What is Innocence? Is it naivety? Is it seeing life through rose-colored glasses?
Is it being vulnerable–like a human child alone in a jungle? Most people assume that Innocence is the same as being frail and susceptible to harm. But, in reality, Innocence is our original state of being–our Divine Nature. Therefore, Innocence is strong and immune to any actual harm.
Innocence is not to be equated with weakness. True Innocence actually gives us an inner strength that comes from knowing who we truly are–something impervious to the issues of this world. The false strength that seems to come so easily to those who have lost their Innocence, is used as a means to cover up the weaknesses we perceive in ourselves.
Recognizing our Innocence is part of being on the spiritual path. We can’t be spiritual and yet lack Innocence. Our spirit IS Innocent. Therefore it behooves us to take the proper steps to nurture our Innocence–despite all that the human ego has done to destroy it. Or as A Course in Miracles says: “Try to remember when there was a time…when nothing came to interrupt your peace; when you were certain you were loved and safe.”
The following are suggested ways to rediscovering Innocence:
- Practice being child-like.
- Live a life of simplicity.
- Be as forgiving as possible…as often as possible.
- Develop a healthy dependence on God.
- Avoid false forms of innocence, such as being an “innocent victim.”
As we all know, Jesus is quoted as bidding us to “Be as children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” However, he was not so much asking us to be children as much as he was asking us to be like children. Therefore, true Innocence means to be Innocent in mind–without judgment. In fact, in God’s Reality, we are Innocent of judging and Innocent from judgment. But in this world we appear to be guilty of judgment and then experience the effects of our judgments.
When Jesus advised that we “Be as wise as serpents (those who are familiar with the ways of the world) but as gentle as doves (those who are child-like), he was telling us to live in balance–being in this world but not of this world. He was recommending that we have the strength and clarity of masters yet the gentleness and creativity of young children.
Personally, those who know me best know that despite the fact that I consistently teach mastery and all its many forms of strength, when I am not teaching or working, I watch far more cartoons and animated movies than adult dramas. I admire people like Walt Disney and Hans Christian Anderson far more than worldly people. Even now in my mid-fifties, I’ve still never read a newspaper, watched the news, smoked a cigarette, drank a cup of coffee, or been attracted to academic studies. Such things have never impressed me nor attracted me. Instead I am drawn to spiritual experiences and to being playful, light, and child-like. And although the world says that we can’t get by if we are too child-like, it’s actually worked pretty well for many of us who remained true to ourselves.
Living a Life of Simplicity:
As we all know, life in the 21st Century is anything but simple for most people. And one of the first solutions is to correct the mis-perceptions people have around the concept of simplicity.
Simplicity does not mean living in poverty nor “going without” the good things in life. Instead, simplicity means not getting bogged down with material things nor with over-thinking. Simplicity also means having good “feng shui” in our lives–a clean (not sterile) and organized life and environment.
A Course in Miracles says, “Simplicity is very difficult for twisted minds. Nothing is so alien to such people…” And Yogananda put it quite well when he said, “Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.”
Innocence is what we were created to be but forgot. So now, remembering this forgotten innocence, is made far easier through the process of seeing the Innocence of others. By seeing Innocence and beauty in others, we begin reversing the separation that we once created when we chose to judge others as flawed and less than divine. In our Innocence we join with others, through the forgiveness process, thus restoring their Innocence as well.
Technically, judging others is just a way of justifying the judgments we already have on ourselves as being flawed. We are already angry at ourselves (which means judging ourselves) for being flawed (lacking perfection and Innocence) and so we judge the flaws in others. But if we see them differently by seeing them as pure, perfect, and Innocent, then we would discover our own purity, perfection, and Innocence.
“You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brother totally without judgment.” –A Course in Miracles.
Having a Healthy Dependence in God:
“In the Lord, you are Light. Live as children of Light.” –Ephesians 5:8
What could make us feel more Innocent and child-like than that of nurturing a relationship of safety and trust in our Father-Mother God?
Jesus explains in A Course in Miracles that, “A child of God who commends his Spirit into the hands of His Father becomes awakened and that all sense of separation disappears and establishes the (reign of the) Peace of God. But this vision can be perceived only by the truly Innocent.” He then adds, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God is another way of saying that, Only the innocent CAN see God.”
Despite the well deserved emphasis on the need for us to rediscover our Innocence, there is one precaution of which we should be made aware: There is a false form of Innocence that we must avoid with as much vigilance as we would use to nurture true and authentic Innocence.
The false form of Innocence that must be avoided is referred to in A Course in Miracles as the “face of innocence.” The face of innocence is the mask that we often wear whenever we play the role of victim in this world, rather than owning our part in creating our reality. Each time we choose to accentuate our role as an “innocent victim,” we actually are not gaining Innocence but instead are losing our Innocence because of the judgments we would then be placing on others who would, by default be our victimizers.
Once again, when Jesus said, “To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must be as children,” he was asking us to become more Innocent and child-like. But our Innocence is not established by making ourselves into “innocent victims” in this world. Instead, our Innocence was established upon the moment we were created in God’s perfect (flawless and Innocent) Image.
As we learn to recognize and nurture a sense of Innocence, we also learn to live a far simpler life because we find ourselves practicing forgiveness and enjoying the realities of life, rather than wrestling with life’s illusions.
Lastly, discovering and maintaining an Innocence of consciousness and the simplicity that coincides with such, is made far easier when we practice forgiveness, as well as nurturing a healthy dependence on God.
Again, we need do nothing to re-establish our child-like Innocence, as such is what we were created to be. But, having forgotten this Innocence is easily remedied by following the aforementioned suggestions, which can be simplified as maintaining an Innocent, non-judgmental heart/mind and allowing ourselves to live simply and be light and playful. After all, “To the pure (judgment-free) in heart, all things are pure (Innocent).”