What does it really mean to be human? Have you ever wondered what your nature is? What is natural for the human being? It's a question of incredible importance, yet not often addressed. Human nature is usually associated with tendencies like worry, selfishness, restlessness, the desire to dominate, and even with violence. Have you ever wondered about your human nature, what it truly is? What is a human being essentially? For human beings, intelligence is the most natural thing imaginable. We are intelligent creatures. Intelligence is within the human being, it's in his nature. Just like instinct governs the animal world and is most natural to them, a human being is essentially intelligent.
What happened? Somehow out of this existence a species evolved that is able to selfreflect and that is aware of its existence. With reflection we learned to respond to something in completely new ways, becoming much more adaptive. Nature is trying intelligence as a strategy for survival! We are no longer governed by instinct, we have a higher governing principle that can override instinct. Instinctual, conditioned, and habitual responses are fine and functional as long as we are dealing with situations that are more or less the same as the ones we've been in before. But life is evolving...
How to respond to situations that are entirely new, that never existed before? This is where intelligence is needed. With intelligence, there is the possibility of new, unconditioned, and not merely instinctual responses. A brilliant new tactic for survival emerged out of existence! The basic, first principle of being human is intelligence. Intelligence is our true nature.
Evolution is the unfolding of intelligence. Intelligence is essentially responsiveness, primitive or evolved. It begins with awareness. At the heart of intelligence lies awareness. From the very beginning there must have been some rudimentary awareness or evolution would not have been possible. How can the simplest organism evolve if it is not somehow aware of and responsive to its environment? What is a mutation of a virus, or the resistance that a virus or an insect develops to some medicine or pesticide? Is it not intelligence in a crude and simple form? Instinct is primitive intelligence, in a different orbit, in a different quantum, in a less evolved expression.
Instinct is unconscious intelligence: instinctive responses are unconscious in that they happen automatically. Awareness gives us the possibility of responding intelligently, aptly, uniquely, freely, and on the spur of the moment. You are able to see, assess a situation and respond. But all assessment is based on awareness. Without some awareness of life there would be no life. Without awareness responsiveness would not be possible.
Intelligence is the ability to cope with something new or to handle something in a new way. Intelligence is the only principle to keep pace with life. It is the ability to respond to something aptly when a conditioned or automatic response would not be quite right. Intelligence is true response-ability. It's beyond automatism and habit, it's the possibility of an unconditioned and authentic response.
In this sense intelligence is completely unpredictable, and it is meant to be unpredictable! It is meant to be as flexible, inventive, creative, and unpredictable as life itself. It is meant to keep pace with life, to be able to respond to life, and interact with life. An intelligent response is an uptodate phenomenon. It can be totally discontinuous with the past. It may take the trodden path, or it may go in a radically new direction, and even take intuitive and illogical turns.
Intelligence can recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of a situation and respond to that uniqueness. It is our innate intelligence that will need to be the judge of what to do and what not to do: responsibility is a judgement-call of individual intelligence. Responsibility is not sticking to redundant rules, obeying orders without question, killing on demand, or blindly following instinctual tendencies. Habits can be useful, a conditioned response can have its advantages, but we are intelligent and have the ability to rise above habit and conditioning.
Conditioned responses won't do as far as responsibility is concerned. Automatism really is not good enough. Your actions might have qualified as responsible yesterday, but today they may be completely irresponsible. It cannot be predicted, life is too much alive, changing too rapidly. It presents us with situations that have never happened before and for which no rules could have been given to tell us what is responsible behavior and what not. There is a so-called gray area that cannot be covered by a simple moral code.
Though rules and regulations provide us with general guidelines, we still need intelligence to interpret our laws in a humane way. We want to distinguish between the letter of the law and the spirit it was conceived in. We need to appreciate that there are always exceptions and that a particular situation may be part of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Only free-flowing intelligence can justly deal with the unique predicaments of life. Strictly living by a set of rules or a moral code is actually irresponsible, because you basically refuse to use your inborn intelligence and appreciate life's uniqueness. Only intelligence has the flexibility to keep up with ever-changing life.
Planet Earth is a joint venture, there is a collective responsibility. The responsibility is to live intelligently. Once our intelligence is set free, miracles are possible. We can literally grow flowers in the desert. We can find win-win-win solutions.
Intelligence will play and discover. Exploration, playfulness, and curiosity may not look very functional, not very necessary, yet through this playfulness serendipitous discoveries happen that turn out to be very helpful and maybe even essential. Intelligence was meant to be practical: what is intelligence if we will not use it? At the same time, what is intelligence if it is only practical? Intelligence is playful as well as practical.
Logic is not intelligence. Intelligence uses logic as a tool, but intelligence can be completely intuitive. Logic is linear, whereas intelligence may take leaps. With logic, we confirm what we know intuitively. Scientists often have an intuition and then work for years to try to prove their intuitive hunch.
Intelligence can express itself in many ways: intellectually, emotionally, physically, in music, in art. The IQ-test does not measure all there is to intelligence. Intelligence is about your whole response to life, it is never partial. Being a genius in the lab does not mean that you are living intelligently. When the office closes you may be miserable and cynical. Are you that intelligent that you are living a happy life?
Intelligence is innate. It is within all human beings. People are intelligence. It has been said that humor is one of the most basic characteristics of being human, because we never see animals roaring with laughter. It's true. Humor and laughter are children of intelligence: it's the recognition of something ridiculous that makes us laugh. Without intelligence we wouldn't be aware.
