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Innocence, totality, maturity

 The Dhammapada* says:

Light the lamp within; strive hard to attain wisdom. Become pure and innocent, and live in the world of light.

When you came into the world, you came as an innocent infant. You radiated the beauty of your innocence until society gave you the mind. Now, you want to get rid of your mind and become innocent again. The regained innocence is what is called maturity. It is possible to regain it. Just believe that you were innocent once upon a time. Trust that the innocence is still within you. Then it is possible to start radiating it again. This understanding will start the process again.

Maturity causes us to live in totality. Totality is functioning out of immense innocence and giving your whole to the moment. There is no opinion, no judgment, no fragments within you. There is only intense enthusiasm for the moment. The openness to the moment is the innocence. Just one thing is needed to become innocent once again. Don’t hide behind false knowledge. See where all you are hiding and step out to reveal your natural self. Then you are completely open. This is the attitude for enlig-htenment. Knowing that you are hiding is the first step. Taking a strong decision to come out of it is the next step. Then you will see that innocence and maturity start happening.

To become mature you need to go in first, because maturity is all about falling at ease with your true nature with no pretensions. Making your natural self to be your very nature is maturity. The best way to become your natural self is to keep your core at ease. Let the core of you be at ease all the time, irrespective of where you might be or what you may be doing. Then you can retain your purity. Always feel your natural self at your core with no strain, with no effort or pretensions.

The problem of falsity comes because society teaches you to be someone special all the time. There is no need to be someone special all the time. It is an immature idea to be someone special all the time. Once this idea is renounced, the mind relaxes. It feels no pressure to be shrewd. This relaxation gives birth to innocence.

Right now, you are struggling for innocence because you are unable to pacify your mind. If you cooperate with the understanding that your mind is hindering your regaining of innocence, the struggle is over. On the other hand, if you resist the understanding, then you struggle. The struggle is with your ego. The ego resists any understanding that shakes it.

When you drop the mind, you fall into the moment. To harbour the mind you need to travel either in the past or in the future. A child is always in the present. He doesn’t care to retain any past in his memory. It is of no use to him. He is interested in enjoying the moment. There is no need to hold on to the past. When we remember anything, we don’t remember days, we remember only moments, is it not? Then why not make each moment worthy of remembrance? Why go behind the past or future? Just pure logic!

To feel the urge to regain y o u r innocence you may have to go astray, because when you go astray and face the consequences, introspection starts. The introspection triggers the need to regain innocence. Don’t condemn yourself for going astray. Just bring in the awareness to integrate yourself into the right path forever. If maturity is going to happen this way it is definitely worth it.

Maturity is taking a strong decision not to delude yourself anymore. It is to awaken to the consciousness within. It is to integrate yourself with honesty. When this happens, you start to become a child again. As a child, you were innocent but not with awareness. Somewhere in the process of growing up you lost the innocence. You are regaining it now. The new innocence will be with full awareness and that is the real innocence.

When you regain the innocence, you flower with the understanding that there is nothing more priceless than becoming childlike again. That is the process of enlightenment.

That is why a child’s innocence is to be nurtured with utmost care. For every innocent observation that a child makes, if we can be without imposing our knowledge on it, the child will grow up preserving its innocence. For example, if the child asks, ‘Why is it that the sky is blue sometimes and white sometimes?’ just tell the child that the sky is blue sometimes and white sometimes. He will anyway learn that in his lessons in school. But if you can tell him they are just the way they are, he will straightaway understand the spontaneity of nature. He will not be looking for further knowledge to feed himself with. The universities take care of that anyway.

At home, when you are still the most influential person in his life, if you make him understand that that is they way things are, that there is no need to know it all with knowledge, the innocence in him survives. He doesn’t catch the thread of passing judgment on nature. He learns to see without bringing words in. He learns to just see and be. The moment words are brought in, the innocence is lost. Then it is no more seeing. It becomes looking. The whole beauty of it is then lost.

Growing up is always considered to be a serious thing. If you grow up in seriousness you only grow old. If you grow up in playfulness, you remain young! It is a good thing to see what children, animals and other creatures are doing at times because they all live with innocence and playfulness. It will help understand and reconnect with innocence.

