Writing article as an analytical thinker and as an enthusiast about philosophy and human psychology who always crave for unachievable
Intellect Versus Devotion
Cambridge dictionary defines the word intellect as "the ability to understand and to think in an intelligent way".Intelligence is the mental quality that empowers one to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understands abstract concepts and use knowledge to manipulate circumstances as per own needs.
Devotion is defined in the same as "loyalty and love or cares for someone or something".
So, if Intellect is penetration & probing into the reality of life and universe then Devotion by no way is the inclusion of them because to include anything one has to seclude, separate everything at first and then only, one can firmly assimilate it into oneness & this can be done only by penetrating and probing into subject and matter as deep as possible.
Devotion is Useless Without Intellect
Devotion may be defined as exclusion where unnecessary intellect is kept aside. Devotion may be defined as non -useful "faith" reared through the un-intellectual thought process. Those may be such practices which are illogical & resulting in surfacing serious issue among devotees. For example -Ramkrishna Paramhansa ( spiritual Teacher of Swami Vivekananda's) was punished by Totapuri Maharaj (another contemporary ascetic ). The issue was Ramkrishna Paramhansa was used to loiter with his undue 24x7 entanglement with Goddess-Kali under blissful ecstasy, forgetting the reality and the truth. It is said that Totapuri Maharaj poked the broken piece of glass into the forehead or Paramhansa to disturb the overstimulated and uncontrolled spiritual practices of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. ( On the forehead there is "Anahat Chakra" and Totapuri Maharaj done so to stop Ramkrishna Paramhansa from running blind devotion of Goddess Kali).
Totapuri Maharaj first tried to reason with Ramakrishna. He makes Paramhansa understand that his Kali is doing only those thing that he is expecting. Which itself proves that his Kali is his own creation and not any true goddess. But Ramakrishna Paramhansa was adamant to listen. So finally Totapuri stabbed the forehead of Ramakrishna Paramhansa with a broken glass piece to calm down the un-intellectual process of keep enjoying blissful state by Ramkrishna Paramhansa. This shows that undue blind devotion is useless and must be judged well by applying one's intellect.
Religious Dilemma For Devotion against Intellect
Even after Nirvana Gautam buddha didn't leave his body. He lived his normal life with peace and tranquillity. He propounded the value of intellectualism and thoughtful devotion. This is called "witnessing awareness" in the spiritual world.
Even though, Hindu belief system is seen giving more weightage to devotion. But the same Hindu belief system is also teaching that intellect and devotion are alternate layers of onion layers.
Hence it is not surprising to see that, either following blind devotion or keep following blind intellect, disciples of the Hindu belief system be seen getting stagnant in their spiritual journey. In the same way, due to blind devotion western Abrahamic religion failed at identifying Christ consciousness. Eastern religions also failed at witnessing MOKASH,/NIRVANA due to the same reasons.
Every disciple of every religion must remember that science and spirituality go hand in hand, if one fails to cope up with the other then the practitioner can't go further in any direction in his religious or say spiritual journey. The same is true for intellectuality also.
Intellect & Devotion Complete Each Other
Finally, let it be Atheist or Theist everyone knows the ultimate truth of life, religion and the existence of God as per one's idea and belief system. When the question arises about the authenticity of those truths beyond doubt, then that can be proven with "experience in persona". Which one can get through devotion ( honest following of religious practices by Theist & honest fellowship for own ideas by Atheist). But to witness the empirical value of one's belief system or ideas, that person needs well develop intellect too.
Otherwise, there will be no more difference left between "insane and religious person in case of Theist" and "Maniacal and Self-righteous in case of Atheist". Because both are in one or other way living with delusion. And both are lacking any true experience or fact in their hands to prove or disprove their's or other's claims.
Eastern Devotion Has Deep Intellectualism In Its Root
Truth Behind Idea Of Devotion
Another side of the story, some people downplay devotion deeming it as a process -enjoyed by only non-intellectual sentimentalists.
Yes, it is true, devotion is a feeling that is accessible even to non-intellectuals. But it is also true that Devotion is well relished by the topmost intellectuals. All of the writings of the Bhakti movement- philosophers/saints from the Indian subcontinent testify this version of Devotion too. Intellectually uninformed people often seek emotional stimulation in petty things such as video games or even injurious things such as sadism or masochism. More intelligent people seek stimulation in higher things such as literature and music. But the most intelligent people realize that emotional fulfilment can be lasting only in relation to eternal objectivity. For example, In Ramkrishna mission - Krishna is that eternal object, so devotion to him is the culmination of intellectual illumination.
True Devotion Need Deep Seated Intellectuality At Its Core
So finally speaking, "Intellect" is not just penetration & probing but it is a measuring parameter for "Devotion". It acts as a contemporary instrument to ascertain every deepest realm of Devotion. Let there be Atheist or Theist, both need --Intellect and Devotion as like their right and left arms, working in very good condition & right direction to identify what is "Truth" and what is "False", to progress spiritually.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Dr Nilesh Jaybhaye