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Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder
What Happened to the Sense of Wonder I Felt as a Child
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 OSHO International Foundation
All rights reserved.
The Eyes of Wonder
Wonder is the source of wisdom, wonder is the source of all that is beautiful, and wonder is the source for the search, the real search. Wonder takes you on the adventure to know the mysteries of life.
I don't have the same sense of wonder in me that I had as a child. Why?
It happens to almost everybody. The more knowledgeable you become, the less wonder is felt. And parents, schools, universities, the society ... they all go on forcing you to become knowledgeable. Their whole effort is to give you knowledge. Your inner space becomes so full of knowledge that wonder disappears; wonder has no space left to abide in you.
A child has the eyes of wonder. He feels awe, he is mystified by each and every thing. Small things surprise him; hence his bubbling joy, because his life is a constant discovery.
You become knowledgeable — the society wants you to become knowledgeable. Knowledge is very much needed, knowledge has so much utility. And wonder is dangerous, because a person who wonders is bound to become either a philosopher or a poet or a mystic, and all these three kinds of people are useless for the society. Society needs machines, skillful machines — by giving you more and more knowledge, making you full of knowledge, society turns you into an automaton, into a robot. And the more you think you know, the more wonder becomes impossible — because when you know, how can you wonder?
A small child can wonder why the trees are green. But how can you wonder? You know it is because of chlorophyll — although you don't know much, because another question can be raised as to why chlorophyll makes trees green, and you will have to shrug your shoulders. You have simply pushed the question back a little. The more you know, the less you wonder. But the moment wonder dies in you, religion dies in you, because religion consists of wonder and awe. Knowledge demystifies life and existence, and religion exists only when life is a mystery. Hence you will have to learn wonder again.
In fact, a right kind of education will never do this. It will give you knowledge, but it will not destroy your wonder; that will be the right kind of education. It will give you knowledge, but it will keep you alert that no knowledge can destroy wonder. In fact, on the contrary, knowledge can make you more wondering.
The small child cannot wonder about chlorophyll. If you are rightly educated, you can wonder about the greenery of the trees and you can also wonder about chlorophyll.
Albert Einstein's last words were, "I have been thinking the whole of my life that I would demystify the universe. But what has happened is just the contrary. The deeper I went into existence, the more the mystery deepened. I am dying full of wonder, I am dying in wonder." But this is rare; this is the quality of a genius. The genius is one who does not allow the society to reduce him to a robot: that's my definition of a genius. Everybody is born as a genius, but people start compromising very soon. And when they compromise, their talents disappear, their intelligence dies. They go on selling their souls for mundane things, for useless things — useless in the ultimate sense; they may be useful here, but death comes and all those things are taken away with you.
If you can die like Albert Einstein — mystified, with full wonder, with prayer in the heart, with poetry arising in you — you have lived rightly and you are dying rightly. And a person who lives rightly and dies rightly is a spiritual person. Albert Einstein is far more spiritual than your Vatican pope and your shankaracharyas — far more spiritual. Before he died, somebody asked him, "If you are born again and God asks you, I am certain you would like to become a great physicist and mathematician again." He said, "No, never! If another opportunity is given to me, rather than being a physicist I would like to become a plumber. I would like to live a very ordinary kind of life, anonymous, so that I could enjoy life more easily with nobody coming in my way. Fame, prestige, research — nothing coming in my way, so that I could have a deeper communion with existence."
You say, "I don't have the same sense of wonder in me that I had as a child. Why?"
You must be very knowledgeable.
An aspiring performance artist walked into an agent's office looking for work. The agent said, "What do you do?"
Without a word, the artist lifted up his arms, flew around the office, out of the window, across the street, and back in through the window, making a perfect two-point landing in front of the agent's desk.
"Okay, okay," said the agent. "So you do bird impersonations. Anything else?"
This is what happens to the knowledgeable people. Nothing surprises them. Even if God stands before them, they will say, "Okay, okay, so you are God. Anything else?"
Drop your knowledgeability.
The theatrical impresario, Maxie Doldum, was once approached by a man in his theater.
"I've got an act to offer you that is really unique," said the man. "It will take London by storm. All you have to do is put ten thousand pounds in the bank for my wife, and I'll commit suicide on the stage of your theater."
Somewhat astounded, Maxie pondered the offer. "Hmmmmmm, interesting," he finally said. "But what will you do for an encore?"
