Why Grow Old?
"And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."
REMEMBER how you used to plough through great masses of work day after day and month after month, cheerily, enthusiastically, with never a sign of tiring or nervous strain? Remember how you used to enjoy those evenings, starting out as fresh from your office or shop as if you hadn't just put a hard day's work behind you? No doubt you've often wondered why you can't work and enjoy yourself like that now, but solaced yourself with the moth-eaten fallacy that "As a man grows older he shouldn't expect to get the same fun out of life that he did in his earlier years."
Poor old exploded idea!
Youth is not a matter of time. It is a mental state. You can be just as brisk, just as active, just as light-hearted now as you were ten or twenty years ago. Genuine youth is just a perfect state of health. You can have that health, and the boundless energy and capacity for work or enjoyment that go with it. You can cheat time of ten, twenty or fifty years--not by taking thought of what you shall eat or what you shall drink, not by diet or exercise, but solely through a right understanding of what you should expect of your body.
"If only I had my life to live over again!" How often you have heard it said. How often you have thought it.
But the fact is that you CAN have it. You can start right now and live again as many years as you have already experienced. Health, physical freedom and full vigor need not end for you at 35 or 40--nor at 60 or 70. Age is not a matter of years. It is a state of mind.
In an address before the American Sociological Society a few months ago Dr. Hornell Hart of Bryn Mawr predicted that--"Babies born in the year 2000 will have something like 200 years of life ahead of them, and men and women of 100 years will be quite the normal thing. But instead of being wrinkled and crippled, these centenarians will be in their vigorous prime."
Thomas Parr, an Englishman, lived to be 152 years old, and was sufficiently hale and hearty at the age of 120 to take unto himself a second wife. Even at 152, his death was not due to old age, but to a sudden and drastic change in his manner of life. All his days he had lived upon simple fare, but his fame reaching the King, he was invited to London and there feasted so lavishly that he died of it.
In a despatch to the New York Times on February 14th last, I read of an Arab now in Palestine, one Salah Mustapha Salah Abu Musa, who at the age of 105 is growing his third set of teeth!
There is an ancient City in Italy which can be approached by sea only through a long stretch of shallow water full of rocks and cross currents. There is one safe channel, and it is marked by posts. In the days of the Sea Rovers the city used to protect itself by pulling up the posts whenever a rover hove in sight.
Mankind has taken to planting posts along its way to mark the flight of time. Every year we put in a new one, heedless of the fact that we are thus marking a clear channel for our Arch-Enemy, Age, to enter in from the sea of human belief.
But the fact is that there is no natural reason for man to grow old as soon as he does, no biological reason for him to grow old at all!
Why is it that the animals live eight to ten times their maturity, when man lives only about twice his? Why? Be-cause man hastens decrepitude and decay by holding the thought of old age always before him.
Dr. Alexis Carrel, Noble Prize winner and member of the Rockefeller Institute, has demonstrated that living cells taken from a body, properly protected and fed, can be kept alive indefinitely. Not only that, but they grow! In 1912 he took some tissue from the heart of an embryo chick and placed it in a culture medium. It is living and growing yet.
Recently Dr. Carrel showed a moving picture of these living cells before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. They grow so fast that they double in size every twenty-four hours, and have to be trimmed daily!
The cells of your being can be made to live indefinitely when placed outside your body. Single-celled animals never die a natural death. They live on and on until something kills them. Now scientists are beginning to wonder if multi-cellular animals like man really need to die.
Under the title, "Immortality and Rejuvenation in Modern Biology," M. Metalnikov, of the Pasteur Institute, has just published a volume that should be read by all those who have decided that it is necessary to grow old and die.
Here is the first sentence of the concluding chapter of the book: "What we have just written forces us to maintain our conviction that immortality is the fundamental property of living organisms."
And further on:
"Old age and death are not a stage of earthly existence...."
And that, mind you, is set forth under the aegis of a scientific establishment that has no equal in the world, and of a scholar universally respected.
