What is Intelligence?

Osho on Intelligence



Benoit, the question you have asked is of great significance: “What is intelligence? Is it a state far beyond the mind and its limits?” Yes.

Intelligence is not of the mind; intelligence is one of the qualities of your being. But mind is being used as a vehicle for it;

hence the confusion. People think intelligence is of the mind — it comes through the mind. Mind is the instrument for its expression. Mind itself is only a bio-computer. It has a memory system just as any computer has: you feed the memory system and the mind keeps the memory. But memory is not intelligence.

Intelligence is the clear insight into things about which you don’t have any information. Memory can function only about those things which are known to you — but life consists of the known, of the unknown, and of the unknowable. As far as the known is concerned, memory is enough. That’s what all your universities and all your educational systems are doing: they are simply feeding your memory with more and more information, and whatever is known to your memory system, you will answer immediately. That answer does not prove that you are intelligent. Intelligence is known only when you encounter the unknown, about which you don’t have any memory, any knowledge, any information beforehand.

When you encounter the unknown, that is the point which is decisive. How do you respond? You can respond intelligently or you can respond stupidly. For example, Germany is one of the countries where the population is decreasing. And the government is worried, because for every three thousand people who leave or die, thirty thousand people are coming from other countries as immigrants into Germany. The government is afraid that just within a decade Germany will not be the land of the Germans. Their population is decreasing and immigrants are entering into the country.

And here in India in 1947, when India became independent, the population of the country was four hundred million — now the population of the country is nine hundred million — five hundred million people is the increase. Even in 1947 the country was poor, and Britain was in a hurry to give freedom to this country because soon Britain would be blamed for the poverty. The prime minister of England, Atlee, had sent Mountbatten to India with an urgent message: “Whatever happens, before 1948 — the deadline is 1948 — you have to give India freedom. Because we can see what is going to happen, and the whole blame will be on our heads — so be quick!”

And Mountbatten did really a quick job. Even before 1948 he gave India freedom — in 1947, one year earlier. Atlee was very happy. And none of the Indian leaders even thought about what was the hurry. In 1942 Britain was not ready to give freedom to India; when India was ready to fight for freedom, Britain was not willing. Britain crushed India’s revolution in 1942 within nine days. And not a single Indian leader, including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, could see the point why Britain suddenly became so much interested to give them freedom. There was no revolution; after 1942 Indian leaders had lost hope, because their revolution had been crushed in nine days. This was the smallest revolution in the whole history of mankind! And then suddenly out of the blue, Britain itself decides…. If they had been intelligent, they could have seen that there was something unknown: you are not asking for freedom and they are ready to give it to you; what new factors have come into existence?

But nobody bothered about it. They were simply happy because they were getting old and if freedom did not come soon, then it would not be in their lifetimes; perhaps in the footnotes of history their names would remain, but they would not be great leaders of the country. They were so happy, like children, that freedom had come. But they never thought about it: has any empire, any imperialist country, ever, on its own been in such a hurry to give freedom to the slaves, when the slaves are perfectly happy and no revolution is happening? And there was no possibility of any revolution for at least another twenty years. The situation was clear, but it needed intelligence. There was no question of memory, because the situation was new. India had grown to the point of four hundred million people, and Britain could see by the rate of growth that this country is going to die from hunger and starvation, and they did not want to be responsible for it.

I started saying in 1950 that India needs birth control, and I was condemned: “You are talking against religion. God sends the children — how can we prevent them?”

I argued with them: “When you fall sick, God sends the sickness — why do you call the doctor? If God wants you to be well, he will send the medicine too.”

They argued with me. The shankaracharya of Puri himself argued with me: “Birth control methods are artificial.”

I asked him, “What do you mean by artificial?”

He said, “They are not created by God.”

I said, “Do you think railway trains are created by God, airplanes are created by God? The medicines you are using are all artificial.”

And he was wearing heavy glasses on his nose. I said, “What about this — have you come from God’s house? Have you brought these glasses with your birth? God has given you eyes and you should remain with your eyes — what is the need of having these heavy glasses? These are artificial. Everything else artificial is okay, but birth control methods cannot be used because they are artificial.”

