Monday, January 21

Innocence

A week back, I met a friend, who while reminiscing college days, said with dismay, "all is right now, but the innocence is lost." With this, I started thinking about innocence. What is it? Wikipedia articulates it so well.
Innocence is a state of unknowing, where one's experience is lesser, in either a relative view to social peers, or by an absolute comparison to a more common normative scale. In contrast to ignorance, it is generally viewed as a positive term, connoting a blissfully positive view of the world, in particular one where the lack of knowledge stems from a lack of wrongdoing, whereas greater knowledge comes from doing wrong.
This is so intriguing! We treasure innocence, not knowing. We yearn to keep inner child alive, reminder of times when we knew nothing, were cared for, were more full of love & joy, were not so judgmental. We censor our movies, we give spoiler alert before divulging a plot.
This affinity of innocence, runs counter to the doctrine of knowledge, which says that more accurate is our world view, better it is. It also indicates a very fundamental limitation to our freedom. It is very easy to go and learn something, but very difficult to unlearn it. We are bound by our memory, past impressions, stupidity of selective evidence for confirming our theories and vicious cycles of mental processes. Of addiction, of prejudice, of ego, of lust, of guilt, of trauma. Knowing somethings implies undergoing an experience, which changes something in us, which binds us into these vicious loops, and keeps us away from serenity. An extreme example is finding taste of Cyanide, you have to taste it to know the taste, and that kills you. All so called 'Sins' starting with primal sin of Adam & Eve, are usually experiences which may cause us to lose ourselves, if not handled correctly. May be that's why sex education is so tricky..
Is there a way to the knowledge without losing innocence, or freedom to stay serene. Maybe.
Spirituality/ religion can help. Much knowledge starts and is validated by experience. But sometimes we also learn knowledge, which can't be proved by facts, which starts as a belief / blind faith first. Whether God is delusion or not, it sure helps people lead happier lives. Extension of good faith/ trust to strangers can actually encourage good qualities in them. Faith based knowledge, spawns good cycles, countering vicious ones. e.g. love thy neighbor, and he will love you. Smile and world will smile back. Believe in best in people, and that will come true. Or Buddhist precept of not taking your judgement too seriously / keeping an open mind keeps us away from trap of prejudice/ dogma. They can also instill artificial fear to keep you away from Sins, sometimes for your good, but have safety valve of confession to absolve you from the guilt trap, having sinned.
For survival, it is useful to know that fire burns. You can either take your mother's word for it, or stretch your hand and find it yourself. What is important is that this knowledge does not bind you, disturb you. It should not lead to aversion/ phobia of fire. There are people in the world who can hurt you. But having defenses up all the time can drain you of joy & vitality.
Last week, while reading Chinmayananda's book 'SelfUnfoldment', read a very common sense definition of Sin. Sin is something which brings you remorse, either in short or long term. If it doesn't, it is not a sin. Leading a life of a monk without joy, just hoping for long term happiness in heaven is a sin. On the other hand, eating junk food all the time, and growing obese is also a sin. It is very personal.

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