“The river is always old. The water is always new.”

— Satguru Sivananda Murty

Is there a river that was born after we were born? Is there anything new on earth, other than what has already been created? Has there been any change in the pattern of movement of the aspects of our earthly life? Have we conquered death? The strange thing though about life on this planet is that nothing stays and everything is moving; towards where and for what, we are yet to know.

Without elaborating, we can conclude, “Life is nothing but a series of circumstances, ever changing, non-stop.”

From birth to death, all of us go through a series of circumstances, predictably similar, with the differences just superfluous. Life is full of little troubles, agreed. If we rise and treat life itself as nothing more than a little trouble, then, it would become obvious that even birth and death are nothing more than changing circumstances.

This is what we, who are growing old, should realise and retain. Tell me, who is not growing old?

Do not fear impermanence. As soon as life enters the womb, death starts stalking us. Night and day follow each other. Here, death follows life. “Death is an event whose proximity is unlimited and distance very limited,” my Master would say. Death has no great respect for excellent health et al. One can die in the pink of health. When it chooses to knock us down, nothing can save us, no deals can be struck and no bargains made. Thus, our life, whether we are just born or a century-old, is nothing more than a drop of dew, tantalisingly poised at the edge of a blade of grass.

Our illustrious ancestors point to that very same tiny droplet to illustrate a great point. Granted, this drop of dew would disappear immediately after dawn but, not before swallowing the magnificent Sun and reflecting it gloriously. So, while life is nothing but proximity to death, living lies in putting it in its place and expressing the glory of creation. Therefore, whatever the span that destiny chooses to offer us, let us lead a lively existence. Understand the impermanence of everything, radiate inner cheer and keep walking.

What is new? Who is old? How old is the Sun! How new are its rays! It is ever old and absolutely new every day. Like the caress of a loved one, a lilting tune or an enlivening smile of a child. That which remains fresh despite the ravage of time and freshens our spirit is new. In that sense, worry is old because it makes you older. Hope is new because it makes us younger. As long as we are alive and conscious, there is hope for improvement. There is a duty to be cheerful! And, that is the most natural thing to be. One who laments about what is gone is old even if he is twenty. One who is optimistic and looks forward is young even if he is eighty. Are you old or young?

Withering shell. Waxing spirit. The strange thing about the human body is that as soon as it starts growing from the stage of the tiny dot, the process of decay also sets in. Like life is always followed by death, growth is accompanied by decay. The prospect of disease smiles slyly in between. It is also said the body and the mind are inseparable. No doubt, one impacts the other. However, on closer scrutiny, the mind has such a sway over the body that one tends to believe that the physical structure is but a projection of the mind stuff. Have we not seen sad souls in young and healthy bodies? Have we not come across those frail old people who laugh heartily, jolting their withering frames? Dissatisfaction makes us old and jaded. Contentment and cheer keep us incurably young. As you grow older, let the mind grow younger!

Achieve peace. Arrest ageing. My master whose quotes adorn this little write-up used to say: “Peace is happiness. Happiness is not peace.” Often, we chase happiness and in that unwise pursuit embrace unhappiness. Happiness will have no meaning if it is fleeting, leading to misery. That is why he said, “How does it matter whether it is a white stone or a sparkling blue one, if you break your teeth with it?” How true!

Contentment is the threshold of peace. We should be content with what we have and also what we do not have! We must be content with our troubles too! This is cheer, pure, simple and natural. This is attitude, lofty and dignified that schools of philosophy cannot offer. In life, contentment is wealth. In creativity, satisfaction is death. Spirituality governs both! Like the body that is growing and decaying at the same time, like life and death walking alongside, let the calmness of contentment and the spirit of positive restlessness co-exist, under the unblinking eye of the Spirit. This is the recipe that keeps one young forever. Are you old or young?

Every river has already reached its sea and is going towards it every day. The story was over in the first scene and the narration keeps going!

One who knows this is young. I am young enough to tell you this!

(The writer’s email: tavenkateswaran@gmail.com)

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