Innocence of mind




Innocence of mind
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Thought for the Day MCO

In today´s ¨Thought for the Day´, Dan, our Primary Counsellor, asks us to engage with our earlier innocence and wonder “Who am I?”

There are few writers, philosophers or spiritual teachers in human history as concerned with ‘innocence of mind’, as the late Jiddu Krishnamurti. One might summarise his rich life as an extended meditation on the spiritual importance of psychological innocence or ‘beginner’s mind’.

It is only the innocent mind that can see clearly, that can see something new - Jiddu Krishnamurti

In spiritual terms, innocence encourages openness and wonder, a soft-hearted presence free of expectation or constraint. An innocent mind experiences life in its innate freshness and with unfettered engagement. The movement towards psychological innocence, a spiritual backward step into our earlier selves, is one of blessed simplicity. But only with a truly innocent mind might we also behold and appreciate the harmonious complexity of life. Our innate mental innocence is relinquished as we grow a mind and begin to overvalue its secretions (the endless flow of thoughts and feelings of the day). The natural passivity of contemplative practice acts as an enrichment of our potential to re-encounter innocence.

One contemplative method of re-membering our innocence is to work at dissolving the crust of personality and feelings of separateness. The non-dual or Advaitic tradition encourages the question “Who am I?” as the focus of meditation. To remain, over and over, with this fundamental koan of life in steady silence, is to eventually drop through the basements of our identities and into a vista of boundary-less awareness. It is the shift away from identification with the personal ‘doer’ towards an experiencing as ‘observer’ or ‘witness’. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna warns that ‘The fool, whose mind is deluded by egoism, considers himself to be the doer”.

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Those reliant on artistic inspiration or regularly immersed in the dreaming realities of our psychic life know well that we welcome the arrival of images, thoughts and ideas from an inner further shore. To confuse our mental reality and flow of thoughts or emotions to be the products of a separate self is to be like the ants in Rumi’s story of a pen writing on a piece of paper. In the story, the first ant attributed the writing to the pen, saying “How wonderful it is that the pen can do this writing”. Another ant said, “No, it is not the pen but the hand that holds it”. Another said “No, it is the arm that gives movement”. And so the ant went back in a causal chain until the old wise ant said “No, the writing is caused by the Universal Spirit that gives movement to all things”. To regain our holy innocence we lose the illusion of a separate self. The monastics described this as something akin to breaking or rupturing one’s heart to become whole again. In this way, a renewed spiritual innocence awakens a new heart overflowing with the abundant compassion that flows from the renunciation of separateness.

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We might often discern true innocence in children, animals and our own sense of the child or animal in us. A secular and imaginal approach to the contemplative practice-question, “Who am I?”, is to mentally pose this question when holding a favourite or fond old photo of your infant or young self. It is not a practice of memory recall - just allow them to drift past the silent witnessing mind - but a reimagining of what it was like to have a more fluid sense of personal self and grounding in a wider and more peripheral vista of mind. It is to re-approach a radically different historical ‘I’ within (what infant worries about world politics or tax submissions?) and yet also a rendezvous with the strangely familiar and interiorly unchanged.

Renew space for innocence of mind in your day. Find somewhere quiet and ask silently “Who am I?”

Wait patiently. Do not seek or cling to answers. Witness…Observe…Feel.

If you have an old photo or image from childhood, reacquaint yourself with her or with him.

Enter the stream of your earlier innocence and wonder “Who am I?”

——-

The Unthought Known is a short writing reflective of a contemplative perspective on life. It is the fruit of many years of reflective note taking on a range of spiritual texts and in that spirit no inherent originality is claimed. If it offers comfort amidst adversity, read the text and call whatever resonates to mind when needed (even if just a short phrase from the larger text), allowing it to soak into the marrow of your bones and merge with your breath.

Take good care, Dan

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