Osho explains the difference between maturity and ageing as essentially the difference between being aware and being asleep.
There is a great difference, a vast difference, and people always remain confused about it. People think to age is to become mature, but aging belongs to the body.
Everybody is ageing; everybody will become old, but not necessarily mature.
Maturity is an inner growth.
Ageing is nothing that you do; aging is something that happens physically. Every child born, when time passes, becomes old. Maturity is something that you bring to your life – it comes out of awareness. When a person ages with full awareness he becomes mature. Aging plus awareness, experiencing plus awareness, is maturity.
You can experience a thing in two ways. You can simply experience it as if you are hypnotised, unaware, not attentive to what is happening; the thing happened but you were not there. It didn’t happen in your presence, you were absent. You just passed by. It never struck any note in you. It never left any mark on you. You never learnt anything from it. It may even have become a part of your memory because in a way you were present, but it never became your wisdom. You never grew through it.
Then you are aging.
But if you bring the quality of awareness to an experience the same experience becomes maturity.
There are two ways to live: one, to live in a deep sleep. Then you age, every moment you become old, every moment you go on dying, that’s all, your whole life consists of a long slow death. But if you bring awareness to your experiences – whatsoever you do, whatsoever happens to you, you are alert, watchful, mindful, you are savouring the experience from all the corners, you are trying to understand the meaning of it, you are trying to penetrate the very depth of it, what has happened to you, you are trying to live it intensely and totally – then, it is not just a surface phenomenon. Deep down within you something is changing with it. You are becoming more alert. If this is a mistake, this experience – you will never commit it again.
A mature person never commits the same mistake again. But just an old person goes on committing the same mistakes again and again. He lives in a circle. He never learns anything.
If you live an experience of anger totally, never again will you be angry. One experience will be enough to teach that it is foolish, that it is absurd, that it is simply stupid – not that it is a sin, it is simply stupid. Then you are getting mature. Tomorrow the situation will be repeated, but anger will not be repeated. And a man who is gaining in maturity never decided that he will not be angry again, no, that is the sign of a man who is not getting mature. A man of maturity never decides for the future. The maturity itself takes care. You live today. That very living will decide how the tomorrow is going to be – it will come out of it.
Your understanding is growing through every experience.
You can live life as if you are in a hypnosis – that’s how ninety-nine per cent of people live – or you can live with intensity, awareness. If you live with awareness you mature, otherwise you simply become old. And to become old is not to become wise.
If you have been a fool when you were young and now you have become old, you will be just an old fool, that’s all. Nothing. Just becoming old, you cannot become wise. You may be even more foolish, because you may have attained to mechanical habits, robot-like.
Life can be lived in two ways. If you live unconsciously you simply die; if you live consciously you attain to more and more life. Death will come, but it never comes to a mature man, it comes only to a man who has been aging and getting old. A mature one never dies, because he will learn even through death. Even death is going to be an experience to be intensely lived, and watched, allowed.
Maturity is awareness. Aging is just wasting yourself.
(Osho: Tao: The Three Treasures Volume 4)