Intelligence may not be a decisive weapon, but it is an incisive weapon
Some seekers on the devotional path downplay the intelligence: “We just need devotion; we don’t need elaborate intellectual analysis. Ultimately, we can go beyond illusion only by devotion, not by intelligence.”
Yes, it’s true that devotion is the decisive weapon in the war against illusion; intelligence isn’t. Just because our intelligence can understand a particular pleasure to be illusory doesn’t necessarily mean that we can abstain from it (Bhagavad-gita 2.60). Only when we become devotionally absorbed in Krishna can we transcend illusion.
Simultaneously however, devotion doesn’t divorce itself from intelligence; it integrates the intelligence. Devotion to Krishna is not just an emotion – it is dedication of our entire being, including our intelligence. Pertinently, the Gita (03.37-43) delineates how to combat sensual, anti-devotional desires and concludes by recommending that we use our intelligence to situate ourselves in transcendence. (03.43)
If we use our intelligence to understand why to persevere in our spiritual practices, then intelligence becomes an incisive weapon – it can help us see the reality beyond the façade of worldly temptations. When we sharpen our intelligence by studying scripture, we understand not just how worldly pleasures are insubstantial, but also how Krishna is the reservoir of all attractiveness and the provider of the supreme satisfaction. The resulting intellectual conviction can deepen our commitment to practice devotion.
Pertinently, the Gita urges us to take shelter of that intelligence which links us with Krishna (18.57). Indeed, the whole Gita is spoken to appeal to Arjuna’s intelligence and it concludes by explicitly calling for intellectual deliberation of its message (18.63). Lastly, studying the Gita is itself a devotional action – it is a special form of worship performed with the intelligence (18.70).
Thus, Gita wisdom reveals that intelligence is not a competitor to devotion, but is a component of devotion.
Think it over:
- Why is intelligence not a decisive weapon in the battle against illusion?
- How can intelligence deepen our commitment to practice devotion?
- What is the relationship between intelligence and devotion?
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