Chapter 8: Dissolved in the Universal Soul
But the Upanishads call an intelligence “subtle” when it is pure, innocent, silent. Thus these two are totally contradictory concepts. The Upanishads call it “subtle intelligence” when it is so pure that no impurity is left in it, because impurity makes the intelligence gross. Pure intelligence is subtle intelligence, which a simple, innocent man can also have; he may not necessarily be a mathematician or a philosopher. The intelligence of a mathematician or a philosopher is not subtle. If understood rightly, then you can say that they are very skillful, they have the capacity to think - but they don’t have the purity of silence, of no-mind.
This is the difference between a philosopher and a sage. A philosopher tries to understand something by analyzing its parts, whereas a sage tries to understand by purifying himself; not by analyzing but by entering through the way of purity. Hence many times it happens that illiterate people can be sages and highly educated people cannot be.
Jesus was the son of a carpenter, not educated at all; anyone could have defeated him in a debate. Ramakrishna studied only up to the second standard, anyone could have defeated him in debate. Ramakrishna would have stood nowhere in what you ordinarily understand to be sharp intelligence and what the Western psychologists measure as IQ. But a Ramakrishna, a Kabir, a Nanak, a Jesus have a different type of subtlety - which is of purity, like a fresh flower blooming in the morning. It is not sharp like a thorn and it does not pierce anyone. A flower has an innocence and a purity. That innocence has a subtlety, and it is only this subtlety that can know the ultimate reality.
A person that you think of as having a sharp intelligence will become a scientist: he will analyze matter and discover its mysteries but he will not know himself. Whereas a man of sharp intelligence, in the sense that the Upanishads say it, will enter into the mystery without analyzing anything. And certainly, if you have to analyze a thing before you can know it, your intelligence cannot be considered to be very subtle or sharp because you are not able to know without first analyzing and creating a space for yourself. The person who can know without analyzing, the subtlety of his intelligence is the highest. Let this difference be understood rightly because without this understanding many problems have arisen.
The scholars of Kashi, a holy city on the banks of the river Ganges, were asking Kabir how he could be self-realized without having ever studied the Sanskrit language, the scriptures and their principles. It was certain that any ordinary scholar in Kashi knew more about the scriptures than Kabir did. But compared to Kabir these scholars were just extinguished lamps, howsoever much they had studied the scriptures. Compared to them Kabir might not have known anything, but his being was crystallized, integrated. The scholars might have had a big memory system but Kabir had the soul.
That luminous quality of the soul is described by the Upanishads as “subtle intelligence”. Small children have it, true saints and innocent people have it. And only through this subtle intelligence can anyone go beyond the layers of illusion. An intellectual person becomes entangled in only understanding about the layers of illusion. This ordinary intellect becomes involved only with the outer appearance of things.