Intellect and Intelligence
Do not accept any of my words on faith,
Believing them just because I said them.
Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns,
And critically examines his product for authenticity.
Only accept what passes the test
By proving useful and beneficial in your life.
These days people don't search for the Truth. People study simply in
order to find knowledge necessary to make a living, raise families and look
after themselves, that's all. To them, being smart is more important than being
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Individuals who are best suited for practice of Dharma are those who
are not only intellectually gifted, but also have single-minded faith and dedication
and are wise.
Although individuals may be highly intelligent, they are sometimes dogged
by skepticism and doubts. They are clever, but they tend to be hesitant and
skeptical and are never really able to settle down. These people are the least
...particularly in Buddhism while we practice we must use the brain as well
as the heart. On the ethical side, we must practice the quality of a good and
warm heart; also, since Buddhism is very much involved in reasoning and logic--the
wisdom side--intelligence is important. Thus, a combination of mind and heart
is needed. Without knowledge, without fully utilized intelligence, you cannot
reach the depths of the Buddhist doctrine; it is difficult to achieve concrete
or fully qualified wisdom. There may be exceptions, but this is the general
It is necessary to have a combination of hearing, thinking, and meditating.
The Kadampa teacher Dromton ('brom ston pa, 1004-1064) said, "When I engage
in hearing, I also make effort at thinking and meditating. When I engage in
thinking, I also search out more hearing and engage in meditation. And when
I meditate, I don't give up hearing and don't give up thinking." He said,
"I am a balanced Kadampa," meaning that he maintained a balance of
hearing, thinking, and meditating.
Kindness, Clarity, and Insight 25th Anniversary Edition
Because in our culture we overvalue the intellect, we imagine that to become enlightened demands extraordinary intelligence. In fact, many kinds of cleverness are just further obscurations. There is a Tibetan saying: “If you are too clever, you could miss the point entirely.”
Patrul Rinpoche said: “The logical mind seems interesting, but it is the seed of delusion.” People can become obsessed with their own theories and miss the point of everything. In Tibet we say: “Theories are like patches on a coat, one day they just wear off.”
In his very first teaching, Buddha explained that the root cause of suffering is ignorance. But where exactly is this ignorance? And how does it display itself? Let’s take an everyday example. Think about those people—we all know some—who are gifted with a remarkably powerful and sophisticated intelligence. Isn’t it puzzling how, instead of helping them, as you might expect, it seems only to make them suffer more? It is almost as if their brilliance is directly responsible for their pain.
What is happening is quite clear: This intelligence of ours is captured and held hostage by ignorance, which then makes use of it freely for its own ends. This is how we can be extraordinarily intelligent and yet absolutely wrong, at one and the same time.
April 27, 2009