The evolution of the soul passes through three stages: innocence, experience, and a third, innocence in experience. They are like three steps: the first two are complementary, while the third is the sum of those. That is how life evolves, from a pattern that we find repeated in nature. It is described by what we call the Fibonacci Sequence, according to which a number is the sum of two previous numbers. From the analysis of the first two steps to walk: innocence (1) and experience (2), we should understand how to achieve innocence in experience (1+2=3). Let’s see how.
The first step is innocence. In innocence, we observe the world from the eyes of a child. We don’t try to change the reality that surrounds us, for it is difficult enough for us to merely understand it. Instead, we look for a safe environment in which we can begin the evolutionary process as a human soul.
It is the most gregarious phase, in which we allow the group or society as a whole to show us the way and make the rules of the game for us. During this phase, the rules provide security for us, to help us distinguish between what we can and cannot do. We believe in the goodness of these rules. That is precisely where our innocence lies: in the belief that society knows what is best for us. We need to believe that it is this way, in order to manage with confidence an environment that we are just beginning to grasp.
This is a phase in which we make society the voice of experience, as a child places all of his confidence in his parents. Therefore, it is the phase known as the infancy of the soul. It is an infancy that lasts several lifetimes, during which we have the opportunity to live in various societies, in order to adopt their particular values, their rules, without ever abandoning our belief in their “inherent goodness.”
Innocence and experience are complements, for without the experience that we recognise to be in society, we would not know what direction to take, and we could not distinguish between right and wrong. Afterwards, we will learn that these are relative concepts, but for that knowledge to arise we should wait for the soul to mature and go deeper into its old age. At this stage, we need to believe that an absolute good and bad exist; we need a path to follow and another to avoid. We need for others to make the distinction for us, to identity for us which is which, for we lack experience because we haven’t learned yet from our own mistakes.
Experience is that which we gain when we make mistakes, and if there is something that we can be sure of, it is that life will supply us with countless opportunities to make them. Thus we begin that long evolutionary path, first spanning the gap between innocence and experience. In order to span it, we need desire, for without desire we would always remain in innocence, without the impetus to change. Desire tears away our calm innocence and asks us to submerge ourselves completely in the world of experience. It is the desire to carry out, to attempt. It is not action, but it anticipates it, taking us from that state in which we simply gazed at the world with a child’s astonished eyes.
Desire makes us lose our innocence. Is that bad? No. It is part of the same evolutionary process of life. How can it be bad? A soul never attains old age without going through puberty. Therefore, we need desire in order to make mistakes, and our mistakes allow us to gain highly valuable experience. Of course, there are those in society that tell us that desire is bad. From their perspective, we were more useful when we were in the stage of innocence, as members of a flock. But desire is not good or bad, it is simply the, as yet, unpolished manifestation of a feeling that will later open the doors of our own heart. But, for now, it remains a simple desire, as part of a great evolutionary plan that Nature set out for us.
They tell us that we should transcend desire. However, in order to transcend something, we first need to experience it fully. It doesn’t help when someone tells us, “Don’t desire anything, for desire won’t bring you anything but dissatisfaction.” If that conclusion is not the result of our own experience, it does not serve us. Those are the words of another, with which we cannot live in our own body. In order to transcend our own desire, first we will need to desire. This is the right that we have, to live, experience and make mistakes. No one can take this right from us.
The quality of our desires will vary, just as the quality of our thoughts and actions will vary. The three are linked in such a way that a repeated thought becomes a desire, and a desire, once it grows roots in the mind, turns into an action. Experience will help us to differentiate between those desires that, upon turning into actions, provided us with a transitory satisfaction, and those others that bring us a little closer to a state of fullness. At this point, we begin to realise that there is still another stretch of road, one that goes from experience to innocence in experience.
Innocence in Experience
Innocence is lost, our first desires sought pleasure, and pleasure will be sought by our final desire, the one that still remains when all the others have gone. The only difference is that, having reached this stage, we no longer speak of pleasure, but rather of joy. We then see how pleasure was transmuted into joy.
