Journey to Innocence

 


Innocence is a state of consciousness.  We cultivate innocence when we connect to our Core Self and the Core Self in others.  The Core Self is our essence.  It is that existential state of being that is pure and undefiled.   It is not twisted by experience for it is the state prior to experience in this world.  It is the original blessing given to all beings by God, who created us in His own image.  This blessing was given before wrong doing, trespass or error was possible.  It is the State of Heaven or Paradise before the choice to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It is therefore an “a priori” state, before free will or choice came into play. When we see and affirm our own innocence and that of others we are acknowledging our spiritual origin and equality.

Opposite States of Consciousness:  Trespass, Fear, Shame, Guilt, Judgment, Condemnation, Crime and Punishment, Sin.  This is the state of being disconnected from our Core Self and that of others. It leads to various forms of attack and defense, dehumanizing and objectifying others, imprisonment, brutality, torture, and genocide.

 The Teaching

In our justice system we are all supposed to be considered Innocent until proven guilty. Every person is supposed to be given a chance to defend himself and prove his innocence.  But the reality is quite different.  Those who are poor and cannot post bail are often incarcerated before they have been convicted of crimes. At the other extreme, those who are a true danger to society are often released from prison into the community without being rehabilitated. Innocent people spend  twenty or thirty years in jail for crimes they did not commit and rapists and murders walk the streets.  And this is supposed to be equal justice for all?
     We live in a culture of blame, shame, and punishment.  We do not forgive those who trespass against us. When they go to jail, we don’t give them a healthy way to atone for their crimes, make amends and get the self-understanding and the skills necessary to survive when they come back into society.  We warehouse inmates;  we do not rehabilitate them.
     Why is that?   Because we label them and objectify them.  We view them as  bad people who have to be punished.  We think that they deserve what they get.
But this is not a very practical strategy for creating safety or reducing crime.  If you take an angry, reactive person and beat him, he may submit for a while, but his fear and his rage only grow.  When he gets out of jail, he is a walking time bomb.  Any little thing can light his fuse.
     Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the time when he is separated from society to address the cause of his anger and his fear?  Wouldn’t it make sense to give him counseling, anger management training and help him develop better communication skills?  Wouldn’t it make sense to give him vocational training so he could find a job when he gets out of jail?
     Do we think that this person cannot really be redeemed?  Do we think that he has no Core Self, no original innocence, that his guilt is final and irrevocable?  If so we will write him off and feel justified in doing so, even though in the end it will only hurt us. 
     We need to look more deeply.  If we cannot see his innocence how can we embrace our own?  
    Jesus asked a different question to the crowd that wanted to stone the woman who committed adultery.. He asked: Who among you has not sinned?  Who will throw the first stone?  
     The teachings of Christianity help us to find equality based on the concept that we all are sinners and therefore all of us need forgiveness.  That is a helpful concept, but it does not go far enough, because it does not help us understand our essential or original innocence.  
     If we are willing to accept the idea that we all are guilty, can we not also explore the concept that we all were innocent once and that this innocence may be something that exists “a priori.”  In other words, our sins may cloud or disguise our innocence but they cannot take it away from us.  No matter what we have said or done, we remain an equal son or daughter of God. 
     We all have a heavenly origin.   Yes, even the criminal.  Even Cain who murdered his brother Able.  
    If our original innocence cannot be taken away, then the criminal can atone for his crime.  He can be forgiven and he can forgive himself.  And then he is restored or returned to his Innocence.  It never really left him, although for a time others may have condemned him and he may have condemned himself.
     If we are all innocent, then no one can be objectified and written off.  Each person is worthy of love and acceptance, even if he has trespassed against his brother.  Even if he has forgotten who he really is and who his brother really is.  If he can forget, he can also remember.  If he can sin, he can also atone for his sin.
     If we are going to create a world that is safe for all of us, we must create a culture of forgiveness and rehabilitation, where those who have attacked or abused others can be accept responsibility for their transgressions and make amends and restitution.  This reconnects them to their Core Self.  It helps them to feel the presence of love in their lives.  And with that Love comes the power of transformation. 
     Yes, all of us are Innocent until we are proven guilty.   And even when we are proven guilty, our innocence can be restored.  For we never really lost it.
     None of us are perfect.  All of us make mistakes. If we are not condemned for our mistakes, we can learn from them and correct them.  A culture of correction and forgiveness and a culture of shame and punishment are completely different.
The former upholds our Innocence so that we can return to it.  The latter confirms our guilt and insures that our debts can never be repaid.

The Practice

Today, remember that you are innocent until proven guilty and so is everyone else that you meet. Give yourself and everyone else the benefit of the doubt. Refrain from judging, condemning or writing people off.  
     Today, remember you and your brother or sister are equal children of God.
You were both created in God’s image, which means that you were created Innocent.  You may have said or done things that have hurt others.  You may be guilty of trespasses and others may be guilty of trespassing on you.  Sin or guilt is a temporary state of being off the mark.  It does not result in eternal damnation.
Sins can be forgiven.  Mistakes can be corrected.
    A life of forgiveness and correction can lead us back to the kingdom of heaven. Innocence can always be restored, because it was only lost temporarily.  When we atone for our sins, our sins are removed and our original innocence shines through.  We wipe the slate clean.  We start anew.
     Use every opportunity today to see your innocence and that of others.  Even when mistakes are made, even when trespasses occur, do not lose sight of the truth.  You are not your mistakes, nor are others theirs.  You are greater than that.  You are the one who learns from your mistakes and corrects your errors. You are the redeemer, not the executioner.
     Today be humble and give thanks to your higher power.  What God has given cannot be taken away.  Humans may try to be judge, jury and executioner, but that is their error.  Be compassionate with them for they are misguided.  As Jesus said to God when he was being crucified, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
     Today, do not condemn another, but understand that each person does what he has the consciousness to do at any moment in time.  Most sins are sins of ignorance and omission.  They are not intentional efforts to hurt or deprive others. 
     When trespass is intentional it comes from a deep and profound lack of love and unworthiness. It is not easily corrected or forgiven, but it is the wounded child’s cry for love, and sooner or later the call must be answered.    

Journaling Questions

When have you seen the innocence of a person you previously judged or condemned? When have you moved through your guilt and been able to see your own innocence?

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