What Is Intelligence?

From Krishnamurti’s Book LIFE AHEAD

When we grow older and leave school after receiving a so-called education, we have to face many problems. What profession are we to choose, so that in it we can fulfil ourselves and be happy? In what vocation or job will we feel that we are not exploiting or being cruel to others? We have to face the problems of suffering, disaster, death. We have to understand starvation, overpopulation, sex, pain, pleasure. We have to deal with the many confusing and contradictory things in life: the wrangles between man and man, between man and woman; the conflicts within and the struggles without. We have to understand ambition, war, the military spirit – and that extraordinary thing called peace, which is much more vital than we realize. We have to comprehend the significance of religion, which is not mere speculation or the worship of images, and also that very strange and complex thing called love. We have to be sensitive to the beauty of life, to a bird in flight – and also to the beggar, to the squalor of the poor, to the hideous buildings that people put up, to the foul road and the still fouler temple. We have to face all these problems. We have to face the question of whom to follow or not to follow, and whether we should follow anyone at all.

Most of us are concerned with bringing about a little change here and there, and with that we are satisfied. The older we grow, the less we want any deep, fundamental change, because we are afraid. We do not think in terms of total transformation, we think only in terms of superficial change; and if you look into it you will find that superficial change is no change at all. It is not a radical revolution, but merely a modified continuity of what has been. All these things you have to face, from your own happiness and misery to the happiness and misery of the many; from your own ambitions and self-seeking pursuits to the ambitions, motivations and pursuits of others. You have to face competition, the corruption in yourself and in others, the deterioration of the mind, the emptiness of the heart. You have to know all this, you have to face and understand it for yourself. But unfortunately you are not prepared for it.

What have we understood when we leave school? We may have gathered a little knowledge, but we are as dull, empty, shallow as when we came. Our studies, our attending school, our contacts with our teachers have not helped us to understand these very complex problems of life. The teachers are dull, and we become as dull as they are. They are afraid, and we are afraid. So it is our own problem. It is our responsibility as well as the teachers to see that we go out into the world with maturity, with deep thought, without fear, and are therefore able to face life intelligently.

Now, it appears very important to find an answer to all these complex problems; but there is no answer. All that you can do is to meet these problems intelligently as they arise. please understand this. Instinctively you want an answer, do you not? You think that by reading books, by following somebody, you will find answers to all the very complex and subtle problems of life. You will find beliefs, theories, but they will not be answers, because these problems have been created by human beings like you. The appalling callousness, the starvation, the cruelty, the hideousness, the squalor – all this has been created by human beings, and to bring about a fundamental transformation you have to understand the human mind and heart, which is yourself. Merely to look for an answer in a book, or to identify yourself with some political or economic system, however much it may promise, or to practice some religious absurdity with its superstitions, or to follow a guru – none of this will help you to understand these human problems, because they are created by you and others like you. To understand them you must understand yourself – understand yourself as you live from moment to moment, from day to day, year in and year out; and for this you need intelligence, a great deal of insight, love, patience.

So you must find out what is intelligence, must you not? You all use that word very freely; but by merely talking about intelligence you do not become intelligent. The politicians keep on repeating words like ‘intelligence’, ‘integration’, ‘a new culture’, ‘an united world’, but they are mere words with very little meaning. So do not use words without really understanding all that they imply.

We are trying to find out what intelligence is – not merely the definition of it, which can be found in any dictionary, but the knowing of it, the feeling of it, the understanding of it; for if we have that intelligence, it will help each one of us, as we grow to deal with the enormous problems in our life. And without that intelligence, however much we may read, study, accumulate knowledge, reform, bring about little changes here and there in the pattern of society, there can be no real transformation, no lasting happiness.

Now, what does intelligence mean? I am going to find out what it means. Perhaps for some of you this is going to be difficult; but do not bother too much with trying to follow the words; try instead to feel the content of what I am talking about. Try to feel the thing, the quality of intelligence. If you feel it now, then you will, as you grow older, see more and more clearly the significance of what I have been saying.

