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Posts Tagged ‘intelligence

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we agree that helping others when they are in need is one of most important ways to show kindness, can I propose, that it is impossible for those who are not able to “notice” the situations where others are in need of helps to offer helps, thus it is impossible for them to be kind?

In a couple of my previous posts I mentioned how I lost a few life time friends of mine during my middle age hazard. I also said I moved on, and I did. However, the recent unexpected visiting from one of these friends inevitably brought the issue back to table, and I just have a few more words to say, before I move on once again.


Despite of my tremendous joy to see my old friend, during our brief meetings, the frequently unpleasant remarks made by her about my chronic condition subdued my joy. To put it simple, not only she had no intention to know what exactly happened to me during past years, but also she tirelessly tried to “encourage” me to be “mentally tough” (even though lots of these remarks were made completely out of contexts), as if she had known me as a person who could never handle hard situation. At first I was only confused, later on I realized, despite the fact that we had not been together for over 20 years, she somehow already held a strong belief that my middle age health trouble was “mental”, so in a way I “exaggerated” my hardship. This belief was so strong that it was almost impossible for me to have any rational conversations with her. At the end, I had to think (or deduce) that the reason she held such headstrong belief of me might be also because it’s only way she could be free from feeling guilty for her not offering anything during my adversity, as I was always there when she needed (I also suggested this “idea” in my email to her after she left). This is selfishness, and it happened in my dear friend whom I knew since high school and kept friendship for over 30 years, I felt extremely disappointed.

But the real hard, or “wicked” part of this frustration of mine is this: deep inside me I know she didn’t mean to be so selfish. That’s why I tried so hard again and again, to explain, to save our friendship. Oh how I wish that she was just mean spirited or evil possessed, which could make me to move on by one “clean cut”. The fact is, she is simply incapable of some very simple logic reasoning, and her extremely limited life experience also made it impossible to understand my “story”. So at the end, I was angry, she was stupefied.

I think, most people are only capable of understanding things that they have experienced, or things under their scope of intelligence. That’s why humans are mostly divided by experience and beliefs. However, my experience told me, it is during those times when we face things outside of our experience and beliefs (or knowledge), can we truly tell whether we are open-minded or not.

My middle aged hazard was extremely unusual, it costed me not only health and financial wise, but also friendships, which were extremely important to me back then. I have no regret whatsoever, as I did nothing wrong in my communication among my friends, and I still believe they all are kind persons. However, this unusual experience did provide me an opportunity to learn human nature, to see how such kind persons could do “unkind” things under extraordinary context. This experience also taught me that in most life occasions, there is no clear boundary between good and evil, kindness and selfishness. Relativity, really is what I would consider as a general truth, at this point of my life.

About the question at the beginning of this post, my answer is positive: yes, a true kindness does require some intelligence. Good motives are not enough for this world free from evil. That’s why through history we see only wise people stood sidelines of massive stupidity, even cruel disasters, many of which might not take place had there not been participation of thoughtless majority.

It seems to me, that nowaday many people tend to relate intellectual ability to vice, believe that kindness is something independent from intelligence, but this is really not what my experience tells me. I think we should never underestimate what good intelligence can do, what evil ignorance can commit.

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Long time ago, a young man paid a visit to a Zen master, asking for truth. The master welcomed young man by some tea: he poured tea from tea pot into tea cup. When the cup was full, he continued pouring, so tea overflowed. The young man asked: “The cup is full, why are you still pouring?” Answered the master: “You are right. If the cup is full, I would not be able to pour fresh tea in. Same as our heads, if they are full, now new ideas could be put in. So, do you have an empty head?”

