Despite the common misconception, awareness is greater than intelligence. Our awareness is more conducive to living a successful and meaningful life than any other factor. This is because penetrating and patient awareness is the ultimate truth serum. If we look deep enough, what is true will be magnified and what is false will simply dissolve.
Meditators know this and they look at their demons, at their monkey mind, until they find inner peace. No tool or mantra is needed — they simply watch and wait as all inside keeps changing. What changes inside this mind is illusion, it is not true and it is not you. Eventually they look at the question “who am I”. They see they are not their name, status, or bank balance. They find they are not even their body or the beliefs within their mind. Awareness will penetrate to the very core of what is existential.
In science, a brilliant mind might be dedicated to a certain cutting edge mystery for many years. It takes patient awareness, consistently coming back again and again over years, that makes the discovery in a stroke of insight. The scientist might have the sheer intellect and base-knowledge in that field, but that doesn’t guarantee a discovery. A certain returning into awareness of the mystery is needed — that is to say, a certain ability to come back to the mountain of mystery, which may only seem to grow.
In business, awareness really shows its importance. Those who are aware of their business — those who eat, sleep, and breathe what they wish to manifest — are the ones who have the best chance of success. Yes, intelligence helps, especially in certain fields, but I would bet any day on a dedicated and present business man or woman than on an absent-minded "smart" person with a good idea. Over the long run, more presence of mind and regret-less action is what steers a company away from the endless potholes on their path. Intelligence often gets bored and moves onto the next thing, and in business, boredom means the fruits of labor are never tasted. Think of a tree: you must show up consistently over a decade, weeding, fertilizing, pruning, before you may taste the fruit.
Knowledge is not intelligence. In fact, sometimes too much knowledge clouds ones mind and makes high level tasks even harder. Furthermore, a person’s intellect doesn’t change much over the course of their life. I hate to burst your bubble, but the cards you were dealt are yours for this life. The good news is there are a myriad of different IQ’s across many modes of sensory experience. Emotional intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, all are as valid and important, so don’t get too hung up on math or writing when it comes to what you "know" (i.e. your intelligence).
So, if we are assuming that we all fit somewhere on the bell-curve-of-intelligence, let's assume that this metric is predetermined based on genetics to a degree: if we wish to drastically improve our situation, the best thing we can do is to improve our awareness.
Now, this is arguably a spiritual dilemma.
To wake up in the present moment, is not a skill one can learn from a set course of actions. There is not a single one book or idea that will help you do it, or “be” it. Awareness is not a "thing" to hold on to either — it more of a state to embody. Similarly, the body and the mind aren't awareness — and they may actually be the largest hurdle to "being here now". Because of the endless stream of content they generate, they pull awareness into fantasy — into illusion.
It is impossible to be unaware. And yet, what we are most consciously aware of is the hypothetical, rather than the existential. We get lost in the fantasyland of past or future. Past — being mostly our reimagined emotions of moments once lived — plays an increasingly burdensome role in distracting present moment awareness as we get older. Past becomes an increasingly heavier burden, until we are literally crippled and paralyzed by it. To be free of ones past is not to be over-looked. Actively find ways to severe the cord with what is no longer. Let it go on every level — the good and the bad. There is a time and place to reminisce on good times and honor our ancestors and traditions, but this should occupy a very small percentage of time.
The future is powerful, but is often like playing with fire. Spending our precious awareness in the expensive store of the future may only drain our balance. Worst yet, all of our purchases may never come home with us. Our home is in the present moment. Yes, future touches the present moment, but the doorway is only a sliver of a passage. Future-land is literally infinite beyond measure and it is exceedingly easy to become lost in infinity. Furthermore, we are enticed beyond anything the present moment could ever deliver. No matter how good our present moment is, future-land can be better. A wise-one chooses to only peer into the future with a skeptical eye. Better to honor the future and it’s immense power by being thrifty and practicing preparedness. Anything more is a waste and inevitably leads to missed opportunities here and now.
We often become more aware when we are burned — when the present moment literally rips us back into this reality through suffering. There are endless ways to suffer and not all are physical. Emotional and psychological suffering are just as real and all suffering is usually multi-sided. Some of my personal suffering started with a very bad snowboarding accident and it's subsequent necessary surgeries. The physical event woke me up to even more suffering being caused by lack of awareness in many areas of my life — I saw how unhealthy my relationship was with adrenaline and action sports. I also saw how I was also arrogant, self-centered, and egotistical. I saw how I abused my body with a poor diet, lack of exercise, and binge drug use. Eventually, like a snowball that took years to roll down the mountain, I saw how I was unaware in my relationship with money, intimacy, and my own mortality.
Awareness begets more awareness and all the ways we wake up in life are connected. It seems silly to say that I am still waking up from an elbow injury that happened fifteen years ago, but I am. Yes I still have aches and pains, but the real work is the constant reminder of how precious this life is. It is precious because we have this chance to awaken beyond our own physical limitations. We have the ability to awaken beyond our own mental limitations. Our spirit's transcend even the mind, and realizing this is what is truly priceless.
May we use all of life in our endeavor to wake up — we will be blessed beyond our fantasies. Being rich in awareness is the most precious of currencies .It takes awareness to enjoy money in the bank, it takes awareness to enjoy a wildflower, it takes awareness to enjoy a child’s smile. Only awareness will help us not to miss all the precious moments of this precious life.