What is intelligence?

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Question: Many times we have heard about intelligence. So, I want to ask that only being a topper, solving some difficult problems, is this intelligence?

Acharya Prashant: Not really, what’s you name?

Listener: Sir, Ashish

AP: Ashish has raised a very relevant question, and I am pretty sure that this question belongs to many more of us. He is asking that till now we have used the word intelligence in a very particular way. The one who is able to solve problem in mathematics we call him intelligent, the one who is able to crack entrance exam we call him intelligent, right? Such things. The one who score high on IQ Tests, we call him intelligent, “Oh! 140? Very intelligent.”

Ashish, these are very limited expressions of intelligence.

Intelligence is not a skill, intelligence is not something you gather with time, intelligence is not concentration.

If you practice solving particular type of questions for a long period of time, for 2 years, for 3 years, you will become very skillful at solving those questions, that is not intelligence.

You become resolute, that I want to clear a particular entrance exam, the tests​ be in mathematics, physics, chemistry and you know what kind of questions are asked and you start practicing those questions and you keep practicing, practicing, practicing and ultimately you will find that you are doing well. This is not intelligence, please get rid of this confusion, this is not intelligence this is just, skill. There was this saint, who had said, “Rasri aavat jaat tey?”(The coming and going of the rope)

Listeners: “Sil par parat nisaan.” (Makes marks even on stones)

AP: Toh practice karat kart tey? (Doing practice again and again?) Dimaag par padat nishaan. (Makes scars in the brain.)

This is not intelligence, this is just repetition and repetition and repetition. And you have repeated the thing so many times, that now you can do the task in less time, without worrying, in a particular way, which you called as the correct way, in some sense you have conditioned yourself, you have programmed yourself like a computer. “The moment this kind of question comes in front of me, I start solving it in this way.” You have programmed yourself, this is not intelligence, this is just skill. It takes something to develop that skill, I am not berating it, but I want to clear the point that this is not what we mean by intelligence.

Intelligence is the capacity to observe yourself.

What is it? Intelligence is the capacity to observe yourself. That is what is intelligence. Is this clear? Very, very simple thing. Intelligence is not about replying to a question. Intelligence is about knowing what is happening in your mind when you are listening to that question, being alert to that.

Intelligence is that, which observes everything and hence remains untouched by anything.

“I know what is happening, I am observing it” this is intelligence. A highly intelligent person may actually not get a very high IQ score, because your IQ score is again testing you on certain specific skills, you may be doing very very good in an IQ test, but in life you would be an utter failure, it is quite possible.

But a really intelligent man would always be joyful, would always be free in life, he would be the one who would have really lived life. A high IQ score does not mean, that you have lived a free and joyful life. But real intelligence always implies a fulfilling life. High IQ score in no way means that you understand love, and that you are a loving individual, but a really intelligent man would always be a loving individual. A high IQ score does not mean, that you understand love, understand fear, and have conquered fear. But a really intelligent man would be free from fear. Are you getting it?

Yes, intelligence is about who you are, it is not about acquiring problem solving capacities, that problem solving thing can be far better done by a computer, then we must say that a computer is the most intelligent being possible. Even the most accomplished individual, human being, cannot solve a problem taking lesser time than a computer. Can he? So, if problem solving ability or analytical ability is the benchmark of intelligence, then no human being is as intelligent as even the smallest computer, because even the smallest computer has greater processing power than the human brain, right?

Intelligence is something totally, totally different. Intelligence is watchfulness, intelligence is really really knowing; knowing what is happening here. Intelligence is joy. Intelligence is freedom from domination, from exploitation, from fear, that is intelligence.



-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: What is intelligence?



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