Childlike Wonder – In Gita Verse 5.22 An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. O son of Kuntī, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.

Krishna tells that the first step of an intelligent person is to accept himself, rejoice in being himself. So that he does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. He is not renouncing anything. He is simply not resisting anything and he is not trying to be a Jesus, no, he is not to be a Buddha. He is just himself.

In my Bhagavad Gita Verse 4.13 I wrote – When you are not trying to become anybody else, then you simply relax – then a grace arises. Then you are full of grandeur, splendor, harmony – because then there is no conflict! Nowhere to go, nothing to fight for; nothing to force, enforce upon yourself violently. You become innocent.

Why is childlikeness, innocence compared to meditation?

When a man is reborn, only then he understands the beauty and the grandeur of childhood. The child is ignorant; hence he is unable to understand the tremendous innocence that surrounds him. Once a child becomes aware of his own innocence, there is no difference between the child and the sage. The sage is not higher and the child is not lower. The only difference is, the child knows not what he is and the sage knows it.

I am reminded of Socrates. In his very last moments of life he said to his disciples, “When I was young, I used to think I knew much. As I became older, as I knew more, a strange thing started happening: an awareness that knowing more was bringing me to knowing less.”

And finally, when the Oracle of Delphi declared Socrates to be the wisest man in the world…the people of Athens were very happy and they went to Socrates, but Socrates said, “Go back and tell the Oracle that at least for once its prophecy has been wrong. Socrates knows nothing.”

The people were shocked. They went to the Oracle…but the Oracle laughed and said, “That’s why I have declared him the wisest man in the world! It is only the ignorant people who think they know.” The more you know, the more you become innocent.

According to the Socratic division, there are two categories of people: the ignorant knowers and the knowing ignorants. The world is dominated by the second category. These are your priests, your professors; these are your leaders, these are your saints, these are your religious messiahs, saviors, prophets, all proclaiming that they know. But their very proclamation destroys the utter simplicity and innocence of a child.

Bodhidharma remained in China for fourteen years. He was sent by his master to spread the message of meditation. After fourteen years, he wanted to come back to the Himalayas; he was old and was ready to disappear into the eternal snows. He had thousands of disciples – he was one of the rarest people who have existed on the earth – but he called only four disciples and he said, “I will ask only one question: what is the essence of my teaching? Whoever gives me the right answer will be my successor.”

There was a great silence, tremendous expectation. Everybody looked at the first disciple, who was the most learned, most scholarly. The first disciple said, “Going beyond the mind is what all your teaching can be reduced to.”

Bodhidharma said, “You have my skin, but not more than that.”

He turned to the second disciple who said, “There is no one to go beyond the mind. All is silent. There is no division between the one that has to be transcended and one that has to transcend. This is the essence of your teaching.”

Bodhidharma said, “You have my bones.”

And he turned to the third disciple, who said, “The essence of your teaching is inexpressible.”

Bodhidharma laughed and he said, “But you have expressed it! You have said something about it. You have my marrow.”

And he turned to the fourth disciple who had only tears and utter silence, no answer. He fell at the feet of Bodhidharma…and he was accepted as the successor, although he had not answered anything.

But he has answered – without answering, without using words, without using language. His tears have shown much more than any language can contain…and his gratitude and his prayerfulness and his thankfulness to the master…what more can you say?

The great gathering of disciples was very much disappointed, because this was a man nobody had ever bothered about. The great scholars have been rejected; the great knowers have not been accepted, and an ordinary man…

Krishna tells Arjuna that ordinariness is the only extraordinary thing in the world…that childlike wonder, that childlike experience of the mysterious all around.

Remember one thing: the moment you start knowing something you are not a child. You have started becoming part of the adult world. Society has initiated you into civilization; it has distracted you from your essential nature.

When the child is surrounded by the mysterious all around, everything is just a mystery with no answer, with no question, he is exactly at the point the sage ultimately reaches. That’s why childlikeness is compared again and again to meditation. Meditation would not have been needed if people had remained in their essential childlikeness.

Do you know the root of the word meditation? – It comes from the same root as medicine. It is a medicine. But the medicine is needed only if you are sick. Meditation is needed if you are spiritually sick. Childlikeness is your spiritual health, your spiritual wholeness; you don’t need any meditation.

Krishna is talking about the nature of wonderment like a child who will be always blissful. Bliss is not pleasure, it has a beginning and an end.


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