Thought - intellect - is not awareness, thought is not life, thought is not sensitivity: thought is not the instrument of perception, it is not the instrument of sensitivity. Indeed, thought may be the chief impediment to these things.
What is the intellect? What is thought?
Thought is essentially the movement of memory, of the past: thought is the reaction of memory, of what has been stored up through experience and knowledge of past incidents and activities. So the content of thought is never new; it is always from memory, from the past.
Thought is also an abstraction, something that is not in itself real or actual: it is a simulacrum of a simulacrum, a shadow of a shadow, an image of an image.
And thought is limited. No image can contain the whole of what is occurring now. No memory can capture the whole experience as it was experienced. No thought can replicate the wholeness of a perception. And yet these fragments of image, memory, thought are taken for real life, for real awareness, when clearly they can never be that.
Thought, intellect, is also mental time. It takes us out of the present moment, our of the now, which is the only place it is possible to be sensitive, to be aware, to perceive.
So if we base our lives on the intellect, on this simulacrum of thought, this shadow, this image, we must inevitably get lost, we must inevitably end up in conflict with each other, we must inevitably miss the essence of things.
Thought, intellect, has its own limited intelligence, its own limited awareness, which we obviously need for practical life. But psychological thought - thought in the area of what we might call the ‘spiritual quest’ - has no place at all, except for verbalising, describing, pointing out.
So thought, the intellect, is not the means of discovering truth. In ‘spirituality’ what matters is actual awareness, sensitivity, holistic perception of what is going on, within ourselves and outside in the world around us; and thought is not the instrument with which to be sensitive to this.
Because thought - even though it has built all our memories, our identities, our images, our sense of self, our values and purposes, our beliefs and attitudes, even our emotions, all the contents of our consciousness - is not itself real or true. It is a fiction we keep alive only through our habitual and incessant thinking, and through taking this thinking for reality and then acting on the basis of this thought-created reality.
If we can once see that thought, intellect, is not the basis of life - that thought is not awareness, thought is not actual perception - then we will naturally shift our basis from thinking to observing, from intellect to awareness, sensitivity. Then we are in contact with real life, with actuality, with ‘what is’.
Therefore to really see for ourselves the limitations, the futility, the barrenness of thought, of the intellectual approach to life - inwardly, psychologically - is part of what this awareness, this sensitivity means. Because then, to repeat it, our emphasis moves from thinking to observing, from thought to awareness.
We still need to think, we still need intellect, because this is one of the basic capacities of the brain: we need to be able to reason rationally and logically in daily life; we need to be able to articulate ourselves lucidly and logically, and so on.
But in matters of truth, of inner enquiry, of our concern with life as a whole, our emphasis is now on observing, being sensitive, being aware; feeling out what this existence of ours really is directly, through our non-verbal sensitivity and awareness.