As the Journal of Paris says in reviewing the article:
"Most religious and philosophic systems assert the immortality of the soul. But the positive sciences have shown themselves more skeptical on this point. This idea seems to them quite contradictory to all that we know, or think we know, of animal life. Animal life originates as a tiny germ, which becomes an embryo, developing into an adult organism, which grows old and finally dies. This means the disappearance of all the faculties of life that so clearly distinguish it from an inanimate object. There is no scientific evidence to show that at this moment the 'soul' does not disappear with the body, and that it continues its existence separately. Biologists cannot even conceive the possibility of Separation of soul and body, so strong and indissoluble are the bonds that unite all our psychic manifestations with our bodily life. For them an immortal soul only can exist in an immortal body. What if it were so? What if our organism is really indestructible? It is this that M. Metalnikov attempts scientifically to prove.
"Death is a permanent and tangible phenomenon only in the case of man and the higher animals. It is not so for plants and for the simpler forms of animal life, the protozoans. These last, composed often of a single cell, just observable under the microscope, are however without the chief faculties that characterize the higher animals. They move about by means of vibratory hair-like processes, sustain themselves, seek their food, hunt animals still smaller than themselves, react to irritations of different kinds, and multiply. But this multiplication is not effected by means of special organs, as among the higher animals, but by the division of the whole organism into two equal parts. The common infusoria which abound in fresh water thus divide once or twice every twenty-four hours. Each daughter cell continues to live like the mother cell, of which it is the issue; it feeds, grows, and divides in its turn. And never, in this constantly renewed cycle in their lives, do we find the phenomenon of natural death, so characteristic and so universal in the higher animals. The infusorium is subject only to accidental death, such as we can cause by the addition of some poisonous element to the water in which it lives, or by heat.
"Experiments along this line were made long ago. The first were by de Saussure, in 1679. Having put an infusorium in a drop of water, he saw it divide under his eye. Four days later it was impossible to count the number of creatures. However, some authors thought that this reproductive facility was not unlimited. Maupas himself, who made a minute study of it forty years ago and succeeded in observing 700 successive generations of a single species, thought that it was finally subject to old age and to death.
"But the more recent works of Joukovsky at Heidelberg, of Koulaghine at Petrograd, of Calkins in England, of Weissmann, and still others, lead to an opposite opinion. The degeneration observed by these workers was due to auto-intoxication, caused by not renewing the culture-medium.
"Decisive experiments were made in Russia, dating from 1907, by Woodruff and by M. Metalnikov himself. Begun at Tsarskoe Selo, they continued until the tragic hours of the 1917 revolution, and were renewed at the University of [paragraph continues] Crimea. These investigators took an infusorium found in an aquarium, the Paramoecium caudatum, whose characteristics are well determined, and in thirteen years, in 1920, they had obtained 5,000 successive generations....
"Thus we are bound to say that a unicellular body possesses within itself the power of immortality.
"And we ourselves are made up only by the juxtaposition of simple cells."
The Fountain of Youth
Four hundred years ago Ponce de Leon set sail into the mysteries of an unknown world in search of the Fountain of Youth, when all the time the secret of that fountain was right within himself.
For the fact is, that no matter how many years have passed since you were born, you are only eleven months old today! Your body is constantly renewing itself. The one thing about it you can be surest of is CHANGE. Every one of the millions of cells of which it is composed is constantly being renewed. Even your bones are daily renewing themselves in this way.
These cells are building--building--building. Every day they tear down old tissue and rebuild it with new. There is not a cell in your body, not a muscle or tissue, not a bone, that is more than eleven months old! Why then should you feel age? Why should you be any less spry, any less cheerful, than these youngsters around you that you have been envying?
The answer is that you need not--if you will but realize your YOUTHFULNESS. Every organ, every muscle, tissue and cell of your body is subject to your subconscious mind. They rebuild exactly as that mind directs them. What is the model you are holding before your mind's eye? Is it one of age, of decrepitude? That is the model that most men use, because they know no better. That is the result that you see imaged upon their bodies.
But you need not follow their outworn models. You can hold before your mind's eye only the vision of youth, of manly vigor, of energy and strength and beauty--and that is the model that your cells will use to build upon.
