In our popular Western perception of ageing, our advancing years are often associated with decline, frailty and incapacity – we plan for our uncertain tomorrows, make arrangements to safeguard our last years against a time when infirmity renders us dependent or enfeebled. Age too is invariably measured against the calendar of time, though our earthly, chronological age is seldom the same as our biological age and other measurements of age – the age of the mind, the heart, the soul – are seldom considered. But youth can equally mask an old soul and a wise heart, the fruit of unremembered other lives, while an old person may have a young soul, a closed heart and mind. The reverse too is equally true – the elderly can be youthful, enthusiastic, open-hearted, young – the young elderly, close-minded, narrow. When someone inquires as to your age, which aspect of your being and your real age should inspire your reply?
India’s inspirational master Sri Chinmoy spoke a great deal about the significance of the spiritual heart in remaining youthful, happy and positive, and of the heart’s theme qualities of love, happiness, compassion, spontaneity and youthfulness. Responding to questions in an interview, he comments:
“The moment you think of your old age, you destroy all your inspiration, aspiration, joy and enthusiasm. The moment you think of your old age, that very moment is your death. You have to feel that everything is a series of experiences. Do not take life and death as two separate things: this is life, that is death — no! Death is just a passage we are going through. There is life, and on the way we meet death. In the Eternal Life, there is life, then death, then again life. It is a game that is going on.
We talk about our physical age, but the truth is that the moment we take a physical body, death becomes an inevitability. Again, inside the body, if you can be in touch with the soul, then you can take the body as a toy. You are playing with the toy, and then afterwards you are finished with the toy. It is a game. At this moment, God is playing a particular role in and through you. In a few years, in the same Cosmic Play, He can play another role. After another twenty years, He can play yet another role. We make a serious mistake by feeling that when we are fifty or sixty the role that God is playing through us is sometimes not as important as the role that He gave us to play at the age of twenty. We have to feel that whatever role God plays through us at the age of twenty, forty or sixty is equally important. For Him, sixty is not old age. After the age of eighty or even one hundred, when you go away to the other world, you will see that there He is still playing His role inside your soul.
So, every phase of life is equally important because our good qualities must develop slowly, slowly, slowly. Continuously a new game is starting, a new part you have to play. Each time you are given a new role, you have to play it well. When you become a huge tree, at that time more responsibility comes. A tree has to give so much, so much. Under the tree at first only one pilgrim can stay. Later many individuals can come and stay. Finally, the tree has to feel the responsibility of giving shade, protection and shelter to all. The higher you go, the more shelter, protection and illumination you have to give to others. In terms of human age, you may be only sixty or seventy, but in terms of divine light and divine wisdom you will become hundreds and hundreds of years old.
Light, delight, peace and so on do not belong to an earthly calendar. They came from Infinity, they remain in Infinity and they will always remain in Infinity. We have to consciously try to grow into that Infinity. Our life-river is flowing, flowing, flowing and entering into the ocean. Do not take the life-river as something that can be divided into years. It is a oneness-flow that is going towards the infinite Light. The important thing is not to use the mind when age is descending upon you. Only use the heart. Just say, “At this point I have to blossom in this way; at that time I had to blossom in a different way. A few years from now I will have to blossom in a totally different way.” Each moment has its own most significant beauty. When the time comes, when your life-flower is fully blossomed, then it will be able to give much more joy and fragrance to mankind and be of more help to sincerely aspiring seekers.”
Reprint with the kind permission of IndiaNZ Outlook
Contributing writer Jogyata Dallas