It is said that ignorance is bliss. If you don’t know about something, you don’t have to worry about it. This basically means that lack of knowledge can result in happiness. As a young adult, I agreed with the phrase.
Whenever I looked upon children, I was always awed by their innocence. They don’t know about the drama in the world, nor do they care. They simply live in a joyful state. It doesn’t take much for a child to be happy.
To me, I have associated bliss with childhood innocence and ignorance. I know this is true because when I was a child, there were a lot less things that I worried about. I only cared about good grades and video games.
Being a child didn’t mean that I had no frustrations or headaches, it meant that I had fewer problems to think about. As I grew older, I gained more knowledge. The more knowledge I gained, the more miserable I became. It’s not that knowledge is misery. It’s the fact that I became aware of the problems that already existed.
I learned more and more about war, pollution, violence, racism, and so many more things that human beings are capable of. It is this knowledge that left me conflicted and confused.
There are so many things in life that I do not know. There are so many things in life that I am unaware of. What if there are more problems in the world, but I simply don’t know because I am unaware of them right now?
This was a pervasive thought that haunted me for a long period of time. It was also one of the main reasons why I believe ignorance is bliss.
From my experience, I know that there are many problems that exist in the world. I know this simply by tuning into the news channel on television. I also know this simply because there are so many tragedies that are never covered on the news because they occurred in different countries thousands of miles away from the United States.
I said that ignorance is bliss because from my bias perspective, this is the conclusion I came upon.
But the truth is ignorance is not bliss. Neither is it misery. I can say ignorance is misery. If I do that, I can also provide examples to prove this belief of mine.
For example, if you are ignorant, you will not be able to understand many things in life. You will struggle in school and will have difficulty picking up new skills. You will struggle to learn how to manage your finances, your relationships, your emotions, and many more things.
In your ignorance, you could cause harm to others because you are unaware of your actions.
We may claim that our ignorance is bliss or misery, but we don’t truly know. What we do know is that our ignorance is boundless.
Identifying with Your Ignorance
It does not matter how much you know in life. Your intelligence is limited. Your ignorance is boundless. Even if you read every book that existed in the world, your knowledge is still minuscule in this existence.
Did you know that there are more memories in your body than in your mind? Every cell in your body is operating and doing all sorts of chemical balances at a level of intelligence beyond your understanding.
You don’t remember your great ancestors, but their nose is on your face and so are their eyes and mouth. Your body remembers this, even if you don’t.
We all have different fingerprints and blood types. We still don’t know why this is the case. If we can’t even figure out all the answers to our own body, then how can we ever claim to truly know anything?
If you are aware and overwhelmed by your ignorance, then it is no wonder why ignorance is bliss. There is partial truth to this because when you are ignorant, you are not identified with thoughts and knowledge. There is no mental compulsion to over-think about anything. You are operating at a level below intelligence. This is why living joyfully is an easy process for a simple minded individual.
Let’s take an earthworm as an example. It is a living organism that has a millionth of our brain power. And yet it conducts its life effortlessly. It is born, we are born. It makes a living, we make a living. It reproduce, we may reproduce. It dies, we also die.
If all creatures on earth can conduct their lives well with a fraction of our intelligence, then what does this say about us? We, as the most intelligent creature on this planet, can’t even live our normal lives without complaint and fuss.
No other creatures struggle as much as the human creature. If you are poor, you suffer poverty. If you are rich, you suffer the taxes. If you are single, you suffer loneliness. If you are married, you suffer repetition. If you are uneducated, you suffer your ignorance. If you are educated, you suffer your knowledge. There doesn’t seem to be anything that human beings don’t suffer from.
This is why there is a huge misconception that ignorance is suffering and pain. We’ve all heard stories of people being willfully ignorant and that caused so many issues of prejudice and racism. However, this is not true.
Ignorance just means not knowing. Willful ignorance is just a realization that you don’t know a single thing about anything. You identify with your ignorance because you understand that what you know is limited and what you don’t know is unlimited.
When people say that a person is ignorant, they reference to their stupidity or lack of awareness. They say so and so do these dumb things because they don’t know better. This is not true. People, no matter how ignorant, only do things that they know how to do.
How do you do things you don’t know how to do? You can’t.
Problems don’t come because people identify with their ignorance. Problems come because people identify with their beliefs or limited knowledge. When you believe in something, you become confident. When you think you know something to be the truth, you refuse to accept any other explanation.
For example, if I believe in something and someone else believes in something that contradicts my belief then we cannot be in the same room. If we are, then we would argue and fight. This is the case because if I let him be, my belief would suffer.
Tell me, what fight would you have with anybody if you don’t know anything or cling to any information? You wouldn’t. Most of the suffering in the world happened because someone believed in something that is in contradiction to someone else.
“I believe in God, therefore I am doing God’s will by getting rid of heretics…”
“The 2nd amendment must be preserved at all cost; it is our right to bear arms. Any ban on guns is a violation of my rights, regardless if there are mass shootings in this country…”
“Climate change is a natural process and temperatures always go through cycles. Human beings cannot cause the climate to change…”
These are just a few examples of countless beliefs that people have. I cannot say that those statements are true or not. All I know is it doesn’t matter what stance you take. If someone believes in something that is different from you, you will disagree.
Being Joyfully Confused
When you come across something that which you don’t understand, there are two paths to take.
Either you explore or receive an explanation from others.
If you explore, then you will come to one kind of situation within yourself. If you receive an explanation from others, then there is only one choice. Either you believe it or disbelieve it.
If you believe in the explanation, you will come to one type of conclusion. This conclusion will make you confident in your knowledge. It need not bring any clarity to you.
If you disbelieve it, then you will be confused. If you are joyfully confused, then there is no problem. However, for most people, they don’t know how to handle their confusion. When they are confused, they make themselves miserable.
I want you to know that being confused is not a problem. Our ignorance is not a problem. It is only when you are ignorant that you want to move beyond that state. Your intelligence works best when you realize you don’t know anything.
If you are aware that you don’t know anything, then the desire to know becomes a living reality. You will sharpen your mind and pay attention to everything.
I know many people who are called geniuses and intellectuals. They are very confident in their knowledge. In turn, because they are so sure about what they know, whenever there is a contradiction, they will deny it. They will simply not pay attention to anything because they have their conclusions about everything.
I always believed myself to be an ignorant individual. The more I learned, the more I realized I don’t know a thing about anything.
Going through twelve years of public school and four years of college didn’t make me smarter. It made me more and more aware of my ignorance. The more I learned, the more I realized how little did I know.
But my ignorance never bothered me. It only made me attentive. I was always observing my surroundings, and always trying to make sense of things.
In my journey in understanding life, I realized that my inner dimensions are just as borderless and boundless as my ignorance.
Sure I may never know everything, but at the very least there’s an infinite way to grow within me. And this makes me happily confused.