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The Mind, The Intelligence And Boring Relatives!

The Mind, The Intelligence And Boring Relatives!

Everyone one of us will often be challenged with this one dilemma.  Do we follow our duty or do we follow our emotion?

The philosopher in us will most likely say ‘duty’.  But the reality is that sometimes we pick duty and sometimes we pick emotion.


Here is how it kinda works:

We have five knowledge acquiring senses – taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. These senses feed the mind information on what is good and what isn’t.

For example, imagine you have these very boring relatives who often call you to their house for some ‘chai’. When you go, their food is unsavoury, their house has a funny smell and the cherry on top is that their conversations are very un-interesting. In this scenario, your sense of taste, sound, smell and sight will all tell your mind that this experience is not pleasurable. And so, when you are invited, your mind projects an image of what the experience will be like. Based on this you will suddenly experience displeasure at this thought and say, “I DON’T WANT TO GO!”

However, something else suddenly comes into play. Your intelligence! Intelligence is what is referred to as ‘Buddhi’ in classical languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati et cetera. It’s a combination of ‘buddha’ which means awake and ‘dhi’ which means consciousness or intelligence. In other words, when our consciousness is awakened, it doesn’t just act based on what the mind accepts and rejects, rather, it often can override the mind and do what’s right.

An example is that many

parents may not want their children to leave them and go abroad to study at university. The senses want the children to stay so that they can hear their voices, see their faces et cetera. But the awoken consciousness knows that such education is better for that child, and so it sacrifices emotion for knowledge. 

The question is though – do we always know what’s right? Does the intelligence know what’s right? And even when it does, does it act on this plane?

Often, when we can get away with something in the short term, or lack control we can allow the mind to over power the intelligence which means we do what our emotions dictate rather than what’s right. For instance, have three double whiskeys just before we drive home!

Suppose you are really angry with someone, and you wish to convey your anger to him or her. This maybe okay in certain situations, however, you also want to say something to them a little ‘below the belt’ to hurt them. Your intelligence knows that this is incorrect, but you don’t have control over your tongue and so you blurt out some sharp words. This is a classic case of emotion taking over duty.

In truth, most of us have gone down this path many a time – we have caved in to emotion over duty.  And it has always hurt us in some way or the other. 

What should you do in this situation? 

There are two recommendations. The first is, seek out a teacher who can guide you in firstly increasing your intelligence. Many of us don’t even realise what is right or wrong. And so even when we act on our intelligence (buddhi) that action still brings about the wrong result.  This means our intelligence requires nourishing and refinement.

Do I mean a Guru?  Yes, a Guru, a guide, a teacher or a preceptor.  Call it whatever you want.  In any field, to become good, you need a guide whom you fully allow to elucidate you. 

The enlightened will then tell you at least what is right and wrong in your actions.  A really good teacher however will not necessarily say what you want.  In the great war between Arjun and his cousins in the battle of Mahabharat, he spoke some words in the beginning which were actually very noble, rejecting violence.  He almost sounded like a Gandhi follower! 

But, the first thing Sri Krishna did was call out his weakness and sub-standard thinking.  He said ‘Noble people don’t think like this’.

Sri Krishna then imparted wisdom specifically about systems of Yoga along with their practices.  And so this leads me to the second aspect.  A good spiritual guide will introduce practices which will allow us to sharpen the intelligence to the point where its easier then for us to always pick duty over emotion.

We will notice that we lie a lot less because our intelligence feels comfort in the truth. We will notice that we will give a lot more of our time, money and energy in charity because our intelligence will feel compassion towards those deprived. We will feel less anger because spiritual practices will allow the intelligence to see clear reason in everything.

When one is enlightened – to act on the path of duty is natural.

When one is covered with materialism – to act on the path of emotion is natural.

Duty however always wins in the long term.    

This work is dedicated to my eternal grand preceptor

A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.   

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