In the old days, people were naturally meditative. Life was uncomplicated and people had enough time just to sit and do nothing, or look at the stars or watch the trees or listen to the birds. People had intervals of deep passivity. In those moments you become more and more healthy and whole.
Neurosis means you are carrying such a load in the mind that you are dying under it. You cannot move – there is no question of your consciousness flying. You cannot even creep – the burden is too much…and the burden goes on increasing every moment. One cracks up. It is very natural.
A few things to be understood. Neurosis is the mouse endlessly trying the dead end, not learning. Yes, not learning is neurosis – that is the first definition. You go on trying the dead end. You have been angry – how many times have you been angry? And how many times have you repented being angry? Still, let there be a stimulus and your reaction will again be the same – you have not learned a thing. You have been greedy and greed has created more and more misery. You know it – greed has never given anybody blissfulness – but you are still greedy, you still go on being greedy. You don’t learn. Nonlearning creates neurosis, is neurosis.
Learning means assimilation. You try one thing and then you find that it doesn’t work: you drop it, you move in another direction, you try another alternative. This is wise, this is intelligent. Just knocking your head against a wall where you know perfectly well there is no door is neurosis.
People are getting more and more neurotic because they go on trying the dead end, they go on trying that which doesn’t work. The man who is capable of learning never becomes neurotic – cannot become. He immediately sees the point that this is a wall. He drops the whole idea. He starts moving into other dimensions – there are other alternatives available. He has learned something.
It is said of Edison that he was trying one experiment in which he failed seven hundred times. His colleagues became desperate. Three years were wasted and he went on trying new alternatives again and again. And every morning he came with great enthusiasm – the same enthusiasm that he had come with on the first day – and three years were wasted.
One day his colleagues gathered together and they said to him, “We don’t see the point. We have failed seven hundred times. It is time to drop the experimentation.”
Edison is reported to have said, “What are you saying – failed? We have learned that seven hundred alternatives were wrong alternatives. It has been a great experience! Today we are not going to try the same experiment, I have found another one. We are coming closer to the truth. How many false alternatives can there be? – there must be a limit. If there are one thousand false alternatives, then seven hundred have already been dropped and only three hundred are left, and then we will be reaching the right point.”