Harnessing the Thinking Intelligence

The first need is the clarity and the purity of the intelligence. It must be freed from the claims of the vital being which seeks to impose the desire of the mind in place of the truth.

- Sri Aurobindo

The knowledge-worker is emerging as an influential class in the corporate world. And knowledge-management has emerged as a distinct and specialized field of study in corporate management. However, most of the modern approach to knowledge-management is external, aiming at the outer organization of knowledge through Information Technology. But for a more efficient and effective knowledge-management, we must learn to manage the inner faculties of knowledge. When all the knowledge-workers in an organization are trained in managing their inner faculties of knowledge, it leads to a more creative internal management of its knowledge-resources, complementing and reinforcing the external organization of knowledge. This article presents such a deeper approach to knowledge-management.

Key Perspectives

Need for purification of the intelligence; triune mind: physical, vital and thinking; disentangling the intelligence; discipline of concentration; mental silence.

Need for Purification of the Intelligence

The first step in this deeper and inner approach to knowledge-management is to have a clear understanding of the nature of the instruments of knowledge. The Intelligent Will, called as Buddhi in Indian thought, is the primary instrument of knowledge. Knowledge can also be received through heart or vital intuitions, but man, in his present evolutionary status, is a mental being and therefore the thinking intelligence and will in the higher mind is the highest and most enlightened power available to him in his quest for knowledge.

So the first task for a seeker of knowledge is the purification of this faculty of understanding. In our ordinary status of ignorance, this faculty of understanding is not functioning according to its dharma but involved in the action of the lower faculties like that of our physical, emotional and vital consciousness of the surface ego-personality. These lower faculties are supposed to obey the dictates of the intelligent will like a servant obeys his Master’s commands. But in our present status of ego-based desire-driven ignorance, master very frequently or most of the times forget his dharma and becomes an accomplice of his servants, who use him as a tool to provide rational justification to indulge in their desires. So the first step in the purification of the intelligent will is to disentangle the faculty from its involvement in the surface play of the physical and vital consciousness.

The Triune Mind

Before coming to the inner discipline for the purification and harnessing the thinking mind, we must have some understanding of the psychological structure of our mental equipment. According to the conception of Integral Psychology, our mental consciousness pervades our whole being. There is a physical mind, vital or emotional mind and a thinking, willing mind. The characteristic action of the physical mind is an obsessive repetition of habitual mental notions acquired from physical sense-perception. The vision of this physical mind is confined to a life bounded with the sensory perception of the brain. The vital mind brings up an eager, restless and anxious pursuit of desire and emotional attachment into all our mental functioning. This vital mind is always ever ready to provide convenient justifications for the desires of our vital ego.

Beyond this physical and vital mind is the thinking mind. Here also there are two elements in this part of mind. There is an element of pure reason, which is capable of a disinterested pursuit of truth or knowledge and can range freely in the realm of pure abstract ideas. But there is a pragmatic element in this mind, which is oriented towards life and is always interested in utilizing knowledge for application, enlargement and progress in life.

Though this higher part of the mind is capable of a relative freedom from desire, it is still subject to ego-sense. In the pure reason this ego-sense creates a strong intellectual attachment to certain ideas or ideals, pre-conceived notions, and an attraction towards particular forms of intellectual, ethical or aesthetic ideals or pleasures. Sometimes an inordinate desire of this part of the mind for a vast accumulation of knowledge for the personal pleasure or satisfaction of the intellectual ego is mistaken as a “disinterested” pursuit of truth. In the pragmatic part of the intelligence, this ego-sense creates a strong inclination to use knowledge as a tool for personal enlargement, benefit and progress of the ego.

Intelligent will, Buddhi has to be purified of all these gross and subtle traces of ego and desire and released from its entanglement in the lower forms of energies – physical, sensuous, vital, emotional – of our nature.

Disentangling the Intelligence

The first step in this discipline of purification is self-observation. We have to observe carefully the movements, workings, urges and natural inclinations of our physical, vital, emotional, thinking and pragmatic mind. We have to become fully conscious how our thinking intelligence is entangled with and constantly influenced by other and lower parts of the mind. And through a process of constant stepping back, detachment and disidentification, we have to slowly and patiently disentangle the thinking mind and will from the mixture and influence of the physical and vital mind. For example when we are trying to arrive at a decision, judgement or conclusion or solving a problem we must observe how our emotional and vital preferences and desires or personal self-interests enter into it and colour, distort or influence our process of thinking. Similarly, we have to observe the working of the Buddhi, the pure and highest intelligence in itself. We have to see how even our higher intelligence is subtly influenced by one-sided, fixed and preconceived mental, moral and spiritual notions which prevents it from perceiving the truth in its wholeness.

When we observe the workings of our intelligence objectively we will find that it has strong mental preference or prejudices for or against some specific idea or ideals. For example, the intellect may get attached to a particular social, political or moral ideologies or ideals like socialism, democracy or non-violence, which prevents it from seeing the truth or validity of a different or opposite perspective. Most of the scientific and secular thinkers have an open or hidden prejudice against the mystical, occult and the spiritual dimensions of life. For instance, the authors of a book which explores some of the obscure chapters of western religious history state: “We needed to explore the subject matter of occult and mystical writers and place it in its true historical perspective while not lapsing into the pitfall of their credulous gullibility.” We can see here behind the apparent pretensions of objectivity, openness and tolerance there is a strong prejudice against the mystical and occult views, which are dismissed summarily as credulous and gullible.

Similarly most of the mathematicians who studied the life and works of Srinivasan Ramanujam are unwilling to accept the spiritual inspiration behind his genius, even when Ramanujam himself openly stated that he received most of his intuitions from a Goddess who is his chosen deity. This sort of intellectual preferences and prejudices are great obstacles to the intuitive perception of the totality of truth and the multidimensional reality of life or Nature.

The Discipline of Concentration

The second discipline needed for the Intelligence is concentration. Concentration means the ability to focus all the attention and energy of the mind on a particular point and hold on to it as long as it is needed. We must note here that concentration does not mean we must always be tensely focused on something but to acquire and possess the ability to focus our mental energies at will and whenever it is needed.

The Mental Silence

But the most important discipline in perfecting the instruments of knowledge is the silencing of the mind. A settled immutable peace, silence and tranquility in the mind is an unmistakable sign that a perfect purity is established in our mental consciousness. And only in an utter silence the knowledge of deeper truth of life and things can be heard without any distorting interference.

There is a higher intuitive understanding beyond the intellectual understanding of the thinking mind. This intuitive understanding has a direct insight into the deeper truth of things bypassing logic and reason. But to awaken this intuitional intelligence, the intellectual understanding has to be stilled and learn to receive the higher intuition in a receptive silence.

M.S. Srinivasan

The author is a Research Associate at Sri Aurobindo Society and on the editorial board of Fourth Dimension Inc. His major areas of interest are Management and Indian Culture.


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