There are people who are so constantly utilitarian that their whole thinking consists of utilities. He asks, "But what will you do for an encore?" People have become so concerned with the worldly things — utilities, commodities, usefulness — that nothing surprises them, nothing shocks them into awareness. They go on like sleepwalkers. The rosebush brings flowers, they don't see; they are blind. The birds sing in the morning, they don't hear; they are deaf. They have lost all sensitivity. They have become so dead and dull that nothing thrills them to a dance, nothing brings a song to their lips, nothing gives lightness to their step. And the culprit is knowledge.
In a more understanding world, knowledge will still be given to you, but you will also be taught how to go on protecting your capacity to wonder. Your poetry will not be killed, crushed under the weight of knowledge. In a real university, only half the time will be devoted to utilitarian objectives, and the other half will be devoted to non-utilitarian objectives: poetry, music, painting, dance, meditation, prayer. Or just relaxing under a tree, just sitting silently under a tree, doing nothing! Half the time of schools, colleges, and universities should be devoted to non-utilitarian activities, done for no purpose at all but just for the sheer joy of it. Then only will we have a whole human being in the world.
Up until now, there have existed two types of people: one is the worldly, who is a hundred percent utilitarian. Another is the monk; he is a hundred percent non-utilitarian. Both are lopsided, both are missing something. The monk is missing the beauties of the world — the beauties of relationship, the beauties of people. The monk is poor, spiritually poor, because he is missing all the enriching experiences of life, of love, of friendship, of enmity, of anger, of compassion; he is missing all that variety that enriches the soul. He is just an empty blankness, a kind of blank canvas; nothing has been painted on him, he is spiritually poor.
I have seen so many saints that I can say to you, it is very rare to come across a saint who has some richness of the soul. He is so monotonous, he is so boring; his whole life is nothing but boredom. How does he manage to live such a bored life? He can manage it only because he has dulled all his senses; he has dulled even his intelligence, so he cannot feel the boredom.
Do you know? Except for man, no other animal feels boredom. Buffalos are never bored, donkeys are never bored; they don't have the intelligence to feel boredom. It is only man who feels boredom, and it is only man who has the capacity to laugh. Boredom and laughter are two sides of the same coin. But your monks, your so-called religious people, are not bored and cannot laugh either. They have fallen to the state of buffalos and donkeys.
I have heard about a philosopher who used to walk on the streets looking at the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun, clouds, and birds on the wing. It was natural that many times he would bump into people or stumble into something. And it was his habit that whenever somebody bumped into him, or he bumped into somebody he would say, "Are you a donkey or something?" And he was very much respected, he was a well-known philosopher, so everybody tolerated it; nobody took any offense.
One day it happened, he bumped into a donkey. He was just going to say his usual, "Are you a donkey or something?" He was just going to say it. But then he looked, and he laughed, and he said, "Sir, you are just yourself. What else can I say to you?"
People who escape from the world become donkeys and buffalos; they fall below human awareness, human sensibilities. That's why they cannot live even a bored life — no laughter, no boredom. They have become animals. They have lost the glory of being a human being; they have fallen back. Of course, the life of an animal is less anxious; there is no anxiety, no anguish. Hence you will see a kind of serenity around them — but a serenity without intelligence is not of any worth.
When serenity happens with intelligence, a buddha is born. When serenity happens without intelligence, you have gone back to the world of the buffalos. But this has been the case. A few people have moved away from the world, a hundred percent to non-utilitarian activities — praying, praying, meditating, meditating, alone. This is not, and cannot be, a total life. And the others, the millions, are living only utilitarian lives — having more and more things, having bigger and bigger bank balances, and they don't know anything of play. Even if they play, they become very serious in their play; even their play becomes a business.
People cannot simply play cards, they have to put money into it; then it becomes something serious, because it takes the form of a business. Something has to be staked, only then can they play. You see players who even in their play are so dead serious, it is a question of life and death. Nobody seems to be playful.
The world is full of utilitarian activities, and people have lost all qualities of meditation, prayerfulness, play, wondering, feeling awe, watching stars, looking at the flowers, playing the guitar, or singing a song for no other reason but the sheer joy of it. These people are also very poor.
I want to create a totally new man in the world, who will not be poor in this way or that, who will be really rich — who will have all the richness of the world, of relationships, of all the challenges of existence, and who will also have the capacity to be silent, to be in the space of playfulness, meditativeness.
This is my idea of a sannyasin: Be in the world, and yet don't be part of it. Be in the world, and yet go on surpassing it. Don't be an escapist.
The right education will create sannyasins in the world — sannyasins in my sense — it will create holy people. Fifty percent of education should be devoted to the world, and fifty percent to the beyond, and both should remain in a harmony, in a deep synthesis. Then you can be knowledgeable, and yet wonder continues to flow in you. Then you can know, and yet you are mystified by existence.
What is innocence, what is beauty?
