Innocence is so much idealized that a person may ask
whether intellect is not a thing to be avoided. The world
has advanced very much in intellect: how to get all for
oneself, how to get the best of another diplomatically,
how to get the best of another politically, how to get the
best of another politely and with charming manners, is thought
wisdom. This is not wisdom, it is intellect.
If a person has not developed his intellect, the world
will take the best of him and he will not realize it. The
Sufi should develop his intellect – not in order to use
it in the same way as an intellectual person would use it,
but in order to see the world as it is. On all sides you
will see the selfishness of the world, and the more you
develop spiritually, the more you will see it. Sometimes
one may wonder whether there are not only animals in the
world and no human beings at all. Sometimes one may wonder
whether this is not a world of devils. Everywhere one voice
is heard, 'I want to eat you!' I want to take you!' And
you cannot go away, go out of the world. You cannot run away to the mountains and jungles. There
are very few wise men in the world, and very many intellectual
Another thing is that you may not be innocent as the
child is innocent. The child, if it has a diamond brooch
and a thief wants to take it, will give it and not know
what it is giving. You should be like the king in a story
which tells that a king was sitting in his room in which
were carved chairs, made like tiger's heads. The eyes of
the tigers were diamonds and very beautiful. The king went
to sleep. When he awoke, he saw that a thief had come into
the room and was stealing the eyes of the tigers. The thief
said, 'Hush! Don't tell anyone I am stealing the diamonds.'
The king was much amused at his boldness and confidence,
saying this to the king from whom he was stealing. So, knowing
that he was a thief, he let him take the diamonds.
You should not do a kindness to an undeserving person,
thinking that he deserves your kindness, for the next day
you will discover that he does not deserve it, and you will
repent. You should do a kindness to a person knowing that
he does not deserve it. Then your kindness is very great
and there is no repentance.
The way of attaining spiritual knowledge is quite opposite
to the way by which one attains worldly knowledge. As the
sky is in the direction opposite to the earth, so the source
of knowledge of spiritual things is opposite to the knowledge
of the world. As a man becomes intellectual he knows things
of the world, but this does not mean that he becomes spiritual.
He goes, on the contrary, further away from spirituality
through the thought, 'I understand worldly things.'
What is the best way of attaining spiritual knowledge?
First one must develop in one's nature that little spark
which is divine and which was shining in one's infancy,
showing something pure, something of heaven. What attracts
us most is innocence. It is innocence which gives an impression
of purity, but we must not understand this wrongly. Knowledge
of the world is more than necessary; it is needed to live
in the world, to make the best of our life, to serve God
and humanity – it is not needed to attain spiritual knowledge:
innocence is necessary for that.
When one sees among one's friends, one's relatives, something
which attracts one most it is perhaps the side of their
nature which is innocence. People forgive those who are
dear to them, they tolerate their faults. They say, 'He
is wrong, but he is innocent.' There is a purity which is
divine and which attracts everyone. Innocence is like a
spring of water purifying all that is foreign to heart and
How can we attain innocence? Innocence is not foreign
to our nature; we all have been innocent, and by being conscious
of that nature we develop it. By admiring, by appreciating
that nature we develop it too, for all things which we admire
become impressions. Those who have a bad nature but have
collected good impressions will in time turn their nature.
During my travels in India, the purpose of which was
to pay homage to the sages of that land, what appealed most
to me was that the greater the soul, the greater was his
innocence. It is innocence one sees in them, not simplicity.
The one who is simple does not understand. We see this in
everyday life: he closes his eyes. Innocence is to understand
and to rise above things. Every person sees another through
his own glasses. Prejudice often stands between them; for
insight, unity is necessary. When innocence is developed
one has attained spirituality. A man becomes wise after
having been intellectual, when he rises above the intellect.
Then he sees cause behind cause and understands the way
of his enemy.
Would it be practical to live altogether according to
the principle of innocence? A principle is to be used,
not to guide our life. When people make a chain out of
principles, it becomes captivity. Life is freedom. One
cannot force oneself to innocence. But if there is any sign of piety
or spirituality, there is no better sign than innocence
together with all understanding.