Most of us think that intelligence is the outcome of acquiring knowledge, information, experience. By having a great deal of knowledge and experience we think we shall be able to meet life with intelligence. But life is an extraordinary thing, it is never stationary; like the river, it is constantly flowing, never still. We think that by gathering more experience, more knowledge, more virtue, more wealth, more possessions, we shall be intelligent. That is why we respect the people who have accumulated knowledge, the scholars, and also the people who are rich and full of experience. But is intelligence the outcome of the ‘more’? What is behind this process of having more, wanting more? In wanting more we are concerned with accumulating, are we not?

Now, what happens when you have accumulated knowledge, experience? Whatever further experience you may have is immediately translated in terms of the ‘more’, and you are never really experiencing, you are always gathering; and this gathering is the process of the mind, which is the centre of the ‘more’. The ‘more’ is the ‘me’, the ego, the self-enclosed entity who is only concerned with accumulating, either negatively or positively. So, with its accumulated experience, the mind meets life. In meeting life with this accumulation of experience, the mind is again seeking the ‘more’, so it never experiences, it only gathers.

As long as the mind is merely an instrument of gathering, there is no real experiencing. How can you be open to experience when you are always thinking of getting something out of that experience, acquiring something more?

So the man who is accumulating, gathering, the man who is desiring more is never freshly experiencing life. It is only when the mind is not concerned with the ‘more’, with accumulating, that there is a possibility for that mind to be intelligent. When the mind is concerned with the ‘more’, every further experience strengthens the wall of the self-enclosing ‘me’, the egocentric process which is the centre of all conflict, please follow this. You think that experience frees the mind, but it does not. As long as your mind is concerned with accumulation, with the ‘more’, every experience you have only strengthens you in your egotism, in your selfishness, in your self-enclosing process of thought.

Intelligence is possible only when there is real freedom from the self, from the ‘me’, that is, when the mind is no longer the centre of the demand for the ‘more’, no longer caught up in the desire for greater, wider, more expansive experience. Intelligence is freedom from the pressure of time is it not? Because the ‘more’ implies time, and as long as the mind is the centre of the demand for the ‘more’, it is the result of time. So the cultivation of the ‘more’ is not intelligence. The understanding of this whole process is self-knowledge. When one knows oneself as one is, without an accumulating centre, out of that self-knowing comes the intelligence which can meet life; and that intelligence is creative.

Look at your own life. How dull, how stupid, how narrow it is, because you are not creative. When you grow up you may have children, but that is not being creative. You may be a bureaucrat, but in that there is no vitality, is there? It is dead routine, utter boredom. Your life is hedged about by fear, and so there is authority and imitation. You do not know what it is to be creative. By creativeness I do not mean painting pictures, writing poems, or being able to sing. I mean the deeper nature of creativeness which, when once discovered, is an eternal source, an undying current; and it can be found only through intelligence. That source is the timeless; but the mind cannot find the timeless as long as it is the centre of the ‘me’, of the self, of the entity that is everlastingly asking for the ‘more’.

When you understand all this, not just verbally, but deep down, then you will find that with awakened intelligence there comes a creativeness which is reality, which is God, which is not to be speculated about or meditated upon. You will never get it through your practice of meditation, through your prayers for the ‘more’ or your escapes from the ‘more’. That reality can come into being only when you understand the state of your own mind, the malice, the envy, the complex reactions as they arise from moment to moment every day. In understanding these things there comes a state which may be called love. That love is intelligence, and it brings a creativeness which is timeless.

Questioner: Society is based upon our interdependence. The doctor has to depend on the farmer, and the farmer on the doctor. How then can a man be completely independent?

