Of Krishnamurti, Eckhart, and me
Prioritise wisdom, not intelligence, says Suma Varughese
For those of you who question my presumption at clubbing myself with J. Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle, I assure you, I mean no disrespect. By no means do I suggest that I am in their league. I have miles to go before I get there. But we do share some striking similarities.
One of that is that in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a way of identifying personality types, we belong to the same type—the INFPs. MBTI uses four parameters to evaluate people: Introvert/extrovert, sensory/intuition, thinking/feeling, and, finally, perception/judging. Introvert/extrovert, thinking/feeling are fairly clear distinctions, so I will not elaborate. Sensory and intuition looks at the way people get their information. Do they get it from their senses or from intuition? And perception and judging looks at the way people arrive at conclusions. Do they perceive the information without immediately drawing conclusions, or do they rapidly arrive at judgements?
So, INFP would mean that we are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceptive. And this probably accounts for certain commonalities. For instance, none of us can really claim to have a great IQ! Krishnamurti never passed a single exam! I wasn’t so bad. I was pretty good at studies, at least in school. At 16, a low-level depression gripped me for the next 16 years and laid to waste, whatever I had of focus and concentration, so I did not distinguish myself at college.
Eckhart actually had intellectual aspirations, got admission in Cambridge, and was all set to be a university professor before his remarkable spiritual awakening at age 29 propelled him into a state of lasting enlightenment. I have been listening avidly to his videos and talks on YouTube during this lockdown period, and he too says that he was never very good at IQ tests and could never solve the puzzles that the test required. I too find myself pretty backward in this area. I belong to a WhatsApp group of childhood buddies, and I find myself watching open-mouthed as they share and solve all sorts of tests and puzzles, including verbal ones which ought to have been my territory.
But what Krishnamurti and Eckhart have in spades, and I too claim to have in modest measure, is wisdom. The capacity to understand life, intuit its truths, and know how to live it. And this wisdom has also made us sceptical of the worship of intelligence that so distinguishes this present civilisation. After wealth, the quality we most venerate is intelligence. Parents are perennially trying to up their children’s smarts and your value in childhood is dependent on how you ace your exams.
Who are our heroes, apart from film stars and cricketers? Scientists, astronauts, and IT people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Also, in this time of great greed, corporate czars like the Ambanis, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and so on. Well, these are the guys who have driven this civilisation and therefore, need to take ownership of the mess left behind. The depredation of the environment, the extermination of millions of species, the escalating violence and war among and within countries, and the stress that consumerism and capitalism have unleashed upon the world!
Intelligence is not enough. Unless wedded to wisdom and a holistic perspective of life, intelligence will only wreak havoc. So, parents, think before you haul your children to tutorial upon tutorial. I know you worry about their financial security, but you should know that each one of us has a destiny, and it is life’s job to unfold it for us. Your job is to help life do so by supporting and encouraging your child to develop their strengths, instead of pushing them into computers, engineering, or medicine.
The New World that waits to be born is going to be a wonderfully exuberant space, and it needs the infusion of everyone’s passions and talents to make it so. Think about it.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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