The Spiritual Life - Topic Sixteen
Growing old and growing up.
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 savoring 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 a person who is just old goes on committing the same mistakes again and again. He lives in a circle; he never learns anything. P.6
Osho teaches that there is a difference between growing old and growing up. All things grow old, but in growing up, in becoming more mature, in actualizing our innate potential, we have a choice.
Maturity is actualizing one’s potential and becoming the person that Life has created you to become. Actualizing one’s potential though is a choice. Some people do, some don’t. Some actualize their potential fast and some do it slow and some never do it. Some are awake and alert as they live their lives and some are asleep and oblivious. How we live our lives is up to us once we become aware that we have a choice.
Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living, and the bumper sticker says that the unlived life is not worth examining. Some people continue to live on the path of the ego based on their socialization and conditioning. Their lives become increasingly meaningless and desperate as they age. It is a sad thing to watch even if they appear to be “happy” in the ego world. Other people, though, embark on an intentional search for truth and meaning and they begin to blossom and their lives exude a fragrance which is lovely, comforting, and inspiring.
The difference between winners and losers is not that winners are successful and losers have failed. Winners and losers both make the same mistakes and experience the same misfortune, challenges, barriers and obstacles to satisfaction and fulfillment. The difference between winners and losers is that winners learn from their mistakes and losers never learn a thing. Losers don’t grow from difficulties but go in circles. They stay in the same old rut. Winners and losers will both physically grow old, but winners grow up and mature beautifully actualizing their spiritual potential while losers stay stuck at infantile levels of development.
Do you examine your life on a regular basis? Hopefully you examine your functioning as things happen on a regular basis but at least intentionally once a day? Of all spiritual practices, this one is the most important. Having been raised Roman Catholic I was taught to “examine your conscience.” In Alcoholic Anonymous, it is called “taking your inventory.” In New Age spirituality it is called being “mindful.” In Unitarian Universalism it is called the “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” I prefer to think about it and talk about it as being in the “witness.” Being in the “witness” is simply to observe our own functioning in a nonjudgmental way physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. The simple question which cuts through this more complex model is “What makes you tick.?” The more coherent an answer you have to this question, the more mature you are.
This ability to observe and manage one’s own functioning in a purposeful and deliberate way is the epitome of maturity.