A reader asked me to speak more on the distinction between our mind and our intellect.
Basically, mind is a field that processes sensory input, gives meaning and words to experiences via memory, and contains thoughts and ideas. It is the associator. This experience means this.
Intellect is the discriminator. Right and wrong, good and bad, etc. It works behind the mind, discriminating what is valuable to notice, what has meaning, and what we can ignore (most of it). Some experience the intellect as intuition or fine feelings. When it’s clear, it can bring knowingness.
Ego, ahamkara or I-sense is an effect of the intellect distinguishing self from other. Mind then loads stories it associates with self. Like “I am Fred the barber from Brooklyn.” “I am not my shoes or the desk.”
Without a deeper sense of self, ego-mind feels it has to be in charge and tries to control. It builds up a plethora of self-stories into an edifice of “me” and “mine.”
This possessive sense of “mine” (asmita) builds another shell on the self-sense. To our personal sense of self we add what we control and possess. Our sense of self becomes entwined with our (aptly named) possessions. Who possesses whom?
Ego tries to defend its self-sense and feels threatened by anything that calls it into question. It can surprise us when we more clearly see the content in the mind’s constant narrative. Losing our home in a fire is a very difficult experience, but it’s much worse if our home is part of who we experience ourselves as being.
For most people, the intellect is entwined with the mind and led around as the attention drifts from interest to interest. Some people like philosophers and academics train the intellect. However, it’s usually still very tied into world-view and self-sense. Materialism dominates science, for example, in a way that many scientists don’t recognize. They don’t distinguish scientific method from world-view and how the latter influences their objectivity.
With Self Realization, the my-sense (asmita) ends, the identification with ahamkara as the I-sense lets go, and we settle into a much more universal Self-sense as Consciousness (Atman).
As this becomes established, the intellect becomes associated with this silent sense of inner being. The intellect becomes “resolute.” It is much more stable and learns to distinguish very fine details and the mechanics of the world around us. Knowingness can expand dramatically.
However, how that develops depends on refinement and our interests and what we put our attention on. We may tap into bigger memes in the collective for artistic expression. Or design systems rooted in natural principles. Or guide large purification projects.
As the old self-stories arise in daily life, we see through them and let them go. That and rising inner peace and fulfilment winds down much of the chatter of the mind. Mind becomes much clearer and a more useful tool. It was never a good master.