The twelfth component of spiritual health is not knowing and curiosity and the cardinal sin # 12 is certainty, arrogance, and the need to be right. The spiritual practice to mitigate certainty, arrogance, and the need to be right is to regain our childlike qualities of awe, wonderment, and mystery.
Children continually ask their parents, “Why is this, mommy? Why is that, daddy?”
The little boy asked his father, “Why is it raining, Daddy?”
His father said, “It’s raining son, because God is crying.”
“Why is God crying, daddy,” said the little boy?
“I don’t know for sure, son,” said the father, “but it’s probably because of something you did.”
And we groan to hear this joke. It makes us aware of our hidden fears of our defectiveness, our inadequacies, our guilt, and our fear and expectation of punishment. And so we turn to faith that God is benevolent and loves us unconditionally.
We come to realize that it is the ego that wants us to live in fear and gives us the tools of certainty, arrogance, and authoritarian tendencies to identify with things that confirm our deeply held values and beliefs and condemn and punish people and things that threaten them.
The spiritual practice of questioning authority, admitting our ignorance, and engaging in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning gives our lives a vitality that is nourishing and provides a level of delight and wonderment which is otherwise missing.
Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” What Jesus is teaching is that we have to give up the idols of the ego and return to a place of innocence and wonderment. We need to recognize that the universe is too vast and mysterious for us to think that we know what it all means. This practice of curiosity and wonderment should fill us with awe and gratitude rather than fear and shame.
Every day we should admit to ourselves that we don’t really know what anything is for. If we think we do, we are taking things too literally and just making stuff up. We need to let our certitude go, and ask and trust in the power of the transcendent. Doing this, our lives become much more peaceful and joyous. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Let go and let God” or simply “Turn it over.” Everytime we find ourselves fearful, angry, resentful, annoyed, full of grievance, self righteous, judgemental, we can ask the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God, Mother Nature, our Higher Power to help us give up the burdens of the certainties which seem to be burying us alive.