What Intelligence Is
Intellect or intelligence can be defined as “the ability to cognize” or basically as “the mental ability of consciousness.”
“Mental ability” is a mental phenomenon which occurs when a bunch of mental elements arise together in a group and generate the capacity for cognition. For example, when six essential elements of Sensation-Feeling-Perception-Volition-Attention-Mental Life combine with four special elements of Concentration-Thinking-Thoughtfulness-Resolution, the consciousness develops the capacity to cognize, which means, the consciousness become able to sense, receive, investigate and determine the external or internal stimuli. This capacity for cognition is what I am referring to as the ‘mental ability.’ So, technically speaking, Intellect or Intelligence is just a term, a convention, used to convey the mental phenomena that arise due to grouping of various mental elements.
The key to understanding Intellect (or Intelligence) lies in realizing the fact that it is not an ultimate reality like the mental elements are. If you mystify the intellect or create an entity out of it or conceptualize it as “something” that exists by itself in nature, then you have not understood what it is.
(Please review the discussion on MIND and MENTAL ELEMENTS) >>>>>>>
Types of Intellect
Depending upon the ethical quality of mental elements that form the Intellect, we can classify it as Basic-Intellect, Impure-Intellect, Beautiful-Intellect, and Soulful-Intellect. Basic- Intellect is related to IQ (intelligent Quotient as commonly known), Beautiful-Intellect is related to EQ (Emotional Quotient), and the Soulful-Intellect is related to SQ (Spiritual Quotient).
It is the combination of IQ, EQ and SQ that should be known as “Wisdom” or “Pure-Understanding" and not the IQ or even EQ. It is this wisdom, the product of the Soulful-Intellect that eventually leads to the eradication of mental impurities (Impure-Intellect), perfection of mind, awakening of SOUL, empowerment, enlightenment, real peace and happiness.
Majority of efforts of the professional psychological community (the IQ folks) and educationists are spent on just improving the Basic-Intellect. Right from our childhood to way into adulthood, what we mostly learn is how to think, investigate, determine, calculate, etc. We never learn how to remove the greed or hatred or delusion from our intellect and that is why, no matter how intelligent we become (in the worldly sense), we still suffer and live an unhappy, unsatisfactory life. A Nobel-prize winning physicist may have great intelligence, but, it is still basic! That is why, even though Einstein or the likes reached the pinnacle of Basic-Intellect, they did not achieve much because they missed out on the other aspects of the intellect (the EQ and SQ). In fact, not only did they not achieve much, but they may have directly or indirectly generated great harm by facilitating the production of nuclear weapons.
An enlightened master or a spiritual aspirant, on the other hand, may not know how to solve a basic mathematical equation, but he is most happy and peaceful, because, using the Basic-Intellect, he purifies his intelligence, sharpens it to make it beautiful and eventually perfects it by developing the element of Non-delusion. Instead of simply developing a mathematical model or an experimental model for understanding the material world (like most of the Nobel-prize winners do), an enlightened master or a spiritual aspirant thinks, contemplates, and figures out how to remove anger, lust, greed, delusion, etc and how to develop love, compassion, happiness and peace. Can you imagine what would happen to the human world if our educational systems were to focus more on purifying, sharpening and perfecting the overall intellect (IQ+EQ+SQ) rather than simply developing the Basic-Intellect (IQ)?
Having said that, I must point out the fact that a Nobel-prize winning physicist or a great psychologist working in the field of IQ, has a much better chance of developing EQ and SQ than an average person because such people have great Basic-Intellect which facilitates quick learning.
The definition and explanation of intellect given here may sound a bit different than how others define it. In general, others define intellect as that due to which we can perceive and cognize the world and take wise decisions. So, let us now understand intellect in that context so we can understand how our definition of intellect is all encompassing.
Levels of Intelligence
(Perception vs. Cognition vs. Wisdom)
Depending upon the degree of development of our intellect, we perform the act of knowing at three different levels:
2. becoming conscious (cognition), and
3. understanding (wisdom).
Perceiving is a sensory and mental act of mere knowing that is rooted in the mind and it is mostly related to IQ. Becoming conscious is the experiential (and not experimental) act of knowing that is rooted in consciousness and it is mostly related to EQ. It is this act of becoming conscious which is the real cognizing or cognition. It is subtler and more penetrative than perceiving. Understanding, the third and the subtlest act of knowing, is beyond perceiving and cognizing, and it is related to SQ. It is something that is beyond mind and consciousness and, at the same time, not separate from it. It is the ultimate knowing. It is the act of knowing at the level of The Laws of Universe. It is the act of knowing at the essence level; therefore it is rightly called the “understanding.” There is no further penetration of knowledge beyond Understanding. Such understanding, when pure, is called the wisdom. It is this wisdom which awakens the SOUL.
