The intellect is considered the highest achievement in the evolution of mankind on earth. Most certainly the works of all human beings demonstrate their amazing intellectual prowess. Technology is by far the greatest achievement of this intellect, as we can easily observe how much it has transformed our world in the last two centuries alone!
Our parents constantly stress the importance of education and intellectual development through acquiring all kinds of degrees and diplomas. In India, for example, and in nearly all of the Indian communities throughout the world, children are brought up with this goal from the very outset by parents who dream of turning them into computer programmers, engineers, doctors or lawyers who will shine in public and bring good reputation, wealth and security to their family. Nothing else is extolled far more than the earthly career of the human being!
Things have proceeded down this path for a long time now, and the former longing for spiritual things - an intrinsic quality of the human spirit - has been replaced with a craving for purely material things. A good job, a good spouse, a beautiful house, one or two shining cars and a large accumulating bank account are the ideals of the average human being today. But these are all fruits of the human intellect and not the spirit, because the spirit (atman) only desires things that are spiritual in nature, it has no craving for material things and, if left to itself, will only produce beautiful and uplifting spiritual works.
Even when two individuals meet for the first time, they do not hesitate to enquire out of more than mere curiosity whether the other person's children are studying well or have finished their studies and gotten married. Most of the time, this information is not taken at face value, but is used to evaluate, judge and then label the other person as either an achiever or a failure in life. If he has educated his children properly and gotten them married off to good suitors, he is of course an achiever and so are his children. The more qualified the children, the bigger the dowry paid or received and therefore the greater the degree of "achievement".
This mentality permeates every sphere of activity, but it is only purely intellectual. Yet the human being possesses something far greater than his intellect, a treasure that is constantly overlooked. It slumbers within him, longing for the day when it can be awakened and set free so that it can bring about the truly great achievements that surpass everything that the intellect is able to produce. This little treasure that the human being possesses comes from his spirit (atman), and it is his living intuition.
It must be noted that "intellect" and "intelligence" are not synonymous and that the word "intellect" is not used here to refer solely to "academic things". A man possessed of strong intellect generally strives after earthly things but may or may not be academically intelligent. An intelligent person, however, can at the same time be very spiritual. The expression "intellectual man" in this case refers to one who inclines towards the materialistic, because he makes decisions based on his intellect, which latter will always strive only after material things.
But we are all spiritual beings first and foremost! This earth-life experience is just one small segment of our entire existence in Creation!
The knowing ones of ancient times were already aware of this fact, and hence the concept of rebirth had arisen through this knowledge.
We should really try to appreciate this fact, i.e. that our present earth-life forms just one small part of our real spiritual life. The spirit-core within us comes from a heavenly Paradise as an unconscious "seed" in need of development to perfection. The earth offers us a rich variety of experiences just like a school that is able to teach us and provide us the maturation and development needed to attain perfection. Once we have attained this perfection, we are no longer spirit-seeds and can then return to Paradise, to the Light, as conscious and knowing spirits! There we serve our Creator for all eternity!
But here on earth, the spirit-core makes itself felt through the physical body in the form of the intuitive perception. The living intuition is its power and mode of expression, i.e. it is the language of the spirit.
There is not one among us who has not already experienced the influence of the intuitive perception, even if we refuse to use the term "intuition". For unless we are truly depraved within ourselves and have closed our ears to it, hardly any one of us can deny the existence of the conscience. There are many times when this conscience has guided us so strongly especially in helping us determine the difference between right and wrong. Whether or not we chose to listen to our conscience is another matter entirely, but we will invariably discover that the conscience was right after all!
This conscience is nothing other than the voice of the intuitive perception, which one can also call "the inner voice" that we must all strive to listen to. It is the language of the soul, through which the spirit speaks to the intellect within man, compelling it to act in accordance with the wishes of the spirit. Unfortunately our earthly intellect, devious and over-cultivated as it is today, often chooses not to listen to the spirit, and that is why we tend to make so many mistakes even with the best volition.
In making our decisions, we also choose not to listen to our intuition, which comes from the spirit. Instead we let the intellect take over this role by dissecting and analysing the entire situation from a purely earthly perspective. Since the intellect is bound to the frontal brain, the cerebrum, it is this part of the brain that we have over-cultivated through our desire to accumulate only earthly things. This fact already manifests gross materially in the disproportionate over-development of the frontal cerebral hemispheres as opposed to the other parts of the brain like the cerebellum.
The intellect was given to us for our survival in the Material World. By its very nature it strives after material things so that the spirit need not be lost during its life on the earth. But it was not given to us so that we would let it have its say in all affairs.
