Truth & Intelligence

There are two classes of species when it comes to intelligence:

The first class are the extremists who are of two types: There are those who never question the world, and there are those who never question their intelligence. Religious fanatics are of the first type. Ideological fanatics such as Richard Dawkins and the atheists, and the rest of the animal kingdom are of the second type; they suffer the worst kind of ignorance according to Socrates because they are hopelessly blind to the possibility that they do not know. These evolve only in the physical plane but remain stoned in the department of intelligence.

Evolution proper applies to the second of species, the superior ones, which are again of two types: Those who question both the world and their intelligence without constantly ejaculating judgments all over the rest, and those who trust both the world and their intelligence, hence leaving it to Him to lift them up; and they shall be lifted up. These two types are destined for evolution in the true sense of the world, that is the vertical evolution which takes them from earth to heaven rather than merely from birth to death.

The difference between the two classes lies not in the object of their belief; the religious seeker who has beliefs and the honest agnostic who avoids all beliefs are equally close to The Center though one calls that center God and the other has no name for it.

What distinguishes between the two classes of species is their inclination toward judgment. The inferior type, being essentially insecure because they believe in nothing greater than themselves, are those inclined towards judgment; they are egocentric and inferior precisely because they assume the position of God, the Ground of Being, The Abyss, The Nameless, you name it.

The second class knows it is not for him to judge, that reality is determined from above and not by him or her. The second class is always a truth-seeker while the first is only a self-seeker, the judge; the former can transcend itself while the latter cannot even pass a kidney stone. The superior kind knows that “to know is to be able to learn” while the inferior kind thinks he knows because he is done learning. The higher species is humble, loving, and intelligent; the lower one is rude, arrogant, and stupid.

And when it comes to destiny of our higher and lower classes, the truth-centered species merges and converges to The Center while the self-centered diverges and submerges in oblivion.

Intelligence is not the capacity to pile up information and carry around a bagful of opinions. To be intelligent is to be able to be and remain open to fact and experience as they present themselves, that is to say to be objective pure and simple. The simple peasant of yesterday was much more intelligent and objective than the complicated scholar of today, though the scholar has managed to change the meaning of intelligence and objectivity to suit his egocentric ends without being noticed by the consciousness of the mass.

The common misunderstanding is that religion is only a matter of faith and opinion and unquestioned devotion. Religion is first and foremost a matter of intelligence; it is founded upon Pure Intellect and demands the same thing from the serious seeker. Faith and devotion are only the protective layers of truth, the sources of divine perfume, the means to an intuitive end. But the string that is holding man during his fall is after all the intellect, the Axis Mundi.

Intelligence is the divine spark in man, whether we understand by divinity a personal God or the impersonal principle underlying the universal manifestation. To see Satchidananda, the divine hand, in all beings is only a seeing of and by the intelligence. It is the intellect that sees and directs the operations of reason which belongs to the lower sphere. The faith of the true devotee arises from his/her intelligence; it is a faith rooted in trust and intuition, unlike the whorified idolaters of scientism and atheism who are in blind faith, or bad faith as Sartre puts it, and whose objects of worship are nothing but the non-intuitive abstractions of the true scientist who stays out of publicity and is himself only after truth, however misguided.

Thus, the salvation of mankind is a function of his objectivity which is the essence of intelligence. The more objective we are, the closer we become to The Center. Objectivity is the sole virtue that guides all other virtues, and especially those stated or implied in the scriptures:

What is humility but objectivity toward oneself, seeing oneself like we see everyone else.

What is charity but objectivity toward the other, seeing him/her as oneself.

What is love of the neighbor but objectivity toward manifestation as such, understanding that the neighbor is a concept encompassing all beings, including ourselves as God’s neighbors. Without this objectivity one cannot love without destroying, for love without objectivity will make either a master or a slave.

Toward Truth: The Way of The Gnostic

Salutations to my revered Guru whose blessing and grace is the light of the Self and the guide of intelligence; may it be that we speak only of truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. 

