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Grasp with innocence

 Innocence is a delicate fragrance, while knowledge is a strong filter. That is the difference. The fragrance of innocence draws the whole world to you. The filter of knowledge prevents many things from coming to you. When you are caught in knowledge you are in a great hurry all the time, because there is too much knowledge to gather.

When you are with innocence you simply enjoy the moment. If you watch innocent people, they will never appear to be with any great purpose. They will simply revel in the moment with a totality, with simplicity. Innocence grasps the moment while knowledge misses it. Knowledge knows only purpose while innocence knows the beauty of purposelessness. If you set aside your knowledge, you are ready to grasp the moment and the Truth. The present holds the truth in it. The problem is that today education teaches only knowledge and how to be clever. It doesn’t educate on innocence. Where in the universities do they teach innocence?

A small story:

A young boy walked into a fish market and asked for six trout.

The fishmonger enthusiastically started selecting the trout. He was about to wrap them when the boy said, ‘Please don’t wrap them up yet. Can you just throw each of them to me and I will catch them one by one before you wrap them up?’

The fishmonger said, ‘Of course I will, but what for?’ The boy replied, ‘That way, I can at least say when I get home that I caught six trout.’

There is such a pressure to be clever today. Children lose their innocence to the conditioning that they receive in the name of ‘how to be clever’. Over time, like this small boy, even innocence is used only to make up for cleverness!

A father introduced his son proudly to his colleagues at office for the first time.

All his colleagues were standing around the boy and the father said, ‘Son, why don’t you tell them how old you are?’

The child promptly said, ‘When I am at home I am seven. But when I am on a bus, I am five.’

This is how children are trained today. They are trained to see utility in everything. Education evaluates you by your own utility. But you are not your utility. You are your being. The being can never be evaluated. Only the mind can be, and mind itself is a myth! Society creates a myth, which is your mind, and holds it as the yardstick to evaluate you. That is the reason why knowledge is so popular today.

A small story:

Four friends lived in a town. They spent a lot of time together. Three of them were very learned. The fourth was not as learned but he was wise.

One day, they decided to travel to other lands to exhibit their learning to men and earn money.

The fourth friend had nothing to boast of, but expressed his wish to accompany them. The first friend said, ‘You don’t know much. If you accompany us, we will have to unnecessarily share our money with you.’

The second friend said, ‘Yes, that is true. It is better you stay back.’

 The third friend was more kind. He said, ‘We grew up together all these years. It is not right to tell him to stay back. He should come along.’

 So the four of them started their journey.

They passed through a dense forest. They saw many wild animals and experienced many exciting moments. Suddenly one day, they came across a heap of animal bones.

 One of them said, ‘I think this is a wonderful way to put our knowledge to test. Let us bring this animal back to life.’

 The two other friends agreed, but the fourth one said, ‘I feel these are the bones of a very big animal, so we should not attempt to do such things.’

The other three laughed at him and called him a coward. They said, ‘If you had knowledge like we do, you will not feel so afraid of these things. Keep quiet and watch us.’

The three proceeded with the experiment.

One of them arranged the bones in a way that it looked like a proper animal. Then he chanted some verses, sprinkled holy water on it and the bones suddenly took the shape of a skeleton. They were amazed by the power of their knowledge.

The second one came forward, chanted a few more verses and sprinkled more water on it. The skeleton suddenly got covered with muscles, flesh, blood and a coat of fur. It was a lion and lacked only life.

 The friends were amazed at themselves.

The third friend came forward and said he would infuse life into it. The fourth friend gave another warning but they laughed at him. He then slowly climbed up a tree and sat there watching.

The third friend waved life into the lion’s body and the lion came to life.

With one roar, the lion advanced towards the three of them. They looked up to see where the fourth friend was. He was perched up on the tree watching the whole scene.

The lion made short work of them.

Knowledge is a tool. It doesn’t directly lead to intelligence. It is just a tool. As long as we use it as a powerful tool where needed, it is good. It can do amazing things. The mistake we do is giving our whole lives to the hands of knowledge. On the other hand, innocence leads directly to pure intelligence.

Another small story:

There was a banyan tree in a small village that was giving cool shade. Under the tree there was a cow and a tired dog. There was also an old man with a long beard leaning his back on its trunk, his legs spread out in front of him.

The tree was in the frontier between two kingdoms.

A traveler was passing that way to cross from one kingdom to the other. He saw the old man and commented, ‘Good disguise you are sporting. It doesn’t work. I too sported a similar disguise when I stole a gold chain a few days back. A guard searched me and found the chain. He beat me up as well. Let us see how you are able to get away with your disguise.

’Next came a man on horseback. He was a spy who was about to enter the kingdom. He stopped upon seeing the old man and thought to himself, ‘Who knows with what motive this man is lying here? He could as well be a spy like me.’ He hurried away as he had no time to lose with his job as a spy.

 One hour later, another man staggered towards the old man. He was drunk. He laughed at the old man and loudly asked, ‘How much did you gulp down old man? Look at me. I have gulped an entire pot and I am still so steady although at times I feel my head is a little heavy.’ Saying that, he went away.