Let me illustrate this by an example: Let us say there are three people looking at a mango. The first person simply looks at the mango and knows it merely as a yellow, smooth, round-shaped thing. This knowing is the mode of perceiving. The second person eats it and then knows it as a yellow, smooth, round-shaped fruit that is sweet. This knowing is the mode of “becoming conscious-” the real cognizing which further penetrates the characteristics of mango. The third person not only eats the mango but also meditates and contemplates its nature, and then knows it as a yellow, smooth, round-shaped, and sweet matter made of various material elements including wholesome nutriment. The knowing of this third person is the mode of understanding (wisdom) because it further penetrates the characteristics of mango and reaches the level of mango’s essence – the elemental nature of matter.
Let us say, the same three people now look at themselves. The first person knows himself as somebody residing in the body. He knows the body as his self, because he is only perceiving; because, he is only using his IQ. The second person knows himself as a bundle of body-mind –consciousness, however, he considers himself the owner of it because he feels it and he experiences it as his own. He cognizes it as something that is belonging to an individual SOUL, because, he primarily uses his IQ and EQ. The third person understands himself not as someone made of just body or body-mind-consciousness, but as pure awareness. The third person understands body-mind-consciousness as the SOUL, because he uses his IQ, EQ and SQ. He thus knows that the body-mind-consciousness are phenomena that exist on their own accord; that there is no owner of it; that there is no self in it. He knows this because he experiences and understands the impermanence, selflessness, and unsatisfactoriness inherent in all the elements (121 types of consciousness, 52 mental elements, and 28 material elements) that make up the phenomena of body-mind-consciousness. Such knowing, such awareness is the mode pure understanding – the wisdom which ultimately leads to mental perfection.
Many people ask, "what this ‘pure understanding’ or ‘mental perfection' has to do with everyday living? what difference does this really make in everyday life?"
My answer to those who ask these questions is this:
What we do when someone gets angry at us? We perceive others’ anger as a personal attack. We get offended. Our heart burns with hatred towards that person. This happens, because we know anger only through the mode of perception. We perceive it as something belonging to someone. We perceive it as something directed towards you.
If we do not get offended and observe anger with equanimity, we begin to realize that the angry person is not looking happy. We also realize that neither we are happy. We thus realize that anger is an unpleasant feeling, an unwholesome mental phenomenon. When we know anger in this way through the mode of ‘becoming conscious’ (real cognition), we no longer pursue it as something belonging to someone else or something directed towards us.
If we evolve further, we realize that anger does not last forever. It arises due to some conditions and eventually ceases. We realize that anger does not belong to anyone; it is simply a mental phenomenon that arises due to certain conditions and not due to you or due to someone else. We realize that anger is impermanent and selfless, but, it is suffering. When we know the essence of anger in this way through the mode of understanding, what happens?
Compassion and loving-kindness arises and we no longer feel hatred towards the angry person. Instead, we see the angry person as diseased and suffering. Hatred is thus replaced by loving-kindness! Unpleasant feeling of anger is thus replaced by the divine feeling of compassion! Suffering is replaced by wisdom! This is how pure understand or wisdom (IQ+EQ+SQ) can make a tremendous difference in everyday life.
We must always remember that wisdom purifies and generates peace by removing the ignorance about the true nature of things. Wisdom is not just related to worldly knowledge, or wholesome emotionality, or wholesome mental conditioning but to a combination of all that. Wisdom is pure understanding, because it understands!
Wisdom is particularly distinct or separate from the modes of perceiving and cognizing. It manifests as the realization of ultimate truths about our experiences. It manifests as the realization of impermanence, selflessness, and imperfection inherent in our existence, and thereby, eradicates the root of all suffering: the ignorance. This ignorance is none other than the ego. Therefore, only wisdom is capable of awakening the SOUL and removing the ego. Hence, any spiritual practice or mental training should be dedicated to developing wisdom.
Now the question is, "how to develop this Wisdom - the highest level of Intelligence"
S.R.I has specifically developed following tools for this purpose:
1. SOUL Meditation: The primary tool for developing Intelligence
2. SOUL Contemplation: The secondary tool for developing Intelligence