Use intelligence to know Krishna, not to show that we know Krishna
“Just see how much I know.” This prestige-seeking exhibitionist motive frequently underlies intellectual pursuits in material life. People love to parade their encyclopedic knowledge of facts and figures. When they can get others’ eyes to rise in admiration, even envy, they feel as if their intelligence, or even their life, has become successful.
Spirituality offers us an alternative source of happiness centered not on exhibition, but reciprocation – reciprocation of love. We are souls who have an eternal loving relationship with the all-attractive Supreme, Krishna. Bhakti enables us to revive our dormant love for Krishna, and rejoice eternally in his loving remembrance and service. To stimulate this devotional revival, the bhakti tradition offers profuse and profound information about Krishna. The more we learn and churn this information, the more we become attracted to Krishna – especially if we do this learning and churning in the association of devotees who are attracted to Krishna.
In such association wherein spiritual knowledge is treasured for its capacity to attract one towards Krishna, we may unfortunately carry over from our past material life the exhibitionist tendency to value knowledge for its capacity to bring prestige. If that carrying over happens, then even if we use our intelligence to scrutinizingly study the bhakti scriptures, our purpose will not be know Krishna but to show others how much we know Krishna. This misdirected focus keeps us forever in the hunt for acquiring and exhibiting new information – a hunt that keeps us dependent on others for our gratification. Thereby it deprives us of the fulfillment available through using our intelligence to redirect our heart towards Krishna.
To protect us from such a pitfall, the Bhagavad-gita (13.08), while delineating the components of knowledge, emphasizes that humility (amanitvam) and pridelessness (adambhitvam) comprise the beginning of knowledge.
Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona ﬁde spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control. all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance.