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. It is not about dismissing intelligence, but seeing it for what it is and not making it more important than the loving wisdom we are and are from. We are in a mess as a global humanity and need to consider the whole and not just the parts.

    1. Beautifully expressed Ariana. Yes – we do need the intelligence from the mind to operate and yes we do need recall; these things are necessary to function well but without wisdom, intelligence and the intellect are merely tools with no heart – empty, lacking in richness and love.

  2. There is a ginormous difference between what we regard as intelligence from the mind and the intelligence or wisdom from the body; the latter comes from absolute love for the all and the other serves nothing but self. It is the absolute love for the all that I am choosing to align to which is changing my entire life and my relationship with everyone.

  3. Intelligence seems to be something we champion that sets us apart from each other. Wisdom is a quality that embraces, includes, shares and is humble and ready for the next learning on offer.

  4. I recognise that tortured indecision of the mind and I have also experienced the solid instant knowing that comes from a connection to the body and the intelligence its particles have access to.

  5. Our bodies feel like an endless vessel that is forever filled or flowing with universal wisdom when we are reconnected to our essence. And to celebrate our intelligence without true connection is a parting from our essence.

  6. The intelligence of the mind would have us doing all kinds of things that are detrimental to our bodies, our health and our overall mental well-being. It cares nought for the body.

  7. I am finding that the messages from the whole body get louder the more we listen and honour them, so when the busy head tries to override them, there is a pause where the body gives a question…Really? I don’t think so.

    1. Yes I have been noticing this too. If I go to do something from my head my body is now programmed to stop and for me to pause to feel. In this pause quite often I can reassess.

  8. We spend our life trying to grow up and leave our childish behaviours behind us. But, that was when we were fully connected to our body.

  9. It’s easy for us to dismiss people because they do not fit the image of what it means to be intelligent, so therefore, we don’t see the value in what they have to say. We do this with children all of the time.

  10. The powerful thing is – we can choose for ourselves – we are not condemned to be disconnected from our bodies and the wisdom therein, it’s down to us to connect to all we are inside.

  11. For years I dieted to lose weight and would adhere to other people’s ideas of how to lose weight but what I’ve come to realise what one person can eat doesn’t necessarily mean that my body can. Our bodies have an intelligence that we would be well served to listen to instead of ignoring or overriding.

  12. ‘The wisest ally we have.. our bodies wisdom’ oh yes indeed, and it is worth every moment spent building a connection and relationship with our bodies for the wisdom just keeps being lovingly presented, so I have found.

  13. I know for me if I was intelligent (which I am) and I have studied and can recall the food pyramid and what it tells me I should be eating or not eating to stay healthy but when I did this for me it never worked. It was only when I applied the wisdom of what my body was telling me in terms of my diet that things really changed for me in terms of health and vitality.

    1. Our heads in separation from our bodies, which equals what we call intelligence, are at sea in the world. Our mind and body working together is a combo that can navigate life wisely and in relationship with the vastness that is life.

  14. I heard on the radio that there is research to prove how our organs are so much more interrelated than was previously thought. It makes me smile how research is starting to catch up with what we already know in the body and don’t actually need research to prove it to us.

  15. It is quite fascinating to observe how we have come to accept intelligence as the highest form of knowledge and revere academics at Universities because they have studied for many years, but we haven’t actually discerned what intelligence is or its quality. We have an array of choices to choose from, choosing wisdom from the body feels already there, no need to study and spend years working for it.

  16. Intelligence only engages our brains which can channel all manner of things; wisdom comes from the truth of our bodies – how we treat our bodies will reveal whether we live by wisdom or intelligence.

  17. “… could it be that true intelligence is a whole body experience…” indeed it is – from personal experience there is a quality that is felt throughout our whole body when truth is offered which cannot be denied.

  18. When we rely on our intelligence for something, we can almost justify anything as being good for us (extremes excluded) and our body may not come in as a factor at all. With wisdom we can exclude nothing and our body is the centre.

  19. It is so interesting how the body tells us whether whatever we have put in it suits us or not. Research can give us a variety of conflicting information which can send our heads in a spin, complicated studies with inconsistent outcomes, but ask the body how it feels about a certain substance, and quite simply, it will tell us, what we do with the message is another matter.

  20. How often do we over-ride our body’s tiredness to push the envelope and stay up late and when we find naught is achieved and that an early rhythm allows us great space in the day to complete many more tasks because we wake earlier and more vital.

  21. Pretty much all of us have had stories where on hindsight we have noted that although everything according to our logical perception painted one picture, we had a deep down sense that things were different. Many talk about this factor as something strange and supernatural. Yet discussions started here show how normal and down to earth this process actually is.

    1. The current education model we have does not support humanity to acknowledge, appreciate and claim the innate wisdom that is there. We are actively taught to come from the head and in so doing negate the wisdom of what we know through what we feel. We therefore learn to live life from the head, from projected pictures about what is and what is not acceptable rather than from what we know. The fact that the expression from this place is perceived as supernatural or weird by so many is indicative of the collective hold we allow the mental plane to have over our bodies. The beauty of this awareness is that we can start to very practically and simply address this mix up as you suggest. Simply connecting to our breath and feeling our bodies is a great place to start and in this practicality we find a profundity that our heads simply couldn’t make up.

