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Chapter 2: The Meaning of Maturity

The mind is immature when it is not ready to learn. The ego feels very fulfilled if you need not learn anything from anybody; the ego feels very enhanced if it feels that it already knows. Now the problem is that life goes on changing, it is never the same - it goes on flowing, it is a flux - and your knowledge is always the same. Your knowledge is not evolving with life, it is stuck somewhere in the past. Whenever you react through it you will miss the point, because it will not be exactly the right thing to do. Life has changed but your knowledge remains the same and you act out of this knowledge. That means you face today with your yesterday’s knowledge. You will never be able to be alive. The more you function through knowledge the more immature you become.

Now let me tell you a paradox: every child who is innocent is mature. Maturity has nothing to do with age because it has nothing to do with experience. Maturity has something to do with responsiveness, freshness, virginity, innocence. So when I use the word mature I don’t mean that when you become more experienced you will be more mature. That’s what people usually mean when they use the word. I don’t mean that. The more you gather knowledge, the more your mind will become immature. And by the time you are seventy or eighty you will be completely immature because you will have a stale past to function through.

Watch a small child: knowing nothing, having no experience, he functions here and now. That’s why children can learn more than aged people. Psychologists say that if a child is not forced to learn, not forced to discipline himself, he can learn any foreign language in three months. Just left to himself with people who know the language, he will catch it in three months. But if you force him to learn it will take almost three years - because the more you force the more he starts functioning through whatsoever he learns, through yesterday’s knowledge. If he is left to himself he moves freely, spontaneously; learning comes easily, by itself, of its own accord.

By the time the child reaches the age of eight he has learned almost seventy percent of whatsoever he is going to learn in his whole life. He may live eighty years, but by the time he is eight he has learned seventy percent - he will learn only thirty percent more, and every day his capacity to learn will be less and less and less. The more he knows, the less he learns. When people use the word maturity they mean more knowledge; when I use the word maturity I mean the capacity to learn - not to know but to learn. And they are different, totally different, diametrically opposite things.

Knowledge is a dead thing. The capacity to learn is an alive process: you simply remain capable of learning, you simply remain available, you simply remain open, ready to receive. Learning is receptivity. Knowledge makes you less receptive because you go on thinking that you already know: what is there to learn? When you already know you miss much, when you don’t know anything you cannot miss anything.

In his old age Socrates said, “Now I know nothing!” That was maturity. At the very end he said, “I know nothing.”

Life is so vast. How can this tiny mind know? At the most, glimpses are enough; even they are too much. Existence is so tremendously vast and infinite, beginningless, endless - how can this tiny drop of consciousness know it? This is enough, that even a few glimpses come, a few doors open, a few moments happen when you come in contact with existence. But those moments cannot be turned into knowledge. And your mind tends to do it. Then it becomes more and more immature.

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