Conscience without intelligence is blunt, intelligence without conscience is numb
Conscience and intelligence are two vital components of our inner defense mechanism. Whenever we feel tempted to do something wrong, conscience deters us through feelings of guilt and intelligence, through rational analysis. Ideally, both conscience and intelligence work together. But when they sometimes get separated, here’s what happens
Conscience without intelligence is blunt: Just as a blunt object can’t cut through other things, conscience without intelligence can’t cut through the misconceptions that impel us to misdeeds. When we have conscience without intelligence, we feel bad on seeing someone doing something wrong. But we can’t explain systematically why that thing is wrong. So, we can’t bring intellectual conviction to our moral sense, thus blunting our ability to aid others in making good choices. For example, we may innately feel that killing animals to eat them is bad but may struggle to logically explain why it is bad.
Intelligence without conscience is numb: Just as a numb bodily part doesn’t feel any sensation, intelligence without conviction doesn’t feel any pinch on encountering a misdeed. When we have intelligence without conscience, we may explain rationally, even brilliantly, why something is wrong. Yet we stay unfeeling when that very thing happens in front of us; we have no fervor when communicating moral principles to others. For example, we may insightfully analyze the harms of meat-eating, yet feel nothing on seeing the meat-packing industry flourishing.
The Bhagavad-gita is a handbook for winning the inner war; it strengthens both our intelligence and our conscience. By hearing the Gita (18.73), Arjuna’s doubts were dissipated, indicating that he was intellectually convinced. And he became permeated with a divine calmness that enabled him to harmonize his conscience with the divine will.
Thus, by learning and living the Gita, when our conscience and intelligence become aligned, we can ourselves choose wisely and help others to choose wisely.
Think it over:
- How is conscience without intelligence blunt?
- How is intelligence without conscience numb?
- How can the Gita strengthen our inner defense mechanism?
18.73 Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
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