“Two Kinds of Intelligence”
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.
Rumi, 13th century Persian Sufi mystic, poet and teacher
Obviously we all know and love the first kind of knowledge. We have been “educated” in that way our whole lives: the knowing, the discerning, the judging and ranking. According to Franciscan teacher Richard Rohr, it’s what the false self thrives on; it’s a meritocracy, a game of tit-for-tat and it’s the only game in town.
But what if it’s not? What if what we look like and how well we do and where we rank is just ONE way to look at the world and not even the most interesting way,?
That’s the type of intelligence Rumi offers as an alternative in the third stanza. This is the wisdom of the True Self, our soul, humanity, authenticity, integrity, creativity, generativity, connectivity, etc. This never dies. This is the Divine Intelligence from which we came and to which we will return and it is our life’s work and pleasure to live out of that intelligence all the days of our lives. The second intelligence, which we mistakenly put first, is good as far as it goes, as my teacher would say, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. It takes the flexible, fluid movement of the Spirit within us to go all the way.