The spirit cannot exist on its own in the Material World without some kind of earthly anchorage. If the intellect were not present, then this physical life would end very quickly, because the spirit of itself has no desire to maintain the physical body for the course of its natural life on earth. The spirit cannot do this without tools that are more closely adapted to the nature of the physical world. The intellect, on the other hand, has its origin in the earthly brain, and since the latter directs the flow of events throughout the body, it is able to look after the body and process the needs generated by the body. Thus the intellect helps to anchor the spirit on earth for the time of its earth-life.
That is why this body needs the intellect to help it survive. In a sense, the intellect "reminds" the spirit of the need to maintain the physical body by listening to its natural instincts, for otherwise the spirit, of its own accord, would only strive towards spiritual things, while neglecting the earthly, and would thereby miss out on the experiences that this earth-life has to offer the spirit. Simply put, the intellect is therefore a balance for the spirit for its lifetime on earth. That is its primary purpose!
Therefore we should not condemn the intellect itself just because it strives only after material things. That is the nature of the intellect, it is a balancing force, given to us by God. It can do no harm as long as the spirit within us strives upwards. We need only make sure that we do not constantly listen only to the intellect (instead of our conscience) and over-indulge its material desires, because that will unfailingly lead to misery and suffering. It is therefore the complete submission to the intellect which must be condemned. We must pay strict attention to our intuition, to the inner voice of our spirit, which will then properly guide the activity of our intellect.
These statements unequivocally show us what should be the relationship between the intellect and the intuition or conscience. The intellect should take the subordinate role, while the conscience should be the real "leader" or "governor" of the soul. If the intellect is trained to listen to the conscience, the inner voice of the spirit, then man will always act in a manner that accords with his spiritual nature. And since our spirits actually come from a paradisiacal world in the beyond, where there is only perfection, it follows that whatever our conscience decrees must have a connection with this great longed-for Height, our real home, thus also the goal of our development!
But today, the intellect has the upper hand. Over thousands of years, we have developed our intellect alone, directing all our desires towards earthly things and thus bringing only darkness onto this planet. We now therefore live in the age of the Kali Yuga, when the intellect reigns supreme, an age that we have brought about through our own wrong-doings. Since the conscience, the voice of the spirit, has been cut off and the intellect now makes all the decisions, with no input from the spirit, only the wrong decisions are constantly being made. Pure logic should then tell us that this voluntary submission to the intellect is the source of all the suffering that we see around us today.
There is no sphere of activity that is not permeated by this sad failure of us human beings. Even religion, which was meant to have united us through the various teachings given by the different Prophets, now brings only division and disunity among the people. No one wants to listen to their conscience; they only want to blindly follow the teachings of their religion and foster religious fundamentalism as well as intolerance towards other faiths.
Either that or they want a purely secular world, a world where any striving after the Truth is something that should be kept entirely to oneself, where no man should speak of God, for that would be construed as forced conversion and influencing! This is a system where only atheism rules, yet again another form of subordination to the intellect.
But it is not without reason that the Grail Message has been given to show us the way out. It clearly explains the working of the intuitive perception and emphasises that a true change in the world today can only begin when we start listening to the compelling inner voice that continuously speaks to us, showing us the way forward towards peace and happiness.
In his lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi also pointed out the importance of listening to this inner voice, which he claimed to have heard quite clearly at times. Through making the constant effort to carefully listen to it, this inner voice will eventually also blare forth within us, showing us the way we can tread in order to find eternal happiness and peace.
We must therefore earnestly work towards the awakening of the inner voice. We must try to listen to our conscience as we desperately search for the right way out of all the present-day chaos. After all, we are often taught from childhood that the conscience is able to discern right from wrong. Let us now employ this living power within us as we proceed to distinguish right from wrong especially where it concerns the spiritual teachings of various religions. This is absolutely crucial for us if we wish to overcome all the barriers that have been erected by the one-sided cultivation of the intellect.
As we seek the Truth in every faith, we can also invoke the supreme premise - that God exists and is Perfect in every way. If we use this premise aright and become sufficiently inwardly alert, our conscience will show us which aspects of any particular faith clearly testify to God's Perfection and which others go against It. We must make this effort if we wish to break out of the rigidity of religious bondage. God will not do this for us, as He has already endowed us with everything we need to attain this on our own. All that should fill our souls therefore is gratitude to Him Who has given us everything for our path to spiritual development.
We have no right to complain against God for the current state of affairs. For it is we human beings, who in some previous life have contributed to the formation of the world-religions as they are today with all their flaws. We brought all this mess into God's beautiful Creation, and therefore we must clean it up if we want to return to the Light!
Copyright (c) 2005, R. M. Duraisamy. Reproduced with permission of R. M. Duraisamy. indianseekers.com