The 18th century poet Alexander Pope, a great adherent of the intellect, once wrote:
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
But I wonder if, besides the choruses attending on intellectual endeavors might not likewise be sung in spiritual life. Dilettantes in any field are joyful in their shallows and yet others may pay dearly for those joys. And that is not to mention the suffering of one peddling such thin-tea ambrosia.
In spiritual life one practitioner may choose to join some established sect or school and learn a very great deal. Another, convinced of the corruption of establishments, may raise the banner of individual effort ... back to the land! power to the people! ... and likewise learn a very great deal.
But no matter what the route, the invitation -- or proclamation or sine qua non -- remains the same: "Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring." Anyone can splash gaily in the shallows. Anyone can read the books or ingest beliefs or swoon with bliss or indulge in some massive group hug. It feeeeeeels so good. Its meeeeeaning is so profound.
The "Pierian spring" is defined this way:
- Greek Mythology. A spring in Macedonia, sacred to the Muses.
- A source of inspiration.