The path of knowledge as the highest undertaking for the attainment of truth is designed for the intellectually oriented seeker. There is a path for each type of man. Hinduism offers a clear outline of various temperaments and their appropriate paths toward liberation; thus we use its terminology for the sake of a systematic exposition of spiritual paths two of which interest us here:

The Semitic spirit, spirit of the people of Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, has an affective temperament; it is suited to believe through faith, namely the path of love and devotion. This is what is known as Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion. The Bhakti ignores reason and intelligence, and often belittles them, as means of attaining to truth. He/she relates to the personal aspect of the impersonal truth. His God has a personality and capable of love and hatred, mercy and punishment. It is due to his emotional temperament that the Bhakta, devotee, can’t but relate to the personal aspect of the supreme reality. The bhakta practices the outward form of religion, the exoteric aspect of revelation.

The Indo-European races, particularly Ino-Aryan, is by nature an intellectual and a philosopher. He/she is suited for the path of knowledge which is the fruit of the intellect, intellect being understood to be superior to mere reason, for intellect is the divine light in man. This is what is known as Jnana Yoga, the path of knowledge, or universally speaking Gnosis. The Jnani, the seeker of the path of knowledge, relates to the immutable and the impersonal aspect of the supreme reality; he is a metaphysician by temperament; his aim is truth for the sake of truth; he is not interested in the personal aspect of truth, neither is he interested in its rewards or afraid of its punishments. Heaven and hell are child’s play for the jnani. A famous Sufi quote says “Heaven is the prison of the Sufi.” The jnani practices the inward and esoteric dimension of religion, hence being independent of outward forms and rituals. The jnani wants to know the supreme reality, the ground of Being, the truth for its own sake. His aim is the Absolute and the Infinite principle. The personal God of the bhakta is but one manifestation of this principle. While supreme reality is Absolute, the supreme personality, or God, is only the relative absolute. For the mystic even the personal aspect ought to be transcended. The aim of Jnana Yoga is perfect knowledge; this knowledge is the knowledge of the Supreme Identity, that the “I” in me is identical with the divine principle: Man is essentially divine. Atman (Supreme Self) is Brahman. However, the end of both paths is one and the same stage, union with the divine: Pure knowledge becomes one with perfect love, for in both cases the subject merges in the object, hence the Yoga or supreme union.

The whole philosophy of the nondualist Jnani, known as Advaita Vedantist, is summarized as follows which constitutes the principal doctrine of Advaita Vedanta:

Brahman is Real

World is illusory

Self is Brahman

From the phenomenological point of view, Brahman is experience; it is the experiencing itself; and it is known only in and through direct experience rather than reasoning or any mode of propositional knowledge: Reason can only tell us what Brahma is not; only direct intuition of pure intellect can see it directly. Self or Brahman is something to be directly seen in experience, in transcendental experience. Brahman as something to be known only in direct seeing is in principle inexpressible; thus, everything that is said about it is essentially false; one who attempts to articulate the Self or Brahman has not yet seen or known it. Truth is inexpressible. Thus the conversation goes: “Who am I?” is ultimately answered by “I am the inexpressible.”

The path of knowledge, Jnana Yoga, demands from the seeker the observance of The Four Means of Liberation:

The 4 Sadhana (means of liberation)

1) Viveka: Discrimination/Discernment: To discern between the Real and the unreal.

2) Vairagya: Detachment/Dispassion: Detachment from the unreal.

3) Shad-Sampat: The 6 Virtues below:

1-Sama: Control of mind

2-Dama: Control of the senses

3-Uparati: Renunciation/Withdrawal: Withdrawal from worldly activities including religious rituals.

4-Titiksha: Endurance/Tolerance: Strength and indifference in the face of pairs of opposites, such as pain and pleasure, heat and cold, love and hatred, etc.

5-Shraddha: Absolute Faith and Trust: This is other than blind faith; it is faith based on trust and understanding; it involves faith in the guru/God/Self, which at the end will turn out to be one and the same.

