Can innocence be aware of itself?

Beloved Master,

Can innocence be aware of itself?

Maneesha, innocence cannot be aware of itself. The moment it is aware of itself, it is no longer innocent; corruption has already entered in, the ego has started forming itself. Innocence does not know that it is innocent. Innocence simply knows, “I dont know.” But it is not aware that this is called “innocence”; the moment it becomes aware, suddenly it is lost. Hence those who are aware of their innocence are the greatest egoists in the world.

The ego has such subtle ways, that it goes on coming from the back door… you may throw it out from the front door, and it will come from the back door again. And each time it will come in such a way that you cannot hear its footsteps. It can come and hide itself in humbleness, it can come and hide itself in innocence, it can come and hide itself in love. Basically, these are not the spaces where ego should be found. But ego can manage to live in places where ordinarily it is not suspected. Hence one has to be very alert.

You simply become more silent. Your so-called knowledge goes on disappearing – and a moment comes: you know nothing. This state of knowing nothing is enough. You dont make it a great spiritual achievement; you dont start bragging about your innocence, that “I know nothing.” Before, you used to know all, that was your bragging. Now your bragging is the same, but you brag that you know nothing at all. Just the object of bragging has changed, but the ego remains the same. There has been no transformation at all.

Little Hymie was caught out telling a lie. “How do you expect to get to heaven?” his mother asked.

Little Hymie thought for a moment, and then said, “Well, I will just run in and out, and in and out, and in and out, and keep slamming the door, till they say, ‘For goodness sake, come in or stay out’ – and then I will go in.”

This is innocence – not aware about itself, but simple purity. Innocence has to be just like a small child who is not aware that not knowing anything is a great achievement.

Mrs. Ronald Reagan had won a raffle at her womens club. Up till now she never had enough left over from the housekeeping budget to take herself off to a smart hairdresser. So now she lost no time in making an appointment for a complete hair treatment. When she arrived home that evening, she presented herself to Ronald Reagan for his admiration. “Honey,” he said, “now you look like a million.”

“Really?” she asked quietly. “You mean I look like a million dollars?”

“No,” he said disgustedly, “like a million other women.”

A politicians mind cannot be loving and compassionate, humble and innocent – even with those with whom he is intimately connected. There too it goes on playing the cunning role – now he was speaking in a diplomatic way when he said, “Honey, now you look like a million.” This sentence is cunning, political, diplomatic; it is tricky.

Naturally, his wife thinks, “You mean I look like a million dollars?” And then his cunning mind comes into the open:

“No,” he said disgustedly, “like a million other women.”

You would not have thought about it just listening to his statement, “Honey, now you look like a million.”

The innocent person is neither cunning nor egoistic; not bragging about himself nor trying to put down the other. He simply knows nothing. And without any fear, and without any guilt, he accepts his ignorance.

There are two possibilities: either he can feel guilty that he is ignorant – because innocence is ignorance – and if he feels guilty, that too is part of a hurt ego, offended ego. Or if he has heard saints and sages declaring, “Blessed are the innocent, for they shall inherit the kingdom of God,” and he feels tremendously proud of his innocence, again he is in the clutches of the same ego. And these are the only two ways he can be aware of his innocence.

The third space is, he simply knows that he knows nothing. This is pure innocence, and this is what Socrates calls wisdom; this is what Upanishads call the ultimate state of a seer, of a knower. This is what Gautam Buddha calls the space of enlightenment, of absolute freedom and utter silence… not even a ripple of disturbance.

Osho, The Rebel, Ch 28, Q 2