The Difference Between Mind and Intelligence

Question: What is the difference between mind and intelligence?


Lord Krishna speaks about his energies in the Bhagavad-gita. “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego—all together these eight constitute My separated material energies.” Out of these, earth, water, fire, air and ether are gross energies, or the gross elements of creation. The other three—mind, intelligence and the ego—are subtle energies, or the subtle elements of creation.

Apart from these eight, there is one more element, which Krishna calls as His superior energy. “Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another, superior energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are exploiting the resources of this material, inferior nature.”

This superior energy is the soul, the jivatma – which is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. Although the soul is part and parcel of God, it is temporarily covered by the eight material elements while in this world. The soul by nature is part of God. It is looking for the ecstasy of loving God. But when the soul forgets its relationship with God, it tries to look for pleasure through the ego, the intelligence, the mind and the senses.

For example, through the eye, the soul is searching for some beautiful object to enjoy. Similarly, through different senses the soul is trying to enjoy different sense objects. When these experiences come through the senses, the mind is being controlled by those experiences. The mind is relating to those experiences in terms of enjoyment and suffering… “I don’t want this because this is causing me suffering, but I do want this because it is causing me enjoyment.” That is basically how the mind functions. But the intelligence is the discriminating factor.

Let’s see how the mind and the intelligence fixed in knowledge respond when a beautiful object that is actually harmful appears in front of them. The mind says, “I want this; I want to enjoy this.” But the intelligence fixed in knowledge says, “No. This is illusion. Enjoying this is like licking the honey on the edge of a razor blade. You might enjoy a little, but then you will suffer.” But the intelligence not fixed in knowledge would figure out all kinds of strategic, decisive plans to somehow or other get that object of enjoyment.

If the mind is controlled by the intelligence in knowledge, the mind is the best of friends. But if the mind is not controlled by the intelligence in knowledge, and the mind instead controls the intelligence, the mind is your worst enemy. Yoga means to control the mind by God-conscious intelligence. We develop God-conscious intelligence through study of the scriptures, which tells us what is good for our spiritual progress and what is not, even though the object may appear otherwise.

Radhanatha Swami

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