This is a legendary tale in Zen history. In life I realized, so often our existing beliefs or knowledge would not only prevent us from learning new knowledge, as this Zen story implies, they also distort our observation. Some time we think we saw “fact”, but we barely saw what we wanted to see. How I took this photo of gas light lamp is a perfect example:

One day I drove past an apartment gate I saw two gas light lamps hanging on each side of the stone gate. I decided to go back to take some pictures of them. In my memory, the frames of lamps were all black, and I was glad because the contrast between black lamp frames and stone gray background would make a perfect image. So I went back the second day with camera. To my disappointment, the lamp frames were not black, but steel gray, and they didn’t make good contrast against background as I anticipated. I wonder if the dust on lamp surface make lamps looked gray, but after I checked I found that’s not true, because it was rained earlier, the surface of lamps were perfectly clean. But why I remembered they were black? Then in a flash of moment I realized why: because all gas light lamps in my memory were black! That’s why! That’s how my “knowledge” distorted my observation: I “knew” gas light lamps were dark colored so I “saw” dark colored gas light lamps.

So this experience reminded me the Zen story of tea cup. I think the inspiration of this story is invaluable to human intelligence, that is, only when we empty our mind, put what we think we already knew aside, can we have fresh eyes for truth.

Seeing so many people so easily and openly admit their lack of talent, yet so uneasily and reluctantly judge their intelligence, it can only make sense to me to conclude that no matter how much people venerate talent, it is intelligence that really matters to them.

English: Sunset at Ocean Beach in San Francisc...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagination is an ability to see invisible or nonexistent things;

Intelligence is an ability to understand existing things;

Reason is an ability to make sense out of existing things;

Intuition is an ability to see unseen things without process of basic (5) senses and reason.

 

Playing go, from The game of go, the national ...
Playing go, from The game of go, the national game of Japan book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My passion to “Go” revived recently. For over three weeks, I’ve been play this game whenever I had time, whenever my physical condition permitted. Some time I played all day long. I even wonder, if my brain is strong enough, I wouldn’t mind to be a professional go player.

Fact is, my brain is not as strong. Playing too much Go give me headache. So I have to rest. I hope it is just due to the fact that my current physical condition restricts me from using my brain too much (reading also brings me headache).

I once said, if one day those extraterrestrial Aliens (if they ever exist!) ask us to show them a game that represents human intelligence the most, I have no doubt it should be Go. This game is just a beauty of simplicity. The rules are simple, the setting is simple, yet, through thousands years of history, there have not been one game that was the same as another. The variation of this game playing (strategy) is unlimited. By far, for what I know, this is the only game that cannot be handled well by computer. Doesn’t this make sense? Sure, because it really is a game for humans only.

I learned playing this game during my college time. Later, I was absolutely crazy about it. I fell in love with its elegance and simplicity. Probably this most charming character of this game is, that you cannot play this game just by logical reasoning, or calculating, but also intuition. That’s probably why this game is so human.

Now, after over 20 years, I am playing it again, I found it provides me something more than just exercise intelligence (my playing level – “rank” – is actually much lower than 20 years ago). It helps me to improve my personality. 20 years ago when I was obsessed with this game, I was not good at handling losses. Whenever I lost a game, I felt like I had to swallow a fly. Now, I am doing this with different manner, I pay attention to my emotion, try my best to control it, to understand that it’s only natural that I made mistakes, and each time I focus on game playing only. In this way, I can only laugh at my losses.

Here is a passage that I read in the forum, which I think describes very well about the essence of this game:

“GO is the game against yourself, while chess is the game between two players”, so says a proverb. – Overcoming the ego, getting rid of the self damaging selfishness… is already taught in the Vedanta (Indian philosophy) and other “spiritual studies” (e.g. Buddhism, Zen, Konfuzianism).

Go is an Asian game… which is same teaching as practicing martial arts… getting own (negative) emotions under control. – I trust, that Go can help us to become a better person… so far we understand it as challenge to fight against ourselves,,, for living a more balanced life.

(http://forums.online-go.com/t/what-is-your-style-in-go-playing-here/750/8)

I am not fond of my own culture (Chinese), but this invention of Go, really is one of best invention of humans. And I sincerely hope, it can elevate my personality, help me to become a better person. I also hope this game gets more popular in other places rather just in East Asia, because it’s truly awesome!

Good intentions can cause bad outcomes only when “good intentions” are not good, or the persons with good intentions possess very limited intelligence or wisdom.


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