 Soon it was nighttime and the whole place became very calm.

A fourth man passed by that way and came across the old man. He looked at him for one long moment and went near him and bowed down. He spoke, ‘How lucky I am. I have the good fortune of seeing you.’ He then took a large leaf and fanned the old man to drive away the ants and other insects that were crawling up his body.

The old hermit opened his eyes from his trance and saw the man fanning him and smiled.

The young man asked, ‘Oh great soul, I would be most blessed if you accept my invitation to spend the night at my house which is nearby here.’ 

The hermit said, ‘If that is god’s will, so be it,’ and followed the man to his house. Innocence grasps dimensions that cleverness misses. Innocence may miss the facts but it catches the Truths. Cleverness is too busy with facts. When cleverness combines with innocence, it becomes a rare combination of intelligence and innocence. Setting aside knowledge for the sake of innocence is intelligence. I don’t mean that you have to stop gathering knowledge. Just understand that knowledge cannot substitute innocence.

If you observe villagers who are not educated you will see that they exhibit pure intelligence! That is why you will find that when you are stuck, a villager effortlessly pitches in and helps you out! Innocent intelligence has that capacity.

Compre-hending complex things is not a difficult thing. You have to work your mind a little more, that’s all! You only need to see in a more divisive way, in a more analytical way. For example, a person may not find it very difficult to u n d e r s t a n d aeronautics, but what about understanding the simple Zen koans*? Zen koans* are simple teachings of Zen Buddhism. They are not concerned with where you are or what you do but with what makes you. They are meant to cause an awakening at the being level. They are concerned only with that, nothing else. They are not caught in giving ideas. They directly give the solution for the being. But they are difficult to grasp because they are too simple and straightforward!

Today all universities work on sharpening the intellectual faculty of the individual. They teach us how to make ourselves more useful to society and how to be productive or effective. There is nothing wrong in being productive and effective, but in the process we forget how to be innocent and receptive. We forget how to open up to the cosmos, to Existence. We forget how to move in synchronicity with the cosmos, how to make productivity happen in tune with the cosmic plan, which is the source of all productivity. This happens because we are caught in ‘doing’ and ‘having’, we forget the ‘being’.

There are three important states: being, doing and having. Right now, we move from doing to having. We continuously ‘do’ things. We learn and we put the learning into useful action. We then ‘have’ what we want: money, relationships, comfort, and what not. Then we want to have better things or have more things and so we continue doing. We are all the time between doing and having. In the process, the being is forgotten. Our real restfulness lies only in the state of being. Because of this, however much we do and have, we still search for restfulness. This feeling is the ‘call of the being’.  

If we nurture the being and cause the doing to happen from the quality of the being, then we don’t have to work so much for the having. That will simply happen as a byproduct. This is the secret of Existence. But this is not seen as a direct utility to society by the universities. That is the problem. But this is what gives the real utility of every individual, not only to society but to the whole of the cosmos. We should always be concerned about the Whole.

In the ancient Indian universities like Takshila* and Nalanda*, the preparation of the students was always at the being level. Outer world learning happened as a natural consequence. India has always focused on nurturing the innocence of the being because only that will lead to strength of the being. When there is strength of the being, anything can be achieved.

Paramahamsa Yogananda* beautifully describes the intent of spiritual learning. He says, there are trillions of cells in the body. Every cell is like an intelligent being. Every cell has the DNA* substance in it which has the information and intelligence to grow a whole new body and brain. This dormant intelligence needs to be awakened so that the mind doesn’t move towards suffering and remains in bliss.

He goes on to say that spiritual education magnetizes the cells by sending life current around the brain and spine, ensuring evolutionary advancement of the individual. With this divine magnetism, every cell becomes a brain alive and ready to grasp every bit of knowledge. With these awakened brains, the mental capacity of the individual multiplies multifold and all sorts of knowledge will be effortlessly comprehended! Such is the impact of spiritual learning.

Alexander, the emperor of Greece, had conquered three fourths of the world and traveled downward to Asia to conquer it. He settled down in the banks of the river Sindhu to conquer India.

On the banks of the same river lived a hermit. As Alexander and his army passed by, the hermit was meditating and did not stand up to salute him.

Alexander felt humiliated and shouted at him, ‘How dare you do not salute me!’ And he took out his sword to chop his head off.

The hermit looked at him and laughed. Alexander was shocked. ‘I am going to kill you and you are laughing!’ He asked.

The hermit said, ‘I am wondering what you are trying to kill! I can never be killed. I am immortal, eternal and imperishable. Weapons cannot cut, fire cannot burn, water cannot wet, wind cannot dry up this soul.’ He quoted from the Bhagavad Gita.

Alexander dropped the sword and saluted the hermit saying, ‘India has such great people who are fearless about death. I offer my salutations to this great country.’ He retreated from the Indian soil a wiser man.

The teachings of olden day universities created the possibility for supreme knowledge and confidence to flower in individuals, at the same time preserving their innocence. Then every student acquired the quality of a sage. A sage has the vast knowledge of the outer world and the utter innocence of the inner world.

