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. 

333 thoughts on “Wisdom vs Intelligence

  1. For me intelligence when it comes from our minds is cold and heartless, intelligence when it come from our bodies is warm and the sense is that what the body is telling us or showing us is the truth. This is my experience.

  2. ‘Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.’ So true. As babies and young children we sleep when we need to and stop eating when full, regardless of how often well meaning adults want us to finish what’s on our plate. The adults in their turn were treated similarly. Putting how we feel to the forefront is a game-changer and not always welcomed by society. The wisdom of our body is paramount…. ‘ to thine own self be true….’ Shakespeare. Hamlet.

  3. The wisdom of the body is a powerful thing. It has experienced situations before and knows the outcome well. Regardless if we choose to remember as in-depth as the body does that doesn’t mean the body forgets.

  4. I read something in a blog the other day that stopped me in my tracks regarding food which was ‘if I have no joy in what I eat, I’ve disconnected from my body’. To me this is a really simple marker to use to check where we are coming from, meaning what is the energy we are aligning to when eating are we eating food to dull and numb (no self-love and no intelligence) or eating to nurture our bodies (self-love and wisdom).

  5. I didn’t know that the heart and stomach respond to our environment before we do, it makes perfect sense to me though because I am often having an experience in my body that doesn’t fit what’s happening on the surface of life, I’m sensing and experiencing much more which is the energy behind the physical world.

    1. I didn’t know this either but it makes sense in that we feel before we see or rather receive with our eyes #clairsentient beings ✨

  6. I would say yes to this
    ‘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 have made our society all about mental prowess, but really all we are doing is regurgitating someone else’s ideas and beliefs rather than have the knowing that there is an intelligence that resides within each and every one of us that far surpasses what we call ‘intelligence’ we have allowed ourselves to be misled and lied to on this vast subject.

  7. I loved reading this, it really puts into perspective how we really eat. I have grown up around whatever was given to us at the table, is what we ate, the food was delicious and at times craving for more. Never was there a time where we were given the opportunity to eat what we felt impulsed to. It was a cycle and we carry this throughout our ageing years. My worst culprit was dairy and boy did I disregard what my body was expressing.

    I still carry this belief that foods need to be tasty, varied and it needs to look a certain way. And what I find interesting is these cultural cuisine separates us, I would not feel at home after being away until I had my aubejeine curry. And curries needed to have rice or chapatis to go with the food, it became an unsupportive ritual.

    I quite haven’t mastered what the body needs to support it or, nurture it to the fullest wisdom that can come through, yet, but I know my connection to it is so much better then way back then. So, I appreciate that I have started somewhere, and continuing on this cycle that allows me to connect to the body’s wisdom, innately in all of us, rather than ignoring the signs.

  8. ‘Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.’ Yet do we acknowledge the wisdom our body provides. For years I overrode what my body was telling me and suffered the consequences. For all their intelligence I see academics who don’t have vitality and make poor lifestyle choices. Intelligent they may be, but where’s the wisdom?

    1. Sue isn’t it interesting that when we tap into the body’s wisdom, we are given more intelligence and this intelligence doesn’t belong to you and its not about you, its about everybody else. And now that is a master of / in life…

      1. Shushila, I am coming to this understanding too that there is an intelligence that we can all tap into and it is far grander and more complete than the intelligence of our minds that is all about self and what it can do and be for self preservation.

  9. The more I observe the limitations of expression in intelligence compared to the depths that is on offer with wisdom, the more I see its shallowness and how it can be used to manipulate.

  10. When we start that dialogue with the body we become aware of how simple it is and how under a false illusion we have chosen to make life complicated.

  11. There must be so much corruption in the world of nutrition, money to be made and deals to promote foods and beverages as healthy when they are not. Doing our own research and particularly trusting the body is a great way to find out what is honouring and supportive for our health and wellbeing.

    1. Our body knows. As little ones, before our mind kicked in, we knew by listening to our body’s cues, when we were hungry, thirsty, cold, tired etc. education taught us to override this wisdom.

      1. It’s a great point about the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and how that plays out to affect our health and wellbeing. We see children as empty of intelligence and wisdom but the opposite is true.

  12. So from what you are saying it feels like wisdom is a whole body experience and intelligence comes from the mind.

  13. “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”
    Very true – this dialogue is paramount and priceless if we truly want a joyful successful life.

  14. The expression ‘mission control’ comes to me when I re-read this article. Mission control has the sense of one central point that drives the body forward and yet we are much more than this. Wisdom comes, not from control, but a relationship with the whole body and its intelligence. In other words the brain’s mission is control, whole body connection expands and deepens awareness.

  15. Whole body intelligence is definitely something we should be exploring and discussing more of. I can distinctly feel the difference when my body is speaking or when my head is, there is a feeling of presence and steadiness when it comes from my body and erm not so steady and zero presence when it comes from my head!

  16. The mind is so dominant we rarely make time to listen to the body and feel what it wants. We’re invited here to turn everything upside down, to not to rely on mind to rule our lives, but connect instead to our very wise and best friend, our body.

  17. True intelligence is a whole body experience, and source of wisdom, which when listened to, makes angst ridden decision making a thing of the past.

  18. “Our wise bodies absolutely know their limits and what truly serves.” This is something I am learning more about each day, and it is not just about physical things like food, sleep and exercise, but my body communicates very clearly about every aspect of life including how I approach people and dynamics in relationships, and how the energy behind these things can be harmful or healing. Emotions like sympathy feel to me like a poison in my body, yet we are told sympathy is good and normal. Even though it’s a decent thing to care about others the energy behind sympathy is actually awful to feel. It’s like a pollution in the body.

  19. I watched a programme on the TV years ago about the wisdom of the heart. It has its own nerve supply and can beat independently of the brain, as it does when people are in a coma, and with the connective tissue all around it, in the middle of the body, it communicates so much more than we realise. I already knew in my own heart that it had such wisdom.

    1. When we view the body as just a carcass to carry ourselves around in, disliking it or dismissing its needs on so many levels, we fail to appreciate the enormity of what it is, how it works, what it is connected to and what it communicates.

  20. Our bodies have always felt the truth; it is simply the corruption that force feeds the lies to keep us in the dark; so thank goodness for movies like ‘Robin Hood’ produced by Otto Bathurst that show how evil and corruption are a common practice even in our modern world.

    1. Greggbarnes It seems that every day something that was kept hidden and secretive is brought to light. For example the reality of child sex trafficking world wide but especially in America where it has become a billion dollar industry, has just come to light but why is this not reported in the main stream media? Why are we as a society allowing this evil to take place, it shows me how far have we dropped when we can sell our own children for sex and money? What it also shows me is that we don’t need nuclear weapons when we can turn on each other in this way, we will destroy ourselves as the physical and mental damage is far worse than any bomb.

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