My best friend thinks I’m a bit thick.
He is a very smart guy. He’s a criminal law barrister and a very good one at that. He covers all sorts of cases and therefore has a very wide range of knowledge and always keeps up with what is going on in the world.
He is shocked by my lack of general knowledge and always insists that I am not on his team whenever we play trivial pursuits or enter a pub quiz.
And for good reason.
Firstly, general knowledge has never been of much interest to me. However, ask me about the things I am interested in; the body, the mind, Chinese medicine and Asian philosophy and I could bore you for weeks!
Secondly, I don’t believe anything that we are spoon fed by the media, so I don’t read newspapers and rarely watch T.V.
And thirdly, I haven’t lived in the UK for 20 years so am not interested in who won “Britain’s Got Talent”, which politicians have been caught with their trousers down and where Posh and Beck’s went for dinner on Saturday night.
But despite being one of the smartest people I know, my friend has very little “intellect”.
How do I know?
Because he has very little control over his emotions and get stressed and upset very easily. He hates change, has very little patience and one minor problem in the morning can put him in a bad mood for the whole day.
But, he’s my best mate, I love him to bits and wouldn’t change a thing about him.
The point is though that despite being very intelligent, his intellect is weak.
What is the difference?
“Intelligence” is knowledge and it is what we are taught at school and can learn from books, the T.V. and courses that we study etc.
In fact, the main purpose of education is to increase our “intelligence” so that we can get a job and be a valuable member to society.
However, no matter how much knowledge you have or how many letters you have after your name, it does not mean that you have acquired an “Intellect”.
An intellect is developed through absorbing and then contemplating knowledge, really thinking about it and drawing your own conclusions. Some people also refer to it as “Wisdom”.
The purpose of developing and intellect is that you can use the knowledge to live a happy and peaceful life, control your thoughts and emotions and interact on a far happier and deeper level with other people around you.
Most people believe that they know how to think, but this is not necessarily true.
You see, thinking is an art, a skill that needs to be learnt. It requires time and effort, just like learning to play a musical instrument or play a sport. Strengthening the intellect means studying the laws that govern the human personality, contemplating them and incorporating that wisdom into your daily living.
Sometimes I meet religious people who can quote half the Koran or the Bible to me, yet I can tell by their actions and the way that they behave that they don’t understand the teachings. They have merely increased their intelligence, not their intellect. They have acquired merely a superficial knowledge, but have not taken time to really think about or incorporate those teachings into their daily living.
Another great thing about developing your intellect is that you don’t have to go around following or believing what other people say or do, whether they are religious leaders, teachers, politicians, relatives, friends or work colleagues. When you have wisdom, you know exactly what your path is in life and what actions you need to take.
This is the way to true freedom and as Bob Marley famously once sang, the way to “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”.