Buddha beautifully teaches in the Dhammapada*:

Even the gods envy the saints,

Whose senses obey them like well-trained horses and who are free from pride.

Patient like the earth, they stand like the threshold.

They are pure like a lake without mud, and free from the cycle of birth and death.

The sage is qualified to do anything in the outer world.

In the ancient gurukul * system of education, learning happened in a completely different plane. Creative intelligence stemmed from deep consciousness. Straightaway, the being was addressed and the doing and having had a different essence altogether.

A small story:

A young boy was considered to be very dull and his father one day took him to the Sanskrit school where all the boys of the village learnt their lessons.

He met the teacher and said, ‘My son is not a bright student. Will you allow him to sit in the back row of the class so that he is in the atmosphere presided over by goddess Saraswati*? I know you are kind and compassionate. Please guide him. He will be lucky if he learns anything.’

 The teacher readily agreed.

The young boy joined the school. He would be present every day before any of the other boys came in, dust, sweep and mop the room, and set up the teacher’s wooden table and chair and sit down in a corner to listen to the class most attentively.

No one expected him to gain anything out of the classes.

One day he humbly asked the teacher, ‘Sir, what about the guidance you were supposed to give me? When will I receive it?’

The teacher said, ‘Right now! Here it is: Aham Brahmasmi (I am That). Recite this audibly or silently, but continuously.’

With determination and inspiration the young boy learnt the phrase without even bothering to ask the meaning of it. Neither did the teacher bother to tell him the meaning. He did not feel the necessity to do so.

‘Aham Brahmasmi,’ the boy went on repeating at home.

 His father asked him, ‘Do you know the meaning of those words?’

The boy’s eyes bulged out. ‘Meaning?’ he asked. It never struck him that the words might have a meaning.

The father told him, ‘The words mean, I am That.’

 The boy went to his uncle’s house the next day and continued reciting, ‘Aham Brahmasmi, which means Father is Brahman*.

’ The uncle heard this and said, ‘It doesn’t mean that! It means: I am Brahman*.’

 The boy was surprised but kept quiet. On the way back home he was reciting, ‘Aham Brahmasmi, which means uncle is Brahman.’

The village priest passed by him and heard him reciting. He stopped him and said, ‘Son, it does not mean that uncle is Brahman, it means I am Brahman.’

 The boy was amazed. ‘How can just two words mean so many things, father, uncle and the village priest are all Brahman!’

His head was reeling and he sat down on a nearby slab of stone. He started reciting with the spirit of asking the words themselves what they really meant.

The sun went down and darkness came. The stars and moon started shining. The boy went on reciting Aham Brahmasmi to find out its real meaning.

At dawn, the ultimate knowledge dawned on him that he too was Brahman! Not just his father, uncle and village chief, but he too, and everybody else was Brahman.

He became a realized soul.

Understand, the moment the boy understood he was ignorant, an alchemy process was triggered in his system. When you don’t know that you don’t know, it is ignorance. When you know that you don’t know, it is innocence . Then the knowing can start happening. But in the knowing, the feeling of knowledge is to be checked. Knowing is different from knowledge. Knowing is innocence. It is an understanding that has become your own experience. Knowledge that is not yet experienced is not your own. It is borrowed. It is just a collection of words in the head.

A person may go on and on reading something here and there, and entertain himself. If his intention is just reading books it can be good entertainment, but not enlightenment. Entertainment is different from enlightenment. Just because he has been entertained by some good books, it doesn’t mean that he is enlightened. Understand, the books which help you sharpen your logic give you the feeling that you know. There starts the problem.

Work so that everything becomes a deep experience in you. You will then be a simple person. Simplicity is weightless. It will never weigh you down and hinder further learning. It will just aid in the flowering of innocence, that’s all.

What innocence grasps one may not even be able to express, because it is an understanding beyond words. But it can be seen in the eyes. The eyes are the windows of the soul. That is why when you see the eyes of sages you will see an oceanic look in them. They will radiate something that cannot be framed. To try to describe it would be like trying to scratch the foot from the outer side of the shoe.

One cannot blame modernization for loss of innocence. Lord Krishna says, ‘I am Time.’ When Krishna says that, you need to understand that modernization is also the divine play of Existence. Man should understand modernization in the right light and not take it as a replacement to the ancient foundation of growing.

Glossary:

* Koans – Riddles given as techniques in Zen to aid Self Realization.

* Takshila – A center of learning mentioned in the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, now a world UNheritage site in North eastern Pakistan.

* Nalanda – A great Buddhist center of learning in modern day Bihar, India comprising a university and library.

* Paramahamsa Yogananda – An enlightened master from India well known for his book ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.

* DNA – Deoxyribonucleic acid, the building block of all living beings containing the genetic code.

* Dhammapada – Teachings of Buddha in scriptural form.

* Gurukul – Vedic educational institution.

* Saraswati – Hindu goddess of learning.

* Brahman – Absolute, Cosmic Consciousness, formless god etc all referring to the universal energy source of which the individual energy of soul is a holographic part.

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