Three Types of Intelligence - Alan Wallace -

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Three Types of Intelligence – Alan Wallace

1. Conative intelligence

This is our ability to discern which desires and intentions truly link to our own and others’ wellbeing. Adoption (intention) while releasing, letting go of, setting aside desires and intentions that undermine our own and others’ wellbeing. The desires that we embrace, the intentions that we pursue are actually going to get us where we want to go.

2. Attentional intelligence

Learning how to attend, not simply having our attention hijacked by the strongest stimulus around but directing attention where we wish, to our own and others’ benefit. The longer you stay focused, the more drained you get. The more intense the focus, the more stressed out you get. That’s why there’s so much emphasis on stress reduction and stress management.

It is possible to cultivate the ease of relaxation, of comfort in your body and mind, then gel your attention, focus your attention without losing the essence of ease. It can be done.

This type of focus overcomes A.D.H.D., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity.

  • Attention deficit—loss of clarity.
  • Hyperactivity—scattered attention.
  • There can be too much attention as in hyperactivity, there can be too little as in attention deficit, there can also be dysfunctional attention, attending in a way that is harmful to oneself and others.

In advertising if you’re thinking of people as prey that’s dysfunctional. We’re not treating each other as human beings, it’s what Martin Buber called an “I-It relationship”. I’m the I, you’re the It.

3. Cognitive intelligence

Tend to equate this with an I.Q., problem-solving ability, but also mindfulness.

Mindfulness is bearing in mind whatever we’re attending to, to be able to bear it in mind. It includes working memory; it includes the ability to sustain the focus without forgetfulness, without distraction and do so with discernment, intelligence, drawing on memory, drawing on imagination, bringing your full understanding, your wisdom, your intelligence to the task at hand.

We can have too much or too little attention (obsession/ apathy) and desires and intentions that are completely incompatible with our own and others’ well being. They’re only destructive because we weren’t cognitively intelligent.

  • You can have too much, too little, or dysfunctional amounts of conation of attention when it comes to cognitive intelligence. It overlays our imaginations, expectations, assumptions so that we obscure our perception of reality (can’t see what’s real because of our expectation).
  • Cognitive deficit where reality is shouting at us, and we don’t see it. It’s denial, where we’re actively misconstruing reality.

This includes attending to our own emotions and other’s emotions—attending closely to how they express it in their facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, their words and tone.

Attending means you’re watching over them, caring for them because if you take care of them with an open heart, with clear discernment, attentional intelligence, conate intelligence, cognitive intelligence, I think they’re going to work well for you.

Evolution and Intelligence

Parsimony in evolution—Nature doesn’t give you more than you need. Given this principle, why do we human beings have more intelligence than we possibly need for our survival?

  • Technically we did not need great works of art or science to survive as a species.
  • Given that we, all of us human beings, we want to be happy, we want to suffer less, why are we not becoming happier with each generation? If each generation learns from the last, if we’re always learning to be happy from our experiences we should be exploding with happiness by the time we’re 65.

The more we develop as nations, the unhappier we are. Where is this intelligence that we have been accumulating? The 20th Century witnessed the greatest exponential growth of scientific knowledge and the power of technology in the whole history of humanity. To know so much and during these same 60 years or so, we’ve wiped out half the wildlife population on the planet, half the fish in sea are gone, global warming and the list goes on and on and on. Are we simply insane?

The Nature of Happiness

What’s the nature of happiness and the pursuit of happiness?

Hedonic pleasure

Happiness we experience that’s derived from what we can get from the world. We get happiness, we find a person who we think, that person will make me happy, that person would be my friend, that person I’d like to marry, that’s a job I’d like to get, that job would make me happy. A sense of happiness that is stimulus driven.

Emotional intelligence can help us to find hedonic pleasure. It all depends on what you want. What’s your vision? What’s your vision of your life?

Genuine happiness

Is the type of well being that we bring to the world, it’s not something we get from it and it’s not dependent upon pleasant, sensory or mental stimulation. The joy you get when you’ve gone out of your way to do service, you’ve done something meaningful. Were you a good friend, were you sensitive, were you attentive, were you caring, were you empathetic?

Genuine happiness is when you’re sitting in a room by yourself with no other form of stimulation, entertainment and distraction for 15 minutes, and you can feel what it is to be you. Yogis alone for 30 years in solitude are blissful vs solitary confinement in penitentiaries.

Addiction to Stimulation

Addiction is a form of craving, a form of attachment, craving for what we don’t have, attachment to what we do have. Conative intelligence is antithetical to addiction. Addictions are sensory intellectual stimulation. We have to be doing something—killing time. If we don’t get external stimulation we just auto-stimulate.

  • Obsessive compulsive ideation or mind wandering— 80% of the time the thoughts that just come up are unpleasant
  • Blaise Pascal: “When I have occasionally set myself to consider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils to which they expose themselves at court or at war, would survive so many quarrels, passions bold and often bad adventures, etc. I discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quiet.”

Developing Conative Intelligence

When the spark of a desire arises, are you aware of the desire before you act upon it, embrace it, pursue it? If you’re not, you’re a robot. You’re not making any choices. We have the possibility to develop conative intelligence so when the desires are dished up by whatever kind of stimulus, we’re aware of it and then we have the possibility of making a wise choice.