The Forgotten

Osho on Innocence




Innocence is your very nature. You do not have to become it, you are already it. You are born innocent. Then layers and layers of conditioning are imposed upon your innocence. Your innocence is like a mirror and conditioning is like layers of dust. The mirror has not to be achieved, the mirror is already there — or rather, here. The mirror is not lost, it is only hidden behind the layers of dust. You don’t have to follow a way to reach your nature because you cannot leave your nature, you cannot go anywhere else. Even if you wanted to, it is impossible. That’s exactly the definition of nature: nature means that which cannot be left behind, that which cannot be renounced. But you can forget about it. You cannot lose it but it can be forgotten. And that’s exactly what has happened. The mirror is not lost but forgotten — forgotten because it is not functioning anymore as a mirror. Not that any defect has arisen in it, just layers of dust are covering it. All that is needed is to clean it, to remove those layers of dust.

The process of becoming innocent is not really a process of becoming, it is a process of

discovering your being. It is a discovery, not an achievement. You don’t attain to something new, you simply attain to that which you have always been. It is a forgotten language.

It happens many times: you see a person on the road, you recognize him, his face seems familiar. Suddenly you remember also that you know his name. You say, “It is just on the tip of my tongue,” but still it is not coming to you. What is happening? If it is just on the tip of your tongue, then why can’t you say it? You know that you know it, but still you are not able to remember it. And the more you try, the more difficult it becomes, because making an effort makes you more tense, and when you are tense you are farther away from your nature, you are farther away from that which is already there. When you are relaxed you are closer; when you are utterly relaxed, it will surface of its own accord. So you try hard, but it doesn’t come, so you forget all about it. Then lying down in your bath, or just swimming in the pool, and you are not even trying to remember that man’s name when suddenly it bubbles up. What has happened? You were not trying to remember, and you were relaxed. When you are relaxed you are wide, when you are tense you become narrow — the more tense, the more narrow. The passage between you and that which is inside you becomes so narrow that nothing can pass through it, not even a single name.

All the great scientific discoveries have been made in this very mysterious way — in this very unscientific way, so to speak. Madame Curie was working on a certain mathematical problem for three years continuously and the more she tried, the farther and farther away the solution seemed. She tried every possible way, but nothing was working, nothing was happening. And there was somewhere a deep, tacit feeling that “The solution exists. I am not struggling with something absurd.” This tacit feeling continued all the time as an undercurrent; hence she could not drop the effort either. She was getting tired — three years wasted for a single problem. But deep down within herself somebody was saying, “The solution is possible. This exercise is not futile. Go on.” And she went on stubbornly, she persisted. She dropped all other projects, she forced herself totally into the one problem. But the more she tried, the more impossible it became.

One night it happened, almost as it happened to Gautama the Buddha; of course, the problems were different, but the process was the same. Buddha had struggled for six years to attain enlightenment and he had attained nothing. Then one night he dropped the whole effort, went to sleep, and, by the morning when the last star was setting, he became enlightened. That night Madame Curie dropped the idea, the whole project — she closed the chapter. “Enough is enough! Three years wasted is too much for one problem.” There were other problems which were waiting to be solved. It was finished in her mind, although the tacit understanding was still there just like a constant murmur. But she had followed it long enough, it was time. One has only a limited time; three years is too much for one problem. Deliberately she dropped the idea. As far as she was concerned she closed the whole project. She went to sleep never to be bothered by that problem again.

And in the morning when she got up she was surprised. On a piece of paper on her table, the solution was there, written in her own handwriting. She could not believe her eyes. Who had done it? The servant could not have done it — he knew nothing of mathematics, and if Madame Curie had not been able to do it in three years, how could the servant have done it? And there was nobody else in the house. And the servant had not entered in the night — the doors were locked from inside. She looked closely and the handwriting resembled hers. Then suddenly she remembered a dream. In the dream she had seen that she had got up, gone to the table, written something…. Slowly slowly, the dream became clear. Slowly slowly, she remembered that she had done it in the night. It was not a dream, she had actually done it. And this was the solution! For three years she had been struggling hard and nothing was happening — and the night she dropped the project, it happened. What happened? She became relaxed.

Once you have dropped the effort you become relaxed, you become restful, you become soft, you become wide, you become open. It was there inside her, it surfaced. Finding the mind no longer tense, it surfaced. Innocence is there, you have simply forgotten it — you have been made to forget it.

