. You have aged in your body but you have not matured in your inner life. The inner light is missing, and death is coming close every day; of course you will tremble and you will be afraid and there will arise great anguish in you.
Those who live rightly, they accept old age with a deep welcome, because old age simply says that now they are coming to flower, that they are coming to a fruition, that now they will be able to share whatsoever they have attained.
Ordinarily old age is ugly because it is simply a disease. Your organism has not matured; it has only become more and more ill, weakened, impotent. Otherwise old age is the most beautiful time of life. All the foolishness of childhood gone, all the fever and passion of young age gone…. A serenity arises, a silence, a meditation, a samadhi.
Old age is tremendously beautiful, and it should be so because the whole of life moves towards it. It should be the peak.
How can the peak be in the beginning? How can the peak be in the middle? But if you think your childhood is your peak, as many people think, then of course your whole life will be a suffering because you have attained your peak – now everything will be a declining, coming down. If you think young age is the peak, as many people think, then of course after thirty-five you will become sad, depressed, because every day you will be losing and losing and losing and gaining nothing. The energy will be lost, you will weaken, diseases will enter into your being, and death will start knocking at the door. The home will disappear, and the hospital will appear. How can you be happy? No, but in the East we have never thought that childhood or youth is the peak. The peak waits for the very end. And if life flows rightly, by and by you reach higher and higher peaks. Death is the ultimate peak that life attains, the crescendo.
But why are we missing life? Why are we aging and not maturing? Somewhere something has gone wrong. Somewhere you have been put on a wrong track; somewhere you have agreed to be put on a wrong track. That agreement has to be broken; that contract has to be burned.
When you were small children you compromised. You sold your being. For nothing. What you have gained is simply nothing, just rubbish. For small things you have lost your soul. You have agreed to be somebody else other than yourself; that is where you missed your path. The mother wanted you to become somebody, the father wanted you to become somebody, the society wanted you to become somebody; and you agreed. By and by you decided not to be yourself and since then you have been pretending to be somebody else.
You cannot mature because that somebody else cannot mature. It is false. If I wear a mask, the mask cannot mature. It is dead. My face can mature, but not my mask. And only your mask goes on aging. Behind the mask, hiding, you are not growing. You can grow only if you accept yourself – that you are going to be yourself, nobody else.
The greatest calamity is to agree to be somebody else: you can never mature. You can never mature like somebody else.
You can only mature like you.
The ‘shoulds’ have to be dropped and you have to drop too much concern about what people say. What is their opinion? Who are they? You are here to be yourself. You are not here to fulfill somebody else’s expectations; and everybody is trying that. The father may be dead, and you are trying to fulfill a promise you have given to him. And he was trying to fulfill a promise to his own father, and so on and so forth. The foolishness goes to the very beginning.
Try to understand, and take courage – and take your life in your own hands. Suddenly you will see an upsurge of energy. The moment you decide, ‘I am going to be myself and nobody else. Whatsoever the cost, but I am going to be myself,’ that very moment you will see a great change. You will feel vital. You will feel energy streaming in you, pulsating.
Unless that happens, you will be afraid of old age, because how can you avoid seeing the fact that you are wasting time and not living and old age is coming and then you will not be able to live? How can you avoid seeing the fact that death is waiting there and every day it comes closer and closer and closer, and you have not lived yet? You are bound to be in deep anguish.
So if you ask me what to do, I will suggest the basic thing. And it is always a question of basics. Never be bothered by secondary things, because you can change them, but nothing will change. Change the basic.
For example, what is secondary. ‘Why am I always afraid of being old? Show me the way how I can get rid of it.’ The very question is out of fear. You want to ‘get rid of it,’ not to understand, so of course you are going to become a victim of somebody or some ideology that can help you to get rid of it. I cannot help you to get rid of it. In fact that is the problem. I would like you to understand and change your life. It is not a question of getting rid of the problem; it is a question of getting rid of your mask, of your false persona — the way you have been trying to be and which is not a true way. You are not authentic. You are not sincere towards yourself; you have been betraying your being.
So if you ask – there are priests and philosophers and demagogues – if you go and ask them how to get rid of it, they will say, ‘The soul never ages. Don’t be worried. Just remember that you are the soul. It is the body; you are not the body.’ They have consoled you. Maybe for a moment you feel good, but this is not going to help, this is not going to change you. Again tomorrow, out of the influence of the priest, you will be in the same boat.
And you go and ask them. They are themselves trembling. Deep down they are themselves afraid. They and their disciples are all in the same boat. I have heard:
The Pope lay gravely ill in the Vatican, and a message was issued that a special announcement would be made by the Cardinal from the balcony of St. Peter’s.
When the day came, the famous square was packed with the faithful. The aged Cardinal spoke in quavering tones, ‘His Holiness can only be saved by a heart transplant, and I am appealing to all you good Catholics gathered here today for a donor.’
He held up a feather and continued, ‘I shall drop this feather among you, and on whomsoever it falls, that person is the one chosen by Holy Providence to save the Holy Father’s life.’
With that he dropped the feather… and all that could be heard were twenty thousand devout Roman Catholics gently puffing.
Everybody is afraid. If the Holy Father wants to survive, why should these poor Catholics become donors?
…The problem is within you: your energy is not flowing. Then of course one becomes afraid of old age. The time is passing. Of course one becomes naturally afraid of death. Death is coming any moment and you have been just revolving in the head. Nowhere else have you moved; the whole territory of life has remained untouched.
Live, move all over the body. Accept it with deep love. Almost fall in love with your body. It is a divine gift, a temple where God has decided to reside. Then there will be no fear of old age; you will start maturing. Your experiences will mature you.
Then old age will not be like a disease. It will be a beautiful phenomenon. The whole life is a preparation for it. How can it be a disease? The whole life you move towards it. It is a crescendo, the last song and dance you are going to do.
(Osho Yoga: The Alpha and Omega Volume 3)