As you look around the world, it seems for centuries now we have thrown our collective intelligence at life to try to improve things.
We have dedicated our schools and universities to fostering greater intelligence and understanding of the sciences, arts, law, or humanities. We have more ‘centres of excellence’ and more PhD graduates than ever before. Indeed we are smarter by the traditional measures than at any other time in history.
Yet while the mind is an amazing tool and some people use their intelligence for the betterment of mankind, at some point we should step back and take stock of how we are truly going.
- We have domestic violence, family violence, inter-racial violence, sporting violence and, of course, many wars and conflicts that still occur in the world.
- We have religions professing love yet either tacitly or by omission endorsing child abuse and/or the denigration and at times murder of women.
- We have growing rates of preventable lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes.
- Then there are the people who have lived with backache, neck ache, headaches, or other niggles for so long they have become ‘normal’.
- We have global pandemics of disease, starvation and ongoing issues with adult and childhood slavery.
Sure we get it right at times and many live comfortable lives, but there are some pretty big things that don’t seem to be heading in the right direction.
If this is the case, and in spite of our high levels of collective intelligence, our health and quality of relationships are NOT improving, it begs the question “is intelligence alone enough?”
If fact, ‘intelligent people’ often do things that might be considered less than intelligent.
- Why would doctors smoke, after everything they have studied?
- Why do some people who have PHD’s in psychology/marriage counselling get divorced?
- Why do the majority of society eat or drink at least one food that is known to be bad for our health and call it a treat?
- Why do some journalists, dedicated to truth, become one sided and biased in their reporting?
- Why does a ‘man of the cloth’ abuse young children, after all their years of studying God’s love and compassion?
In each example there is a person who on some level has made a choice, first of awareness and then an action that leads to a less than intelligent outcome.
But let’s not point the finger… how many of us take ‘better’ care of what we do and how we eat when we get the flu? We may not even go to the doctor but innately know the basics that support the body.
When the body speaks loudly enough we listen, yet when we recover we start doing and eating the same things that contributed to our illness in the first place. The mind seems to kick in and make ‘smart choices’ once again… until the body shows us they are not so smart.
If it is our bodies that send us signals that lead to well-being and our mind that overrides these signals, maybe our connection to our body is where true intelligence lives.
Looking more closely at those mind driven ‘smart choices’, many have a similar outcome – they avoid feeling or ease tension rather than heal it. It gets a mental craving for a certain food not because it’s good for us, but because it stimulates, dulls or soothes us in some way. This is not a bad thing and on an intellectual level this makes sense, but the reality is that physically the body suffers.
If we apply this to the doctor, the counsellor, the journalist, the priest, things begin to make sense. It is possible that what drives these seemingly incongruent choices is a choice for protection/relief. Who hasn’t done the same from time to time?
So we are faced with a conundrum. We have a mind that at times is less than honest about its motives, but that we trust implicitly, and a body that suffers the consequences, that cannot lie but we override regularly.
If this is true, then building true intelligence would start with a deeper connection to the body and relationship to what we feel. It starts with learning to discern the difference between what we feel and how we react to what we feel.
The less we need to protect ourselves or react to what we feel, the less we draw on the mental intelligence to avoid something, which strangely may mean that in that moment we are more free to think!
By Joel Levin, Western Australia