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.

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

The practice of Mindfulness now has a literary genre and a worldwide following of its own. So there’s hope for our fearful, fractious world, a hope, indeed, that is “already completed and preserved inside you” (Alpha and Omega, beginning and end), a hope that dates back not just to the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi, nor to the gradual emergence of the world’s great faith traditions, but to the very Author, the Creating Power of life itself.

Hope is to be found in this mindfulness, because – wherever we are in the world, and however deeply covered over or entangled by acquired influences – “this other intelligence” remains eternal and unsullied, it “does not turn yellow or stagnate”, it can neither be poisoned nor poison. This “fountainhead” is immortal.

Mindful awareness of this life source, this “other intelligence”, renders human persons capable of reassessing, reordering and making ever-new sense of all forms of externally acquired influence. Wisdom’s primary truth is to be found in the fountainhead within. What great and life-giving, life-saving wisdom is this fountainhead whispering into the man-made noise and too often murderous divisions of our time?

Mindfulness – variously called awareness, confession, contemplation, eucharist, examination, meditation, penitence, prayer, reflection, thanksgiving, waiting, watching or wonder.

Whatever it’s called, this fountainhead is bubbling up in the hearts and minds of world leaders gathered in conference about climate change in Paris today, and this same intelligence is heard in the voice of Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi from Bangui, in the Central African Republic, who, in thanking the Pope for his visit this morning, said it was “a symbol we all understand.”

Pope and Imam alike are drawing upon the same fountainhead, in company with millions of others. “Muslims and Christians are brothers and sisters” the pope has said, “and we should act like it.” His is a mindful heart that believes the same of all humankind. And this “other intelligence” is being recognised across national, religious and philosophical boundaries everywhere. The world is having a rethink, or, more accurately perhaps, a deeper searching within, so we can dare to be hopeful.


This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.

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