4 For behold, all ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea, ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink.
5 For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.
(2 Nephi 27:4-5)
If we are unwilling to learn, then we don’t need teachers. Books, websites, and other repositories of knowledge might as well not exist if we fail to take advantage of them. Knowledge can be given to us, but if we fail to receive and internalize it, then that effort has been wasted.
In the passage above, Nephi paraphrases Isaiah 29:9-10. The prophet Isaiah describes a time when people will “be drunken but not with wine,” when they will “stagger but not with strong drink.” They will be filled with “the spirit of deep sleep.” When you’re asleep or intoxicated, you can’t learn, you can’t think clearly, and you can’t make wise decisions. You are effectively incapacitated—unable to direct your life, unable to protect yourself, unable to pursue your goals and dreams.
What will cause this state of pseudo-intoxication? The version of this passage in the Bible simply states that “the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.” But Nephi’s version of the passage places the responsibility on the people themselves: “The Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets.”
President Dallin H. Oaks recently taught us that we limit ourselves when we reject sources of spiritual knowledge:
When we seek the truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods appropriate for that search: prayer, the witness of the Holy Ghost, and study of the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. I am always sad when I hear of one who reports a loss of religious faith because of secular teachings. Those who once had spiritual vision can suffer from self-inflicted spiritual blindness. As President Henry B. Eyring said, “Their problem does not lie in what they think they see; it lies in what they cannot yet see.”
The methods of science lead us to what we call scientific truth. But “scientific truth” is not the whole of life. Those who do not learn “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118) limit their understanding of truth to what they can verify by scientific means. That puts artificial limits on their pursuit of truth.
Today, I will search for spiritual truth using the sources President Oaks identified: prayer, personal revelation, and the words of prophets. I will remember that refusing to listen to God’s word would artificially limit my understanding, placing me in a state of “self-inflicted spiritual blindness” with respect to important spiritual truths. I will avoid that fate by opening my mind and heart and being willing to learn.