Do you know what is responsible for the whole difference between Youth and Age? Just one thing. Youth looks forward always to something better. Age looks backward and sighs over its "lost" youth.
In youth we are constantly growing. We KNOW we have not yet reached our prime. We know we can expect to continually IMPROVE. We look forward to ever-increasing physical powers. We look forward to a finer, more perfect physique. We look forward to greater mental alertness. We have been educated to expect these things. Therefore we BELIEVE we shall get them--and we GET them!
But what happens after we get to be thirty or forty years of age? We think we have reached our prime. We have been taught that we can no longer look forward to greater growth--that all we can hope for is to "hold our own" for a little while, and then start swiftly down-ward to old age and decay. History shows that no nation, no institution and no individual can continue for any length of time to merely "hold his own." You must go forward--or back. You must move--or life will pass you by. Yours is the choice. If you will realize that there is never any end to, GROWTH--that your body is constantly being rebuilt--that perfection is still so far ahead of you that you can continue GROWING towards it indefinitely--you need never know age. You can keep on growing more perfect, mentally and physically, every day. Every minute you live is a minute of conception and rebirth.
You may be weak and anaemic. You may be crippled or bent. No matter! You can start today to rebuild along new lines. In eleven months at the most, every one of those weak and devitalized cells, every one of those bent and crippled bones, will be replaced by new, strong, vigorous tissue.
Look at Annette Kellerman--crippled and deformed as a child--yet she grew up into the world's most perfectly formed woman. Look at Roosevelt--weak and anaemic as a young man--yet he made himself the envy of the world for boundless vigor and energy. And they are but two cases out of thousands I could quote. Many of the world's strongest men were weaklings in their childhood. It matters not what your age, what your condition--you can start now renewing your youth, growing daily nearer the mode! of YOU that is imaged in Universal Mind.
Arthur Brisbane says that at the age of 85 George F. Baker is doing the work of ten men.
That is what every man of 85 ought to be doing, for he should have not only the physical vigor and strength and enthusiasm of 21, but combined with them he should have the skill and experience, the ripened judgment of 85.
There is no more despairing pronouncement than, the belief of the average man that he matures only to begin at once to deteriorate and decay. When the actual fact is, as stated in a recent utterance by the eminent Dr. Hammond, there is no physiological reason why a man should die. He asserted--and the statement is corroborated by scientists and physiologists--that the human body possesses inherent capacity to renew and continue itself and its functions indefinitely!
Your body wear out? Of course it does--just as all material things do. But with this difference--your body is being renewed just as fast as it wears out! Have you damaged some part of it? Don't worry. Down inside you is a chemical laboratory which can make new parts just as good or better than the old. Up in your subconscious mind is a Master Chemist with all the formulas of Universal Mind to draw upon, who can keep that chemical laboratory of yours making new parts just as fast as you can wear out the old.
But that Master Chemist is like all of us--like you. He is inclined to lazy a bit on the job--if you let him. Try to relieve him of some of his functions--and he won't bother about them further. Take to the regular use of drugs or other methods of eliminating the waste matter from the body, and your Master Chemist will figure that your conscious mm d has taken over this duty from him--and be will leave it thereafter to your conscious mind. Lead him to believe that you no longer expect him to rebuild your body along such perfect lines as in youth--and he will slow down in his work of removing the old, worn-out tissues, and of replacing them with new, better material. The result? Arteries clogged with worn-out cells. Tissues dried and shrunken. Joints stiff and creaky. In short--Old Age.
The fault is not with the Master Chemist. It is with you. You didn't hold him to the job. When a business or an enterprise or an expedition fails, it is not the rank and file who are to blame--it is the directing head. He didn't give his men the right plans to work on. He didn't supply the proper leadership. He didn't keep them keyed up to their best work.
What would you think of an engineer who, with the best plans in the world, the best material with which to build, threw away his plans when he was half through with the job and let his men do as they pleased, ruining all his early work and all his fine material by putting the rest of it together any which way?
