We all want to know things; we’re curious little critters and that’s all healthy and good. But the deadly sin of pride lurks on the edges of the playground of knowing things just as it lurks on the edge of all our playgrounds. Pride does not mean a healthy liking of yourself, it means a nasty, exclusive, superior attitude.
C.S. Lewis said pride is always about comparing. It’s not being happy that you are good-looking; that’s not pride-it’s being unhappy until you are the best-looking. Mirror, mirror on the wall…It’s not about enjoying your wealth-that’s not pride-it being driven to get more and more until you have the most. The demonic thing about pride is that it is never satisfied; no matter how rich or handsome you are, you have no peace or rest until you have it all.
This extends to knowing spiritual things. It is certainly wonderful to want to develop spiritually; to become a whole person, to become all that you were meant to be. But a thread runs through the history of human spirituality, a nasty, prideful thread of knowing more, of knowing secrets, of knowing deep things that lesser mortals cannot grasp. This thread is generally called Gnosticism.
I once joked that I could write a book called “Three Steps to Getting Anything You Want from God” and it would be a best-seller. One person didn’t get the joke and wanted to buy the book! Consider any offer of spiritual power to manipulate the world (and especially other people!) a big red flag.
Gnosticism usually involves an initiation ordeal, swearing oaths and pledges of secrecy. Initiates progressed through the ranks by degrees, with a definite hierarchy of superiors at the top. These Gnostic sects flourished in ancient Greece, are obviously present in freemasonry and echoes of these practices exist in college fraternities today-especially that notorious one at Yale called Skull and Bones (a good place to start running for president of the United States, apparently.)
Be very wary of today’s Gnostic spiritual activities; ones that require expensive tutors, use esoteric language, promise that you will know so much you will become like gods. There are an awful lot of these out there right now. Take their 15-week course, learn new words like chakras and kundalini-shoot-go for broke and travel to the Himalayas with Guru Ramalama Dingdong and get yourself enlightened. I guess the higher you go in physical elevation, the closer you get to God?
Instead, save your money and avoid the pitfalls of spiritual pride. If God is everywhere present, then he is present where ever you are reading this. For free. For free! There is a passage in the book of Acts in which a local sorcerer offers Peter money to obtain spiritual power. Peter told him, “May your money perish with you, that you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”
If we cannot see the kingdom of God until we become like little children, then deciphering the Kabala and mastering codes and complex rituals are nonsense; distractions, man-made perversions of what is simple and open and available to “whosever will.”