Intellect has always been a great barrier and a great boon for mankind, both at the same time. In everything we do there is a process of understanding, and this process is of two forms: one is critical, the other is accepting. Critical understanding is the process which is usually adopted by disciples who are highly intellectual. They open up the storeroom of their minds and compare everything with the ‘Why’ attitude. They compare what I am saying with what others have said, with what the books have said, with what their grandfathers have said. This critical mind and critical intellect is necessary for those with an intellectual temperament.
There are four different types of people in the world. The first type is defined as a dynamic temperament, the person who is active physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually. The second type is defined as the emotional or devotional temperament. Such a person has faith in God and guru. The third type is the intellectual temperament, which is always thinking, comparing and trying to understand. The fourth type of person is the mystical temperament and can meditate twenty-four hours of the day without any problem, totally lost in the contemplation of whatever he is doing.
For different forms of understanding, different types of methods are adopted by these four different temperaments. The dynamic temperament will understand things very well, will listen to what you say, will do everything, and file it away in the memory storehouse for future reference, if there is any need. If it is insignificant jargon, then he will simply pass it out from the other ear and that is the end of it. The mystical temperament will take whatever you say as guidance and help for his evolution. The emotional person uses the intellect as a means to develop and transcend his emotions. The intellectual person uses the intellect in a positive way, as a jnana yogi, and in a negative way, as a critical yogi. In the process of sadhana temperament is important, and for each person there will be a different process.
When you become aware and have gone beyond the level of intellect, then you can say to yourself, “The practices, the sadhana that I am doing needs to be done by developing childlike qualities, and not many qualities,” because before our evolutionary process, we are all children no matter how intellectually evolved we are.
Einstein was highly evolved intellectually, but his final statement was, “I do not understand anything.” In many ways, you have to become the Einstein. The same thing applies to Mirabai, Kabir and Tulsidas. They were very well versed in all forms of knowledge, but they chose the path of simplicity and overcame their intellect.
Today my suggestion is that although you may find difficulties with your mind, with your intellect, try not to worry about it, but take it light heartedly.
—YOGA, Vol. 21, No. 9, September 1983