Love and Intellect
There is a vast difference between intellect and heart. It is as great as the distance between the earth and the heavens. Knowledge is connected with a person’s intellect and is of a restless nature. It tries to take a person towards cleverness, and establishes a stronghold of selfishness in him. But the heart is connected with the inner currents emanating from a place where love and devotion are generated.
In the path of Spirituality, the heart is more effective than the brain. Intellect merely brings light, but the power of Spirituality is produced in the heart. Intellect is the cause of one’s attention being scattered out into the world; but love removes us from this completely, by the concentration of attention.
The display of knowledge is a type of exercise for the brain, and its result is ego, anger, hatred and lack of faith. Love is another name for true affection. Pure love is essential in the development of Spirituality.
When the heart is pure, God immediately attracts it towards Himself. If we have love for the Beloved, we shall certainly be attracted towards the object of our love. In our present state the world is our beloved. Love for wife and for children has completely captivated our hearts, and we are no better than their prisoners.
If one worries about himself and his possessions, and loves and longs for wealth, heaven, and the like, how can he – a man of the world – attain God-Realisation? So long as the dust of worldly desires is not removed from our heart, how can our Beloved attract us towards Him?
While living in this world, one may give all his possessions to his relatives, friends, wife and children, but should not give his heart to anybody. The heart is the property of God, and one should not be false to this sacred trust. One should keep his heart for the True Beloved, and may give away everything else that he has.
There is a unique type of ecstasy in love, which cannot be experienced by men of intellect. If people of the world were to know that the heart becomes extremely happy when it is drowned in the ocean of Love, then many intellectuals would run after it in order to be tied down by the chords of love.
A man’s intellect is limited. It cannot see beyond the world and its objects. Only true love can reach beyond these bounds, because love transcends all limitations and sees things which an intellectual cannot conceive of, even in his dreams.
Shamas-i-Tabrez has described the difference between knowledge and love in the following words:
Knowledge says that the world is scattered in all the six directions – north, south, east, west, above and below – and that there is no path leading beyond this. Love says, ‘There is a path and I have been on it many times’.
A lover may be full of troubles, but in his mind there is always a surging wave of joy for the Beloved.
The intellectuals of the world spend their lives in groping the dark, which is full of worldly worries.
The human intellect says that there is nothing beyond this body or physical life. It is followed by death and nothing else. The path of love is full of the thorns of troubles, and one should not tread that path under any circumstances.
But love says, ‘Thorns there may be, but there are also life-giving flowers on that path. In love, one goes beyond this body, because then only can one find the life eternal. Therefore, do not be afraid of the thorns of this apparent death.
Shamas-i-Tabrez further states:
The intellectual cleverness is an impediment on the path towards God-Realisation. You should free yourself from it, and then the path will be clear. Knowledge may appear to be attractive, and its attractions also appear to be pleasing to the heart, but it is like a thick covering over the soul and life, and the path of Spirituality is hidden. You cannot unravel the way to this path with your intellect. When you disengage your heart and your life form the grasp of the intellect, then only will this path become easy for you.
Again, from Shamas-i-Tabrez:
Whosoever has become a slave of the love of God is a real emperor of great fortune. You should close your mouth like that of an oyster. You should not speak; otherwise, this very tongue of yours will be the enemy of your life.
When a person receives the secret of love and is intoxicated with it, then only will he know its depth and will no longer need the help of intellect and cleverness.
You should become so mad in the intoxication of love that others may be worried about you. On the other hand the increase of intellect and knowledge in you will bring a corresponding increase in your worries.
There is no greater remedy than the madness of love. By means of this madness (ecstasy) you should transcend all worldly ties. Some people lose faith in their beloved because of their shallow knowledge, but have you ever seen a man lose faith on account of his madness (ecstasy)?
If pain and worry have increased, then you must become love-mad, because by this madness the pain will decrease. Some people run from this world into the wilderness on account of worldly worries; but if they were to drink deep from the cup of the madness of love they would be without worries even in this very world.
