Wisdom vs Intelligence

by Judy Joy and Matilda Bathurst.

What is wisdom and what is intelligence… how do we define and refer to these words and what is their relevance for us?

Are we living with a very restricted definition and relationship with the word intelligence? Caught up in the cerebral, educational celebration of mental prowess and factual recall that leaves us bereft of a much richer, fuller experience of life?

We tend to think that our intelligence comes from and resides in our heads, that it is ours and that we own it, and we pride ourselves on it.

But could it be that true intelligence is a whole body experience, not something confined to our brain cells?

If we look at our food choices for example, we often govern our bodies from our brains, at best, conforming to the current accepted intelligence about optimum dietary and nutritional requirements, but more usually just eating what most tantalises our taste buds, rather than giving our bodies a voice and being guided by how they feel after we eat certain types and quantities of foods.

As children, we are more naturally ‘in’ our bodies and are clear about what we do and do not want to eat. However, our food choices are governed by the choices the adults (our care takers) make and it does not take long for us to be caught in the same consciousness about nutritional ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ based on a mental model and/or be tantalised by the same desires.

The thing is that our bodies tell us ever so quickly about the impact of what and how we have eaten. For example, it is hard to deny the slump after a carb rich meal, or the stomach disturbances and mucous that come with a diet that includes a lot of dairy, but deny we do because the world, nutritional experts and/or our desires speak otherwise.

And what about those moments when our bladders call us to the toilet and we ignore and dismiss the call until the emergency bell is pulled and there is no further resisting?!

Or when we stop for long enough to realise that our mouths feel like sand dunes, having overridden earlier signs of thirst, even though we know the importance of staying hydrated.

And then of course there is feeling tired… a bit of TV and a hot chocolate for example, keeping us going much later into the evening than truly serves, allowing us to override our body and leaving us less vital and alert the next day.

Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.

There are plenty of scientific studies that are revealing the fact that our bodies work very differently to the way we have been historically taught; that parts of our body (most specifically heart and stomach) respond to our surroundings before our brains; that we have an innate intelligence in our bodies that is more responsive and fine-tuned than our brains in isolation. This is not to discount the extraordinary organ that the brain is, but it is very limited when we let it ‘go alone’… certainly not the central office and ‘mastermind’ that we have believed it to be.


To simply start a dialogue with our bodies, letting the voice of this whole body intelligence be heard, is the start of something very huge, an intimate relationship that simplifies life beyond belief. It develops a deeper understanding of ourselves, each other and the magic in life that makes decision making the clearest and simplest thing in the world… tortured ‘should I?’ or ‘shouldn’t I?’ increasingly becomes a thing of the past, as we build unwavering sureness in relationship with the wisest ally we have (and we all have)… our bodies’ wisdom.


Read more:

  1. Our body’s intolerance to alcohol and other toxins.
  2. Intelligence: is it embodied or embrained?
  3. The body is intelligent. 

153 thoughts on “Wisdom vs Intelligence

  1. ‘Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.’ this illustrates to me a key difference between the wisdom of the body which acts in full regard of everything including itself and the supposed intelligence of the mind which can instruct us to act in full disregard of itself, the body it is part of and everything else that it is universally a part of.

  2. “Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.” Totally. Our minds do not. They will gorge on anything and everything – food, bad habits, self-hate etc….. – and that does not truly serve.

  3. Starting the dialogue with the body is so useful, it is quite surprising when we start to realise how much the body does signal to us, and how much we override the messages. This has come about because we delude ourselves, thinking the mind is so much more clever than the whole body intelligence, whereas the body knows and tells us everything.

  4. There is so much ownership of the body. Like we have to look a certain way for our own gain. But perhaps by having this mentality it is assuring us that we don’t listen to ourselves and constantly compare rather than accessing the wisdom on offer.

  5. Knowing all that we know about our bodies on an anatomical, physiological and biological level alone tells us how very intelligent our bodies are.

  6. ‘Are we living with a very restricted definition and relationship with the word intelligence?’ I think you are correct here, the way we have used intelligence has not served us – when we look at the state the world is in, that is very evident.

  7. “Wisdom vs Intelligence” – the living of truth from our body is both wise and wisdom and thus intelligence and intelligent.

  8. As a teacher, I see the harm the commodity of intelligence has on the kids I work with and the staff who work with them. Whilst without question the teachers I know have heart (and a lot of it) the system has them tightly bound to delivering knowledge at the expense of the inner wisdom we all share and carry. Wisdom can come through but we have made a god out of intelligence and recall. Those pearls are not the everyday norm but are sparsely scattered in a desert of pushing and striving to the drum of betterment, where there is no evolution just a circulation of have to try harder and not good enough – to get by.

    1. It is a tragedy that we make it all about what we have to strive to recall and the boxes we have to tick, while the real gold is sitting right inside every single person. True support is to help nurture our connection to such divine wisdom, and to provide space and support for living in honouring of our innate awareness in a world that seems to be set up in every way to diminish it.

  9. The wisdom in our bodies can never be owned because it belongs to the body of the Universe we live within and is too vast to stuff into our pockets, bank accounts, cars or houses. And when we surrender to this constant and abundant presence within us, we realize there is no need to own it, just let it flow and enjoy the immense magic that ensues as a consequence.

  10. I can’t help but wonder at how advanced the human race would become if we started living from our inner wisdom instead of running with the limited intelligence of the mind.

  11. We know enough about the brain to realise that there is a whole lot that we still do not know about the brain. Can the same be said about the body? Or, is the body is a more fundamental study because it will tell us everything if we choose to feel and listen.

  12. If we began to raise children to know “that we have an innate intelligence in our bodies that is more responsive and fine-tuned than our brains in isolation” it wouldn’t take too long before the ingrained and accepted belief that our intelligence is only brain-based, starts to be dismantled. And with the dismantling of the belief will come the dismantling of the pride that is often attached to the status of one’s intelligence. Mind you, there will no doubt be a lot of resistance to begin with, when humanity realises that we have been fed a lie, for a very long time.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s