Questioner (Q): Sir, how to attain maturity?
Acharya Prashant (AP): We will have to understand first what this thing called maturity is. To go into the question of maturity, we first have to understand immaturity because that is what surrounds us, day in and day out. The fact of the matter is, as we are right now, immaturity is closer to us than maturity. So we will see what immaturity is.
When you see a child, we say that the child is immature. What is the reason? How is the child immature?
The child is immature because his brain is not yet fully developed. The consequence of that is the clear display of immaturity; that the brain just acts like a sponge. What does a sponge do?
Q: It soaks.
AP: It keeps absorbing anything and everything that comes to it without any discretion of its own. That is the child’s immaturity. The child is dependent and helpless. He will have to accept, absorb whatever you give to it. His brain is not yet ready to become a seat, a proper seat of intelligence. Hence the display of immaturity, and immaturity is nothing but this dependence on everything external. You give him a religion; he is so helpless he takes it. He can not even question that "Why are you making me this or that?" You give him beliefs, he takes them. You tell the child that the neighbor is an evil person and he absolutely should be avoided, and the child will have to take it. He will start believing. He is helpless. He can not apply his discretion.
That is immaturity and that immaturity is further strengthened by the kind of parenting the child gets. If the child displays a sudden spark of intelligence and turns around to ask that, "You keep telling me that I must speak the truth but tell me why must I speak the truth?", parents have no answer. And if they have an answer, it is a borrowed answer that their parents gave to them. And if the child insists then he gets one tight slap.
The child is dependent and is made further dependent. And to remain dependent on others is what immaturity is. To not have your own intelligence but to live on borrowed ideals and beliefs, that is immaturity. I can not apply my intelligence. You told me that such and such career is wonderful, I have accepted it and I have gone for that kind of career. You told me that these kinds of studies are wonderful and I am in that particular branch of engineering and proceeding with those kinds of studies.
The entire world is doing something and hence I am also doing that. I have no understanding what work-life is. I have no understanding of what it means to live fully and freely.
But I am living comfortably on borrowed beliefs and if those beliefs are questioned to the core, then we have no answers. I really have no answers. If someone asks, "What is this education thing you are doing daily?", I have no answers because I do not really understand the real meaning of education.
If someone asks me, "You roam around with your friends, what really is friendship?", I do not have an answer because I do not understand. I am living on some borrowed definition given by somebody. Nothing comes out of my understanding. Nothing is fresh, nothing is new, and nothing is really original. All stale, all repetitive. That is immaturity.
So, how to attain maturity then?
You can attain maturity only by being your own individual, only by carefully investigating the contents of your mind. What are your ideals? Who are your role models? What is your path of life? Why are you here at all? What beliefs you are adhering to? When you look at all this, there is freedom from the slavery of the external, then you are no more a sponge.
In that intelligence, in that freedom, there is maturity.