There's nothing inherently wrong with grandiosity. Dreaming big can lead to significant realities: art, literature, money, political power, athletic accomplishment, whatever.
But a large part of wisdom is distinguishing between what is less and more possible.
This is a subject of more than academic or abstract interest to me, because for much of my life I've been way out there on a grandiosity branch when it comes to knowing the mysteries of the cosmos.
Maybe I can blame, or thank, my mother. She was a woman who loved learning. We were able to move into a new house when I was about ten. My mother had a bookshelf made that exactly fit the length of the Great Books of the Western World, a prized possession (which I now have).
She wanted to know the truth.
More than that: The Truth, with a capital "T." My mother read P.D. Ouspensky. She was interested in spirituality and mysticism. She died in possession of a lot of truths. But not The Truth.
I came to share her goal.
For over thirty-five years I considered that I was on a path leading to knowledge of ultimate reality, a revealing of the cosmic mysteries. It didn't enter my mind that I could be wrong, that like so many others (now I'd say everyone) who sought The Truth, the search is bound to fail.
Because there is no end to mystery. Or let's say Mystery, to get the capitalization consistent with The Truth.
No end, at least, for we humans living now, here on Earth.
Who knows what will be possible a thousand, million, or billion years in the future? We can't put a limit on knowledge. Maybe with the aid of computers that vastly surpass the abilities of the human brain, eventually Homo sapiens, or a succeeding species, will be able to approach the end of the cosmos' knowledge trail.
Until then, we have to be content with expanding our understanding of reality bit by bit. Humility is called for. Scientists realize how little we know about the universe, compared to its almost unimaginable vastness and complexity.
Strangely, though, metaphysicians (and I once was among them) glibly speak of knowing an ultimate reality that not only encompasses the laws of physical nature, but also hypothesized spiritual realms.
Well, anything is possible. However, only some things are probable.
And I'd put knowledge of ultimate reality into the exceedingly improbable category. In part, because I doubt that we could recognize such a creature -- Ultimate Reality -- if it crawled by right in front of us.
Baby steps are a more reasonable expectation, whether we're speaking of collective human understanding of the cosmos, or our personal insights into what reality is all about.
In "God and His Demons," author Michael Parenti tears religion to shreds. Yet Parenti recognizes that humanity has a lot to learn about all kinds of different things -- including what might be called "spiritual" if this word is used correctly.
The way I see it, which fits with the following passage from Parenti's book, "spiritual" can mean phenomena that lie beyond our current understanding, yet are still part of what we call physical reality.
Just because there is much more truth to be discovered in the darkness that lies beyond the light of current human knowledge doesn't mean that this realm of mystery is metaphysical.
Here's how Parenti puts it, speaking at first of when he was interested in religious studies:
In those days I also wondered whether the universe might harbor secrets and meanings of a transcendent nature, offering an escape from the confines of the skin-encapsulated ego, a mystical experience of the Great Ineffable that some people like to label God.
To this day I sometimes meditate and find myself contemplating the empyrean mysteries. Do my occasional feelings of near transcendence descend from a cosmic source? I rather doubt it. More inclined am I to suspect that "spiritual experience" originates someplace closer to home, being auto-induced, even if it feels splendidly otherwise.
Still, it is not settled in my mind. In regard to what is broadly called the "spiritual" realm, I remain agnostic about certain things and disbelieve most everything else. What I do believe is that -- beyond the thermal, solar, gravitational, nuclear, and other familiar energies -- there may be forms of energy that are subjected in extraordinary ways to laws of nature not yet comprehended or even imagined by us.
Such an unfinished thought should not ignite furious objections in anyone's heart, except perhaps the most orthodox scientists and religionists.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.