We universally recognize intelligence, even without defining exactly what it is. Why do people get so ecstatic with dolphins? Why are we so moved by them? It's not because they are mammals: there are plenty of mammals that we have no particular respect for at all. A new word has been coined: 'dolphinicity'. Why do people experience this synchronicity with dolphins? It is the sheer joy of recognizing intelligence in another creature. It's very basic.
For the same reason, whenever there is serious speculation on the existence of extraterrestrial life, we immediately talk about other intelligent life-forms. We hope some day to discover that we are not alone. The first thing that we'd be looking for in alienlife would be intelligence. We refer to ourselves as intelligent life: we know that finally, that's what we are. The crux of the matter is intelligence.
Intelligence is the essence of our humanity. Sensitivity is born out of intelligence. Respect and reverence come with intelligence. A sense of ethics and responsibility stem from our intelligent nature. With intelligence, understanding and appreciation become possible. It is the source of compassion.
We will need to appreciate this foundational principle of humanity, for in appreciation intelligence will flower. Neglect will not make it come alive. We need to respect people's intelligence. This is why empowerment - passing responsibility down to the individual - has become so important for corporations: we are beginning to realize that we need people's intelligence.
We are intelligence, but we are not aware of that. Our nature has become a slave of who we think we are: it is forced to function within the limits of a personality. Holding on to a personal identity requires a consistency that is by definition incompatible with true, free-flowing intelligence. Consistency does not have the flexibility of intelligence; it cancels out intelligence. If I need to behave in such and such a way because I believe I am so and so, my options are very limited. I can no longer respond freely. Identity puts a straitjacket on intelligence.
Human nature, intelligence, will have its way if we will not habitually force it into the constraints of a personal identity. We need liberated intelligence, no longer confined to the limitations of a so-called personality. Intelligence is the true principle, not identity or personality. You have learned to communicate with people, and you've learned to do it in a certain way: that's your personality. It is not what and who you are.
The belief in separation impairs our intelligence. There's nothing to prevent us, we can make this planet an exceptionally beautiful place. We just haven't based our lives on intelligence. We've based it on self-interest, we have built our lives on the concept of separation. Believing that I am separate, I tend to use my intelligence very cleverly, exploiting the other for my purposes, and intelligence becomes cleverness.
In the end, all cleverness turns out to be stupidity. Cleverness considers just the interests of the part. It considers just the interests of a single individual, or of an individual group. It is blind to the interests of the whole. But we cannot boost our economies by destroying rainforests in other countries, sooner or later the consequences of our cleverness will come back to haunt us in a serious way. We didn't want to see that the planet is one whole, that their rainforests are our rainforests as well.
We abound in intelligent solutions to basically all the world's problems. And in this information-age these are absolutely available. We will have to acknowledge and appreciate intelligence as our guiding principle, and implement these intelligent solutions. But vested interests that fail to see the unicity of life may not like the consequences of an intelligence-based society.
Being coldhearted has become associated with intelligence, because we've mistaken cleverness for intelligence. We use intelligence to be smart and clever, not intelligent. Cleverness is always self-defeating and self-destructive. It leaves you emptyhanded and wondering what went wrong. Life without meaning. Self-motivated cleverness will have to make way for true intelligence.
We need intelligence because a blind love is dangerous. We build atom bombs because we love our children. Love is extremely important to people: if there's consensus about anything, it's about the significance of love. Yet the human race has been at war throughout the centuries. And there are not just wars between tribes and countries, there are wars within families, psychological wars between lovers. How is it possible if we all value love so much? It is possible because intelligence does not naturally flow out of love, love tends to stay blind.
Like intelligence needs the heart of love, love needs the eyes of intelligence. True intelligence is never loveless, and true love is never blind. Without intelligence, love will be blind, and there will be many well-intentioned disasters. We need to become aware of this. It is well-intentioned stupidity, a love without intelligence, that creates havoc in the world. Just because something is well-intentioned, doesn't make it an intelligent and responsible thing to do. It is good intentions that create world wars. Beware of good intentions! You could cuddle your loved-ones to death without intelligence.
Freedom of choice, free will, is born out of intelligence. Intelligence gives us the possibility of an unconditioned response. Intelligence is at the heart of a free response. We can choose our responses thanks to our intelligent nature. We are not bound by conditioning, scripting or habit. Intelligence creates a gap between a stimulus and our response: we are not Pavlov's dogs, we may not even be there when he rings that bell! With intelligence, we are free to respond in unconditioned ways. Intelligent responses can be discontinuous, unpredictable, creative, inventive, free.
Though free will exists, we usually misinterpret where it comes from. Free will is not our own free will, it belongs to intelligence. But ego - the belief that I am fundamentally responsible - will claim what it can. What is interpreted as my own free will, my ability to control my life and make my own choices, is nothing but this foundational quality of intelligence that it can respond freely, in an unconditioned way.
The key question is: what is intelligence, where does it come from, what is it? Foundational to intelligence is awareness, without awareness intelligence is not possible. So intelligence is a function of awareness. It is a quality, a property of consciousness. Like water is wet, consciousness is by its very nature intelligent. The human being is more intelligent than a monkey because the human brain is more evolved, it accesses more easily the intelligence-property of consciousness. Or, through the human brain the intelligence-property of consciousness manifests itself. The human being is a more evolved expression of the same consciousness, the same intelligence that is foundational to the whole existence.
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Principles and Paradigms
» 4. Consciousness
- Human Nature: Intelligence
Experience and Consciousness
Life's First Principle
5. Alive Silence