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How to be Both Clever and Mindful (2)

Written by on February 28, 2015 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living with 0 Comments


This post follows part 1, which you will find in last Saturday's Conscious Life News (Feb 22, 2015).

Higher education

Higher education today represents a clear example of the way that mind and imbalanced rationalism dominate our world. Our universities are full of clever people who are largely unconscious. Most teaching and research is carried out by people who, despite their advanced degrees from prestigious universities and their high IQs, have little understanding of the relationship between mind and presence. Because of this lack of understanding, they are not aware of the genuine context of human cognitive and spiritual evolution.

This is true even for most who work in neuroscience and psychology. Indeed, these people are often the least aware, so completely has their thinking mind come to dominate their world.

The mind likes to think of itself as being clever. It likes to think that it is smarter than other minds. In the academic world this has become a kind of mutually agreed-upon game. Most academics derive their sense of self from believing that they are smarter than the next guy. This identification is built around the accumulation of honorifics – higher degrees from prestigious universities, number of publications in high-ranking journals, research grants and so on. Often the actual knowledge and wisdom is of much lesser import. It is the brand name, volume of words and monies gleaned that elevates an academic in status above his peers.

The result is that our institutions of higher learning are educators of unconsciousness. They pass on unconsciousness from one generation to the next.

To work in a university as a teacher or researcher, you need to have spent a lot of time developing your intellect. The intellect is the parts of your mind that deal in abstraction. The ways of knowing that predominate are verbal/linguistic and mathematical/logical. There is not a great deal of mindful introspection, and most academics have lost the capacity for presence, and for deep knowing through presence.

Those academics and philosophers whose area of expertise relates to religious, spiritual and mystical experience are often no exception. Often, such people have become so ensnared in the mind, that they cannot escape it. Their “understanding” of spirituality remains locked “in the head”.

Just a few years ago one noted master of presence visited the California Institute of Integral Studies. This is one of California’s most well-known institutions of higher learning in spirituality. Yet very few of the CIIS academics bothered to attend this spiritual teacher’s talk. They were, it seems, too busy. For the mind, spiritual knowledge can become stale and old. “I already know all this”, is a common refrain that the mind brings forth when it is dissociated from presence.


Dumb smarts and silent knowing

I feel that I am reasonably well-qualified to write about the distinction between being clever and being conscious. In my twenties I spent a lot of time developing my intellect, eventually studying towards a doctorate in education.

Then, at the age of thirty I immigrated to New Zealand. There I participated in my first genuine experience of participating in a spiritual group where the intuitive mind usurped the intellect. I was hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with the emotional and intuitive world that opened before me.

I soon dropped out of my doctoral studies, as I came to see clearly that intellectual knowledge couldn’t compare to what I was learning with the group.

I was very afraid, because I was completely estranged from my pain body and I found myself swimming in a sea of emotional vulnerability. Nonetheless, I stuck with my group, even despite the terror (and it was terrifying, which is why most academics won’t go near such experiences).

I also learned how to develop what I call “the feeling sense”, which is the affective component of psychic perception.

These new experiences showed me that my prior understanding of human spirituality was almost entirely intellectualised. It was all in the head. I thought I knew a lot about spirituality, but in truth I knew almost nothing. I experienced an “ego fall” when a spiritual teacher literally read my mind and channelled back to me the stream of ego-defences that I was developing in order to deny the truth – so that I could maintain the illusion of control.


“I already know all this stuff.”

“This is all bullshit!”

“I am smarter than you!”

“Do you know anything about quantum physics?”

I am the real teacher here, not you!”


That teacher nailed it, because this was precisely my attitude at the time. It was deeply embarrassing to have someone expose my mind like that.

When cornered, the ego tends to lash out in anger, like a trapped tiger. That was the test. Was I going to admit to myself that I was a spiritual narcissist? Or would I storm out screaming “Bullshit!”

I took the hit. I took the fall.

And that was one of the best decisions I ever made. For without the honesty to admit what I had become, no further deep learning would have been possible.

Yes, lots of book learning would have continued. There would have been lots of ideas about physics and philosophy, lots of highly intellectual concepts designed to elevate me above humanity – and cut me off from my own soul.

But I didn’t go there.

With the truth exposed, I barely read a book for several years. Instead, I explored other ways of knowing and being. I plunged into the deep end of the pool.

I took in more than a few mouthfuls of water, but eventually I swam.

Five years passed and the tide began to shift. I felt I had developed enough understanding of the relationship between mind, intellect and intuition to allow myself to reactivate my intellect.

At the age of thirty-six I enrolled in another doctoral programme, receiving my PhD within four years. My experience as an intuitive and channeller of consciousness allowed me to employ my intuition to great effect during my enrolment. The PhD was something of a breeze. I worked a regular full-time job and wrote and published a dozen or so journal articles during my enrolment. I got fantastic reviews from my examiners, and my thesis was soon published as a book by a European academic publisher.

Then, as I entered my forties, a new phase of life blossomed. I explored mindfulness and presence at a deeper level, which was something quite different from my focus on the intuitive and psychic during my early thirties. Again, I learned much new knowledge.

The totality of all these experiences means that I am now uniquely equipped to comment on the strengths and limitations of different ways of knowing – and the relationships amongst them. I now have a strong understanding of the intuitive, the psychic, the emotional, the intellectual and the mindful.

I have come to conclude that in the modern world a balanced mixture of cognitive modalities is required. But we must lead with the mindful. Developing the intuitive and the intellectual without the mindful is a recipe for self-delusion. The mindful is the most important of these domains.


This post is an extract from Marcus T Anthony's ebook, Champion of the Soul.


Marcus T Anthony (PhD) is a futurist of the human mind, writer and spiritual adviser. He is the author of Discover Your Soul Template and many other books.

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