Chapter 4: Boy! Did We Shake That Thing!
The first question:
It is my understanding that you see innocence as the opposite of knowledge - but what about ignorance? People without knowledge are so often misused by the ones with the knowledge. Please say something about this.
Ignorance is the state which exists before knowledge; innocence is the state which exists after knowledge. Ignorance is pre-knowledge, innocence, post-knowledge. They appear similar - they are in a way - and yet totally different.
A child is ignorant. When you call a child innocent you are misunderstanding the whole thing. Ignorance looks like innocence because the child does not know. He looks innocent, but he will know - he will taste the bitter fruit of knowledge, he will have to. He is just like Adam in the garden of Paradise - he will have to be thrown out. He will pass through that, he will sin, he will become corrupted. His innocence is not powerful, it is impotent. It cannot avoid being in knowledge, knowledge will enter: the serpent will seduce him, the world will corrupt him, he will move into the ways of knowledge, into the ways of the mind. He is ready like a seed to move into knowledge. Innocence is not there, he is ignorant.
But then, a sage like Lao Tzu who has known the world, and come back home - who was corrupted, who was in the ways of sin and knowledge, who tasted the bitter fruit, and now has become mature, has dropped knowledge, has become again childlike - is innocent. Only a sage is innocent.
Jesus says, Only those who are like children will be able to enter into my kingdom of God. Remember he says like children, not children. Children won’t be able to enter into the kingdom of God but those who are like children. What does it mean: who are like children and not children? Those who have passed through the world, who have known all corruption and who have regained their virginity.
Knowledge has two opposites: innocence, the innocence of the sage; and ignorance, the ignorance of the child. And don’t misunderstand me when I insist on innocence, I am not insisting on ignorance. I am not saying Be ignorant. If you are ignorant you are simply postponing knowledge. One day or the other, sooner or later, you will be in the trap of knowledge.
Go through it. Live it, know it. Taste the bitter fruit. Be thrown out of paradise so that you can come back and reclaim it - and then the quality is totally different. When you were thrown, you were just ignorant. When Adam was thrown out of paradise he was simply ignorant. When Jesus entered again he was not the same Adam. An innocent sage, knowing well what the world means - and by knowing well what the world means, understanding it well - has transcended.