Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Guidance of the Intellect

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(Edited from a post to the Alan Watts List, July 1996.)

It seems to be that many claim that happiness is accepting your ideas, opinions etc. and the way you feel and 'liking' all of these things.

Now I agree that each one of us is the way he or she is. This is where we start from ('and the end of all our exploring' may well be 'to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time'). There must be no criticism of this. This is never helpful. Indeed we should be happy to the extent that all of this material stuff of mind and body is ultimately of no consequence - the Self is unaffected by any of it. However, most of the things described relate to the ego - what the ego wants; what the ego thinks etc. If we are to achieve true bliss, rather than the petty shadows of happiness experienced by the ego, all of which are always followed by pain to some degree, we have to transcend, and ultimately forego the ego.

In the interim, the intellect has to be given control of the mind and allowed to over-rule the demands of the ego. To take a simple example, a diabetic may well love sweets and the natural temptation when offered one would be to accept and enjoy it. Obviously no one would advocate that he should do this. The intellect recognises the inadvisability of eating the sweet and chooses against the enjoyment.

There is a good analogy in Vedantic scripture (Kathopanishad 1.3 3-4) - that of the chariot (the body) and its control. The horses represent the wayward senses, which will stray according to their own interests (the various roads) if not controlled. The mind is represented by the reins, which keep the horses in check, providing they are held taut. It is the charioteer who holds the reins and whose skill will keep the chariot on course - he represents the intellect. The passenger in the chariot is the Self, the observer of all this who does not actually take part. The ego doesn't really exist at all - it results from the mistaken identification of the Self with the rest of the equipment.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012