In the first place, is that even possible—is it even possible that you, that I, could be an idiot about something?
If so, where might our unique idiot-vulnerabilities lie?
For example, a person who never, ever gets a physical from a doctor or pays a visit to a dentist might be making an idiotic choice. Small and easily treatable conditions can turn into big, bad problems.
Something similar can happen with respect to money. A person who just never pays any attention to where her money is coming from or where it is going to could well be setting herself up from some financial hardships. The hardships may well be unnecessary, but only if attention is paid in a timely way.
We also have examples of prominent leaders, in politics, business and other fields who see neither point nor need in seeking the counsel of others. We watch the bad fruits of their folly and perhaps find ourselves muttering “Idiot!” under our breath. Or maybe not under our breath.
Or consider the ignored “Check Engine” light on the car dashboard, or the scale registering more pounds every time I step on it, or my certainty that my fashion sense is without peer …
So if being an idiot is a possibility in some areas of our lives, is it possible to be an idiot about your spiritual life?
I’m guessing your initial response might be, “No way!” perhaps followed by, “Who are you or anyone else to question my spirituality, you idiot?”
When it comes to “spirituality” or “spiritual life,” we’re all experts. After all, who could possibly be more in touch with “my true spiritual path” than me? Isn’t “spirituality” pretty much like all my other consumer choices? There’s a broad menu of options, and, after sampling whatever on the menu looks good to me, I can then make my final choice. And it hardly needs to be said: when it comes to spirituality, I can change my spirituality whenever it seems good to me, just like I can change my clothing, car, diet, smartphone or pretty much everything else.
But let’s at least probe this a bit.
How do you know that genuine “spirituality” is purely a matter of your choice?
On what basis do you make your “spirituality” choices? Is it pretty much a cut-and-paste kind of thing, a bit of Buddhism, some Sufi prayers and practices, with a smattering of your childhood Catholicism (or Presbyterianism or Unitarianism)? What do you leave off your list, and why?
Is it possible that God, Ultimate Reality, the spiritual dimension, or whatever term you prefer is not automatically and naturally a “good fit” for you? In other words, are you already pretty much in good alignment with “spiritual reality” or would you expect the process of becoming more truly “spiritual” to be wrenching, costly, and even extremely difficult for you?
Is it possible that “God” (or whatever) might think about things differently than you do … might have different values. Could there be things that are important to “God” (or whatever) but not important to you?
Given how different they are, does it make sense to say that all spiritual paths eventually arrive at the peak of the same mountain? Or could it be possible to be climbing the wrong mountain?
Does it ever strike you that, for example, the Buddhism (or Buddhisms) so currently popular in the West doesn’t bear much resemblance to Buddhism as it has been historically practiced and understood?
Can something that was true a thousand or two thousand years ago still be true today? Could you give two examples?
Any chance that your views of spirituality have been influenced by some pretty unspiritual aspects of your personality or character?
What does your spiritual path teach about the meaning of your life and of your death? Is there any counter-evidence to these teachings?
Jesus is generally considered “up there” with the great spiritual teachers. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or not” (John 7:17). As well-schooled consumers, we think that first we know and then we do, first we acquire information and assemble choices, and then we decide what we’re going to do.
Jesus seems to think there are already some things that we are to do (“Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as you love yourself”), and that, as we do them, we will get to know God better.
Jesus, “up there” with the great spiritual teachers, said more than a few things that might strike us as idiotic. “If you want to save your life, you need to lose it for my sake … If you would be great, learn to be the servant of all … How you treat the littlest, the least, the last and the lost is how you treat God … I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even though he dies, he shall live …”
Is Jesus an idiot? Or …?