Intelligence and the Intellect Are Entirely Different


Intelligence and THE capacity of the intellect are two entirely different things. Perhaps these two words derive from the same root but in order to clarify the full significance of compassion we must be able to distinguish the difference in meaning between the two. Intellect is the capacity to discern, to reason, imagine, to create illusions, to think clearly and also to think non-objectively, personally. Intellect is generally considered different from emotion, but we use the word intellect to convey the whole human capacity for thought. Thought is the response of memory accumulated through various experiences, real or imagined, which are stored as knowledge in the brain. So the capacity of the intellect is to think. Thinking is limited under all circumstances and when the intellect dominates our activities in both the outer and inner world, naturally our actions must be partial, incomplete. This brings about regret, anxiety and pain.

All theories and ideologies are in themselves partial and when scientists, technicians and so-called philosophers dominate our society, our morals – and so our daily lives – then we are never faced with the realities of what is actually going on. These influences colour our perceptions, our direct understanding. It is the intellect that finds explanations, for wrong-doing as well as right-doing. It rationalizes misbehaviour, killing and wars. It defines good as an opposite of bad. The good has no opposite. If the good were related to the bad, then goodness would have in it the seeds of the bad. Then it would not be goodness. But the intellect is incapable, because of its own divisive capacity, to understand the fullness of the good. The intellect – thought is always comparing, evaluating, competing, imitating; so we become conforming, second-hand human beings. The intellect has given enormous benefits to mankind but it has also brought about great destruction. It has cultivated the arts of war but is incapable of wiping away the barriers between human beings. Anxiety is part of the nature of the intellect, as is hurt, for the intellect, which is thought, creates the image which is then capable of being hurt.

When one understands the whole nature and movement of the intellect and thought, we can begin to investigate what is intelligence. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the whole. Intelligence is incapable of dividing the senses, the emotions, the intellect from each other. It regards them as one unitary movement. Because its perception is always whole, it is incapable of dividing man from man, of setting man against nature. Because in its very nature intelligence is whole, it is incapable of killing.

Practically all religions have said do not kill but they have never prevented killing. Some religions have said that the things of the earth, including the living creatures, are put there for man’s use – therefore kill and destroy. Killing for pleasure, killing for commerce, killing for nationalism, killing for ideologies, killing for one’s faith, are all accepted as a way of life. As we are killing the living things of the earth and of the sea we are becoming more and more isolated and in this isolation we become more and more greedy, seeking pleasure, in every form. Intellect may perceive this but is incapable of complete action. Intelligence, which is inseparable from love, will never kill.

Not to kill, if it is a concept, an ideal, is not intelligence. When intelligence is active in our daily life it will tell us when to co-operate and when not to. The very nature of intelligence is sensitivity and this sensitivity is love.

Without this intelligence there can be no compassion. Compassion is not the doing of charitable acts or social reform; it is free from sentiment, romanticism and emotional enthusiasm. It is as strong as death. It is like a great rock, immovable in the midst of confusion, misery and anxiety. Without this compassion no new culture or society can come into being. Compassion and intelligence walk together; they are not separate. Compassion acts through intelligence. It can never act through the intellect. Compassion is the essence of the wholeness of life.