On Naivety and Innocence   3 comments

According to Christ’s Teaching, we are supposed to be “Innocent As Doves, but as Cunning as Wolves” (Matthew 10:16), yet the World equates Innocence with Naivety. When the world affected me more, I believed this as well. Elsewhere I have written back when I was in my Sophomore-Junior year of High School that,

“… the person of being naïve and ignorant, was gone, the feelings of being behind on life experiences and seeing that others where more far ahead then I [caused me to seek out new experiences, and this] was my new drive, my only drive at this time. I would be willing to lie to myself and others around me just to get accepted so that I might be able to use them as a way to gain new experiences and fix my problem of being Naïve and Ignorant, to the degree that I was.”

Naivety and Ignorance I have learned should not be associated with Innocence. The State of being Innocent is the State of Having a Pure Heart and Mind, one that refuses to be corrupted and defiled by the flesh, not the physical body but the temptations and passions of ones fallen humanity. In my Junior year then and for a time afterwards, I sought to lose this [unknowingly], but at the same time in my anger and confusion that lead me to that point in my life, I also sought to know God, in one respect you could say that any and all purity I had left rested in this one longing desire.

Of course, as a teenager growing up and seeking a spiritual path that could recognize me in the state I was in as a victim rather then criminal, I became increasingly interested in Gnosticism, since it was one that could satisfy my anger and sense of betrayal. I associated the God who I was angry at with the Gnostic Demiurge, Father of Ignorance and Tyrant over all of the Physical World. Like all good Gnostics, I sought to rebel against the Demiurge for making me a prisoner of ignorance and naivety, and the justification was to fall and enjoy doing it!

However, as I got older and my Teenage Rebellious Behavior was becoming more tranquilized, and I came to rediscover Orthodox Christianity, I began to learn that God [Both of the Old and of the New Testaments] did not want people to become Naive and Ignorant in their Innocence. For upon reading, The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus:

“It seems to me that those who have fallen and are penitent are more blessed than those who have never fallen and who do not have to mourn over themselves, because through having fallen, they have pulled themselves up by a sure resurrection…. Nothing equals the mercy of God or surpasses it. To despair is therefore to inflict death on oneself.” (1)

So in my Anger I despaired, I despaired that I would never know, learn, and grow and in response I lashed out against God. This Despair stemmed from a Childhood Fear of Inferiority. But to recover innocence, is good and seeking to get rid of naivety and ignorance is good too. For the evil one, the adversary, seeks to bring us down, seeks to trick us and confuse us, and his job is all the more easier if we associate Innocence with being Inexperienced, Ignorant, and Naive. For if we sacrifice our Innocence in the Name of Fighting Against Ignorance, we will Lose Our Purity of Heart and Thus UNABLE to see God who alone dispenses Wisdom, Understanding, and Truth and this is how the Adversary wins. Thus the greatest Paradox is revealed:

If we become as little children, as God commands (Matthew 18:3), we can enter into the awareness of The Kingdom of Heaven and receive the Knowledge and Wisdom of God, so that in any experiences we have in Life we may conquer the evil one and his world. A world which is temporal and passing away and not worth investing too much energy in trying to conform to its rules and understandings.

As I look back on this time in my life however, in comparison to others, I have still not done certain things that others have done yet and I hope that I will never fall too. The actions then that the immature and rebellious teenager in me still wants to do, have not been fully realized, but I do not believe that it was the point to realize them, rather the point was it was symbolic the things that I did and thoughts that I thought, and somehow I knew that what I was doing was simply to get even with God for what I experienced leading up to me renouncing foolishly my Innocence with my Naivety. Yet even in my anger and confusion, God is Merciful for He has shown me this and saved me from this, and in the irony to it all, ignorance and naivety fall by the wayside and I come closer to knowing myself even better.

A child admits quite freely that they know nothing and that they are dependent upon someone else for their sustinance, if we were able to do the same as adults, and admit that self-sufficiency is an illusion, the thought that we are complete unto ourselves, we too would not be pre-occupied from God and feel compelled to act like as if we know everything that needs to be known, but we would be receptive and open to receiving understanding to its fullest extent, for we are fallible and we are prone to make mistakes and therefore we need instruction from Our Father who Is In Heaven and Spiritual Individuals who are Holy and Righteous that we may look up to on earth.

Also if my writing thus far did not impress it upon you enough that Innocence should not be equated with Inexperience, then consider a brief lesson in etymology: Innocent (English) —> “in” (Latin for “not”) and “nocentem” (Latin for “to harm”) => Not to Harm or more precisely, Not to Be Guilty of Wrongdoing. There is no mention of Ignorance or being Naive. (2)

Consider also the fact that, Christ says that we MUST BE BOTH Innocent as Doves and Cunning as Snakes at the Same Time. Therefore, under God it is possible to be Innocent yet Experienced enough to know and practice what it means to be Cunning.

For Further Reading Check Out These Two Posts Here: (A) On the Inevitable Corruption of Naivety and (B) The Mystic Virtue of Being “Like a Child”, which Inspired Me to Talk About this as well. Sources: (1) Interrupting The Silence: Falling Up – St. John Climacus (2) Online Etymology Dictionary

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Posted August 5, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Spiritual Autobiography

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