6-Samadhana: Perfect Concentration: The ability to concentrate on the Real, the immutable, supreme reality without being distracted by the mundane.

4) Mumukshutva: Intense longing for liberation.

These 4 principles, including the 6 virtues, are the necessary requirements of the path of knowledge. I summarize the path of knowledge based on the following 3 principles which contain the essence of what is mentioned above:

1) Discernment between the Real and the unreal

2) Detachment from the unreal

3) Concentration on the Real

These are the three requirements of the path of knowledge; we should see that the 6 virtues are the logical consequences of the application of these three to the practical aspects of life. Truth being absolute and infinite demands from man his total participation, both body and the intellect. True knowledge must be reflected in the life of the seeker, or else he is rather a hypocrite. Intellectual knowledge and moral virtue can’t exist apart from one another in one and the same constitution. Thus, moral virtue is the outward manifestation of the inward knowledge of truth.

The path of knowledge is the path of the perennial philosopher, the gnostic, the esoterist who longs for the essence of truth, that which is eternal: Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion.

The path of knowledge, Jnana Yoga in Hinduism, is followed in other traditions; these include, including Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism: Islamic Sufism; Zen Buddhism; Taoism; Christians following the gospel of Thomas. One of the highest mystics of the path of knowledge was Plato whose philosophy has impacted many mystics, particularly Sufis. We must understand that the whole idea of philosophy arose among the seekers of the path of knowledge. Philosopher meaning the “lover of wisdom” is the very definition of the seeker of truth. Thus, philosophy is itself a mystical-intellectual tradition grounded on truth; however, it is an esoteric practice that has separated itself from exoteric religious forms. All other paths, such as Jnana Yoga of Vedanta, Sufism, etc. are attached to one or another religion and play the role of the inward dimension of that religion; philosophy which is the father of science is the one truth-tradition operating independently of a revealed religion. In this sense, philosophy is the path of knowledge par excellence, for it demanded the highest standard for truth by attempting to be independent of all prejudice. But this attempt of philosophy in approaching truth on its own unfortunately failed in the case of modern philosophy. Perhaps Plato’s philosophy, besides Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology which is a modern and more rigorous embodiment of Advaita Vedanta, was the last of true philosophies. The modern philosopher is no more a lover of wisdom but against it in every sense, for it is enslaved to its own product and inferior, modern science.

The lesson is that spiritual paths are protected and survive longer when attached to an authentic revealed tradition. It is the very prejudice of tradition that helps protect the truth against misinterpretation and misuse, against intrusion of heterodoxy. Orthodoxy, then, is a necessary ambiance for the survival and health of the perennial wisdom, Sophia Perennis. Nothing is damaging to truth than religious innovation and attempts at originality unless it is revealed by God himself.

The Jnana Path of Knowledge

Jnana Yoga is the esoteric path toward the attainment of truth and liberation. It is esoteric since it moves inwardly through knowledge rather than outwardly through love and devotion which pertains to the exoteric way of the Bhakta.

Jnana Yoga is designed for the intellectually-oriented aspirant whose temperament is that of detachment and intellection. The aspirant who cannot submit to names and forms must delve directly into the heart of truth by way of knowledge and by means of the intellect. The Bhakta who cannot but be emotionally invested in the path is bound to worship a personal god which is the relative absolute. The Jnanin, on the other hand, aims at the impersonal absolute, for he seeks the truth for the sake of truth and not for any spiritual reward.

Naked truth is veiled since it is unbearable and dangerous for the emotionally invested Bhakta. The Jnanin, however, is prepared to stand the fatal radiation of truth, for he has renounced himself and become the truth. In the face of truth the Jnanin is not surprised at all, for what he sees is not new knowledge; it is only remembrance: He realizes that he has been identical with the truth all along. It is more like an Aha moment for him in which he remains unmoved, though it would be the most shocking, unbearable, and frightening sight for the unprepared.

