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IQ, EQ, SQ || Acharya Prashant, at Delhi University (2023)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner: Hello sir, I am Utkarsh. I am pursuing my Master in Philosophy from the Department of Philosophy itself – Delhi University; my question dates back to the perennial debate between the concepts of EQ and IQ. And to expound my question, I would like to elaborate that this dates back to the philosopher, David Hume, who made the distinction between the reason part of the human brain and the passion . And in modern times—in modern cognitive science and psychology—some psychologists like Gardner and Goleman have made a distinction, and they have tried to establish that EQ is just as important as the IQ.

And bringing it back to pragmatic terms, I would like to ask that – if I am to make a very important decision in life, how much weight should be given to the emotional part of my brain? Because emotions do play a role. Even before I make a decision, I have an emotion attached to the decision already. So, how much of my attention or weight should be given to the rational part? How much of it should be given to the emotional part? Or is it a combination of both?

Acharya Prashant: See, what you call as Intelligence pertains mostly to your thinking self. So, your IQ has a very strong relationship with your thoughts. What you call as EQ has a strong relationship with your emotions – feelings. And whenever it will come to a tussle between thoughts and feelings, feelings will win hands down.

Even if it appears that you are choosing thought over feeling, even that choice would be a feeling. Because feeling is the very source of thought. We may not realize that, but emotions always take precedence over thoughts. Emotions dictate thoughts. And you will not know where your emotions come from. Emotions will simply change your thoughts. Emotions will very successfully construct arguments in their own favor.

So, if emotions are indeed more powerful than thoughts, then obviously EQ is more important than IQ. A person who can think very sharply and logically, but is totally ignorant of his emotions is a dangerous person. Dangerous to both himself and to others. Because he will have great power in his hand – the power of thought , and that power will actually be in the hands of his dark emotions.

Why do I am calling them dark? I am calling them dark because they come from an unknown place, a place you cannot see. So, I am calling them dark. For example, I construct a powerful or great technology. I am a great researcher, I can think, I can go into the material, and I come up with a wonderful technology. But within me, I am full of hatred, jealousy, anger, and these are emotions, right? What will I use that technology for?

That technology is not a product of hatred. That technology is not a product of anger. That technology is a product of thought. I kept thinking, thinking, and my thinking self gave birth to that technology. But what will I use that technology for? I will use that technology in the service of my hate, my revenge, my anger, whatever it is. So, EQ is definitely more important than IQ. Now, what is it that can overrule or supersede EQ as well? Obviously, that is your Spiritual Quotient (SQ).

The great thing about Spiritual Quotient that makes it very different from both IQ and EQ is that it is a choice . Your IQ, you can hardly change. Even if it will change throughout your lifespan, it will be to a minor extent. Similarly, your EQ is given to you by your birth, by nature itself.

Some people are born too emotional. Some are born terrified. Even when kids are born, they have a personality at that moment itself. Some kids are very energetic. Some are very lethargic. Some are very outgoing. Some like to keep to themselves. So, IQ and EQ, in a sense, are governed by your physical structure, your birth itself. Whereas, SQ is a choice.

You cannot do much when it comes to IQ or EQ. But when it comes to SQ, you can do everything. What is SQ? Spiritual Quotient is actually the choice, the decision to know yourself. If you can understand yourself, you will know where your emotions are coming from. So, if you have a high SQ, you will be able to control your EQ. And we said EQ controls thoughts. Your emotions control your thoughts. And what can control your emotions? – your SQ, your self-inquiry.

In the language of spirituality, this is how it is put – Atma gyān or Atma Jigyāsā is what can bring light to your Vritti. Your Vritti, which is your fundamental biological tendencies, shows up in your emotions. And if your Vritti can be shown some light, then your thoughts, that is Vichār, change. So, Vichār, Vritti, Atma Jigyāsā.

If you find that you are unable to control your emotions, if you find that you have sudden mood swings, if you find that in spite of knowing that you should not get hurt or that you should not hate, you still get hurt or get hateful, then what you require is Self-knowledge. When you see where your emotions come from, you will find it easier to stay at a distance from them. And if you do not power your emotions, then your emotions will not be able to control your thoughts.

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