INTELLIGENCE – Artificial vs Natural
The dictionary defines intelligence as "the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills." I have also heard it defined, in an even more stripped-down version, as "the ability to learn." Without going into the overwhelming research on the subject, or its controversial political sideshow—resistance to dumbing us down to the level of our primate cousins—let us consider what the role of intelligence might mean, in Zen. We learn, from Master Dogen, that insight in Zen has little or nothing to do with conventional intelligence; but that "human faculties may be sharp or dull," from the Harmony of Difference and Equality (J. Sandokai).
If we take the latter, simpler definition, we can expand the meaning of intelligence to include so-called "lower" animals, obviously. But with a little more liberal attitude, may even countenance the behavior of a tree, as exhibiting the ability to learn. That is, a root grows through the soil, and encounters a blockage, such as a stone, or another root. The tree does not keep pushing against the stone, like a human being, beating her or his head against the wall. Instead, it follows the route of least resistance, by going around the impediment. You might argue that there is no recognition, by the tree, of what is occurring, that indeed, it does continue pushing, but that it is the yielding of the relatively softer soil, that enables its change of direction. And, of course, you would be correct, insofar as that analysis goes. We do not attribute intent to a tree, after all, let alone the stone.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 17 February 2016 19:25)