These are Why, What, When and When – without their existence in our language we would have no ability to enunciate our inner desire for deeper understanding or expanded wisdom.
As Koitsu Yokoyama points out in his book An Intelligent Life each of these interrogative pronouns are in fact some of the very first words uttered by a child as he or she begins to question the world and to evaluate their place within it.
In reality we actually live in two worlds – a tangible world of experience and another, more abstract world that exists outside of ourselves.
The way in which we experience these two planes of experience is explored by the author in the opening to his book. From this point then explores the nature of mind as a tool with which to evaluate these twin domains.
In doing so Yokoyama evaluates the Buddhist term ‘Representation Only’, also known as ‘Mind Only’, which is a concept said to determine the way in which we formulate the images of our mind that enable us to interpret reality in any sort of meaningful way.
The author explains how, derived from this basic principle, emerges that all-important concept of eightfold consciousness – one which includes the five sensory abilities, ego and a concept known as ‘store consciousness’.
In An Intelligent Life Yokoyama explores other key aspects of human life experience; such as the function of karma, the role that ego consciousness plays in our lives, the distraction caused by physical objects, the attachments we make in our outer world as well as our intimate relationship with the natural world.
In part two of his book Yokoyama poses the question ‘How do we live this life intellectually?’. Here he questions the nature of our relationship to one another, the theory of interdependency,
Later, he explores the energy of love and asserts that our capacity to love is determined solely by our ability to connect to a universal source of power.
He argues that in many ways our ability to channel or express this power is determined by our ability to forget or dissolve our own innate sense of Self.
As the author himself explains
The weight of our ego consciousness, the drag of our attachment and self-love, keeps us from discovering the joy if doing something genuine for others
The Three Great Aims in Life
Yokoyama presents a framework for living a valued life based around the ‘Three Aims’. These he defines as the requirement to learn about oneself, the need to resolve the matter of life and death and the need to save others.
From these, it is said we develop the attributes of wisdom and compassion.
An Intelligent Life is primarily a book that examines our mental approach at evaluating life experience, however, before we embark upon this collectively we need to establish an appropriate mode of intelligence.
Here the author considers the role of our modern education system and the way in which it should develop and stimulate young minds in ways that cement a sense of collective learning and social experience.
This includes the ability to understand the complex mind-body connections that exist within the human psyche and how they can be utilized to improve, mental , emotional and spiritual health.
The author suggests that this, in part, is attained through the development of a devotion or discipline and that in seeking out the true attainment of an intelligent life it is through meditational practice and focussed contemplation that the author suggests we can attain this desired goal.
In order to remain vital in our energy and young in our hearts – no matter what our physical age, we truly need to maintain a close connection to that enquiring state created by the utterence of those four important words of Why, What, Where and When.
We live in an essentially lazy society – one in which we are trained to accept the accepted norms of education and mass entertainment as the basis to our understanding our lives.
If you are inclined to think beyond these limiting influences and are looking for guidance on how ro think in a more expansive way then An Intelligent Life may well be a book that you can appreciate for its guidance and deep insights.
Although it does not overly refer to Buddhist doctrine this is a book that follows streams of philosophical thoughts that emerge from Eastern spiritual practice.
Whilst those who are already deeply immersed in Buddhist philosophy may already find most of the material in this book already acts as a fundamental framework to their lives but for those seeking a radical, and rational approach to a meaningful life this book references rich and fertile philosophical ground.
An Intelligent Life is a powerfully-effective and stimulating commentary – one that offers a series of clear, philosophical ideas from which our confused and befuddled Western minds can find clarity as well as spiritual and practical guidance.