      1. Ironic that we are so obsessed about knowing things but are shunning our connection to the greatest source of wisdom. I recall in the past being envious of those who seemed far more able to sense what was true and what was not, and I wished there was a gadget I could own with lights, colours or sounds that would alert me to anything that was false. It took me a long while to start to realise and accept that I too have that potential, as we all do, via every particle of my body- particles that remain in harmony with the pulse of the universe and do not get seduced by falseness like my brain can.

      2. Interesting that you are sharing this Golnaz. This shows me that when was I younger I had totally aligned to the education model – wanting to have access to truth wasn’t on my radar. In my emptiness I believed that to be worth anything you had to be clever, which you had to prove by getting qualifications and in knowing a lot. The trouble was, no matter how much I studied and learned it was never enough to mitigate against the well of lack of self-worth I carried. Learning the difference between the illusion of intelligence and the truth of wisdom has taken me some time to unravel, but there is nothing in me now that actively searches for knowledge to prove my worth but an increasing appreciation of the wisdom that can come through when I get myself out of the way based on a foundation of deep appreciation for everything I am and what is possible for me to express.

  22. Despite lots of research now showing the independence of various organs like the heart from the brain, it seems to take a long time for it to become acceptable for these differences to be embraced from the former thinking.

  23. The mind will always over rule the body and drown out any messages it is trying to convey to the being that resides within. We even get to the point where we begrudge the messages from the body as if it is punishing us and making us sick on purpose. This way of living is clearly not working, so maybe it’s time to start listening to the body and the multitude of messages it conveys to us on a daily basis.

    1. In the light you paint Julie, it is vey clear that in not connecting to the innate wisdom we have we are not being very intelligent. Paying attention to my body and how it feels has been the only way that has allowed any form of wisdom to emerge from it!

  24. I find myself asking myself the question: how does mankind rate wisdom versus intelligence? It feels like the answer would be mankind rates intelligence at 100% and wisdom at 0% but let’s be kind and say intelligence gets 95% and wisdom 5%. The problem is that what we define as intelligence is not intelligence at all but simply an ability to recall information and pass an exam. The fact that in a month or two’s time after such an exam, one may have forgotten the vast majority of what one crammed in order to pass an exam is ignored as irrelevant. The thing is that this intelligence is not intelligent. So we put all our eggs into a basket called intelligence that has no intelligence and we ignore the basket called wisdom that has the answers we really need.

  25. We may not like all the messages we are given from the body but it is wonderful that we have the opportunity to listen to or feel these messages to guide us to take a different direction and follow its wisdom.

  26. With the new year we have a beautiful moment to reflect on the year past and the year to come. I enjoy clocking the changes I have made and using these as points of inspiration for what next. Where can I develop more, express more and deepen relationships? How can I make life richer, more real and true?

  27. So great to bring up the consideration that there can be far more to the wisdom of and quality of our choices and that these ‘gems’ actually come from the whole body intelligence and not our heads. I know that when one of these ‘gems’ is passed on to another through my own lips it can surprise me almost as much as it does another – the truth is heard and felt first and it is not some recycled one off comment that many have regurgitated before that comes from the head.

  28. Eating finds its way into every aspect of our life if we let it! Living with the wisdom of our bodies eliminates wasted time so we create more space to do those things that serve us and others and still have a great time eating delicious foods when needed especially at celebration, which is simply sharing a meal with others.

  29. Reading this again confirms that we would be much faster in getting to the answers we seek by listening to the wisdom of the human body rather than waiting for our minds and science to prove things beyond a doubt.

  30. It’s a bit of a generalisation perhaps but in my experience when I go to the doctor he asks me how I am feeling…not what I am thinking. To me this is significant because it seems the evidence of how our bodies are feeling is more reliable than the minds interpretation of things. I have certainly found this to be the case and the more I engage my body and how I feel in my life the more wisdom seems to be available to me.

  31. One of the common criticisms of the ‘central office’ is that it is out of touch with the workers out on the ground and that there is a lack of communication from those who are making the decisions about which way to go. When we allow ourselves to feel the communication of our bodies, we start to address this issue. We start to take the messages from ‘the ground’ into the decision making process and hence we come to a much more all embracing answer. And surely, the all-embracing way is more truly wise than ignoring any part of us.

  32. Wow!! This is great Matilda and Judy, and may I add that on Christmas day some suggested that we over did the choices of rich protein foods that also caused us to feel lethargic? Or maybe it was the cornucopia of food that caused us to drop our awareness? Are we eating to sustain our body and Soul or are we eating because we are empty? Eat lightly to feel the light of the Soul!

    1. Great questions and reminders Greg. Everything we eat, how we eat it and how much is either a choice to support us to be in the livingness of Soul or not.

      1. So true Michael, and the complete forever deepening humble appreciativeness of the loving choices will also sustain us or be like our fuel between meals!

