Intelligence and Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
himalayanspirit
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Intelligence and Buddhism

Postby himalayanspirit » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:12 pm

What is the theory of intelligence in Buddhism? It goes without saying that your intelligence is a result of various causes of the past. Can one be more intelligent through practice or become dumber through wrong practice? There was a disciple of Buddha called "Suddhipanthaka" who was so dumb that Buddha merely asked him to practice on two words "broom" and "sweep". Eventually he ended up becoming an Arhat. Once becoming an Arhat was he still dumb or did he gain intelligence too? I believe conditioning of mind also has impact on an individual's intelligence. For example, if Einstein were to forcibly be made to watch some dumb funky TV serial for long period of time, I bet he would end up becoming less intelligent (thats how most of the Hollywood stars end up becoming dumb :tongue: ).

Another point is about wisdom. Is it related to intelligence in Buddhism? Can someone be an Arhat and still lack wisdom? Or be an average intelligence guy and still gain wisdom through cultivation? How is wisdom and intelligence correlated to Buddhist concepts like Citta, Karma, Vijnana etc?

Sorry, these are quite a lot of questions for being my first post in this forum.

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Intelligence and Buddhism

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:43 pm

himalayanspirit wrote:Another point is about wisdom. Is it related to intelligence in Buddhism?


Good question. Some people are very intelligent, but lack wisdom. A good example is Bobby Fischer who was a chess grandmaster at age 15 and later world champion. He did not have that much formal schooling since he focused on his chess career. He had terrible social skills and was basically a jerk.

And then of course there are others who are quite intelligent and also appear to be very wise.

Can someone be an Arhat and still lack wisdom?


No, an arahant definitely has wisdom.

Or be an average intelligence guy and still gain wisdom through cultivation?


I think so, with the examples in the Canon.

How is wisdom and intelligence correlated to Buddhist concepts like Citta, Karma, Vijnana etc?


Intelligence probably doesn't hurt and should only help, if used properly. It is a tool, but is useless if not used properly (as in the case of Fischer).

himalayanspirit
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Re: Intelligence and Buddhism

Postby himalayanspirit » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:22 pm

Thank you for the answers.

Like all things, intelligence is dependent on causes and conditions - which means it is not constant. I presume, practicing Dhamma/Dharma will lead to greater intelligence for the practitioner, along with the wisdom. Am I correct in thinking so?

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reflection
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Re: Intelligence and Buddhism

Postby reflection » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:29 pm

I don't think Buddhism makes one more intelligent, but maybe more able to use the intelligence one already has. Especially the practice of meditation. It stills useless thoughts and gives room for more fruitful thoughts. However, if it is intelligence someone is after, I think he or she will be better off at a university. Wisdom and intelligence are really something totally different.

Also what one means with intelligence can be a bit vague. A lot of people would say it is the way of thinking things out. That´s where the term `great thinker´ comes from, probably. However, Buddhism isn´t about thinking things out.

:namaste:

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Re: Intelligence and Buddhism

Postby Sarva » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:02 pm

himalayanspirit wrote:What is the theory of intelligence in Buddhism? It goes without saying that your intelligence is a result of various causes of the past. Can one be more intelligent through practice or become dumber through wrong practice?

Another point is about wisdom. Is it related to intelligence in Buddhism? Can someone be an Arhat and still lack wisdom? Or be an average intelligence guy and still gain wisdom through cultivation? How is wisdom and intelligence correlated to Buddhist concepts like Citta, Karma, Vijnana etc?

Hi
I am not familiar with a quote or a specific stance on intelligene in Buddhism, we can hope someone with more experience can quote something for us. However I will take a stab at the questions :)

I think it is wise to see that the goal of the Buddha was to remove suffering, and wisdom in this case is to understand the 4 noble truth, i.e. craving, its cause and its removal. So the type of wisdom or intelligence is "insight" and related to the working of our minds and the removal of craving, firstly.

What is good about this is that we already have all the resources we need e.g. mind, body, meditation time. A teacher etc. is important of course, but my point is that the wisdom/intelligence is based within this arena, it isn't, in my opinion, about IQ tests or ability to pass exams or memorise formulae. (I am not suggesting you saying it is, but to fine tune our answers).

So an arahat doesn't need to be able to read or write, or to know how to drive a car. It may also be possible that an arahat cannot teach or express his feelings into words, but her/his insight has lead to the end of suffering and that is the summum bonum of Buddha's teaching. With this knowledge and insight she will be able to overcome karma* through right actions etc. Citta and Vijnana are labels, in my opinion, which help us to arrive at the goal.

Just some answers on personal understanding, hope that they help :anjali:

*There is some reason to understand that karma does not affect the arahat, they neither make it or reap its results as there is no 'self' and no doer of negative actions.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86


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