Yet that is what you do when you stop LOOKING FORWARD at 30 or 40, and decide thereafter to just grow old any which way. You throw away the wonderful model on which you have been building, you take the finest material in the world, and let your workmen put it together any way they like. In fact, you do worse than that. You tell them you don't expect much from them any more. That any sort of a patched-up job they put together after that will be about as good as you can look for.
Man alive! What would you expect from ordinary workmen to whom you talked like that? Your inner workmen are no different. You will get from them just what you look for--no more, no less.
"Your time of life" should be the best time you have yet known. The engineer who has built forty bridges should be far more proficient than the one who has built only a few. The model you are passing on to your Master Chemist now ought to be a vastly more perfect model than the one you gave to him at twenty. Instead of feeling that your heart is giving out and your stomach weak, you ought to be boasting of how much better a heart you are now; making than a few years ago, how much more perfectly your stomach is functioning than before you learned that you were its boss.
Of one thing you can be sure. God never decreed a law of decay and death. If there is any such law, it is man-made--and man can unmake it. The Life Principle that came to this planet thousands or millions of years ago brought no Death Principle with it. For death is like darkness--it is nothing in itself. Death is merely the absence of life, just as darkness is merely the absence of light. Keep that life surging--strongly.
In the Book of Wisdom, of the Apocryphal writings, you read:
"For God made not death; neither hath He pleasure in the destruction of the living.
"For He created all things that they might have being; and the generative powers of the world are healthsome, and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor hath death dominion upon the earth.
"For righteousness is immortal:
"But ungodly men with their works and words called death unto them.
"For God created man to be immortal,
and made Him to be an image of His own proper being.
"But by the envy of the devil came death into the world."
"Whosoever liveth and believeth in me (understandeth me)," said Jesus, "shall never die."
And again--"If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death."
Universal Mind knows no imperfection--no decay--no death. It does not produce sickness and death. It is your conscious mind that has decreed these evils. Banish the thought--and you can banish the effect. Life was never meant to be measured by years.
I remember reading a story of a traveler who had journeyed to a land of perpetual sun. Since there was no sunrise and no sunset, no moons or changing sea-sons, there was no means of measuring time. Therefore to the inhabitants of that land, time did not exist. And having no time, they never thought to measure ages and consequently never grew old. Like organisms with a single cell, they did not die except by violence.
There is more truth than fiction to that idea. The measurement of life by the calendar robs youth of its vigor and hastens old age. It reminds me of the days of our grandparents, when a woman was supposed to doll her hat and don a bonnet at 40. And donning a bonnet was like taking the veil. She was supposed to retire to her chimney corner and make way for the younger generation.
Men and women ought to grow with years into greater health, broader judgment, maturer wisdom. Instead of becoming atrophied, and dead to all new ideas, their minds should through practice hold ever stronger images before them of youthful vigor and freshness. The Psalmist says--"But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."
No one need retire to the chimney corner, no matter how many years have passed over his head. Years should bring wisdom and greater health--not decrepitude. Many of the world's famous men did their greatest work long after the age when most men are in their graves. Tennyson composed the immortal lines of "Crossing the Bar" at the age of 80. Plato still had pen in hand at 81. Cato learned Greek at the same age. Humboldt completed his "Cosmos" in his ninetieth year, while John Wesley at 82 said--"It is twelve years now since I have felt any such sensation as fatigue."
You are only as old as your mind. Every function, every activity of your body, is controlled by your mind. Your vital organs, your blood that sends the material for rebuilding to every cell and tissue, the processes of elimination that remove all the broken down and waste material, all are dependent for their functioning upon the energy derived from your mind.
The human body can be compared to an electric transportation system. When the dynamo runs at full power every car speeds along, and everything is handled with precision. But let the dynamo slow down and the whole system lags.
That dynamo is your mind, and your thoughts provide the energy that runs it. Feed it thoughts of health and vigor and your whole system will reflect energy and vitality. Feed it thoughts of decrepitude and age, and you will find it slowing down to the halting pace you set for it.
You can grow old at 30. You can be young at 90. It is up to you. Which do you choose?
