What is wisdom or intelligence?

Wisdom

by Jayaram V

How do you define wisdom or intelligence?

How do you know that you are using your intelligence rightly and for right ends?

What distinguishes your intelligence from the intelligence of others?

Can intelligence be acquired or cultivated?

Let us examine some of these issues, with intelligence.

Intelligence, which is also known as wisdom, is the essence of knowledge you acquire in the course of your life.

Life teaches you many lessons and with their help you learn to guide yourself through the ups and downs.

What you learn and understand from your life, your perceptions, your experience, your interactions and relationships makes you wise to the extent you apply the learning, adapt yourself, solve your problems, make decisions and arrive at conclusions.

Adaptability, evaluation, analysis, judgment, comprehension, problem solving are part of your intelligence.

Intelligence has a great significance in Hinduism.

The Upanishads describe intelligence (prajna or vijanana) as the essence of the eternal Self reflected in the body as discernment (buddhi).

Intelligence constitute the higher mind or the rational mind.

It is the light of the Self.

The faculty of intellect is the highest aspect of Nature in the body.

How do you cultivate intelligence?

Actually there is nothing like cultivating intelligence because you are born with the wealth of intelligence. It is your inherent and naturally inborn quality. Therefore, you do not have to cultivate it.

But you have to learn to use it and give expression to it.

You have to learn to apply your intelligence to achieve success and happiness in worldly life or to attain liberation in spiritual life.

According to Buddhism enlightenment comes from the flowering of wisdom (buddhi) in the pure mind through the practice or Dharma. A wise person is an enlightened person (Buddha) on the Eightfold Path of Right Living.

In worldly life you use intelligence to resolve problems and overcome obstacles or to reach your chosen goals.

In spiritual life you use intelligence to discern the truths concerning yourself.

An intelligent person knows how to resolve his suffering or make himself a better person.

An intelligent person knows how to achieve peace and balance in life. He has the answers and solutions to the problems he faces.

Your intelligence works better when your mind is calm and detached and when you are free from desires and intentions.

With a clear and calm mind you can discern better and make wise and balanced decisions.

In Sanskrit a wise person is known as dhira, meaning stableminded.

Therefore true wisdom is to use your intelligence to become a stable person, experience peace and equanimity, overcome desires and remain equal to the dualities and pairs of opposites.

A wise person is not only stable but also free. He is free from desires, obligations, bondage and suffering. He walks on earth without fear, unfettered, without the baggage of worries and anxieties.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Introduction to Hinduism
Know the richness, diversity, history and traditions of Hinduism, the oldest living religion of the world

Brahman
Know about Brahman, the Highest and Supreme God of Hinduism. Buy Now!

Selected Upanishads
Translation of 14 Upanishads. Length: 32 pages

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Translation of one of the largest Upanishads Length: 206 pages.

The Chandogya Upanishad
Translation of the Chandogya Upanishad. Length:218 Pages

The Bhagavadgita Complete Translation
With Word to word translation and commentary. Comprehensive and unique.
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