Posts filed under Innocence

Radical Innocence


Ever experience the negative voice in your head as not at "voice" at all but rather as an instant, visceral wincing?  Like, something happens not-according-to-plan and your internal response is just to feel kinda squingingly weak and hopeless and desperate to hide?

Yeah, me too.

Lately I'd been circling around in the same old dance with self-rejection, fear and shame.  I've come a long way from where I used to be, but alas— spiritual growth tends to be a spiral and not a straight-shot to infinite beatitude. Unless, of course, it is for you.  In which case, you better hurry up your bodhisattva work and help me join you on your enlightenment train.  That is, please?

What's been helping me lately is to remember my all-too-easy to forget commitment to radical innocence.  I sometimes hesitate to speak about it, because I know when I spell it out it can sound like straight-up denial or lunacy.  But I think it's far from it. Allow me to explain.

Radical innocence means letting go of my judgment that anything is wrong with the world, at all.  Ever.

I find it's the only attitude that truly helps me let go of self-rejection.  Why is that? Well, it has something to do with the world being a precise mirror for the self.  Any attitude I project onto the world, I will simultaneously project onto myself, and vice-versa.  So if I'm inwardly rejecting, hating, saying "no" to anything "out there" — another person's behavior, global economic inequity, the fact that I myself am far from wealthy, anything — I'm also rejecting, hating, saying "no" to something inside myself.

In other words, if I was completely, 100%, fully okay with myself — I would be fully okay with the world.  My antsy, demanding, insistent need to fix, secure, and figure out comes from my own sense of not-okayness.  When I'm in that not-okayness, I need the world to fit into a nice arrangement so it won't poke any of my wounds and make me hurt.  When I feel really frustrated that things in my life aren't the way I want them to be, it's because I'm holding on to the belief that it would be easier to make the world conform to my will than actually practice love and acceptance.

It occurs to me that radical innocence boils down to just the old adage, "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." Which doesn't mean willful ignorance.  Instead, it means refusing to interpret anything that appears as evil, terrible, wrong.  There are plenty of things in the world that we'd all like to see eradicated — hunger, war, abuse — but my reactive rejection of that stuff doesn't do anything to heal it at a fundamental level.  It just perpetuates reactive rejection inside me.

Radical innocence isn't anything I made up, of course.  It's the message of A Course in Miracles, The Four Agreements, Loving What Is and all those other metaphysical heavy-hitters that I love so much. It can be a real bitch to practice, though.  Being truly vigilant about it means paying close attention to my inner monologue and challenging myself to not insult or disrespect anyone or anything — not out of weird New Age piety but out of a genuine sense of humility.  This gets really tough when reading about politicians.

Which reminds me - excuse me while I close my eyes and send love to Mitt Romney.  Bless you, Mitt, you're human, too.

Anyway — if you're feeling awful lately, I suggest you join me in the practice of radical innocence.   Decide that you don't have to reject anything that exists.  Trust that your heart and intuition will help you navigate life with discernment rather than judgment.  Open up and relax.






Why You Find it Tough to be a Genius

Dear Reader, Lately we've been exploring the matter of reclaiming our innocence and it's relation to awesoming our lives. We've experimented with the innocence process and we've begun to raise our resonance via loving-kindness virtualization.

Today I want to consider  what our awareness of our innocence (or lack of it) has to with the freedom with which we express our genius

On Being a Pregnant Virgin

Being a genius in the process of creative awakening is a lot like being a pregnant virgin.  I know that sounds far out. Stay with me for a moment while we see what that means.

Imagine you're a young unmarried girl.  One night, an angel appears to you and announces: Hey! It's your lucky day! You're going to conceive and give birth to an incarnation of God!

How do you feel?

This whole annunciation scene is what happened to the Virgin Mary and she felt pretty cool about it. But she was saintly to begin with.  Let's imagine you're not saintly, you're just a regular person.  How do you feel about this news that you'll be bearing the incarnate lord?

Probably you're freaked.  You know you don't want to say no to God, but how are you going to explain the whole matter of you suddenly being pregnant to your family and your nice, chaste boyfriend?  And what will the neighbors say? Put bluntly, they'll say you're a slut.

No one's going to believe your whole hilarious immaculate conception story.  You can try to tell them about the angel and everything, but then they won't just think you're a slut. They'll think you're a nutty slut.

This is going to be a tough deal, and it's not all that hard to understand why.

