The Seeker's Mind


Often people want to learn and be creative, but they can’t focus for long periods of time and have no creative calling. This is common in our world today because we are so distracted. A mind constantly distracted will only seek more distraction because it is used to overstimulation. A distracted mind is like the ocean waters during a hurricane. On the other hand, a tranquil mind is like a pristine lake on a bright and sunny day. A motionless lake is transparent and reflective; you can see right down into its ultimate depth.


Our attraction to entertainment is destroying our innate ability to learn and be creative. Constant entertainment pacifies our mind. As a result intelligence is undervalued in our world, and creativity is thought of as something isolated to artists. The truth is eclipsed when we overfeed our mind with entertainment and poor food, forget to exercise, and just allow our thoughts and emotions to run amok. We become desensitized to the world around us and even ourselves, as we vicariously watch the whole world implode into unconsciousness.


Becoming more conscious of our inner and outer landscape allows us to learn and create at an optimal level. However, developing expert skill and reaching peak performance also depends on having the discipline and dedication for cultivating more intelligence and creativity, which will enhance your overall life. The irony is that many people who just go through life with no discipline and allow life to push them around are often arrogant about what they “think” they know and are incapable of learning as a result. They have not been humbled by life, so they continue to fight and be jaded. We are unable to learn when we are rendered unconscious by overstimulation of body and mind.


Cultivating Intelligence


Cultivating intelligence requires us to finally admit that we don’t really know anything. This is not a desirable position to be in in our world. We always want to save face by appearing to be intelligent. We often speak about topics and current affairs that we really don’t know anything about because we are paranoid that not knowing about something opens us up for criticism. But it is highly unintelligent to speak on matters we don’t really know about. Even current affairs are issues we shouldn’t speak about. Just because the news broadcast or newspaper gives us information on certain matters doesn’t mean we actually know what’s really going on. It’s unintelligent to formulate opinions on such scarce information without diving deep into the subject.


By nourishing the little things in our life we realize that we actually don’t know much, but on the flip side we are eager to learn. As a result we are not afraid to admit that we don’t know because that is the most honest and intelligent position to be in. We learn to be truly humble and not at all worried about not knowing, and as a result we approach life as explorers rather than know-it-alls. We embrace the seeker’s mind, meaning we remain a student of life. Having a seeker’s mind cultivates intelligence, which allows us to grow psychologically. Our minds become more articulate and clear, which becomes evident in our speech and emotional conduct. If we pretend we know, we cannot learn. And if we cannot learn, we cannot grow. Learning is the fertilizer for growing our intelligence. Learning is just like nature because it is nourishing, moving, and growing—it’s alive! Learning itself grows our mind, and if we are growing, then we are fully alive.


Our habit to try to be a know-it-all cuts us off from the feeling of growing and being alive. Once we think we know something categorically we stagnate and disconnect from our mind’s natural growth. Our all-knowing habit makes us come across as an authority on certain matters, but we forget that information always changes and knowledge deepens as our mind grows. By remaining a student and continuing to learn throughout our lives, we understand more and continue to grow. Even when we think we aren’t learning, life is teaching us, as philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti explains:


“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born till the moment you die is a process of learning. Learning has no end and that is the timeless quality of learning.”


There should be no end to learning. If you are humble enough to remain a student your growth will be continual, and as a result your mind will cultivate a keen intelligence that has a deep understanding of self, others, and life. This process should continue to the day we die, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Learning nourishes this deep intelligence, making us more aware with a profound sense of understanding. Deep intelligence is something we all can have if we are willing to do the work. We are losing contact with intelligence because of the toxic habits that keep us distracted. Instead of diving headfirst into distractions, we need to go old school with simple habits that have become background noise in our modern world.


Reading as a Discipline


 Reading books is essential for learning. Books are a super fuel for cultivating intelligence. But in our modern world books have taken a backseat to the toxic habit of watching screens. We watch television and watch on our smartphones and computers. It’s a constant observation of everybody else’s lives but our own. When we watch whatever it may be, including mindlessly surfing the internet and scrolling the social media feeds, we zone out in a stupefied zombie state. As a result, watching too much stuff on screens makes us stupid.


Watching screens doesn’t require a lot of our attention. The more we partake in watching activities the less our mind can concentrate and think clearly. When people have these types of habits it is hard for them to complain about their lives. How can any of us complain if we are not making our lives conscious?


We need to take our power back. Instead of watching stuff on screens mindlessly, we need to turn to reading books, preferably physical books. Turn the act of reading into a discipline. Reading itself requires an ability to focus for extended periods of time, so a daily discipline of reading cultivates focus and concentration. As a result we have an improved ability to focus and concentrate that can be applied to anything. So buy a bookcase and fill it full of books. Not fiction books, but nonfiction books on philosophy, science, religion, art, and so on. To cultivate intelligence you need to tackle the big subjects that will give you a clearer understanding of life.


Make your reading discipline a daily ritual. When it is time for digital sunset, switch over to a physical book. I like to read at least three hours a day, usually after digital sunset, but if I’m not writing in the morning I will read then. Extended periods of reading are similar to meditation. Your mind is focused on reading, and as a result you enter a state of effortlessness, where time disappears. The added bonus of this is that at the same time you are cultivating intelligence.


The evidence that reading makes you more intelligent can be found in your expanded vocabulary. Your ever-growing vocabulary enables you to be more specific in conversations and writing, so you can articulate ideas in a way people truthfully understand. This ability is what attracts us to intelligent people, who are usually well read. Comedian and actor Bryan Callen is a voracious reader, and he inspired illusionist David Blaine to read more. As he explained to Blaine, “The difference between the people you admire and everybody else is that the former are the people who read.”


We should not neglect our ability to be more intelligent. The key is to remain a student without becoming clever. Even if you believe you know something categorically, that understanding will likely change over time and you with it. The more we cultivate intelligence, the better creators we will be.


Book excerpt from Emotional Intuition for Peak Performance by Jason Gregory © 2020 Inner Traditions.


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