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Academic prowess is not a clear indication of intelligence. Universities are businesses. They create a product. In order to manage their workload and ensure consistency they have certain conventions:

  1. Playing the game

  2. Rules

  3. Obedience

  4. Conformity

  5. Saying what someone else wants to hear

These call into question the value of 'further education'. Is your mind being challenged or are you merely being taught new material, along a pre-existing rut?


Consider 'plagiary'... Plagiary is the act of taking someone else's work and passing it off as your own. This is frowned upon by universities.
Yet, when writing an essay you are required to cite source material. In essence, you create a thesis through reference to what someone else has already said.


The validity of your work (to some extent) hinges upon whether or not someone else has spoke of it previously. But does the act of publication make something 'true'?
Quoting somebody else does not demonstrate understanding, originality, or creativity.


Intelligence cannot be measured by any known standard. The notion of IQ was invented by Francis Galton and is widely considered to be flawed. IQ was intended as a discriminatory tool.
It assumes that there are preferred ways of thinking.


Da Vinci, Aristotle and Einstein are all considered to be high-scoring on the IQ scale, yet their genius stemmed from a rejection of conventional thinking.
If intelligence can be measured, how would you test the IQ of somebody that cannot read and write? Who is smarter: the doctor or the carpenter? It depends whether or not you require a chair.
How do you test an animal's IQ? It would be quite an assumption to judge an animal's intelligence by human standards.

Will I ever understand Zen?

If you mean 'understand' in the sense that you understand the rules of football or how to do quadratic equations, then the answer is "No." Eventually you will develop an intuitive understanding, but it will be more like the way you understand how to ride a bike. In other words, you can do it but, should someone ask you how you do it, you would be at a loss to explain.

(Robert Allen) 


Learning is a complicated process. People tend to think of learning in a very formal way. They go to class, college or university and they learn. Or they are taught something at work.

Brain work
(meditation, awareness, metacognition)

Setting time aside in order to learn is a wasteful use of our brain. Ideally, we want to be learning all day every day. This is not about making time to study. Or 'bettering yourself'.
It is about absorbing things informally. Instead of sitting down and studying, we can learn things constantly - by interacting, by observing.


If you have awareness, you do not even need to try to learn. There is a difference between looking seeing, listening and hearing. A healthy mind is like a sponge. It learns constantly.
It is passive but receptive.

Beyond acquisition

Learning is not simply proceeding from a condition of 'not knowing' to 'knowing'. That is merely acquisition, the collecting of information. What good is that?

Learning from mistakes

People frequently fail to learn from their mistakes. They just keep on doing the same thing again and again and again. There is far more to intelligence than acquisition. We must be alert.


If something does not work, it is necessary to determine why it failed and try something else. This capacity to change is a key factor. A dull mind is doomed to repeat the same error continually.
An intelligent mind adapts and moves on.

Finding out for yourself

Figuring things out for yourself is an important component in learning. An intelligent mind does not have to be 'told'.
You should have the capacity to make connections and associations, have insights and discover things for yourself.

Adapt, change, improvise

Intelligence is all about awareness. About seeing and moving with what is happening. In combat, it is not enough to learn by rote and then churn out techniques. This simply will not work in reality.
You need to proceed with no techniques, no formulas, no methods.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

(Charles Darwin)



Intelligence is not about planning or being prepared in advance. It is about 'thinking on your feet', making the best use of what is available and being capable of instantaneous change.
Appropriateness is entirely contingent upon your ability to keep adapting, changing and improvising. You do what is necessary, and you keep on changing as the situation demands.

Emotional intelligence

Becoming aware of your emotional condition is the first step in cultivating this kind of intelligence. Most people are unaware of their moment-by-moment emotional state.
Lacking awareness, people act rashly; unaware that their choices are emotionally motivated. Emotional intelligence requires a degree of sensitivity concerning your own emotions and those of people.
The ability to harmonise with and affect the emotions of others can be cultivated. 

Social intelligence

When joining a new social group; whether a job, an evening class or encountering unfamiliar people socially, it is useful to tune-in to the group.
Instead of imposing your ideas upon others, you recognise that you have entering into a pre-existing social scenario. The onus is upon you adapting.


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Page created 21 May 1998
Last updated 04 May 2023