To live in the moment is innocence, to live without the past is innocence, to live without conclusions is innocence, to function out of the state of not knowing is innocence. And the moment you function out of such tremendous silence which is not burdened by any past, out of such tremendous stillness which knows nothing, the experience that happens is beauty.
Whenever you feel beauty — in the rising sun, in the stars, in the flowers, or in the face of a woman or a man — wherever and whenever you feel beauty, watch. And one thing will always be found: You had functioned without mind, you had functioned without any conclusion; you had simply functioned spontaneously. The moment gripped you, and the moment gripped you so deeply that you were cut off from the past.
And when you are cut off from the past you are cut off from the future automatically, because past and future are two sides of the same coin; they are not separate, and they are not separable either. You can toss a coin: Sometimes it is heads, sometimes it is tails, but the other part is always there, hiding behind.
Past and future are two aspects of the same coin. The name of the coin is mind. When the whole coin is dropped, that dropping is innocence. Then you don't know who you are, then you don't know what is; there is no knowledge. But you are, existence is, and the meeting of these two is-nesses — the small is-ness of you, meeting with the infinite is-ness of existence — that meeting, that merger, is the experience of beauty.
Innocence is the door; through innocence you enter into beauty. The more innocent you become, the more existence becomes beautiful. The more knowledgeable you are, the more and more existence is ugly, because you start functioning from conclusions, you start functioning from knowledge.
The moment you know, you destroy all poetry. The moment you know, and think that you know, you have created a barrier between yourself and that which is. Then everything is distorted. Then you don't hear with your ears, you translate. Then you don't see with your eyes, you interpret. Then you don't experience with your heart, you think that you experience. Then all possibility of meeting with existence in immediacy, in intimacy, is lost. You have fallen apart.
This is the original sin. And this is the whole story, the biblical story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Once they have eaten the fruit of knowledge they are driven out of paradise — not that somebody drove them out, not that God ordered them to get out of paradise; they themselves fell. Knowing they were no longer innocent, knowing they were separate from existence, knowing they were egos ... knowing created such a barrier, an iron barrier.
You ask me, "What is innocence?"
Vomit knowledge! The fruit of the tree of knowledge has to be vomited. That's what meditation is all about. Throw it out of your system: it is poison, pure poison. Live without knowledge, knowing that "I don't know." Function out of this state of not knowing and you will know what beauty is.
Socrates knows what beauty is, because he functions out of this state of not knowing. There is a knowledge that does not know, and there is an ignorance that knows. Become ignorant like Socrates and then a totally different quality enters your being: You become a child again, it is a rebirth. Your eyes are full of wonder again, each and everything that surrounds surprises. The bird on the wing, and you are thrilled! The sheer joy of seeing the bird on the wing — and it is as if you are on the wing. The dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf, and the morning sun shining on it and creating a small rainbow around it, and the moment is so overwhelming ... the dewdrop slipping off the leaf, just on the verge of meeting with the infinite, disappearing into the lake — and it is as if you start slipping, as if your drop starts slipping into an ocean of godliness.
In the moment of innocence, not knowing, the difference between the observer and the observed evaporates. You are no longer separate from that which you are seeing, you are no longer separate from that which you are hearing.
Listening to me, right now, you can function in two ways. One is the way of knowledge: Chattering inside yourself, judging, evaluating, constantly thinking whether what I am saying is right or wrong, whether it fits with your theories or not, whether it is logical or illogical, scientific or unscientific, Christian or Hindu, whether you can go with it or not, whether you can swallow it or not, a thousand and one thoughts clamoring inside your mind, the inner talk, the inner traffic — this is one way of listening. But then you are listening from so far away that I will not be able to reach you. I go on trying, but I will not be able to reach you. You are really on some other planet: You are not here, you are not now. You are a Hindu, you are a Christian, you are a Mohammedan, you are a communist, but you are not here now. The Bible is there between me and you, or the Koran or the Gita. And I grope for you but I come across the barrier of the Koran, I grope for you but there is a queue of priests between me and you. This is the way of knowledge; this is the way of remaining deaf, of remaining blind, of remaining heartless.
There is another way of listening too: just listening, nothing between me and you. Then there is immediacy, contact, meeting, communion. Then you don't interpret, because you are not worried whether it is right or wrong. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. In that moment of innocence one does not evaluate. There is nothing to evaluate with, no criterion, no a priori knowledge, no already-arrived-at conclusion, nothing to compare with. You can only listen, just as one listens to the sound of running water in the hills, or a solo flute player in the forest, or somebody playing on the guitar. You listen.
Excerpted from Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder by Osho. Copyright © 2011 OSHO International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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