Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
INTELLECT AND WISDOM
Often people confuse the two terms intellect and wisdom; sometimes they use the word intellect for wisdom, sometimes wisdom for intellect. In point of fact these are two different qualities altogether. The knowledge which is learned by knowing names and forms in the outside world belongs to the intellect; but there is another source of knowledge, and that source of knowledge is within oneself.
The words 'within oneself' might confuse some people. They might think 'within oneself' means inside one's body; but that is because man is ignorant of himself. Man has a very poor idea of himself, and this keeps him in ignorance of his real self. If man only knew how large, how wide, how deep, how high is his being, he would think, act, and feel differently; but with all his width, depth, and height, if man is not conscious of them he is as small as he thinks himself to be.
The essence of milk is butter, the essence of the flower is honey, the essence of grapes is wine, and the essence of life is wisdom. Wisdom is not necessarily a knowledge of names and forms; wisdom is the sum total of that knowledge which one gains both from within and without. An intellectual person will argue, will dispute, but very often about a subject which he himself does not know fully; and frequently one finds that he does so for the very reason that he does not know the subject fully. Superficially the argument of such people makes one believe that they know it, but for the very reason that they argue it is evident that they do not. The one who knows does not need to argue; he knows and he is so satisfied with this knowledge that he does not have that hunger which is felt by the person who argues.
In nature a trace of wisdom can be found by studying instinct: among birds, the art of making a nest, among fishes the art of swimming, and the science that exists among animals and birds, which know their medicine when they are ill. In the ancient traditions of the East there exists a belief that medicine was first learned by the bear. The reason was that the bear knew, when it was ill, where to go and what herb or remedy to find and to take, in order to bring about a cure.
What we call intellectual study is a collection of knowledge which has been given to man as something to learn, and he thinks of it as something to depend upon; but that is not all knowledge; it is only a limited part of knowledge. There is another aspect which can be drawn from the essence of life. That which is called instinct in the animals and birds, in the lower creation, that same instinct when developed in man becomes intuition. It is not true as some psychologists say that all that a child knows it has learned, whether it be favorable or an unfavorable attitude, whether a good manner or an ill manner. If two children of different parents or different races were brought up without special training, one would find that each would exhibit different manner and tendencies. If one were to consider how much one learns from the outside world and how much one learns from within, it would not be an exaggeration to say that one learns ninety-nine per cent from within and one per cent from without - if that. It is not the outer learning which causes a man to become a really great person or personality in the world; it is the inward learning that helps him to become that. This does not at all mean that outer learning is not required, outer learning as the means of expressing in a better form that learning which one gets from within; yet, if anyone has ever learned anything, it is from within that he has learned it.
Intellect, in every phase of its development, is a step towards the knowledge of truth, and therefore intellectual activity should not be condemned as an unworthy means of reaching the truth. All the same, it is presumptuous on the part of man to try to estimate the truth by means of the intellect. Intellect is the mold which is formed by all that we have learnt and experienced, and through this mold intelligence works; intelligence is the knowing quality.
Intellectual knowledge has much to do with the brain, while wisdom comes from within the heart. In wisdom both head and heart work. One may call the brain the seat of the intellect, and the heart the throne of wisdom; but they are not actually located in the brain or in the heart. Wisdom may be called spiritual knowledge but the best definition of wisdom would be perfect knowledge, the knowledge of life within and without.
How does one pursue the wisdom which is within? By first realizing that intuition exists within oneself. It is perhaps not every person who even believes in intuition. And among those who do, not all trust their intuition. No doubt they have a reason for not trusting it for an intuition often seems to be futile knowledge; but for what reason does intuition prove to be wrong? It is because it was not an intuition; they only thought that it was. Not every person is able to catch his first impulse, for the activity of the mind always goes from one thing to another. As soon as a thought comes from within, the activity of the mind makes it go to another thought, and thus the mind believes it has thought of one idea while in reality it has gone on to another idea.
In this way one begins to distrust intuition; and when one distrusts one's own intuition one has no confidence in oneself; and the meaning of faith is self-confidence. Whatever be the faith or belief of one who has no confidence in himself, it will not be substantial. If a person came to a wise man and said, 'I believe in you, I trust you, but I cannot trust in myself,' he would say, 'I appreciate very much your trust and belief, but I cannot depend upon you.' If, however, another person comes and tells him, 'I trust myself, but do not yet know if I can trust you,' he will say 'There is hope for that man', for he will know that that person has already taken his first step; he has now to take the next step. The man who cannot trust his own intuition is perplexed, he does not know what he wants. He will always depend upon outer things which give him reasons; but the things of the outer life which are subject to continual change, to death and destruction, are not dependable. These things are called by the Hindus Maya or illusion. A person who calls himself a positivist because he depends upon outer reason, is depending on something changeable and subject to death.
