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Are you Intelligent?

I’ve given gobs of thought to this thing we revere called intelligence. We all want it, right? We want it for our kids, certainly. Very few people in any walk of life, when asked, would not claim to be intelligent. It’s in the eyes of the beholder afterall, right?

What do we mean when we say we are intelligent? How do we develop this thing called intelligence? It’s a product of education, is it not? What is the goal of education? To earn degrees, letters after your name, a good job that pays well… but then what? Isn’t education, and therefore intelligence, a process of finding out what your life is really all about? What is real for you? What is true? What turns you on? What keeps you awake at night?

Pursuing these big questions which each of us has is the goal of education. And these things cannot be pursued freely and authentically in the face of fear or formulas. No, they cannot. Is your education, or your child’s, motivated by what to do when, fear of failure, fear of disappointing another? Is it guided by standards set by someone other than oneself? If so, your education will never allow you to produce intelligence. Your education will be a product of anxiety and fear. What will you end up with? Knowledge, yes. Facts, yes. Degrees, yes. Jobs, yes.

So what’s the big deal? You say you’d rather have knowledge, facts, degrees, jobs rather than the willy, nilly, unpredictable intelligence. On the surface it feels safe. In reality however, true intelligence guarantees that as you move through life you will never become frightened of living, afraid of losing a job, afraid of bucking tradition, afraid of the Joneses or the neighbors or your freakin’ mother-in-law. Where there is fear there is no intelligence. Intelligence can only develop and expand in an atmosphere of authentic self-inquiry, freedom and everyday revolt against everything you are being told so you can rethink it, dissect it and arrive at your own conclusions, discover not imitate… so that you can find out for yourself what is true.

It is very easy indeed to conform to what others tell us is true – our culture, our history, our parents, teachers and spiritual leaders. This is a safe way to exist in the world, but it is not living and it is definitely not intelligent.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Archana #

    Intelligence is not a product of education….irrespective of whether or not you follow your instinct/heart in your quest for learning. Intelligence is one’s natural ability to comprehend the world around oneself. Learning may build upon itself but your intelligence mostly remains a factor of your brain’s network. Now how you harness that is better done with what drives you..artistically, scientifically, mechanically, musically….so in essence education/learning is best when synchronous with your intelligence. And yes, everyone is intelligent, not necessarily falling into any one neatly defined category but definitely inherently so…and by that I mean designed to comprehend the world in her own uniquely intelligent way.

    March 6, 2012
  2. Barb Lundgren #

    well said… I like it! And I so believe we are all born with great and inherent intelligence that wants to drive us in the unique directions that make us true individuals.

    March 6, 2012
  3. Sveta #

    I liked the post and agree with the points. For me, learning does not end with formal schooling – we are life-long learners. I feel that we learn more from life experiences and sharing ideas with people than just from getting facts from formal schooling. I agree that just trying to conform to the society does not make you intelligent.

    There’s a quote by Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

    June 11, 2012

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