14.06: The vice of the wise
Many of us think of those with developed intellect as wise. Some of us may even see a developed intellect as an indicator, or at least a facilitator, of spiritual advancement. No doubt, a developed intellect can aid in memorizing quotes, grasping concepts, analysing ideas and verbalizing thoughts – all of which can engender deeper philosophical understanding. However, this is not enough for spiritual advancement.
Gita wisdom states that the intellectual faculty belongs to not the spiritual level, but the material level, albeit a subtle material one. Like everything material, the intellect can be a double-edged sword; it can take us towards Krishna or away from Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita (14.6) indicates that a developed intellect is a symptom of the mode of goodness. It also cautions that this mode binds those with a developed intellect by seducing them with a sense of complacency and superiority.
This sense of complacency obstructs them in connecting with reality. They can often argue and justify their views to others, especially those with a lesser intellect. Unfortunately, their views don’t necessarily reflect reality because they derive their views not from scriptural revelation but from personal speculation. Their developed intellect makes them dependent, even insistent, on such speculation; they dismiss submissive scriptural study as naïve and demeaning. They fail to realize that submissive scriptural study within a faithful tradition offers a process of self-transformation, a process that can liberate them from worldly attachments and animates them with devotional attraction to Krishna. As they bereave themselves of this process of self-transformation, their lofty speculations fail to free them from their petty attachments.
Thus, the unwillingness to seek the aid of scripture is the vice of the wise, a vice that prevents their wisdom from leading them to freedom.