Krishnamurti: Life is relationship. Even the sannyasi has relationship; he may renounce the world, but he is still related to the world. We cannot escape from relationship. For most of us, relationship is a source of conflict; in relationship there is fear, because we psychologically depend on another, either on the husband, on the wife, on the parent, or on a friend. Relationship exists not only between oneself and the parent, between oneself and the child, but also between oneself and the teacher, the cook, the servant, the governor, the commander, and the whole of society; and as long as we do not understand this relationship, there is no freedom from the psychological dependence which brings about fear and exploitation. Freedom comes only through intelligence. Without intelligence, merely to seek independence or freedom from relationship is to pursue an illusion.

So what is important is to understand our psychological dependence in relationship. It is in uncovering the hidden things of the heart and mind, in understanding our of loneliness, emptiness, that there is freedom, not from relationship, but from the psychological dependence which causes conflict, misery, pain, fear.

Questioner: Why is truth unpalatable?

Krishnamurti: If I think I am very beautiful and you tell me I am not, which may be a fact, do I like it? If I think I am very intelligent, very clever, and you point out that I am actually a rather silly person, it is very unpalatable to me. And your pointing out my stupidity gives you a sense of pleasure, does it not? It flatters your vanity, it shows how clever you are. But you do not want to look at your own stupidity; you want to run away from what you are, you want to hide from yourself, you want to cover up your own emptiness, your own loneliness. So you seek out friends who never tell you what you are. You want to show others what they are; but when others show you what you are, you do not like it. You avoid that which exposes your own inner nature.

Questioner: Up to now our teachers have been very certain and have taught us in the usual way, but after listening to what has been said here and after taking part in the discussions, they have become very uncertain. An intelligent student will know how to conduct himself under these circumstances; but what will those do who are not intelligent?

Krishnamurti: What are the teachers uncertain about? Not about what to teach, because they can carry on with mathematics, geography, the usual curriculum. That is not what they are uncertain about. They are uncertain about how to deal with the student, are they not? They are uncertain in their relationship with the student. Until recently they were never particularly concerned about their relationship with the student; they just came to the class, taught, and went out. But now they are concerned as to whether they are creating fear by exercising their authority to make the student obey. They are concerned as to whether they are repressing the student, or are encouraging his initiative and helping him to find his true vocation. Naturally all this has made them uncertain. But surely the teacher as well as the student has to be uncertain; he too has to inquire, to search. That is the whole process of life from the beginning to the end, is it not? – never to stop in a certain place and say, ‘I know’.

An intelligent man is never static, he never says, ‘I know’. He is always inquiring, always uncertain, always looking, searching, finding out. The moment he says, ‘I know’, he is already dead. And whether we are young or old, most of us – because of tradition, compulsion, fear, because of bureaucracy and the absurdities of our religion – are all but dead, without vitality, without vigour, without self-reliance. So the teacher has also to find out. He has to discover for himself his own bureaucratic tendencies and cease to deaden the minds of others; and that is a very difficult process. It requires a great deal of patient understanding.

So the intelligent student has to help the teacher, and the teacher has to help the student; and both have to help the dull boy or girl who is not very intelligent. That is relationship. Surely, when the teacher himself is uncertain, inquiring, he is more tolerant, more hesitant, more patient and affectionate with the dull student, whose intelligence may thereby be awakened.

Questioner: The farmer has to rely on the doctor for the cure of physical pain. Is this also a dependent relationship?

Krishnamurti: As we have seen, if psychologically I defend on you, my relationship with you is based on fear; and as long as fear exists, there is no independence in relationship. The problem of freeing the mind from fear is quite complex.

You see, what is important is not what one says in answer to all these questions, but for you to find out for yourself the truth of the matter by constant inquiry – which means not being caught in any belief or system of thought. It is constant inquiry that creates initiative and brings about intelligence. Merely to be satisfied with an answer dulls the mind. So it is very important for you not just to accept, but to inquire constantly and begin to discover freely for yourself the whole meaning of life.