But unfortunately his innocence is being condemned as ignorance. Ignorance and innocence have a similarity, but they are not the same. Ignorance is also a state of not knowing, just as innocence is. But there is a great difference too, which has been overlooked by the whole of humanity up to now. Innocence is not knowledgeable, but it is not desirous of being knowledgeable either. It is utterly content, fulfilled. A small child has no ambitions; he has no desires. He is so absorbed in the moment: a bird on the wing catches his eye so totally; just a butterfly, its beautiful colors, and he is enchanted; the rainbow in the sky… And he cannot conceive that there can be anything more significant, richer than this rainbow. And the night full of stars, stars beyond stars… Innocence is rich, it is full, it is pure.
Ignorance is poor, it is a beggar – it wants this, it wants that, it wants to be knowledgeable, it wants to be respectable, it wants to be wealthy; it wants to be powerful. Ignorance moves on the path of desire. Innocence is a state of desirelessness.
But because they both are without knowledge, we have remained confused about their natures. We have taken it for granted that they are both the same. The first step, in the art of living, will be to create a demarcation line between ignorance and innocence. Innocence has to be supported, protected – because the child has brought with him the greatest treasure, the treasure that sages find after arduous effort. Sages have said that they become children again, that they are reborn.
In India the real brahmin, the real knower, has called himself dwij, twice born. Why twice born? What happened to the first birth? What is the need of the second birth? And what is he going to gain in the second birth? In the second birth he is going to gain what was available in the first birth but society, parents, the people surrounding him crushed it, destroyed it.
Every child is being stuffed with knowledge. His simplicity has somehow to be removed, because simplicity is not going to help him in this competitive world. His simplicity will look to the world as if he is a simpleton; his innocence will be exploited in every possible way. Afraid of the society, afraid of the world we have created ourselves, we try to make every child be clever, cunning, knowledgeable, to be in the category of the powerful, not in the category of the oppressed and the powerless. And once the child starts growing in the wrong direction, he goes on moving that way, his whole life moves in that direction.
Whenever you understand that you have missed life, the first principle to be brought back is innocence. Drop your knowledge, forget your scriptures, forget your religions, your theologies, your philosophies. Be born again, become innocent – and it is in your hands. Clean your mind of all that is not known by you, of all that is borrowed, all that has come from tradition, convention, all that has been given to you by others: parents, teachers, universities. Just get rid of it. Once again be simple; once again be a child. And this miracle is possible by meditation.
Meditation is simply a strange surgical method which cuts you away from all that is not yours and saves only that which is your authentic being. It burns everything else and leaves you standing naked, alone under the sun, in the wind. It is as if you are the first man who has descended onto earth – who knows nothing, who has to discover everything, who has to be a seeker, who has to go on a pilgrimage.