The search for pleasure tears away our calm innocence. How are we going to deny it its place, if the same Nature agreed that procreation should be an act surrounded by pleasure? By any chance, was not a choir of groans that accompanied the millions of male gametes in their race to fertilise the ovum!
Pleasure comes before the conception, but the most intense pain that a woman can experience comes before the birth of a new child. That which began with groans of pleasure ends with groans of pain, and when the pain ends, the newborn child begins his life with crying. The newborn child is innocence manifested in a tiny body. It is innocence of body but not of soul, for surely that soul has already lived many lives. We can read all of those experiences in his eyes. His innocence is manifested at the level of the body, from that tiny body that smiles at us. Nevertheless, it is a temporary innocence, for since the body grows he will take it with himself.
We return then to the innocence of the soul, which we lose through not one but many lives. Desire took this innocence away. At the beginning, that desire was manifested as the search for pleasure. However, there is something that transmutes pleasure into joy. It is the same thing that allows us to regain the innocence of the soul, once full experience has been acquired. What power is in Nature able to do that?
Only one, but no one would believe us if we said that the power began to manifest itself as a timid desire. No one will believe us when we tell them that it is mere desire, refined and polished, like a diamond. It is not the desire for a particular thing, but for the wholeness; not the desire to possess, but to be; not the desire to seek, but to find; not the desire to receive, but to give. This desire is not thought, but pure feeling; it does not emanate from the mind, but from the heart. It is a desire that does not create attachment, but rather liberates us. It is a desire that we call love and whose transmuting power is such that it can turn pleasure into joy, and so we can also regain the innocence where now only experience remains.
The soul, in its search for experience, begins manifesting that love as simple desire. Experience is obtained from desire, but that experience leaves us unsatisfied. Thus, we realise that satisfaction is not something that we can obtain at the cost of others, but that it is the satisfaction of others that ends up becoming our own joy. In order to be able to attain this stage, we first have to draw a dividing line between ourselves and others. We call that line the ego. It is an imaginary line that we need, for without the ego, who would become attached to the object of desire with such intensity as to forget that we are already as much the object as everything else? We need the ego to discover the love that will end up diluting that imaginary line.
At the start, this love will be expressed as mere attachment, directed towards a fragment of that wholeness in everything, that is, towards an individual, an object, or a place. Later, it will become like self-love, meaning, attachment to our own little I. And finally, it will be like true love, as much towards ourselves as towards all the others. At that time, we will be on the final stretch of the road that goes from innocence to experience. But once we have attained that place, we should learn to renounce the ego to thus be able to regain the next stretch of the road, that which goes from experience to innocence in experience.
All what was needed on the first stretch of the journey– that is, the desire, the ego that clings to it, the search for pleasure without joy–all of this is abandoned on the next stretch of road. At that point, without the dividing line that the ego created, we will again be able to open our hearts. At that point, desire is transmuted into love and pleasure into true joy. Therefore, it is so important to know which stretch of the road we find ourselves on, for it serves nothing to try to transcend what we still have not learned to express fully.
The road has two stretches: the one that goes from innocence to experience and the one that goes from experience to innocence in experience. Which one are you on? Do you still have desires to satisfy, life to experience, pleasures to taste? If so, don’t let anyone take that right from you; you have the right to live the experience.
But perhaps, instead, all of your desires have dissipated, leaving only one: the desire to attain complete union with the Absolute. If you are no longer satisfied with anything less than making love to the Universe; if you are now searching for permanent joy rather than momentary pleasure; if you are now tired of experiencing life and only want to regain the innocence that your first desire snatched from you; then you have found yourself on the second stretch of road. This does not place you above or ahead of anyone else. It simply indicates what you are looking for in life: the supreme joy of returning to oneness with the Universe.
Translated from Spanish by Alan Steinle
- This description is inspired by the wisdom of William Blake, the English poet and painter. ↑