Tradition Denies Intelligence


Knowledge will not lead to intelligence. We accumulate a great deal of knowledge about so many things but to act intelligently about what one has learned seems almost impossible. Schools, colleges and universities cultivate knowledge about our behaviour, about the universe, about science and every form of technological information. These centres of education rarely help a human being to live a daily life of excellence. Scholars maintain that human beings can evolve only through vast accumulations of information and knowledge. Man has lived through thousands and thousands of wars; he has accumulated a great deal of knowledge on how to kill, yet that very knowledge is preventing him from putting an end to all wars. We accept war as a way of life and all the brutalities, violence and killing as the normal course of our lives. We know we should not kill another. This knowing is totally irrelevant to the fact of killing. Knowledge does not prevent killing animals and the earth. Knowledge cannot function through intelligence, but intelligence can function with knowledge. To know is not to know and the understanding of this fact that knowledge can never solve our human problems is intelligence.

Education in our schools is not only the acquisition of knowledge but what is far more important is the awakening of intelligence which will then utilize knowledge. It is never the other way round. The awakening of intelligence is our concern in all these schools and the inevitable question then arises: how is this intelligence to be awakened? What is the system, what is the method, what is the practice? This very question implies that one is still functioning in the field of knowledge. The realization that it is a wrong question is the beginning of the awakening of intelligence. The practice, the method, the system in our daily life make for a matter of routine, a repetitive action and so a mechanical mind. The continuous movement of knowledge, however specialized, puts the mind into a groove, into a narrow way of life. To learn to observe and understand this whole structure of knowledge is to begin to awaken intelligence.

Our minds live in tradition. The very meaning of that word – to hand down denies intelligence. It is easy and comfortable to follow tradition, whether it is political, religious or self-invented tradition. Then one has not to think about it, one does not question it; it is part of tradition to accept and obey. The older the culture, the more the mind is bound to the past, lives in the past. The breaking down of one tradition will inevitably be followed by the imposition of another. A mind with many centuries of any particular tradition behind it refuses to let the old go and accept only when there is another tradition equally gratifying and secure. Tradition in all its various forms, the religious to the academic, must deny intelligence. Intelligence is infinite. Knowledge, however vast, is finite like tradition. In our schools the habit-forming mechanism of the mind must be observed and in this observation the quickening of intelligence is born.

It is part of human tradition to accept fear. We live with fear, both the older and younger generation. Most are not aware that they live in fear. It is only in a mild form of crisis or a shattering incident that one becomes aware of this abiding fear. It is there. Some are aware of it, others shy away from it. Tradition says control fear, run away from it, suppress it, analyse it, act upon it, or accept it. We have lived for millennia with fear, and we somehow manage to get along with it. This is the nature of tradition, to act upon it or run away from it; or sentimentally accept it and look to some outside agency to resolve it. Religions spring from this fear, and the politicians’ compelling urge for power is born out of this fear. Any form of domination over another is the nature of fear. When a man or a woman possesses another there is fear in the background, and this fear destroys every form of relationship.

It is the function of the educator to help the student to face this fear, whether the fear of the parent, of the teacher or of the older boy, or the fear of being alone and the fear of nature. This is the central issue in understanding the nature and structure of fear, to face it. To face it not through the screen of words but to observe the very happening of fear without any movement away from it. The movement away from the fact is to confound the fact. Our tradition, our education, encourages control, acceptance or denial or very clever rationalization. As the teacher, can you help the student and yourself to face every problem that arises in life? In learning, there is neither the teacher nor the taught; there is only learning. To learn about the whole movement of fear one must come to it with curiosity which has its own vitality. Like a child who is very curious, in that curiosity there is intensity. It is the path of tradition to conquer what we do not understand, to beat it down, to trample it; or worship it. Tradition is knowledge, and the ending of knowledge is the birth of intelligence.

Now, realizing there is neither the teacher nor the taught but only the act of learning on the part of the grown-up and the student, can one, through direct perception of what is happening, learn this fear and all about it? You can if you will allow fear to tell its ancient story. Listen to it attentively without interference, for it is telling you the history of your own fear. When you so listen you will discover that this fear is not separate from you. You are that very fear, that very reaction with a word attached to it. The word is not important. The word is knowledge, the tradition; but the actual, the now that is happening, is something totally new. It is the discovery of the newness of your own fear. Facing the fact of fear, without any movement of thought, is the ending of fear. Not any particular fear but the very root of fear is disintegrated in this observation. There is no observer, only observation.

Fear is a very complex business, as ancient as the hills, ancient as humankind and it has a very extraordinary story to tell. But you must know the art of listening to it, and there is great beauty in that listening. There is only listening, and the story does not exist.