by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Ignorance is bliss,” or “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” I had never given this much thought until a few months ago when I was driving on a very narrow road on top of a volcano. Actually, I wasn’t the one doing the driving — my husband was. I was sitting on the passenger side determined not to look out the window at the sheer drop off inches from our tires.My remedy to allay my fears was to hold up the roadmap with my right hand in such a way that I could not see out the window. This seemed to keep my gaze fixed on the sure road in front of me. So, in this case, perhaps ignorance was bliss. If I didn’t know how close to the edge we were, I wasn’t afraid.
Actually the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss,” comes from a poem by English poet, Thomas Gray, titled “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” The complete phrase is, “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.”
But is it possible to really know too much?
Some equate the innocence of childhood with ignorance. And some wish they could return to their childhood, believing that innocence — or lack of worldly knowledge — is a pleasant alternative to the harsh realities of adulthood. Such a person might feel that growing up has brought too much awareness of the flaws of mortal life, and he believes not knowing something would be more comfortable than knowing it.
Although at times in my life I might have agreed with such sentiments, I can’t see how ignorance ultimately helps. It seems more like a stick-your-head-in-the-sand approach to a challenge, problem, fear, worry or concern. And with our head in the sand, we will never be able to see the solution that could be right in front of us if we were looking for it.
Maybe this desire for ignorance stems from not understanding the power and freedom knowledge can provide. Of course, this kind of knowledge is not found in the limited and ever-changing mortal perspective, but in spiritual knowledge.
If we hold a mortal point of view, we have difficulty seeing beyond that view and thus find the infinite generally unreachable and unattainable. By its very nature, the mortal viewpoint remains ignorant of the potential and possibility that spiritual knowledge provides and promises.
Spiritual knowledge would conclude that the cause of all evil is fear and ignorance. From this premise, evil could be proven powerless if fear and ignorance were displaced or replaced by spiritual knowledge.
It was surely arrogant ignorance that crucified Jesus! And consider other evils the world has seen since — also perpetuated by arrogant ignorance. No, I don’t think that ignorance has led or would ever lead to a more blissful world!
So with the hope that spiritual knowledge could be my best hope in my own personal fight against evil in its many forms, I continue my journey toward such enlightenment.
I’m not saying we must go back to school and get a degree in Bible History or Theology in order to gain spiritual knowledge. In fact, Jesus told us what we must do. We read in the book of John how Jesus’ peers were amazed at his knowledge since he didn’t have any formal education on spiritual matters. They wondered, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”
Jesus response was, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…” (John 7:15-17)
This says to me that I must endeavor to understand more about the nature of God and His purpose and will for His creation. This will help me better understand my own spirituality as His child, and I will become better acquainted with my divine heritage — my divine rights, my spiritual qualities, my God-given talents. Then with this spiritual knowledge, I can free myself from bad habits, bad manners, bad traits and tendencies, and bad attitudes.
So in the long run of life, ignorance may perhaps provide a few blissful moments, but I think I’ll go for the more certain bliss that spiritual knowledge can bring.