'Difference between cleverness, wisdom'
Also published in The Times of India, Mumbai Edition, Page 2 on 4th April, 2003
The human mind has two distinct capabilities. They are (1) the capacity to acquire worldly skills, and (2) the capacity for Spiritual Discrimination. These two faculties are called Medha Shakti and Buddhi respectively.
People do not have a clear idea of the difference between (worldly) Cleverness and (spiritual) Wisdom, and often mistake Buddhi to mean cleverness. This is not correct.
Being exclusively related to the phenomenal world, Medha Shakti would help a person to be shrewd in worldly matters and achieve success in Society. However, this is no blessing.
A clever man is restless, does not enjoy peace, and often goes through mental conflicts. He is a slave to his ego, which casts a veil over the Self and renders Buddhi ineffective.
Cleverness is not an attribute of the Wise but unfortunately in this Kali age a clever person alone is regarded as great and accorded much respect. Modern education lays great stress on the sharpening of the brain and can certainly help people to become clever. But it has no positive effect on Buddhi or the spiritual intellect.
Our ancients, on the other hand, were unanimously of the view that Buddhi is superior to Medha Shakti, and is any day to be preferred. Buddhi is essentially the combination of Shradda (earnestness), Sathyam (Truth), Yoga (power of control), and Mahat Shakti (Divine Power).
Shradda is the product of yearning and steadfastness.
The Sathyam aspect implies a proper judgement and perspective, with Truth as the central focus. The third aspect Yoga connotes a mastery over the senses. One cannot speak of a person being with blessed with Buddhi, if he lacks sense and mind control.
Shradda, Sathyam and Yoga together manifest as Mahat Shakti, the power of the Divine. In short, all the aspects of Buddhi are verily Divine.
Students should understand clearly the difference between Medha Shakti and Buddhi. Cleverness would help one in securing good grades in examinations, and in scoring victory in debates. It is associated exclusively with worldly skills.
Buddhi, on the other hand, is spiritual in nature and close to the Atma. Thus, one must never confuse a Wise person (Buddhiman) with a clever person.
The hierarchical relationship of the various entities related to Medha Shakti and Buddhi is as follows: At the bottom of the totem pole is the physical plane. Above it are the senses; then comes the mind or Manas.
Buddhi comes above the mind and last of all is the Atma or the Self. Buddhi is thus just a stone’s throw away from the Atma and is verily a reflection of the latter.
It is thus the height of ignorance to equate Wisdom (Buddhi) with cleverness (Medha Shakti). The latter is associated to the senses and is thus intimately related to the phenomenal world. It promotes ego, and as long as ego dominates you cannot understand anything about the Self.
A clever person would never be able to achieve Self-realisation; only a Wise person can.
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