Be Like Babes
Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh
On January 1st, when members of the Christmas Retreat visited Pujya Swami Chidanandaji, he presented each one with a book that he had personally published. It was a strange book in that it contained only the sayings of Jesus. Of course, the longer passages make a lot of sense because they are a continuous narration, but there are many fragments that don’t make too much sense.
However, there is one verse in particular, that is even a fragment in the Bible, which is pregnant with meaning for us as seekers. Almost out of context, one day Jesus said, “I thank Thee Father that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them unto the babes.” He doesn’t, of course, say specifically what He is referring to, but we assume he is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God. And perhaps because so often we describe the path and the goal as being the same, He is also referring to the path. “I thank Thee Father that Thou hast hidden them–both the path and the goal–from the learned and the wise and revealed them–both the path and the goal–to the babes.”
This is a verse that catches the ego right by the throat. We can understand why Jesus would say that it is hidden from the learned. Gurudev used to speak about lip- Vedantins. But why is the path and the goal hidden from the wise? Wisdom means both learning and experience. To call a person wise in this world is to pay them the highest compliment, and yet Jesus thanks God for hiding it from both the learned and the wise and revealing it unto the babes. And He then adds, for such was Your gracious will.
What is the difference between the learned and the wise and the babes? The learned and wise think that they know the way to God. The babes don’t know; they have to depend upon God’s guidance. Their hearts are open to God. Indeed, the learned and the wise can be quite certain that they know the way and others don’t, especially the simple and the childlike. And yet ultimately our knowledge and our wisdom have to bring us to the point that we see that finding the path and the goal depend upon us not knowing. We have to be brought to our knees and recognise that that childlike humility that doesn’t know, that has to be guided moment by moment, is, in fact, both the path and the goal.
What do we see in great ones like Sri Gurudev or Pujya Swamiji except simple human beings, not really knowing from moment to moment what they will do next, because they are continuously open to the guidance of the Spirit? That is the goal. And the way to the goal is exactly the same. Not knowing the way, but being continuously open to the guidance of the Spirit–to have given up our learning and wisdom in order to be like babes.