If you choose youth, then start this minute renewing your youth. Find a picture--or, better still, a statuette--of the man you would like to be, the form you would like to have. Keep it in your room. When you go to bed at night, visualize it in your mind's eye--hold it in your thought as YOU--as the man YOU ARE GOING TO BE!
The Journal of Education had the idea in their story of "The Prince and the Statue" in a recent issue:
"There was once a prince who had a crooked back. He could never stand straight up like even the lowest of his subjects. Because he was a very proud prince his crooked back caused him a great deal of mental suffering.
"One day he called before him the most skilful sculptor in his kingdom and said to him: 'Make me a noble statue of myself, true to my likeness in every detail with this exception--make this statue with a straight back. I wish to see my-self as I might have been.
"For long months the sculptor worked hewing the marble carefully into the likeness of the prince, and at last the work was done, and the sculptor went before the prince and said: 'The statue is finished; where shall I set it up?' One of the courtiers called out: 'Set it before the castle gate where all can see it,' but the prince smiled sadly, and shook his head. 'Rather,' said he, 'place it in a secret nook in the palace garden where only I shall see it.' The statue was placed as the prince ordered, and promptly forgotten by the world, but every morning, and every noon, and every evening the prince stole quietly away to where it stood and looked long upon it, noting the straight back and the unlifted head, and the noble brow. And each time he gazed, something seemed to go out of the statue and into him, tingling in his blood and throbbing in his heart.
"The days passed into months and the months into years; then strange rumors began to spread throughout the land. Said one: 'The prince's back is no longer crooked or my eyes deceive me.' Said another: 'The prince is more noble-looking or my eyes deceive me.' Said another: 'Our prince has the high look of a mighty man,' and these rumors came to the prince, and he listened with a queer smile. Then went he out into the garden to where the statue stood and, behold, it was just as the people said, his back had become as straight as the statue's, his head had the same noble bearing; he was, in fact, the noble man his statue proclaimed him to be."
A novel idea? Not at all! 2,500 years ago, in the Golden Age of Athens, when its culture led the world, Grecian mothers surrounded themselves with beautiful statues that they might bring forth perfect children and that the children in turn might develop into perfect men and women.
Eleven months from now you will have an entirely new body, inside and out. Not a single cell, not a single bit of tissue that is now in you will be there then. What changes da you want made in that new body? What improvements?
Get your new model clearly in your mind's eye. Picture it. VISUALIZE it! Look FORWARD daily w a better physique, to greater mental power.
Give that model to your Subconscious Mind to build upon--and before eleven months are out, that model WILL BE YOU!
Contents of the Book
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Prosperity and Abundance
- Anger Management
- Stress Reduction and Management Techniques
- Career Planning and Development
- Developing Communication Skills
- Concentration Practice
- Creativity and Innovation
- Coping With Emotions
- Positive Self-Esteem
- Coping With Fear and Anxiety
- The Experience of Happiness
- Using and Improving Intuition
- Leadership Skills
- Love and Love Relationships
- Mental Maturity
- Meditation, Concentration and Mindfulness
- Memory Techniques
- Mental Health
- Mental Peace
- This Page on Mental Peace Has Moved
- Mindfulness Practice
- Self-help Inspiration
- Negotiation Skills
- Personality Development
- Planning, Prioritizing and Budgeting
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- Reading Skills
- Building Relationships
- Relaxation and Stress Reduction
- Silence and Healingm
- Achieving Success
- Visualization Techniques
- The Secret of the Ages by Robert Collier, Index Of Chapters
- The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel
- Self-help Videos - Hinduwebsite.com
- Self-help, Free Audio Downloads
- Think Success: A Book on Self-help
- Being the Best - A Book on Self-help
The Secret of the Ages, by Robert Collier, . This text has been reformatted for the web at Hinduwebsite.com by Jayaram V. This text is not an exact reproduction of the original edition which was published in 1925 in seven small volumes. The title pages, page numbers, contents and index pages of seven volumes are not included in this electronic version. Those who are interested in the entire version of the text may refer the original copy. This text is in the public domain in the US, but may not be so in some countries.
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