When intelligence and scripture increase our illusions
The Bhagavad-gita (02.53) cautions that our intelligence can get lost in the forest of illusion created by words.
Consider two striking points in this verse.
- The intelligence, not the mind, is the object that is illusioned: We usually think of the mind as the part of us that gets deluded and the intelligence as the part that helps us come out of delusion. Yet this verse talks about the intelligence being illusioned. How might that happen? When we are intellectually persuaded to believe something that isn’t true. That may happen because we are beguiled by someone with unscrupulous intentions who is more intellectually skilled than us. Or it may happen because we are so attached to certain conceptions that our intelligence gravitates toward reasons for believing those conceptions and recoils from reasons for questioning those conceptions — without evaluating either on merit.
- The words that are the source of illusion are not necessarily illusory: Some people may expertly juggle words to make us believe things that are untrue. Or we may juggle words not just to convince others but also to convince ourselves. While this Gita verse can apply to such deceptive words, it specifically addresses words that are scriptural. Scriptures are so vast, containing so many multi-level or context-specific statements, that sometimes scriptural quotes can be used to defeat the purpose of scripture. This may happen unintentionally when we don’t appreciate the complexity of scripture. Or it may happen intentionally when we study scripture selectively to reinforce, not reexamine, our conceptions.
How can we come out of this forest of delusion? By purification, which aligns our purpose with scripture’s ultimate purpose: the spiritualization of our consciousness.
Both intelligence and scripture, which are meant to take us out of illusion, may take us deeper into illusion if we don’t strive to spiritualize our consciousness.
Think it over:
- How can our intelligence increase our illusions?
- How can our scriptural study increase our illusion?
- How can we come out of the forest of illusion?
02.53: When your mind is no longer disturbed by the flowery language of the Vedas, and when it remains fixed in the trance of self-realization, then you will have attained the divine consciousness.