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Buddhi — intellect.

It processes, co-ordinates and filters the sensory impressions. It decides which of them we accept and pursue further.

Buddhi has two aspects, one egoistic and one selfless. The egoistic part is controlled by the ego and our weaknesses, whereas the selfless and non-personal principle judges and decides on the basis of ethical maxims – this is known as Viveka. Viveka is like the “butter” which is extracted from the “cream” of Buddhi. Through Viveka we are able to differentiate between truth and untruth, right and wrong, good and bad. Viveka leads us to the knowledge that the material reality is relative, and guides our endeavours towards the Absolute, the Eternal.

Our intellect develops in two different ways:

  • through everything we have learnt from childhood up to the present time. This logical knowledge helps us to cope with the tasks of daily life.
  • it is formed through analysis, reflection, concentration (DHĀRANĀ) and meditation (DHYĀNA). Wisdom and discrimination (VIVEKA) ultimately develop from these.

Who or what causes our mental condition? Is it produced by the intellect or, conversely, is our way of thinking influenced by our inner state? The first is correct. The intellect creates our mental condition. But occasionally a situation arises that it is unable to master. Then we lose control of our thoughts and emotions, as for example in a fit of rage. How often have we said or done something when we were unable to control our emotions which we greatly regretted later on! That is why the cultivation of Viveka is so tremendously important, not only for our worldly existence but also for our spiritual life.

See also

Further reading