The Jnana path of knowledge follows the 4 principal attitudes:

1. Intellectual discernment between the real and the unreal.

2. Renunciation of the unreal and concentration on the real.

3. The six virtues of control over the mind, control over the senses, detachment from worldliness, indifference to pain and pleasure, faith and trust, mastery in concentration.

4. Longing for knowledge and the attainment of liberation.

The path of knowledge is of course not a choice for an aspirant; the aspirant must be born into this path, for the path of knowledge is not a hobby or an appendix to one’s life; disinterested pursuit of truth must be the one and the only life of the aspirant; thus he must be born with an intrinsic and irresistible love of truth and wisdom. The Jnanin is the man who must know.

The Esoteric Nature of The Intellect

Pure Intellect in the face of the Absolute

It is the case that mysticism is often associated with faith or spiritual experience rather than reason and intellect. Many mystics have condoned intellect as a means of attaining to the truth. The way of the mystic is understood to be alien to the way of the intellect. But!

But if it has happened that for millions of mystics the intellect has not pointed toward truth, we should not be hasty in putting the blame on the intellect; it can very well be that the failure did not originate from the intellect but rather from their intellect.

In accusations against the intellect the first misunderstanding comes from confusing reason with intellect. Reason is that faculty which works on the data given to it from the outside, thus reason works indirectly; the task of reason is to infer and conclude based on those inferences. The intellect, on the contrary, is a direct means of knowledge; it intuits its object as it is. Thus, intellect can be compared to light; and it is often spoken of as the light of the intellect. A true mysticism can’t function without the intellect. In fact it is intellect and only intellect that can guide the aspirant toward the goal, for intellect is that part of man that belongs to truth, thus the intellect naturally tends to take man home; it is its intended function.

It is the intellect that sees and intuits the truth at the end of the path of knowledge. Esoteric traditions that consider faith as an obstacle in the way of the truth are all aware of the supreme role of the intellect in its function of bringing knowledge. In such traditions intellect, or intelligence, is considered to be the only aspect of human that is divine, the only component that is capable of grasping the absolute and the infinite.

No esoteric path can go closer to truth than the path of the intellect. Faith always belongs to the exoteric aspect of divine life. The intelligence the man of faith stands in sharp contrast with that of the man of knowledge. The whole of religious tradition as a body of forms and rituals is suited to the man of faith, for he cannot transcend forms and thus the idea of a personal god.

The man of knowledge, on the other hand, cannot accept forms though he is conscious that all forms reflect the absolute. The personal god of religion is a childish toy for the man of knowledge who has chosen the path of the intellect.

Considering the finite and contingent nature of all names and forms, the face of truth is never intended to be disclosed to the man of faith, for he is emotionally and spiritually invested in forms and names, thus he is essentially incapable of handling the truth. Truth must be veiled due to its incapacitating power.

The face of truth can be seen only by those whose intellect has attained the perfection and detachment necessary to stand the piercing gaze of an impersonal, absolute, and the infinite truth.

“Knowledge of truth is the fire that burns up all hopes and desires.” Only the intellect can attain such knowledge and survive it.

Selfing of The Self

I world; therefore I am

The body feels,

The mind thinks,

The intellect sees,

The Self worlds.

The feeling, the thinking, the seeing, and the worlding are rays in the pure and noble gaze of the supreme Self.

A detached gaze dwells in the depths of void; that is all and all is that.

There is no seer; there is no seen: There is only seeing; that is all and all is that.

There is no body, no mind, to intellect, no self; there is only feeling, thinking, seeing, and worlding.

The supreme Self is the self of the feeling, the self of the thinking, the self of the seeing, and the self of the worlding: All these are the Selfing of the Self.

There is only Selfing: The Self Selves and selves; it Selves itself and it selves us.

The Supreme Self is all and all is the Supreme Self:

The Supreme Self is the supreme Selfing and unSelfing of the Eternal Now.

Self Selves; therefore we are