If you are becoming old, remember that old age is the climax of life. Remember that old age can be the most beautiful experience, because the child has hopes for the future, he lives in the future, he has great desires to do this, to do that. Every child thinks that he is going to be somebody special—Alexander the Great, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong – he lives in desires and in the future. The young man is too much possessed by the instincts, all instincts, exploding in him. Sex is there. Modern research says that every man thinks once at least about sex every three seconds. Women are a little better, they think of sex every six seconds. It is a great difference, almost double; that may be the cause of many rifts between husbands and wives. Once every three seconds sex somehow flashes in the mind. The young man is possessed by such great natural forces that he cannot be free. Ambition is there, and time is running fast, and he has to do something and he has to be something. All those hopes and desires and fantasies of childhood have to be fulfilled; he is in a great rush, in a hurry.
The old man knows that those childish desires were really childish. The old man knows that all those days of youth and turmoil are gone. The old man is in the same state as when the storm has gone and silence prevails. That silence can be of tremendous beauty, depth, richness. If the old man is really mature, which is very rarely the case, then he will be beautiful. But people only grow in age, they don’t grow up. Hence the problem.
Grow up, become more mature, become more alert and aware. And old age is the last opportunity given to you: before death comes, prepare. And how does one prepare for death? By becoming more meditative.
If some lurking desires are still there, and the body is getting old and the body is not capable of fulfilling those desires, don’t be worried. Meditate over those desires, watch, be aware. Just by being aware and watchful and alert, those desires and the energy contained in them can be transmuted. But before death comes, be free of all desires.
When I say be free of all desires I simply mean be free of all objects of desires. Then there is a pure longing. That pure longing is divine, that pure longing is God. Then there is pure creativity with no object, with no address, with no direction, with no destination — just pure energy, a pool of energy, going nowhere. That’s what buddhahood is. Atisha calls it bodhichitta, buddha consciousness.
From The Book of Wisdom