He became so angry with me that he refused to speak from the same stage, in a meeting, saying “I cannot speak with this man on the same stage. Either he will speak or I will speak.”

And I was telling them that soon they would be in trouble, but even today the government is afraid, the religious leaders are afraid. It goes against their memory system; otherwise, a small intelligence would be enough to show them….Scientists are predicting that by the end of this century, India will have one billion people — that is one thousand million people, and that is the lowest estimate. The more progressive and more intelligent people have estimated that India will have one billion and eight hundred million people by the end of this century, almost the double population of today. Fifty percent of India is going to die by the end of this century, and when one in two persons, is going to die, what do you think about those who will be left living amongst corpses? Their situation will be worse than being dead. The dead will at least be at rest.

But to talk about birth control or the birth control pill goes against the memory, against the system, against the mind that has been told something for centuries but is not aware that a totally new situation has arisen. India has never been the most populated country — it was China. By the end of this century India will have gone ahead of China. China is behaving more intelligently. But the real intelligent people you will find in Germany, in Switzerland, where population is decreasing. Increasing the population is increasing death. The situation is new; it needs new methods to face it.

Intelligence means the capability to respond to new situations. It comes from your being — mind is only a vehicle — a kind of awareness of what the mind is, without belonging to it. You are only intellectually thinking about it. But whatever you are saying, if it becomes your experience, it will transform your whole life. Intelligence is the quality of the witness; it watches the mind and it gives direction to the mind. Right now, whatever you have in your mind has come from the outside. Intelligence comes from your inside. That used to be the basic meaning of the word education — it means “to draw out.” But what is being done in the name of education is just the opposite — it is “to stuff in,” to stuff in all kinds of nonsense. Nowhere are efforts being made that your intelligence be drawn out. You have it already, it just needs a passage, a way. Meditation creates that passage, that way. It makes your being the master and your mind just a servant. Memory is from the outside, intelligence is from your innermost sources, your very life, responding to situations.

“Is meditation connected with intelligence?”

Meditation is connected with your being, and your being has many aspects: intelligence, blissfulness, grace, gratitude, prayer, love, compassion… infinite is the treasure of your being. Intelligence is only one of the parts.

“And is intelligence a potential that we all have, and that simply needs to be awakened? Can we raise our consciousness with intelligence?”

Everybody is born with the same potential. Differences exist because we are not using our potential to the same extent. You will be surprised to know that even a man like Albert Einstein, whom you can call an example of genius, uses only fifteen percent of his potential. The people whom you think of as very talented use only ten percent of their potential. And the ordinary masses, the millions of people, use between five and seven percent. The world would be a totally different place if everybody was using a hundred percent of their potential, in different directions, in different dimensions.

Meditation can only make you aware of your potential, can make the passage in which your potential can grow and can find its expression. And nobody is devoid or unequal as far as intelligence is concerned. The inequality appears only because of our use: somebody uses it, somebody does not use it.

An American, a very devout Catholic, had tried for years to get a private audience with the pope. When his request was finally granted, he flew to Rome, and within the hour was kneeling before His Holiness. Kissing the ring after the pope had blessed him, the man said, “Your Holiness, I want you to know this has been the most inspirational experience of my life. I am deeply grateful. I would like to share my favorite story with you: There were these two Polacks…” “Excuse me, my son,” the pope interrupted, a little offended, “are you aware that I am Polish?”

“Ah yes, Your Holiness, but don’t worry. I will tell it very, very slowly.”


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: The Hidden Splendor

Chapter #26

Chapter title: Life’s aim is life itself

25 March 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium


Osho has spoken on Intelligence, witness, experience, meditation, education, innermostin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be rerred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Beyond Enlightenment
  2. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  3. The Book of Wisdom
  4. From Misery to Enlightenment
  5. Guida Spirituale
  6. The Invitation
  7. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  8. The Path of the Mystic
  9. The Tantra Vision
  10. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
  11. Tao: The Golden Gate
  12. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
  13. Zen: The Path of Paradox
  14. From Death to Deathlessness
  15. The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
Spread the love

1 Comment

  • Someshwar H
    Someshwar H
    Posted July 7, 2022 10:22 am 0Likes

    Love you Master of Masters!
    Osho Naman!

Leave a comment