Moving across from the outermost physical side to the inner layers of our body-mind constitution, each interior aspect becomes subtler than the one before. An increase in subtlety in an interior aspect is also inherent with a greater power to control and regulate the exterior aspects to it, in which case the intellect is the subtlest of mental faculties. Therefore the prime seat for managing human psychology is the intellect.
How does the intellect help us to regulate emotions and restore mental equilibrium?
The natural state of our mind is equilibrium. Positive emotions are supportive and conducive to our natural state. Negative emotions are opposed and disruptive to our mental equilibrium. These emotions are directly shaped by our perception and understanding of things, people and circumstances and about ourselves from moment to moment. A change in our perception and understanding can have an immediate effect on the condition of our emotion. We use our intellect to analyse and digest information and to arrive to a certain understanding of a given situation. Therefore when we are afflicted by troubling emotions, the intellect is the only tool that we have and need to rely on to bring us understanding and clarity which dispel the negative emotions and restore our mental equilibrium.
Right understanding can only arise when our intellect delivers us right perception and right thinking. Right perception or observation is the ability to engage in complete observation of experiences both external and internal (mental) with patience, courage, sincerity, attention and willingness to learn and understand things as they are in reality while keeping a non-judgemental attitude which acts as a buffer against the interference of our ego and memory. Right thinking is independent thinking which is when the intellect is able to discriminate and reason objectively, wholeheartedly and sensitively without succumbing to the influences of desires, fears and ego. However the intellect cannot perform effectively if it is not empowered by right knowledge and not trained to be watchful against the corruption of the ego.
Right knowledge is the proper knowledge of the nature of things including our self. There are two dimensions here. One is the external world and its relationship to us. The other is our own self. One of the usual obstacles that the ego creates is to think “I know it all; I do not need to know anything more”. Then we stop learning. Our intellect has no role anymore. Our views of current life situations depend on our limited knowledge collected from the past and our old conditionings. We judge everything based on what we think we know. We become close to anything new.
And the biggest corruption of the ego is to think “I know everything about myself”. Although the wise tells us that in reality we know very little about our own self because fundamentally our personal mental nature, traits, hidden thought patterns, deep-rooted impressions and old conditionings exist only because we are ignorant of their true nature! Probably we know more about the world compared to what we know about our self. Sometimes others see in us what we do not. Therefore we need to be humble and continuously be receptive to learning and to exercising the intellect in right knowledge and in keeping at bay the intruding interpretations of our ego and attachments through non-judgemental watchfulness. Indeed the intellect is the steward of human psychology.