The whole world, whether a king or a beggar, is without this ecstasy of madness. But the few who are in this state of rapture are happy in this world. If you can find the wings of the ecstasy of madness you will ascend into the heavens above, as did Christ. This ecstasy of love opens up for us hundreds of gates of the secrets of Spirituality.
On the spiritual path there is room only for lovers. Here cleverness is of no use. Clever people have no respect or regard for others, and are not better than a particle of dust. They are not fit for this path.
Intellect, which is considered to be of the highest value in this world, hangs on the scaffold of a lover like a thief. People who are considered highly intellectual and of great knowledge in this world are perishable, and suffer from the disease of worldly obstacles in the eyes of a lover.
Swami Ji says:
In the eyes of a devotee who goes up to the Spiritual Regions, people who have only intellect and knowledge are considered to be ignorant.
Hundreds of thousands of clever acts and intellectual acrobatics are responsible for our ties to this world. And not one of them is the least bit of help to us in meeting the Lord.
Love is not to be found in self-appraisement, nor in knowledge or pages of books. The kind of love that is commonly understood by the world has nothing to do with the path of real lovers. True lovers give up the limited knowledge inherent in man and become free from greed and avarice. Real lovers, who have full imbibed the effects of love, say that they have passed thousands of miles beyond the dirt of worldly knowledge and the intellect.
True lovers say that you may be as learned as Socrates, but we will have nothing to do with you. Your path is different, and you must go your own way. Our path is the Name of God and we cannot join hands with you.
Without the help and guidance of a Master, the soul is unable to reach the goal of love. Limited knowledge and intellect alone cannot reach the place where only ecstasy and madness of love can go. The heart of a lover cannot be trapped by the net of the body and physical attractions, because it has already reached a place which is nameless, limitless and beyond the reach of matter.
The souls of such lover of God find His Abode in the Spiritual Regions, far above, where the Negative Power and Illusion do not exist and cannot ensnare them into their net.
Swami Ji says:
Masters came into this world and turned the souls of their devotees from crows into swans. They have the power of attracting lovers towards themselves, and for such lovers the Negative Power becomes helpless. The Masters have given us an Abode which is indescribable. I am unable to praise its greatness.
Hafiz also says:
Oh, Negative Power, be gone! You should spread your net somewhere else, because my home is now much higher.
A Master is the King of lovers of God. He has pitchers full of the Elixir of Spirituality for releasing people from the bonds of limited knowledge and the intellect. Whenever a person of high attainments, be he a philosopher like Socrates or a physician like Luqman, comes to the Master in search of Truth, the Master makes him as innocent as a child by giving him a glimpse of Himself, full of the light of Spiritual Knowledge, and He fills such a one with the currents of the intoxication of love. Then all limited knowledge and argument is destroyed, and the mind is no longer confused.
A Master is like the huma1bird, and on whomever his shadow falls, even the lowliest of the low becomes a spiritual king.
The limitations of knowledge, as this world knows it, are the foundation of all our worries. Under the influence of the intellect, one is always drowned in mental worries and whirlpools of thoughts to such an extent that the heart becomes practically lifeless. A cold heart does not have the ability to love, for which a warm heart is essential.
Man receives life energy by plunging into love. A heart which does not possess life and energy cannot reach the gates of love. Who is alive? Only those who have been born into love. If the current of love is blown into dead hearts, even they will receive life forever, and such a heart never dies.
It is necessary for a lover to have a beloved. Love is entirely dependent upon this essential factor. In the religion of lovers, it is considered sacrilegious to be away from the Beloved even for a single moment.
