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Intelligence: Good servant, bad master

Intelligent? Me?

Intelligent? Me?

My favorite quote from B.K.S. Iyengar. (For the Yogis among you, I practice Pattabhi Jois‘ style, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Intellectuals tend to be arrogant. Intelligence, like money, is a good servant but a bad master. When practicing pranayama, the yogi [makes] himself humble and without pride in his intellectual attainments.”

Page 85 in this book.

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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Humble people can be arrogant too. “I am more humble than you”.

    January 17, 2009
  2. Christopher, I would have to disagree. As soon as the person begins thinking he is “more” than someone else, he is no longer humble. The question at the heart of your comment is, I think…

    Can anyone be truly humble?

    January 18, 2009
    • PSM #

      I think you just might be missing the humor behind the comment, Douglas.

      August 29, 2013
  3. You guys are heading toward an interesting discussion, but I think that Iyengar’s point is different and more incisive: It is that braininess or cleverness or smarts or intellect per se cannot be trusted. I am reminded, for example, of David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest”. Get the most intelligent people into a room and you have …. danger!
    Something other than intellect must be in charge, in order for the intellect to play a positive role…

    January 18, 2009
  4. I see your point, Andreas, though I might be more neutral about intelligence. One trait is no more suspect than another. It is the character of the person, not his intellect, that matters more. I don’t distrust smart people any more than I distrust stupid ones. Or any less.

    January 18, 2009
  5. “It is the character of the person, not his intellect, that matters more….”
    Ah, but this, precisely, is the point of Iyengar’s point. You actually agree completely. ;)

    January 18, 2009
  6. But how do we determine character? For that matter, how do we determine intellect? I have always wondered how we judge these traits on visual cues. And we do just that. The character of a person sometimes takes some time to determine. And, sometimes, takes the ability to see past our own biases to do so.

    January 18, 2009

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