A small story:

A lion was walking through the jungle taking a poll to determine who was the greatest among all the wild animals.

He came across a rhinoceros and asked, ‘Who is the king of the jungle?’

 The rhinoceros replied, ‘Of course you are!’

The lion was happy and walked on. Next, he came across a zebra.

 He asked the zebra, ‘Tell me, who is the king of the jungle?’

 The zebra immediately replied, ‘You are, oh king!’

The lion walked on with great pride and saw an elephant.

He asked the elephant, ‘Tell me, who is the king of the jungle?’

 The elephant picked him up with his trunk, and swung him against a large tree. The lion bounced off the tree, hit the ground and said, ‘You don’t have to get so mad just because you don’t know the right answer!’

 Innocence is the way to approach life! The moment you realize that you need to regain your innocence, you are ready for the transformation. The scale of measure of regaining innocence is to watch your reaction to the little things in life. Innocence sees all little things with awe and wonder. That is why children are so wonder filled all the time. You can see it in their wide eyes. If you are able to see things in wonder, then innocence has started happening in you. It is possible that with all the knowledge of the world you can still have clear and innocent eyes. Those are the eyes of the sage.

Childlike innocence discovers many things but cannot understand most of it. It enjoys it at the level of its innocence, that’s all. Whereas innocence regained not only discovers these new things, but also understands all of them. That is the difference.

Childlike innocence is beautiful but not enough. It has to be lost to life and regained with complete awareness and maturity.

It is said that a mad man and a mystic look alike. Both of them will be eccentric in their ways, laughing abruptly and doing things incomprehensible. But they are actually at the extreme two ends of the same spectrum! Extremes always look alike. Outwardly they appear to be the same, that’s all. Similarly, a child and a saint may look alike in their innocence, but they are actually at the two extreme ends of the  

same spectrum. The child has not even started its achievement of regained innocence, while the saint has finished it.

The innocence of the child is still the god given innocence he came with, not the innocence that  he r e g a i n e d through life. The innocence of a child can be easily disturbed, whereas the innocence of a sage can never be disturbed. Getting the innocence disturbed and working to regain it permanently is the process of maturity. That is the travel through to the other end of the spectrum in becoming a saint.

If a child is brought up in love, the innocence of the child is preserved. Then he moves around with his heart, not with his head. He may use his head as a utility but functions from his heart. It does not mean that the child will become useless. No. His innocence will not be corrupted by knowledge, that’s all. He will be centered on love instead of on knowledge, that’s all. Knowledge itself is not the problem. Only the attitude with which it is carried is the problem.

With innocence regained, you will once again be able to look into the eyes of the other. Your innocence not only makes you vulnerable, it also makes you integrated. With knowledge, you are fragmented within you. With regained innocence, you are integrated and honest to yourself and to others. That honesty will radiate from your eyes and touch the other. That honesty is maturity.

Just the longing to become innocent again is enough. It will start destroying all that is not you inside you. After all, it is just layers of conditioning. But it is important to hold your will strong until the process is complete. The will is a constant reminder to be sincere and honest without cunningness. Decide not to rest until the de-conditioning is total.

The beauty of maturity is that it allows you to function as a mature person when required and as a child at all other times. It easily allows you to flow from one to the other so that you are in perfect harmony with the Whole.

When you regain your innocence, you are called dvija*, reborn, mature. The key is not to give up in your effort in regaining your innocence. The journey may be frustrating at times, because it is taking time and not happening. It is so because society has conditioned you with many layers. The onion has to be peeled layer after layer to reach the center. Frustration is a precondition to burst open with transformation. So don’t relax, that is enough. It will happen. Remember, innocence is already in you. It is not about any end objective outside. Just this remembrance will give you the relaxation after every frustration.

Everyday just sit for a few moments, sit by yourself and calmly go into your innocence. Feel the innocence in you. Feel the purity in you. Feel the overflowing from within you. Let it spread through your body, mind and being. Feel how beautiful you are in your innocence. Do this everyday. Soon you will see that you will awaken to it as your very nature. All that is not you will be burnt and the real you will emerge.

