Intelligence, Ordinary and Extraordinary

Beauty has no value if the beautiful person has no intelligence. So is the case with wealth, skills and talents. All of them cannot give us happiness if we lack intelligence.

A lot of us find we take up things that are not our duty or tasks that overburden us. An old Sanskrit saying declares1, “Not to take up (unwarranted) work is the first sign of intelligence; having taken up a task (with a sense of duty), staying committed and completing it is the second sign of intelligence.”

The great law-giver Manu2 mentions intelligence (dheeh) and (constant) learning (vidyā) as two among the ten marks of right living (dharma). We see that intelligent observation of the whole of life and discarding false values in every situation equips with tremendous inner strength, blessing us with happiness in life.

Our understanding of „intelligence‟ rises to an extraordinary level when we study the Vedānta (Upanishads). Here not only the distinction between right and wrong (or true and false) becomes evident to us but we are further guided to see the „oneness‟ amidst diverse appearances. The sense of division, for example that of „others‟ and „me‟, becomes weaker. The Upanishads aim at opening our eyes to the deeper truth where we behold3 „all life in us and us in all life‟. The mystery of this non-dual vision is unravelled by sages like Sri Ramana Maharishi when they point out the falsity of our ego. When there is the ego, we see others as either a threat or a desirable connection. Fear, attachment and many other emotions then project a scene where this plurality looks a concrete reality. When the ego subsides, thanks to self-inquiry, the alert silence that we experience within us at once blesses us with „right seeing‟ where there is no duality and with „freedom from insecurity‟.

Thus when some people asked Maharishi, “Will a man serve others when he gains enlightenment?” his answer was truly „out of box‟! Maharishi said, “When a man gains enlightenment, there are no „others‟ anymore for him!”

1anārambho hi kāryānam, prathamam buddhi-lakshanam |

ārabdhasyānta-gamanam, dvitiyam buddhi-lakshanam ||(Subhāshita)

2 dhriti kshamā damo ’steyam, shaucham-indriya-nigrahah

dheer-vidyā satyam-akrodhah, dashakam dharma-lakshanam (Manu-smriti)

3 sarva-bhootāni ātmani, sarva-bhooteshu ātmānam (Ishāvāsya Up. 6)

~Swami Chidananda

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