Love is another name for attaching the heart to the Beloved. It is not a child’s play. Only those of sterling worth, who are free from the ties of the world, and who are fearless, can become lovers. It is the work of one who is free from all worldly desires, and who is able to keep his mind clear of the dirt of duality. When the leaven of love begins to act, then a lover cannot turn his attention towards any object except the Beloved. He will have nothing to do with anybody except his own Beloved – the Master. His heart does not jump from one branch of the world to another. He remains absorbed in the love of his Master by freeing himself from all other thoughts.
He is tied to the apron strings of his Master, and in such a state the wings of intellect and worry cannot flutter.
Love is the most effective means of taking one to his Beloved. There is no comparison between lovers and people who are steeped in the limitations of the intellect. The intellect cannot reach up to the condition of love.
Khwaja Farid-ud-din Attar has very aptly compared love with finite knowledge and has described the influence of both of them in the following words:
What does love accomplish? It causes the drop to become an ocean, the soul to merge into the Lord, and the lover to become oblivious of the two worlds. Love is an experience through which the soul awakens into the Lord and becomes free from all attachments and worldly ties. It is another name for the annihilation of one’s ego and for union with God.
The knowledge of a person, which is limited, can see only the superficial causes, but love calls out, ‘Do not lay eyes on these superficial causes’. The human intellect says that one should search for good in this world and the next, but love says, ‘Do not search for anything except God.’
Man’s limited knowledge compels him to achieve worldly status and to make material progress, but love teaches one to efface even one’s own self. Intellect wants us to search for the remedy of all ills and to experience all pleasures, but love orders us to seek the pain of separation. God has created this world and the next, out of love.
The way of finite knowledge and the way of love are different. The former scatters one through the desires of the mind, while the latter teaches one to concentrate on one object only. The former asks you to see the world and fill your mind with the different kinds of knowledge that exist in the world; but the latter says that the Beloved is the fountain of all knowledge, and that you should dance attendance in the lane of love and concentrate on Him within yourself. The former persuades you to associate with your friends and companions; but the latter warns you to remain away from friends who would lead you astray from your Beloved.
Intellect goads you to achieve a high status in this world and to become a leader of your country or creed; but love says, „Sit in a lonely corner and be happy in the remembrance of the Lord of all regions.“ Limited knowledge asks you to acquire intellectual superiority and proficiency in the arts; but love wishes only to take you on the path where the soul is truly enraptured in divine ecstasy. The human intellect considers it impossible to meet and see the Lord, because intellect is limited. But love beholds to its heart’s content, His manifestation in both the worlds.
Due to their limited knowledge, the majority of the people do not believe that there could be a Living Master in the world today. But love says, „You should remove the bandage of ignorance and selfishness from your eyes. Then only will you see not one but many perfect Masters. It is due to our own faulty mind and intellect that we fail to meet a perfect Master.“
Intellect believes that comfort and happiness in this world are entirely due to wealth. But love says that real happiness is in concentration and stability of heart, and one should not run after the worthless treasures of the world.
The human intellect goads us to remain in comfort and to pamper ourselves; but love says, „Sacrifice your head and your dear life to your Beloved.“ At most, the intellect will take you to the pleasures of heaven (Swarg, Bahisht). But love says that to ask for anything except the Beloved or to desire anything else is the cause of misery, pain and sorrow. Therefore, one should never desire anything else.
Ordinary mortals consider lovers to be mad and call in physicians to diagnose their ailment; but the lover says that he is active and intelligent through the help of his Master, and prays to his Beloved to remove the limited understanding of the ordinary mortals, „Oh my Beloved! Please take them out of this darkness of ignorance.“
Does this mean that knowledge and intellect have no merit? All Saints and holy men teach the people of the world through their discourses. They differentiate between Truth and untruth by intellectual reasoning. If that is the case, then how is it that knowledge described above is depicted in such disparaging terms?
