The primary foundation of our emotional and mental health is the intellect. A keen and steady intellect contains within itself the stamina to resist the pressures of the ego and its desires and to be able to perform its functions properly. That alone can provide a person with a mind that is tranquil and peaceful. A well-nurtured intellect is open to listening and understanding; thus helping the person to develop healthy relationships.
In Vedanta, intellect (Buddhi in Sanskrit) is the discriminative faculty of our higher mind that engages in decision making and asserting direction. When we discern between different options and qualities; by discriminating the nature of things or situations such as, being real or unreal, temporarily or permanent, gain or lost and so on, that is the exercise of the intellect. The intellect is empowered by right knowledge and cultivated by detached observation and self-reflection (mananam).
However the development of the intellect is not to be equated with the accumulation of information including acquiring academic credentials. By simply being a well-read person, cannot necessarily ensure refinement of the intellect that can support a healthy mental state. Often modern schools and higher education institutions are only concern with the gathering of facts and skills that help us to manage external objects of the world. That means knowledge here is about things external to our mind. If we divide the process of sensory perception as an interaction between the observer (subject) and the observed (objects) then the knowledge mainly discussed in schools can be referred to as “objective knowledge”.
There almost nothing addresses the internal world of the human personality that is made of feelings, sensations, urges, pleasures, pains, joys, sorrows, self-images, interpretations, memories and so forth, and how they interact with various human relationships in the world. This knowledge concerns with the individual itself; therefore we can refer to it as “subjective knowledge”. Although it plays far greater influence in the decisions and actions people take day in and day out, somehow society have been conditioned to assign high value to “objective knowledge” and low value to “subjective knowledge”.
This gap in our education can be filled through lessons gained from the wisdom traditions such as the Advaita Vedanta tradition, which teaches spirituality as form of a rational study and investigation of the “subjective knowledge”. Furthermore Vedanta enquires deeper beyond the mind of thoughts and feelings; to understand the hidden nature of consciousness and self. Vedanta and its yogic dimensions are not just providing us with a philosophy of life and self, but also knowledge that has practical implications through the profound understanding it brings about on our daily life interactions and relationships.