Innocence has a totality about it. This totality is called grace. That is why enlightened masters appear to be so graceful and beautiful all the time. Innocence manifests itself as wondrous beauty to the eyes of the beholder. It is so total that even the most cunning mind cannot deny it. It simply defies all logic and touches you.

Being innocent is like functioning from your very consciousness. It is thoughtless awareness. Until then you function from your mind. If you just sit and watch the source of every thought that rises in you, you will soon drop all thoughts and go back to the thoughtless awareness that you had as a child. Thoughtless awareness is innocence. But this time it will be the innocence of maturity because you have gone through the process. Thoughtless awareness doesn’t add to your knowledge. It simply deepens your innocence and makes you see the universe with more awe and wonder. Innocence sees no opposites, it just sees, that’s all. Its beauty is in its nonjudgmental seeing.

A man went to see his girlfriend after a long time.

Unfortunately, he found that her younger brother who was much younger to her was sitting there watching television and eating some snack.

 He sat beside him and told him, ‘You know what? If you sit upstairs in the terrace and watch the road, for every man wearing a red hat that passes by you, I will give you fifty cents.’

The boy was thrilled and raced up the stairs and assumed his position in the terrace.

The man took his position beside his girlfriend.

Ten minutes later, just as he was getting intimate with her, the boy rushed into the room.

The man was terribly disappointed and shouted, ‘Didn’t I tell you to watch the road for men with red hats?’

 The boy replied gasping for breath, ‘I know! A parade just went by and at fifty cents a head, you owe me twelve hundred dollars!’

 We always think children are immature. We think that the grownups who cry are immature. We are conditioned to believe that expression of any emotion is immature. Expressing the emotions in an unfiltered way is a sign of innocence. The cunning ones edit even their emotions. Once in a while it is good to cry in front of people. What is wrong with it? What are you trying to hide? By crying you are only expressing your true feelings. What is there to hide? The problem is that society has always taught us to hide our true nature and show only our projected personality. That is why with time we forget what our nature is. We forget how to be innocent.

One teacher told the parent during the parent teacher meeting, ‘Your daughter is very good in all her activities. She is just a little emotionally immature. But she will be alright.’

 The parent looked at her in a puzzled way and asked, ‘At three, how else do you expect her to be?’

 Just by being with children as their friend, as their playmate, it is possible to get back in touch with the innocence. When you are with them don’t pretend to be like a child. Take it really seriously and become a child! It is the greatest favor you can do to yourself.

The problem is that we are afraid of losing what society taught us. From society we learnt how to build our personality. But our character is different from our personality. Character is real. Personality is a built up image. If we work towards solidifying character, we are working in the zone of reality. If we work towards solidifying personality, we are working in the zone of dreams.

You may have noticed that when you are sitting at the table and eating with your children, they will hold up the little potato chips and admire the shape of each chip before eating. They have the ability to be enchanted by life’s eternal mysteries and wonders. That is their greatest blessing. They don’t think, they just enjoy, that’s all. When the child draws our attention to the chip, we ask him to eat fast! We miss the moment of getting led into life’s mysteries. We miss stumbling upon our own innocence.

There are umpteen ways to rediscover the child hiding in you. Just play hide and seek with children or learn how to make cookies or watch Tom and Jerry cartoons or eat different color cotton candies or make mud dolls! All these will bring out the child in you. Your solid identity will dissolve. You will become fluid like a river and flow. The weight of your seriousness will drop and you will become light and blissful.

Seriousness is ego. When you are afraid of getting hurt, when you are afraid of losing your control or power, you become serious. When you are too centered on yourself this happens. When you let go and play and touch your innocence again, you will suddenly enjoy a break from yourself. That break is the falling of your seriousness. In that gap you will realize there is nothing to hold on to. There is only free spirit.

When you become aware of this you can work on it consciously and move towards becoming completely innocent and sincere. Innocence is keeping the consciousness at the level of the heart, not allowing it to settle in the head.

Glossary:

* Dhammapada – Teachings of Buddha in scriptural form.

* Dvija – Twice born. Refers to the state of awakening of Consciousness.

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