Society is cunning. For centuries man has learned that you can survive in this society only if you are cunning; the more cunning you are, the more successful you will be. That’s the whole game of politics: be cunning, be more cunning than others. It is a constant struggle and competition as to who can be more cunning. Whosoever is more cunning is going to succeed, is going to be powerful. After centuries of cunningness man has learned one thing: that to remain innocent is dangerous, you will not be able to survive. Hence parents try to drive their children out of their innocence. Teachers, schools, colleges, universities exist for the simple work of making you more cunning, more clever. Although they call it intelligence it is not intelligence.

Intelligence is not against innocence, remember. Intelligence is the flavor of innocence, intelligence is the fragrance of innocence. Cunningness is against innocence; and cunningness, cleverness are not synonymous with intelligence. But to be intelligent needs a tremendous journey inwards. No schools can help, no colleges, no universities can help. Parents, priests, the society, they are all extrovert; they cannot help you to go inwards. And buddhas are very rare, few and far between. Not everybody is fortunate enough to find a buddha. Only a buddha can help you to be an intelligent person, but you cannot find so many buddhas who want to become primary school teachers and high school teachers and university professors; it is impossible.

So there is a substitute for intelligence. Cunningness is a substitute for intelligence — a very poor substitute, remember. And not only is it a poor substitute, it is just the opposite of it too. The intelligent person is not cunning; certainly intelligent, but his intelligence keeps his innocence intact. He does not sell it for mundane things. The cunning person is ready to sell his soul for small things.

Judas sold Jesus for only thirty silver coins — just thirty silver coins. And a Jesus can be sold. Judas must have thought that he was being very intelligent, but he was simply cunning. If you don’t like the word ‘cunning’ you can call him clever; that is just a good name for the same thing, for the same ugly thing. The society prepares you to be cunning so that you are capable of competing in this struggle for existence, the struggle to survive. It is a cut-throat competition, everybody is after everybody else’s throat. People are ready to do anything to succeed, to be famous, to climb the ladder of success, name and fame. They are ready to use you as stepping-stones. Unless you are also cunning you will be simply used, manipulated. Hence the society trains every child to be cunning, and these layers of cunningness are hiding your innocence.

Innocence has not to be achieved, Sonja, it is already there. Hence it is not a question of becoming, it is your being. It has only to be discovered — or rediscovered. You have to drop all that you have learned from others, and you will immediately be innocent. Hence my antagonism towards all knowledge that is borrowed. Don’t quote the Bible, don’t quote the Gita. Don’t behave like parrots. Don’t just go on living on borrowed information. Start seeking and searching for your own intelligence. A negative process is needed; it is to be achieved through VIA NEGATIVA. That is the Buddha’s way.

You have to negate all that has been given to you. You have to say, “This is not mine; hence I have no claim over it. It may be true, it may not be true. Who knows? Others say it is so; unless it becomes my experience I cannot agree or disagree. I will not believe or disbelieve. I will not be a Catholic or a communist, I will not be a Hindu or a Mohammedan. I will simply not follow any ideology.” Because, whoever you follow, you will be gathering dust around yourself. Stop following.

Here, being with me, you are not my followers, remember it. Friends certainly, but not followers. You are in a love affair with me, but it is not a question of following. And my work here is not to teach you something, but to help you to discover yourself. Just drop all knowledge. It hurts because you have carried that knowledge for so long and you have been bragging so much about that knowledge — your degrees, M.A.s and Ph.D.s and D.Litt.s, and you have been bragging about all those degrees. And suddenly I am saying to you:

Drop all that nonsense. Just be as simple as a child. Just be again a child as you were born, as God sent you into this world. In that mirrorlike state you will be able to reflect that which is. Innocence is the door to knowing. Knowledge is the barrier and innocence is the bridge.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 12

Chapter #8

Chapter title: Born enlightened

28 April 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on ‘meditation, silence, celebration, dance, religion, innocence’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. A Bird on the Wing
  2. The Book of Wisdom
  3. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  4. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
  5. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
  6. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  7. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
  8. Philosophia Perennis, Vol 2
  9. Om Mani Padme Hum
  10. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6, 7, 10, 11, 12
  11. Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
  12. Sat Chit Anand
  13. The Invitation
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