Intelligence and Thought

“Intelligence is not personal, is not the outcome of argument, belief, opinion or reason.” – JK
“Thought is always operating in the field of the known.” – JK

Shall we explore the nature of intelligence and its relationship with thought?

Intelligence for me has to do with sensitivity, having quick perception (especially psychologically), being able to ‘read between the lines’ and comprehend a situation clearly. It is factual seeing.

It does not mean - at least not necessarily - I.Q. (which has more to do with one’s capacity to make computations of thought, to recollect, use intellect, memory, logic, etc).

However, in Krishnamurti’s usage of the word - as you may know - intelligence can also mean insight and love or compassion, which have their origins outside the brain, beyond thought.

There is a way of looking at intelligence which links it to specific capabilities of the brain :brain:: such as emotional intelligence, practical intelligence, social intelligence, musical or artistic intelligence, mathematical intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, and so on.

Sometimes people talk about the intelligence of the body, such as proprioception. In fact, each of the senses can be understood as having their own intelligence.

But my understanding of intelligence - at least the way that Krishnamurti uses this word - is that it refers to a more comprehensive capacity of the mind, which has to do with attention and awareness.

Looking broadly:

Looking from the pov of Krishnamurti:

– more comprehensive capacity of the mind, which has to do with attention and awareness
– insight and love or compassion, which have their origins outside the brain, beyond thought

Staying with Krishnamurti: Does intelligence emerge from freedom from psychological conditioning?

I’ve got a cold so I feel a bit lazy. As you are asking about Krishnamurti, I will let Chat GPT give a provisional answer:

For Krishnamurti, the awakening of intelligence involves a heightened state of awareness and understanding that goes beyond conditioned thinking. It’s the ability to perceive situations without the influence of preconceived ideas, beliefs, or societal conditioning. This intelligence arises from a deep self-awareness and the capacity to observe and question one’s thoughts and actions. It is not merely intellectual, but a holistic and intuitive comprehension of life.

So intelligence would seem to emerge from, arise out of - awareness, observation. Our capacity for awareness and observation. The freedom to observe.

More from Chat GPT:

In Krishnamurti’s usage, intelligence is closely linked to awareness. He often emphasized the importance of a heightened, holistic awareness that is free from conditioning and preconceptions. Intelligence, as he described it, involves an active, alert state of mind that perceives without distortion. This kind of intelligence is born out of awareness—being fully present in the moment, observing without judgment, and understanding deeply.

In essence, Krishnamurti saw awareness as the foundation for true intelligence.

Chat GPT has many limitations, and it can’t be used as a stand-in for Krishnamurti’s own words. But for our present purposes, I think its explanation is more than adequate.

What do you think about this Rick?

And freedom from conditioning presumably emerges from awareness-observation. In order:

freedom from conditioning

Good. I remember a discussion here a while back arriving at the understanding that intelligence (Krishnamurti style) is seeing things as they are. Which, interestingly, would seem to mean that people with modest (perhaps even lowish) conventional IQs could have high K-IQs. I often feel that in K-dialogs, that conventional verbal/reasoning smarts, even if superlative, doesn’t necessarily correlate with intelligent contributions to the dialog.

Yes. There is some overlap with intelligence and insight. In Buddhism they have words like vipassana and prajna which convey the quality of clear seeing, clarity of insight into the way things are.

More from Chat GPT:

The term “bodhi” in Buddhism, particularly in the context of bodhi-citta (the mind of awakening), is closely related to the awakening of intelligence.

More from Chat GPT:

In Buddhist philosophy, the question of where intelligence and insight (Prajna, Vipassana, etc.) originates is intricately connected to the understanding of the nature of consciousness and reality. Generally, insight is seen as transcending the ordinary functioning of the skandhas, arising from a perspective that goes beyond the conditioned mind. Here are key aspects of this perspective:

  1. Transcendence of Conditioned Mind:

    • Insight, particularly in the context of Prajna, is considered transcendent because it involves a direct realization that goes beyond the limitations of the conditioned mind represented by the skandhas.
  2. Direct Perception of Reality:

    • Insight is often associated with direct perception of reality, unmediated by the ordinary cognitive processes that involve the skandhas. It is a direct seeing into the nature of existence.
  3. Mindfulness and Awareness:

    • Practices like Vipassana involve cultivating mindfulness and awareness. This form of awareness is not solely confined to the skandhas but extends to a more expansive, non-discriminating, and non-judgmental attention.
  4. Transcendental Wisdom (Prajna):

    • Prajna, as a form of transcendental wisdom, is seen as a deep understanding that arises from a higher state of consciousness, transcending the skandhas and providing insight into the nature of reality.

Insight, in this context, is considered to have a transcendental origin, beyond the confines of the skandhas.

What is the relationship between intelligence and thought? Some quotes from Doktor Bohm:

“[Intelligence] comes from inter and legere which means “To read between.” So it seems to me that you could say that thought is like the information in a book and that intelligence has to read it, the meaning of it.”

“Intelligence sees the falseness of what is going on. When thought is free of this falseness it is different. Then it begins to be a parallel to intelligence.”

“Thought can function as the pointer to intelligence.”

From the highest to lowest coherency:

Intelligence reigns, uses thought as a tool.
Intelligence and thought are equally powerful.
Thought reigns, but is guided by a goodly amount of intelligence.
Thought reigns, intelligence is weak or absent, here’s where all manner of mischief ensues!

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I renamed the thread “Intelligence and Thought” seeing as the relationship is so important.

Start with definitions:

Intelligence sees things as they are without bias.
Thought sees things as you are with bias from conditioning.


Yes. This sounds accurate.

Good. The question for me is: What is the relationship between thought and intelligence? Are they kinda like different aspects of the same species of mentation or different species entirely?

Different species I feel.

For me the verdict is still out. (Surprise!) But I will say that thinking is (usually) gridded, and intelligence either grid-free or gridded but with the understanding that the grid is just a tool.

It depends what is meant by the word “intelligence”. You still seem to be using it in terms of one’s capacity to think clearly and logically, to see the connection between different thoughts. But I wouldn’t call that intelligence (in the sense that Krishnamurti talks about intelligence). I would call that the intelligence of intellect, the intelligence of thought.

The intelligence of compassion or insight has more to do with awareness and attention than intellect.

I guess my image of ‘intelligence’ is of a higher and wiser form of thought that is free from the known and suffused with kindness. Enlightened thought, kind of. I’m not saying that’s wrong or right, rather that it seems to be my dominant image.

We have discussed this before. But for me, thought is always the known. Thought is always from a background of memory, it is rooted in past memory, past experience; and so it is always the known

Intelligence, as I understand it, is a form of psychological perception - like awareness or attention - that is free from the known. This is why intelligence for me is closer to insight than to any notion of thinking or knowledge.