At the outset I express my gratitude to Vedanta Academy for guidance and inspiration – Swamy A Parthasarathy and Dr Janki. (www.vendantaworld.org)
Intellect versus Intelligence
Intelligence is built by gaining information, knowledge from external agencies, schools and universities, from teachers and textbooks. The intellect is developed by exercising the faculty of questioning, thinking and reasoning. Not accepting anything that does not admit logic or reason. Basically, one needs a powerful intellect to put the knowledge and intelligence gained to practical use in life. That explains why among hundreds of engineers who passed out of engineering schools, only a rare few designed the Panama Canal or the fist Indian Metro. So too, hundreds join army but a rare few get highest award for bravery. It is the intellect in them that renders their performance outstanding. That is why not many crack IIT exam than any engineering college exam… IIM exam than any management institute …!
Mind versus Intellect
We also talked about the importance of using intellect (बुद्धि / विवेक) versus mind (मानस) and difference between intelligent (ज्ञानी) and intellectual (बुद्धिमान). Intellect is the faculty of thinking reasoning and judging. The mind is the seat of impulses, feelings and emotions. When intellect guides the mind in actions, then the outcome would be discretionary and mature. However, if the mind overpowers the intellect, the outcome would be impulsive and immature.
There is nothing wrong in possessing emotions. But to let them interfere you’re your intellectual judgement would be mistaken and harmful. History has revealed how emotions have overpowered discretion and caused wars like Mahabharata or say between India and Pakistan. It is the emotional tensions between religions, communities, among family members, etc. that have caused destruction and erosion of a state and mankind.
Intellect is the ability to think freely, logically. The faculty to reason and judge without bias. When we develop a strong intellect our thinking becomes clear, our reasoning precise and judgement perfect. Among the three-living species – plant, animal and human – only humans possess an intellect. All beings except humans have a built-in programme for them to live their lives. Their living patterns are determined by nature, where there is no choice of action. Only human beings are faced with the dilemma of choice. The intellect plays the most important role to choose the right course of action at every moment.
Development of Intellect
The development of the intellect should normally commence from the childhood. The child has natural tendency to ask questions. The adults, parents and teachers must encourage children to questioning and answering. Look for reasons and logic in every facet of life. Never too late for adults! They too can indulge in similar activities to build a powerful intellect.
We need to have powerful intellect for success, be it self-management, work management, time management, stress management, etc. Today, we lack the awareness of the importance of intellect. Much less the necessity to develop it. How do we do that now? What can be done about it?
- Read for fun: It may be hard to do when you are spending most of your time doing required office work or errands at home. Try to find time during the morning, night, or weekend to sit down and read something for fun. Reading, especially something you enjoy, can improve your intellect by stretching your mind to think about things you normally don’t think about!
- Debate an issue with a friend, choosing the viewpoint opposite the one you hold: Sounds tricky, right? That’s the point! Focusing attention on information that is different than your beliefs can improve intellectual wellness. Naturally, we tend to only focus our attention on opinions, beliefs, and facts that hold true to our viewpoints. When you expose the mind to opposing ideas, it expands the mind to grasp new information.
- Play a game: Board games and cards are popularly known as leisure activities. These activities can also help with your intellectual wellness. The next time you have free time, pick up a deck of cards or pull out a board game and play! It makes no difference whether you are playing alone or you are playing with others. So long your mind is thinking, improvements are being made.
- Play a musical instrument: Music has a powerful impact on our minds. Playing a musical instrument can increase intellectual wellness by learning how to create sounds, make patterns, and emote through music. Any instrument can work to increase intellectual wellness, so start today and take up a new hobby.
- Write down your thoughts or journal frequently: Taking the time to write down thoughts or journal frequently can help those who struggle with expressing their feelings or in general for anyone who is trying to make sense of what they are feeling inside. Being able to identify your feelings and understanding yourself more and your actions increase intellectual wellness by exposing your mind to deeper thinking.
- Do crossword or sudoku puzzles: Crosswords and Sudoku are leisure activities that have proved to increase intellectual wellness. Working through puzzles or finding words in patterns uses a great amount of brain power. Increasing your ability to work through these activities can maintain and build your intellectual wellness.
For Children (as parent or teacher)
- Reading, singing, and playing with children: Parents actively engage your babies and young children – reading, singing, and playing with them on a regular basis. This builds a foundation from which the children can flourish intellectually.
- Read for fun: It may be hard to do when children engage in homework and text book readings. Parents should try to find time during the morning, night, or weekend to sit down and both read something for fun. Reading, especially something you enjoy, can improve your intellect by stretching your mind to think about things you normally don’t think about!
- Word games: Simple word games, such as making up stories together or inventing silly rhyming words not only helps to build children’s vocabularies, but also encourages their creativity and imaginations.
- Foreign language classes: These are another good choice for developing minds, with young children typically able to master a second language quite readily.
- Offer choices and allow them to decide: It is important for kids to be given choices whenever possible. Offering kids opportunities to make decisions, even to make mistakes, provides them with valuable learning experiences. Each time that children look for solutions to problems, they increase their base of knowledge, making it easier for them to draw conclusions as time progresses.
- Pose a question: Additionally, it benefits children when parents and teachers pose questions that require the kids to think. For example, when reading books, parents/teachers can stop midway and ask their children to guess at what might happen next or to wonder what might have happened if characters had made other choices along the way.
- Schedule outings: Parents and teachers would be wise to schedule outings that coincide with lessons being taught at school, reinforcing the teaching. For instance, a trip to a planetarium can highlight the things that kids may be currently learning about the solar system, making the lessons come to life.
- Holidays and vacations: Adults can sometimes go about their lives without realising that the world is filled with many opportunities for intellectual development, but for children, who are often seeing things for the very first time, every nature walk, trip to the zoo, or ride on a train affords them new insight.