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Intellect & Intuition

by Swami Jyotirmayananda

Each time your mind tends to dullness, awaken it with self-effort. When it sinks into the realm of dejection and gloom, lift it by invoking Divine Grace. When it tends to be swollen with egoism, deflate it by the force of spiritual inquiry. Thus, you live to integrate your personality and elevate your mind. It is important for you to understand the difference between intellect and intuition. Intellectual knowledge sustains the realities of day-to-day life, while intuitional knowledge however, reveals the true nature of the Self.

Intellectual knowledge does not reveal the entirety of an object. It segments and fragments reality and presents an accumulative form of knowledge. The life of the human body is not an accumulation of limbs, bones, nervous system, and glands, but is that abstract vitality that sustains as well as transcends all of these. In a similar fashion, the Universal Life of the Self is not the accumulation of the different objects of the world, but rather includes all objects, and at the same time transcends all things.

The awareness of life is spontaneous, while knowledge gained about different parts of the body is limited, specialized, and conceptual. In spite of possessing vast amounts of knowledge about physiology, anatomy, and the vital functions of the body, one can exist without enjoying health and vitality. In the same way, in spite of all your knowledge about physics, chemistry, astronomy, and innumerable aspects of specialized studies, you can continue to exist devoid of the expansion of Universal Life.

Intellectual knowledge exists in the form of certain information in your mind. Its growth is like the constant addition of new words to the dictionary of the mind, and does not bring about transformation in the human personality. It can help in guiding you towards spiritual advancement, but in itself, is a shadow and not the reality. In order for the human intellect to be meaningful, it must be guided by the intuitive wisdom of the Scriptures and the Sages.

The intellect functions in the world of relativity. It sustains the horizontal form of life wherein the soul is involved in a ceaseless cycle of birth and death. Moreover, it is unable to go beyond the gross wall of egoism. Intuition however, functions in the realm of transcendence. It sustains the vertical movement of life. It is the mystic movement in which the senses are transcended by the mind, the mind by the intellect, and the intellect by the Self.

When you purify your mind by the practice of yoga and its various aspects of selfless service, devotion, meditation, and spiritual inquiry under the guidance of a Guru, your intellect undergoes a process of transformation. It is the intellect itself that blooms into intuition. And just as a bloom is different from the bud, or a butterfly different from the caterpillar, much in the same way, intuition is different from the intellect.

Without spiritual guidance, intellectual advancement fosters pride and obstructs the gracious unfoldment of spiritual life within your personality. However, with spiritual guidance, you develop a subtle intellect that pursues the path of inquiry in a ruthless manner. This process outgrows your egoistic sentiments and selfish values. It leads to the intuitional revelation of unity with all that exists. The intuitional light reveals the nature of the Self. Time and space turn into the eternity and infinity of the Self. The objects become mirrors reflecting the Self. It is through intuition that you realize “I AM THAT” and attain absolute freedom.

May God Bless You! Hari OM Tat Sat!


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