The Way of Innocence

Some years ago, I was coming out of an ice cream shop after enjoying a delicious dark chocolate cookie filled with chocolate mousse gelato. Never too much chocolate! The night was fresh, as I looked up for stars, I was met with a fine dripping that turned into a handsome rain shower. 

One might say it was “the chocolate effect” and its tasty endorphins, but something in me responded to the sparkling raindrops drawing lines in the dark canvas of the night and splashing me with their careless and natural beingness.  

I walked to the middle of the street and started whirling around, my arms open, my palms and face turned upwards, receiving, accepting, being one with the rain. It was a moment of total spontaneity, a child-like embracing of joy so pure that needed to be expressed. There was no traffic, thus I was not getting in the way of annoyed drivers, but I was apparently ruffling deeply held ideas about what it is to be an adult, and the accepted behaviors they should have.

A couple of young people looked at me and shook their heads. My date was utterly embarrassed and asked me to stop doing those things, to grow up! My only regret? Shutting down, complying, allowing their views to suppress the sense of wonder, my zest for life. Like anybody else, I wanted to be loved and accepted, so I gave my power away and walked for many years trying to meet expectations and hiding the ‘bursts” that made me so unfit for society. 

Many years, and countries later, tired of cynicism that sees nothing of value or believes its ideas to be the only value, I went back to slowly, quietly swirling in the rain. It was my experience as a teacher that gave me a definite push. How could I, already past being a spring chick, a survivor and exile, be benefiting from the gifts of innocence and wonder, while my young students were so oblivious to them?

Innocence across time 

Innocence is a complex idea woven into history, ethics, and the very fabric of knowledge itself that has undergone a dramatic transformation throughout the centuries. Initially seen as a symbol of an ideal, pure past (like Eden), it was also associated with children due to their perceived lack of sin. The Middle Ages linked innocence to Christian morality, while the Renaissance associated it with a secular naturalness and untainted potential where children became blank slates with innate goodness. The Romantic era delved into the loss of innocence contrasting it with the perceived corruption of adulthood. 

The modern age dispensed with these idealized views and focused on moral and legal implications. It might still value innocence in children, but it also sees it as naïve. 

Nowadays society is suspicious about everything that connects us with the mysterious, intuitive, universal, or mystical, and what envisions new solutions, dreams of a future, or describes the beautiful and meaningful in “non-utilitarian” ways. Cynicism and skepticism are running rampant, taking with them the preciousness of the inherent qualities of the soul and beingness we all possess, capable of dissolving the harsh lines separating us from the other, self-fulfillment, and the world we dream of.  

Is there more to Innocence?

Innocence as a metaphysical concept delves into the essence of reality, questioning whether it represents a fundamental state of being, an attribute of existence itself. This perspective portrays innocence as an unblemished connection to nature, a well of untainted potential, or a mind open to boundless curiosity and the wonders of life.

Exploring innocence from this perspective looks to reconcile this inherent state devoid of imperfections and the complexities of existence. How does a pure state of wholeness interact with knowledge, experience, and responsibility? If innocence is foundational to life, what insights can we extrapolate about the nature of reality and our place within it, and the potential for good and creativity as essential forces of sentience and beingness?

The Quality of Innocence

As a quality, innocence goes beyond a rarefied type of ignorance into some mysterious operation of the imagination that regards miracles not only as possible but as “to be expected.” Children’s innocence is beautiful not only because is rich, but because it makes connections that the rational mind would never dare, those embraced by our higher selves’ wisdom, our souls.

As a state of being, innocence becomes an openness to experience, embracing possibility and embodying its greatest strength – trust and eternal optimism. 

The Innocent archetype is an endearing energy encouraging simple solutions and inner calm. The energy flowing from this part of our nature is infectious and brings out the best in others and us. The Innocent contributes to our ability to sense playfulness in our lives and to balance the seriousness of adult responsibilities with a healthy interdependency. 

Innocence questions our conditioned patterns and programs, the rigidity and identification with knowledge and linear thought, our past stories, and the fear-based illusory need for control. It is a door to embrace the mystery of now, relinquishment of our addiction to having things make sense, to know the how, the when, the compulsion to gossip, judge, turn our nose, or run from conversations of the soul and the intuitive power of the heart.

Coming home, spiritually

We resist, avoid, and might feel shame discussing matters labeled as subjective, philosophical, or woo-woo” while feeling it normal to inhabit disempowering work environments, violence in the entertainment industry, and detached, faceless relationships on screens! 

What if we could communicate from an entirely different dimension of consciousness without shame? What if the new normal was an openhearted connection to life where our hearts and souls, not our intellect, served as a compass to explore uncertainty and potential, to re-know ourselves and our place in the world?

Innocence opens us to Wonder.

Many big ideas are being challenged in this era of quantum physics, neuroscience, studies in consciousness, and spiritual awakening. 

Our lives might have become modern and technologically advanced, yet our overall well-being and sense of fulfillment are not a match. We are not a happy gang. Happiness has become a subject of research, instead of a natural state of being, of owning our completeness, and purpose. 

The mythical nature and perspective we find in wonder and innocence threaten the conventional ideals and consensus thinking that tells us to smart up and leave behind the wondrous presence of our inner child and the powerful and creative inner knowing that flourishes with it.

If one considers innocence as a foundational aspect of beingness and consciousness that goes beyond having cognitive harmful intentions, biases, or ignorance into an inherent purity that is open to wonder and embraces curiosity; then we can see it not only as ageless, but vital to innovation, well-being, sustainable peace, and progress

Innocence and wonder are closely intertwined, both: 

  • Entail an openness to experience.
  • Involve a lack of cynicism and preconceived notions allowing us to approach the world with fresh eyes and appreciating the beauty and mystery around us. 
  • Fuel a desire to learn and explore. Wonder compels us to ask questions, delve deeper, and seek understanding. Innocence encourages us to see things for the first time, finding novelty in the ordinary. 
  • Bring a sense of delight and amazement. Wonder speaks to the vastness of the universe and the connection to something greater, while Innocence allows us to find simple pleasures in everyday moments.
  • Neither dwell on negativity but maintains a focus on the beauty that exists.
  • Both can be expressed through play, laughter, unfiltered emotion, quiet contemplation, artistic expression, and scientific curiosity.
  • Innocence’s source is the same as wonder’s, they can persist throughout life, fueled by imagination, open-mindedness, and a willingness to learn. 

The Gift of Innocence

When we embrace innocence, our heart returns to the joy of simply being and communing with the multiplicity of life, we tap into the pureness of soul and explore the wonders and mysteries of existence without defaulting on interpretations, labels, and filters. 

Let’s dare to see innocence beyond the fleeting state of childhood, destined to vanish as we age and move into the revolutionary perspective arguing that true, spiritual innocence is not fragile or lost with time. Instead, it’s an eternal and potent force, endowed with creativity, connection, and unity fostering within us the very qualities we desperately yearn for in our current world: purity, trust, unconditional love, acceptance, and authenticity.

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