Limited knowledge cannot see beyond the physical self and keeps one devoid of love for the Beloved. A man may be very learned and also highly intellectual, but he cannot reach the gate of the Beloved by mere learning. So long as he does not merge himself in the Lord, who is all Love, he cannot be successful, and his intellect will beguile him towards the wrong path. If, however, knowledge is used without the negative influence of the intellect, then it can be free from its limitations and dross. Otherwise, one will always remain submerged in sensual pleasures. But one can have communion with God, who is omniscient, if the mind and senses are under the control of knowledge. Such a state can be achieved only by one who is guided by a Living Master. Then he really meets his Beloved.
Hazrat Mohammed Sahib says:
One small particle of such a knowledge – knowledge of virtue and of a Master – is better than fasting and prayers. A person who has this type of knowledge is my life, and his soul would give its fragrance to my life. But those who are without this type of intellect are fools. You should keep away from them, because it is fools of this kind who are responsible for so much bloodshed. You should endeavour to make your intellect One with His. Then your mind will no longer be scattered and, through concentration, you will be able to know the inner secrets of God.
A man should not be guided by his limited knowledge, but should seek guidance from the All-Wise, because his limited knowledge is the cause of his perverted intellect. The All-Wise is capable of giving true Light. Limited knowledge keeps one scattered in the darkness and entangled in worldly activities, and like a snake or a scorpion continually injects into him the poison of Illusion.
A human being is superior to a beast because his intellect is capable of discerning between good and evil. This power of discernment is essential for every human being, because through it he can clearly distinguish the difference between Truth and untruth. Guru Nanak says:
The life of those who sell the Name of God by writing it on paper, is unworthy. If the crops are withered, the storehouse for them will be of no use.
No one can reach the Court of the Lord without true and real effort. If we are destroying our knowledge in useless discussions and arguments, we cannot be called truly intelligent beings. We should contemplate and think of the Master with discrimination, because by this means alone can we achieve Grace in His court. We should carefully try to understand the meaning underlying the writings of wise and noble men and thoroughly consider them in all of their aspects. When convinced that the path of Spirituality is the right path, only then should we follow it and in good faith. This is the only way to tread the path of God and Spirituality. Except for this, all other paths lead one towards the Negative Power.
Detestable is the life of those who sell the Lord’s Name for a livelihood. If one’s crops are destroyed, of what use is the storehouse for them? No one can receive honour in the Court of the Lord unless he works for the Truth with Devotion (without any thought of reward).
Knowledge which is wasted in discussion is not the real knowledge. But if one serves the Lord with true wisdom, then he also receives honour along with it. It is through knowledge alone that one can understand what one reads and can discriminate while giving charity. Oh Nanak! This is the True Path. All else is the path of the Negative Power.
It is, however, necessary to develop love in order to achieve contact with the Truth and merge in it. The soul is a particle of God, and its inherent quality is love. Knowledge or learning is necessary only to be convinced that the path of Spirituality is the one to follow. When one has been able to distinguish the difference between Truth and untruth, the need for knowledge no longer exists. Intellect is necessary only to help us in selecting the path which will enable us to merge in the Truth.
Learning and intellect are our guides only in the beginning but after we are convinced which is the right path to follow, then we have to become one with it and to merge into it. This is possible only through love. If a person continues to be guided by intellect or learning alone, then these guides become a barrier. „Reasoning is the help and reasoning is the bar.“ The soul is wrapped in four coverings of the individual mind:
- Chit – Memory; inner attention
- Mann – Mind; character, inclination
- Buddhi – Intellect; power of discrimination
- Ahankar – The ego
Only after all these coverings are removed does the soul become capable of beholding Him. The mind should leave reasoning, and with it the intellect should also go. Then alone will our footsteps go towards the Spirituality.
The Upanishad says:
The senses of knowledge and mind should be concentrated. Intellect should also stop working. In such a state, the highest Spirituality is attained.
We should sacrifice our own entire learning in our love for the Beloved, because intellect is supported by love alone. Intellect is like the shadow, and God is the Sun. A shadow has no comparison with the sun.
Footnote: 1) According to legend, an individual becomes a king, whenever the shadow of a huma bird falls on him.