Intellectual versus spiritualHarvard University; Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Andover Hall, Harvard Divinity School
30 April 1975
He is intellectual. What does it mean? It means that the weight of his head far surpasses the weight of the rest of his body.
You are spiritual. What does it mean? It means that the weight of your heart far surpasses the weight of the rest of your body.
There is a striking difference between his head and your heart. His head quite often does not love his body. His head belittles the body’s capacity and the needs of the physical. But you have a different story to tell. Your heart loves your body. Your heart inspires your body to love God. From its own personal experiences your heart tells your body that there is only one way to be happy and fulfilled and that is to love God and serve God in every way.
Although his head does not care for God the infinite Light, infinite Energy, infinite Compassion, infinite Delight, still his head wants to capture God, measure God, bind God and scrutinise God. It is impossible, but his head wants to break and cut asunder God, the evolving Cosmic Tree.
But your heart does not want to capture God, bind God and measure God, for your heart knows that God is infinite, God is immortal. Your heart wants only to love God and surrender its very existence to God and God alone. Your heart cries for God and tries to live in God.
Inside his head there is the intellect. This intellect wants the world to kiss the dust of its feet. It wants to prove that its existence on earth is something meaningful and valuable.
Inside your heart is the light that tries to illumine the world within and without. Inside your heart is the love that unifies the inner world with the outer world. Inside your heart is the delight that immortalises your existence here on earth and there in Heaven.
Being an intellectual man, he tries to inform the world at large. Being a spiritual man, you try to transform the world within you and around you. An intellectual man tries to compel the world around him to see what intellect can do. A spiritual man tries to offer to the world around him only what God wants him to offer and reveal.
My intellect-friend and my spirituality-friend play their respective roles. My intellect-friend fascinates me; my spirituality-friend illumines me. My intellect-friend has all the time in the world to criticise my shortcomings. My spirituality-friend forgives me day in and day out and accepts my mistakes as his very own. My spirituality-friend accepts me as I am. Slowly, steadily and unerringly my spirituality-friend carries me into the world of self-transcendence, where I eventually become inseparably one with the Beloved Supreme.
The intellect has an intimate friend: the reasoning mind. This reasoning mind is unfortunately quite often assailed by the doubting and suspicious mind. The mind of destruction has a free access to the suspicious mind. In the reasoning mind there is rarely any happiness. In the doubting and suspicious mind happiness is never to be found at all. On the contrary, there we notice the dance of destruction, total destruction.
Spirituality has a true friend: faith. This faith abides in the inmost recesses of our hearts. This faith embodies God, reveals God and manifests God. In the conscious embodiment of God, our faith brings us to our first destination. In the revelation of God our faith carries us to our second destination. In the manifestation of God, our faith carries us to our third and ultimate destination.
In our day-to-day life, in our ordinary multifarious activities, what we need is intelligence. When we go one step forward in our outer life, we see that we need intellect. If we do not have intelligence, we cannot survive. If we do not have intellect, we cannot see the truth in minute detail. Both intelligence and intellect know what ignorance is, but they do not consciously try to come out of ignorance-night.
In our inner life we have a bosom friend: intuition. Intuition is the life of the soul; intuition is the express train that expedites our Godward journey. Again, intuition’s flame burns the past. It burns our undivine previous life. It illumines our present life. It brings to the fore the remote future within us. With our intuitive power we create a new life within us. With our intuitive power we grow into the very Image of our Beloved Supreme.
The so-called intelligence, a seeker of the highest Truth does not need. Nor does he need the so-called intellect. What he needs is an inner cry. On the strength of his inner cry, he can easily have a free access to the world of intuition. And inside intuition there looms large salvation, liberation and perfection.
The intelligence which we get from book knowledge cannot help us discover our inmost reality. It cannot help us reach the highest pinnacle. It is our inner cry that helps us dive into the deepest realm of our consciousness, that helps us climb up to the ever-transcending consciousness.
In India, Sri Ramakrishna and other spiritual Masters of the highest order did not care for earthly knowledge or intellect. They cried only for God, like children, and intuition became their immediate friend, their constant and eternal friend. Here in the West, the Christ also had intuition at his disposal. With his intuitive power he realised his Father and distributed his Father’s Light to the world at large. Intellect is of paramount importance when the physical in us no longer wants to remain submerged in lethargy, in darkest night. Intellect is a beginning rung in the evolving ladder of consciousness. But the intuition-rung is infinitely higher than the intellect-rung.
A seeker of the Ultimate Truth may start his journey with knowledge and intellect, or he can start his journey directly from intuition. His inner cry can easily carry him to the intuition plane without entering into the intellectual world.
My intellect-teacher eventually tells me that he does not know the answer. My spirituality-teacher tells me that he knows everything. He tells me something else: he tells me that it is God alone who knows everything in and through him.
My intellect-friend is a mental giant. He wants to devour the world. My spirituality-friend is also a giant, a soulful giant. The soulful giant-friend of mine wants to unburden God’s imponderable burden, God’s immeasurable burden. He wants to unburden God according to his capacity, according to the power of his receptivity, which God has granted him out of His infinite Bounty.
One giant frightens the world and wants to devour the world. Another giant wants to put an end to the world’s excruciating pangs, wants to change the face and fate of the world radically so that here on earth the Kingdom of Heaven will become a living reality.
Eventually the intellectual giant will be transformed into a spiritual giant. When we are transformed, we feel that this world of ours need not and cannot remain always in ignorance-dream — that it need not and cannot consciously wallow in the pleasures of ignorance forever. In the transformation of the physical the reality of the Beyond claims us as its very own. In the transformation of the vital our aggressive animal qualities are transformed into the dynamism of the soul’s light. In the transformation of the mind the finite loses its very raison d’être in the Light and Delight of Infinity.