|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
Unit - 04
Lesson - 0409: Application of Intelligence
By Raja Subramaniyan
It was seen in the previous lesson that if one is intelligent, suffering could be minimized. Most people do not attempt to eliminate the possibility of suffering altogether. They remain contented in dealing with situations in such a way, that the present problem is solved. They do not attempt to eliminate the root cause of all problems. Human intelligence has the potential to bring about Joyful Living, wherein there is no suffering. We need to use our intelligence to its full potential and eliminate suffering completely.
However, this is not possible if we do not learn about the Atman. Learning about the Atman is the same as gaining self-knowledge, since the word Atman refers to our selves.
Unlike all other knowledge, self-knowledge has a unique feature that makes it easy and difficult at the same time.
With respect to all other knowledge, there is a division between the subject and the object.
Example: 'I study geography'. In this case, I am different from geography.
This distinction between subject and object is universal, except in the case of self-knowledge. There is no distinct 'I' that studies about the 'I'. We do not gain any new knowledge that was not previously experienced by us. Besides the observer (subject) alone is the reality and the observed (objects) are mere illusions projected on the observer. In other words, observer is the observed. Therefore, self-knowledge is difficult to understand. At the same time, it can be said it is very easy because the knowledge that I am the knower is inherent in every one of us and therefore there is nothing more to learn.
The difficult part is to remove our wrong understanding. When we define who we are, we include many parts (like our house, properties, relatives, friends, family, dress, body and mind) which are not really us.
Example: A rich man sends is personal assistant to the bank. The bank manager insults the personal assistant. The rich man assumes that the bank manager has insulted him personally because as far he is concerned, his personal assistant is included in the word 'I'.
The level of intelligence determines how many of these external adjuncts are removed from the definition of 'I". People who are less intelligent suffer a great deal if they lose some money. Intelligent people do not suffer even if a tsunami takes away everything.
Those who use their intelligence to gain self-knowledge do not grieve any affliction to their own body/ mind complex because they know that they are not the body/mind complex.
It might be a long struggle to gain self-knowledge. However, after gaining self-knowledge one will feel that he was stupid to have struggled so much to see the obvious.
Example: It is like scaling the compound wall and breaking into the house when the main door to the house is open.
Although everyone is prone to suffering in the world, not many attempt to gain self-knowledge through systematic learning. They do not know that self-knowledge will end all their sufferings in life.
Wise people, by gaining self-knowledge, do not grieve for any situation in life because they know that they are the foundation on which the entire universe functions. Whatever happens in the world is an illusion and therefore they know that there is no reason for suffering.
If we do not gain self-knowledge by using the full potential of our intelligence, we cannot hope to eliminate all our sufferings. We need to be satisfied with minimizing them.
Gita guides people to liberation. While the objective and the prescription are the same for everyone, people need to commence their treatment depending on their level of intelligence. Those with a lesser degree of intelligence cannot comprehend the description of the Atman. Even those who are intelligent enough may have to put in lots of effort to gain self-knowledge.
Teaching 12: Atman cannot be understood by all
Some of those who understand the Atman will see its simplicity and assume every one can learn this. However, it is not possible to expect everyone to comprehend the Atman because of the presence of varying degrees of intelligence and mental maturity among people.
For some of us the teaching may appear to be logical and simple. For others it may appear to be illogical and a superstitious belief. Both Vedas and Gita contain messages for all human beings, which includes these two extreme types of people.
Lord Krishna firstly presents the complete teaching about the Atman. Since it is known that not everyone can understand the teaching, the method to gain the eligibility is taught by Lord Krishna from the verse 31 onwards.
Thus, the final teaching on Atman says that it cannot be understood by everyone. It is very rare that someone not exposed to such teaching may comprehend this easily. It will take time and effort to understand this teaching fully. However, for some it is impossible to understand because they may not have the required level of intelligence and mental maturity.
The major obstacle that prevents most educated people to understand the teaching of Lord Krishna is the wrong knowledge that was gained through the conventional education system. Western scientists wrongly believe that from the inert cosmic soup, one day, living beings walked out. They do not have any proof for such a statement. However, educated people blindly believe in such non-scientific superstition. If we are not a victim to such wrong line of thoughts, we can learn the following.
1. The Atman is the cause and body/mind is caused.
2. The Atman is independent and the body/mind is dependent.
3. The Atman is changeless and eternal. Body grows and disintegrates. Mind is changing and it travels birth to birth carrying the reflection of the Atman.
If we learn the above knowledge, all our suffering will be eliminated. Lord Krishna says that even after revealing this ultimate solution, it will continue to remain as a secret since not everyone has the required level of mental maturity to comprehend the teaching.
Chapter 2: Wisdom is the solution [Verses: 29 - 30]
2.29 Some look at the Atman as amazing, some describe him as amazing, and some hear of him as amazing, while others, even after hearing about Atman, can not understand at all.
2.30 Oh Arjuna, This Atman, present in every body is eternal and can never be destroyed. Therefore, you need not grieve for any being.