  33. When we embrace our whole body and honour it in its fullness we not only have access to great wisdom we also fall in love with ourself and find settlement within ourself.

  34. “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?” Such wisdom that asks us to deeply ponder on what has been accepted as the norm for so long, but asks us to question if this is actually true. In my own experience, the more I listen to my body and dont override it with what my brain is telling me, the more I cannot dispute that my body knows the simple truth about everything.

  35. ‘Could it be that true intelligence is a whole body experience, not something confined to our brain cells?’ I love the wisdom with which you present this blog – it makes a huge amount of sense.

  36. I love this so much…’ true intelligence is a whole body experience, not something confined to our brain cells.’ We are so much more than nerve signals in the brain.

  37. “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.” And when truly honoured miracles become common place, as many long term or seemingly unsolvable conditions clear up and people begin to experience vibrant health sometimes for the first time in their lives.

  38. Checking out in front of TV used to be a huge part of my life and I would regularly fall asleep in front of the TV, to wake up hours later with a buzzing noise, as the station had closed down, I did not want to miss out! Now that I have a deeper understanding about life there is no more TV, but I now use food to dull and distract myself and now because of the distractions I am missing out on deepening my connection! So our spirit wants a bet both ways, just like the church in the Robin Hood movie produced by Otto Bathurst.

  39. ‘However, our food choices are governed by the choices the adults…’ interesting to observe how as adults we impose beliefs about what and how much food should be eaten onto children and are not really hearing what they are saying when they tell us they don’t want to eat a particular food or eat anymore more of a particular meal. We could perhaps do well to listen more and tell them less.

      1. Absolutely Alexis – we are at that point already in some cases of poor diets, malnutrition and fast food in the eyes of social services and health workers but there is another step required for it to include all food choices and amounts of food in such detail. There is obvious resistance to this full awareness in society as it asks us all to take responsibility and become aware of all of our own choices too.

      2. An important factor in all of this is that we are all blinded by our beliefs. If for example we believe that it’s imperative for good health that we eat three meals a day, then we’re going to ensure that our kids also eat three meals a day. If we believe that we should be governed by our body as to what and when to eat then there’s a high chance that we will encourage our kids to do the same. Most of us try and impart our beliefs onto our kids.

  40. The more I listen to my body’s feedback about how I treat it, the more I appreciate the immensely sensitive work of art that I live within and the immense wisdom that has governs and harmonizes all it does for me.

  41. The wisdom we can feel in the body is not quantifiable so can be dismissed but when we can feel it, we know it to be true. It is something that has developed in my body over a number of years, and it deepens the more I acknowledge it. It feels it still has much further it can go.

  42. The purpose of riding roughshod over our bodies by reducing them to mere function is so that we can continue with our charade that we are not aware that the way that we are all choosing to live is neither true or loving.

      1. I have found that reducing the amount of abuse that I inflict on myself is a very gradual process and one that ebbs and flows like the tide. It’s not that I ever stop doing something completely in one go but more that it comes and goes, a forwards and a back and often reducing in strength until it peters out completely.

      2. “yet how often do I still abuse my body in spite of this awareness?” A great question to ask ourselves Michelle and I suspect you are not alone in this. Greater awareness does not guarantee change, we are constantly affected by things and life in and around us, sometimes we hold steady and other times not.
        Wherever we are, accept, appreciate how far we’ve come and be gentle with ourselves.

      3. Alexis I love your response to this. Sometimes we hold pictures in our heads about how we should be and want to change patterns, usually expecting a one fix all approach believing what we need is more resolve. Whereas in reality, making lasting change is way more elusive and fluid than this: ” Its not that I ever stop doing something completely in one go but more that it comes and goes, a forwards and a back and often reducing in strength until it peters out completely’.

      4. The key for me is to keep putting appreciation ahead as the focus, so no matter what is going on for me there is an openness to keep making those self loving choices even in the trough of those that aren’t. Over time the scales have definitely been tipping in favour of those that are more supportive because over time also we realise that those self loving choices are no longer about the self but about all of us.

  43. “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”. There is a new understanding emerging in our medical sciences that is enabling us to move on from the ‘brain is king’ kind of mentality. New studies are empowering us to appreciate just how sensitive and responsive our heart is and the immense role is plays in governing our bodies. Makes sense to me, considering its power and purpose nourishing every cell in our body, never ceasing its work until it’s time to stop, that the whole body should be focussed on keeping it vibrant and healthy.

  44. We are still very caught up in the functional capacity of our bodies. What they can do and what we push them do to. But what is the purpose of this if we don’t listen to our bodies very distinct communication?

    1. Well said Jennifer – our bodies are amazing instruments which we treat more like a machine. A great reminder to honour what we feel rather than override it.

  45. Our bodies are the master but we override our bodies constantly with the result of our minds treating our bodies as the servant. We come off second best as a result. We only have to look at our current state of health to observe this.

    1. So true Jennifer our bodies can be a slave to our minds and thoughts, living in such a way that does not support our true health and well-being.

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