Virginal women are traditionally accorded some respect and deference by society-- they're seen as pure, as-yet-untainted by sexual knowledge and motivation, free from romantic entanglement.  In classical times, the status enjoyed by virgins had so many perks that many ancient Greek heroines took great measures to protect themselves from ever having to marry.

Women who become pregnant within marriage are also likewise accorded some respect by the culture at large-- they're bringing up the future generation with the proper means to support that generation.

Women who become pregnant outside of marriage, especially young women, are conventionally regarded with very little respect. Society interprets them as irresponsible burdens.

But even knowing all this, you've got an offer from an angel. You're going to be bearing the son of God. So you accept your gift.

The what happens? People respond to you and your situation with varying degrees of kindness and acceptance, but by and large you're considered morally suspect and spiritually deranged.

You know in you're heart that you're not irresponsible, you're not loose with your affections, you have no lascivious motives, you're a servant of the lord.  You're innocent-- but no one else can see that.  To everyone else, you're trouble.

How Geniuses are Like Pregnant Virgins

If you're a genius, the odds are that throughout your childhood and up to the present day, you sure look like trouble to everyone around you.

Your inventions, your enthusiasms, your playfulness, your disinterest in material stuff for stuff's sake, your emotional sensitivity, your intense spiritual experiences, your passionate convictions, your disinclination to go along with whatever dominant program is happening at your home or school or work--- these all inhibit your ability to fit in and make you look morally suspect and spiritually deranged to the non-geniuses around you.

In other words, you're bearing a gift from God: your genius.  You know it's a wonderful thing, for you and for everyone else.  But everyone else doesn't see it that way. The angel never appeared to them and told them how great you are and what an important service you're doing. They see you as a burdensome annoyance in the midst of their lives.  They resent you.  They're not shy about letting you know it.

You might be beaten, called names, harassed, ostracized by your peers and even by your elders.

This is very difficult.  You're innocent, and you're bearing a wondrous present to the world.  But the world doesn't see or respect your innocence.  It treats you as if you're guilty of harming it.  It offers you derision, insult, dishonor.

In the midst of all this insult it can be incredibly hard for a genius to maintain her good spirits.  It's easy to become cynical, disheartened, bitter when the world addresses you as a guilty person.  In other words, it's easy to lose your sense of your own goodness.

Some geniuses become so disheartened by the harsh treatment that they get from the world at an early age that they abort their gift-- they self-sabotage,overdose on drugs, commit suicide, or just live blocked and miserable lives.

I'm very touched and saddened by the story of Nick Drake. Drake was a brilliant British folk artist who recorded some of my very favorite albums, and then died from an overdose of antidepressants at age 26.  His albums were received with pleasure, but they never sold much during his lifetime because he was extremely reticent and refused to do interviews or tours to promote them.  The already melancholy Drake became more depressed by the failure of his music to sell-- and then ultimately he died in a situation that looked a lot like suicide.

Reading the wikipedia article about Drake's life yesterday, I was reminded of two young men I dated in my early twenties, both gifted avant garde musicians with serious social anxiety. Happily, both these young men are still living and making art. But neither of them is having a gloriously easy time of it.

One could say that both Drake and the young men of my acquaintance are sabotaging themselves by not being more vocal and personable.  This is true, but it's just a surface level observation.

Seeing more depth in the situation, I would posit that they have an extremely tough time being personable because somewhere along the line they stopped believing in their own innocence and goodness.  It's tough even to make eye contact when you don't trust the power of your own dear heart. No matter that evidence of virtue abound-- in spiritual matters believing is perceiving; innocence and goodness are spiritual matters, and without belief they cannot be perceived.

Learning from the Virgin Mary

My point is that without faith in our own goodness and innocence we will find ways to abort the gift of our genius instead of carrying it fully to term.

I'm not a Catholic, but I feel I have a lot to learn from the Holy Virgin Mary in this regard.

Mary got plenty of harsh treatment from the world in response to her decision to bear her gift, but she didn't let that harsh treatment cause her to doubt her own worthiness to carry and to offer that gift.

We as geniuses need to cultivate a similar faith and forbearance.  As we go throughout our lives we are pregnant virgins again and again, innocent vessels bringing forth incarnations of divinity into the world and in the meantime looking downright suspect.



Image Credit: Photo "Moon LeRouge" by fauxto_digit, found on flickr, used under Creative Commons attribution license.


Posted on March 15, 2011 and filed under Innocence.