This is learning: trying one experiment, seeing that it doesn’t work; trying an alternative, seeing that it doesn’t work, the wise man drops it. The fool clings to it. The fool calls it consistency. The fool says, “I did it yesterday and I am going to do it today too. And I will do it tomorrow too.” He is stubborn, pig-headed. He says, “How can I leave it? I have invested so much in it, I cannot change it.” Then he goes on insisting on it and his whole life is wasted. And as death comes closer, he is desperate, he is hopeless. He knows perfectly well deep down in his guts that he is going to fail. He has failed so many times and he is still trying the same thing without learning anything at all. This creates neurosis.
The man who is capable of learning will never become neurotic. A disciple will never become neurotic. A disciple means one who is capable of learning. Never become knowledgeable; always be in the process of learning. Knowledgeability drives people neurotic. It is not just accidental that professors, philosophers, psychiatrists, scholars, easily go mad: they have learned and they have reached the conclusion that there is no more to learn. The moment you decide that there is no more to learn, you have stopped growing. To stop growing is neurosis – that is the second definition.
The world was very different in the past, obviously. About six weeks’ worth of sensory stimuli six hundred years ago is what we now get in a day. Six weeks’ worth of stimulation, information, we are getting in a single day – about forty times the pressure to learn and adapt. Modern man has to be capable of learning more than man has ever been before, because there is more to learn now. Modern man has to become capable of adapting to new situations every day because the world is changing so fast. It is a great challenge.
A great challenge, if accepted, will help tremendously in the expansion of consciousness. Either modern man is going to be utterly neurotic or modern man is going to be transformed by the very pressure. It depends on how you take it. One thing is certain: there is no way of going back. The sensory stimuli will go on increasing more and more. You will be getting more and more information and life will be changing, with faster and faster rhythms, and you will have to be capable to learn, to adapt, to new things.
In the past man lived in an almost static world. Everything was static: you would leave the world exactly as your father had left it to you. You would not have changed anything at all. Nothing was changed. There was no question of learning too much, a little bit of learning was enough. And then you had spaces in your mind, empty spaces, which helped people to remain sane. Now there is no more empty space…unless you create it deliberately.