There’s a famous self-help principle called ‘Constant and Neverending Improvement’. I think it’s a great ideal, though for the purpose of meditation, I like to tweak it and say ‘Constant and Neverending Maturity’ is what we’re looking for.
Ok, so what’s the difference? Well, maturity, ultimately, is the consummate fulfillment of our life experience. It involves seeing our actions and their reverberating consequences with clarity. I feel it is synonymous with wisdom.
As for improvement? Well, we can’t really count on it. In fact, we can probably count on a wide variety of factors worsening over age — our brain, our organs, our vision, our hearing, our stamina, our endurance, our strength — virtually all our faculties gradually start to decline after the age of 30. Sure it is admirable to want to maintain these capacities as long as possible, and if science brings us to the point where we start reversing these trends, all the better. Ultimately, however, the nature of our mind and body is that our faculties decline, not improve.
Maturity however doesn’t necessarily decline over time. We can continue to mature in our understanding of ourselves and the world till our last breath. The caveat is that maturity doesn’t necessarily develop. We’ve all met children more mature than adults. Maturity could develop over time, depending very much on the person, but there is no guarantee. If we are able to turn this quality into our goal and driving force, then we have a sustainable motive that we can ride for our entire life.