It is not easy to recognize an intuition. The thought-waves are just like voice-waves. It is quite possible for the thought of another person to float into that field of which one is conscious, and one may hear it and think it is one's intuition. Very often a person feels depressed or hilarious without any particular reason. This may be a kind of floating thought or feeling from another person which passes through his mind and being, and he, for that moment, begins to feel happy or unhappy without any reason. And it happens frequently to everyone during the day that there come thoughts and feelings and imaginings which he has never had himself or which he had no reason to have. It would not be right to call these intuition. Water which is found in a shallow pool is not the same as the water which is in the depth of the earth. Therefore the thoughts which come and go, floating on the surface, are not to be depended upon; real intuition is to be found in the depth of one's being.
There is also a difference between intuition and impulse. Impulse is just like a straw floating upon the surface of the water; and this straw becomes an impulse itself when it is pushed by the wave coming from behind. That is why a man gets credit for a right impulse and is accused for a wrong impulse. If one saw what is behind an impulse, one would be slow to express one's opinion on the subject. Impulse when it is pure is intuition, but it is seldom pure because it is spoiled by reason.
The first thing one must learn is to believe in the existence of such a thing as intuition. The next is to be able to follow one's intuition, even at the cost of something valuable. Even if one is deceived for some time, one will not continually be deceived. Therefore in the end one will find oneself on the right path. But the third thing is to make one's mind one-pointed by the help of concentration, which will permit one to perceive intuition properly. Just as for hearing the ears are so made that the voice waves resound in them and become clear, so the mind should be made a kind of capacity, or mold, in which the intuition may become clear. The difficulty is that outwardly the work of the ears is different from the work of the eyes; but the mind does both seeing and hearing at the same time.
The mind is perceptive as well as creative, but it cannot at the same time perceive and create; for creating is expressing, and perceiving comes by receptivity. There are two temperaments among men, called in Sufi terms the Jalal temperament and the Jamal temperament. The Jalal temperament is expressive and the Jamal is receptive. That is why there are some people who like to listen and others who like to speak; there are many who like to be active, while others like to see others act. The one who works is glad to work; the one who remains seated prefers to sit; Both enjoy what is akin to their temperament. The one is creative, the other receptive. But one can master one's life by taking these two different faculties in hand, and by trying at times to be creative and at other times to be receptive. The one who is creative, needs, no doubt, action and a knowledge of action; but the one who is receptive needs concentration and the attitude of mind which is receptive. There is a third temperament which is at the same time receptive and creative; this temperament, called Kamal, does not give results.
The mind can become a receptacle for the knowledge which comes from within. If we look at people, we shall find that among a hundred there are ninety-nine who are creative by nature, but only one who is receptive enough to receive through his intuitive faculties. The difficulty with the mind is that when one wishes to receive, the mind wishes to create; when one wishes to create, then the mind wishes to receive. The Hindus liken the mind to a restive horse. A horse, unless one has put reins on it, will not be controlled and will not go in the direction which one wants it to take. Therefore that wisdom which is like the essence of life and which is to be found within oneself can only be attained by first making the mind obedient; and this can be done by concentration. People will easily understand if one tells them about voice production, how necessary it is in order to sing well to train the voice; also they can easily understand why it is necessary to learn physical culture in order to make the muscles strong. But when it comes to training the mind a person asks, in the first place, 'Is there a mind? I thought that there was only a brain,' and even if he happens to believe in the mind, he does not know what can be done with it. Anything else he will find more valuable than the training of the mind. He may even think that it is an occupation for lazy people, who have all sorts of luxuries to give their time to. The greatest mistake that a man can make is to keep away from a child that culture which is most necessary as a training
One may ask if a child does not learn concentration when he goes to school; but on the contrary, he mostly loses his concentration in school. When a little child begins by learning mathematics, he loses his concentration. The child never has an opportunity to sit quiet for a moment; he has no opportunity to think of only one thing at a time. Then what happens? Children become nervous; today one finds that nervousness everywhere.
Besides after being educated one has to make use of that education. If a person's mind is not under control, how can he use it? It is one thing to learn, and another thing to make use of the learning. It does not suffice to learn a song; that does not make a person into a singer; he must learn to produce his voice also. And so it is with intuitive knowledge. When a man has become qualified by studying for a long time, and yet cannot use his knowledge, what was the good? There is a sufficient number of learned people; what we want today is people with master minds, those who do not only see the outer life, but also the life within, who do not only draw inspiration from outer life, but also from the life within. Then they become the expression of that perfect Being which is hidden, hidden behind the life of variety.
It is not meant by this that everyone should become a kind of super-being. It is not meant at all that people should be able to perform wonders or miracles; it is only intended that they should live a fuller life and become real human beings, in order to bring about better conditions in the world. What do we want? We want human beings. It is not necessary that everyone should become religious, or exceedingly pious, or too good to live. We want wise men in business, in politics, in education, in all walks of life; those who do not live only on the surface and those who do not believe only in matter, but who see life both within and without. It is such souls who will produce beauty; it is such souls who will harmonize the world, who will bring about the conditions we need today. We do not only need the knowledge of matter or spirit, we need living in all walks of life, so that in one's business, in one's industry, in every art or science one may practice, one can use that wisdom which is perfect in oneself. When the individual and the multitude find beneath their feet a solid foundation on which they can stand, from that day we may hope for better conditions in the world.