Cultivating Wisdom and Intelligence


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by Jayaram V

here are some people in the world who may know their names, the names of their friends and relation, the streets and the place where they live or go and not much about anything else.

There are some, even educated ones, who do not show much interest in what happens around them. Ask them who is Da Vinci and they may ask you with a puzzled expression whether it is the name of an Italian restaurant!

TIn a world that is growing complex day by day, it is important that we live with certain awareness, knowledge and wisdom.

We can classify people broadly into four categories based upon their level of interest, knowledge and awareness.

There are people who live like plants. They do not go much beyond where they were born or what exists beyond their noses. They remain rooted to their past, to their worn out and obsolete mindset, refusing to move with the time.

There are people, who live like animals, spending their time and energy in satisfying their desire and living very much like a dog or a cat or lion in a zoo.

There are people who live like humans. They have humanity. They show compassion. They use their knowledge and intelligence to solve their problems. And they respond to the events and situations in the world, even if they do not affect them directly.

Then there are people who live like higher beings, comparable to gods or angels, with an enlarged vision, seeing life from a wider perspective, thinking of life in terms of a gift, blessing or a great opportunity to transcend their human limitations and find unity and harmony with the universe.

We have these four classes of people in our present day world. We meet with them. We interact with them and at times deal with them. They were there before.

They were, in fact, always there in the history of mankind. In the Vedas they were recognized as the four classes or castes. It is a different matter that these classes are now used and interpreted for wrong purposes.

But if you examine carefully, you will realize that these four classes of human beings exist universally, in every nation, in every community and society.

The worst suffers among these four classes are those who are comparable to gods or angels. Their suffering increases exponentially if they find themselves among the plant kind and the animal kind.

Our purpose here upon earth is to discover our humanity, to make full use of our rationality and if possible rise above our limitations and develop a wider vision and higher intelligence. For that we do not have make elaborate plans.

First, we need serious aspiration. We need an uncompromising zeal to rise above our own pettiness. Then, with hearts and minds set upon that goal, we can use very simple techniques to improve our knowledge and intelligence.

Here, I propose the following four common and simple techniques to expand your awareness and grow mentally, intellectually and spiritually into a higher being.

I call them the four feet of wisdom or the four candles with which you can lit up your mind, thinking, vision and worldview. In contrast, I recognize the four feet of delusion as indolence, negligence, falsehood, and perversion.


Many people think reading is for children only or those who are studying in schools and colleges.

In this information age, it is important you cultivate a good reading habit.

Do not confine your reading to film magazines or sports journals. That would put you above the plant category, but  within the animal category.

Read some interesting and useful books and magazines which will help you personally, professionally and spiritually and change the way you think and perceive the world around you.

If you have a local library, visit it frequently and get into the habit of reading books and magazines.

Nowadays, you can also download a lot of information from the internet into your computer, phone or some electronic devise. Use that information intelligently to enhance you knowledge, memory and thinking skills.

Whatever information you download or read, make sure it is relevant, useful and good for your mental and spiritual development.

Do not let a day pass by without reading something.

Read wherever and whenever possible and to the extent possible.

Reading is to your mind what eating is to your body.

If you want to go an extra mile on this pat develop fast reading skills.


Although we remain awake for at least 15-16 hours a day, we hardly pay close attention to anything, unless when we are performing some critical tasks or when we perceive some threat in the environment.

This is natural, because the human mind is made to conserve its energies and keep us distracted from things that do not really matter for our existence or survival.

As a result, we live the same lives every day.

We develop habits and routines.

We indulge in rituals.

We play games to avoid personal risks.

We stay in our zone of comfort.

We meet many people but do not remember their names.

We walk through the streets or drive through them, but hardly notice anything.

For most part we remain on auto-pilot.

While it may not be a good idea to remain awake and attentive all the time, since it may be exhausting, it is necessary that you have to become a good observer of the word in which live, the people you meet, the situations you face, the things you seek, the way you act and react and the way other people deal with you and respond to you.

Good observation skills which lead to mindfulness or attentiveness will help you see things clearly, discern problems and opportunities, and friends and foes.

It helps you to identify problems well in advance even before they happen and remain proactive.


Effective listening is a skill.

Effective listening means the ability to listen with full attention and absorb most of what is heard, without interruption or mental chatter.

Most of us are not good listeners, for one reason or the other.

As a result we displease other people, do not make them feel good or miss many opportunities

in our lives to forge good relationships or strengthen them.

To be a good listener, you have to set aside your opinionated and judgmental mind.

You have to open your heart and mind.

You have to cultivate sensitivity and empathy.

You must be willing to invest in relationships, and resist the temptation to dominate others or defend yourself.

Effective and empathetic listening is the best and the least stressful way to gain knowledge and wisdom.

You may experience stress when you are reading. You may have to make effort to read with concentration.

In listening also you need concentration and some effort. But is less strenuous.

You can become a good listener by removing the barriers to good listening, such as egoism, judgment, impatience, preconceived notions, negative emotions such as fear, envy, and anger, and selfishness.


The above mentioned three are useless unless you cultivate an attitude of reflection.

Reflection means thinking and reviewing what has been read, heard or experienced.

Reflection sets you apart, gives you a personality or a distant character of your own.

It puts on par with the most intelligent beings upon earth.

It makes you analytical, observant and insightful.

It adds depth and character to your learning.

Living without reflecting is what most people do and hence they seldom develop their individuality.

Remember, you are not a mere robot or a computer.

You are a thinking, feeling and living person, who can make decisions for yourself and experience and enjoy life in your own unique ways.

You have curiosity and adaptability.

People respect you more, if you have individuality, if you follow principles of your own, if you have a certain way of looking at things and understanding them and if you help them with creative solutions when they need them.

This becomes possible only when you reflect upon the knowledge you gather in your life and develop your own perspectives.

You can practice reflection, when you find time to be alone. You can also develop it by keeping a journal, practicing meditation and contemplation, validating your beliefs and perceptions in the light of your own experience.

A reflective person refuses to be charmed and deluded by the superficial aspects of life.

He goes deeper into his own experience to examine things and understand his life and himself.

Suggestions for Further Reading

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