Intelligence is seen not just through aptitude, but also through activity
Nowadays, if we want to know how intelligent someone is, we often check their IQ score. IQ tests primarily measure people’s information processing ability – their capacity to take in information and recollect it at will.
When using such a metric for intelligence, we presume that intelligence is an aptitude. Though valid, such a conception of intelligence is not complete. Why not? Because even people with high IQ may act unintelligently. They may smoke compulsively, despite knowing the dangers of smoking. In contrast, those with mediocre IQ may easily abstain from smoking. Who, then, is more intelligent?
Clearly, our current conception of intelligence needs to be broadened. Interestingly, this is happening with society increasingly acknowledging other types of intelligence such as musical or visual. Those good at music or painting may not have high IQ, yet in their particular fields, they may be intelligent, even brilliant.
Still, even if we expand the conception of intelligence from information processing ability to other abilities, the irony of intelligent people acting unintelligently still remains. A musician may compose excellent music about the tragedy of addiction, but may still succumb to addiction.
Pertinently, Gita wisdom stresses that people’s intelligence is best seen through their actions. The Bhagavad-gita (18.30) commends the intelligence that discerns which action is liberating and which binding. Indeed, the capacity to foresee the consequence of our actions is a defining characteristic of intelligence.
Helping us develop such intelligence, the Bhagavad-gita outlines an inspiring worldview that explains which action leads to which reaction and why. And the Gita’s recommended practice of bhakti-yoga purifies us of self-sabotaging desires, thereby empowering us to act judiciously.
Studying the Gita may or may not improve our IQ score, but it will improve our life-score; it will enable us to choose actions that create a better life for ourselves.
Think it over:
- Why is IQ not a complete metric for intelligence?
- What is a defining characteristic of intelligence?
- How can studying the Gita help us?
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