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Since our last issue, I have received four questions or requests from readers, and in the next several issues, I will respond to them. I will continue with my Clearing Cognitive Cobwebs series whenever I do not have a reader’s question or request. Today’s article is prompted by a 44-year-old Egyptian computer professional working in Qatar. Our reader asked me to write about intuition. As I haven’t written about this important subject before, I welcome the opportunity to do so now.
Tom (an imaginary person) was offered a better paying job in another company. When weighing the pros and cons of accepting the new job, he decided to take it ― despite an ominous feeling. After taking the new job, he discovered the company was dishonest and his boss, oppressive. Tom deeply regretted not listening to his original hunch or gut feeling, which told him not to accept the job.
Can you relate to Tom’s experience? Did something similar ever happen to you? It’s easy to understand why Tom was swayed to accept the new position. After all, his decision was based on facts, the pros and cons. But the warning he received to reject the job was ‘only’ a feeling. This is the dilemma posed by intuition; it may prompt us to act in an ‘unreasonable’ way. We have been raised to revere logic and reason, making it difficult for us to act against it.
We are mistaken to assume there is only one type of wisdom, when there are two. Logic and reason are faculties of the left hemisphere of our brain while intuition, creativity, and inspiration arise from the right hemisphere. We are at our best, our most powerful, when we use both hemispheres. Intuition and reason are meant to complement one another.
What makes intuition difficult to accept is that it doesn’t explain anything, but merely points the way. It’s like a compass telling you to go north without telling you why you should go north. To further complicate things, it can be difficult to distinguish between intuition and other feelings. Let me give you an example.
Tom attends a cocktail party and mingles with the guests. One of them, Larry, appears to take a liking to Tom and says, “I think we can work together on a business deal that will benefit the both of us. Here, take my business card and give me a call tomorrow.” Yet, there is something that Tom doesn’t like about Larry. He can’t put his finger on it. He doesn’t know why he feels that way. Here are two possible explanations (there could be many more).
As you see, Tom’s suspicious feeling could have been evoked by entirely different causes. In example #1, if Tom failed to heed the advice of his intuition, he could have become the victim of a scam artist. And in example #2, if Tom declines Larry’s offer because of his bad feeling, he could be cutting himself off from an incredible business opportunity. The point is we need to proceed with caution and learn how to distinguish between helpful and harmful feelings. And this can only come about after much practice and experience.
I don’t want the two examples I gave to discourage you from embracing intuition. My wish is just the opposite. Now to encourage you, I’ll bring out the ‘big guns,’ giants among men. Let’s see what they have to say:
Albert Einstein (1879~1955) - “I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
Steve Jobs (1955~2011) - “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma ― which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
And in commenting on Steve Jobs, the New York Times (Oct 5, 2011) wrote, “Mr. Jobs’ own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide.”
Bill Gates - “Often you have to rely on intuition.”
Dr. Jonas Salk (1914~1995) - “It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. I work with it and rely on it. It’s my partner.”
Henri Poincare (1854~1912, brilliant French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher) - “It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.”
Before continuing, let’s clarify what’s meant by intuition. It is a form of knowing that is independent of rational thought, what we earlier referred to as a hunch or gut feeling. It is often called our ‘sixth sense.’ Various authors define it differently. Some use a broad, more inclusive, definition while others prefer to work with a narrower meaning. Those who adopt broad definitions may believe intuition is a form of ESP, that we can use it for remote viewing (get impressions about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means), and also that we can use it to detect the illnesses of others as well as heal them.
Similarly, there are differences of opinion regarding the source of intuition, which includes the subconscious, superconscious, collective unconscious, cosmic consciousness, and the Akashic records.
However, if the definition of intuition is too broad or the claims made about it are too outlandish, many will scoff at and discount the value of this valuable gift. For this reason, I choose to work with a narrow definition of intuition and consider its source to be the subconscious. Besides, I am a firm believer in the principle of Ockham’s razor (also known as Occam’s razor). That is, whenever faced with competing theories, I always choose the simplest explanation, until proven otherwise.
So far, I’ve stated that we can experience intuition as a nebulous feeling. However, we are all different, and the degree to which we are attuned to each of the senses varies from person to person. Some are especially sensitive to smell and taste. So, when offered a deal that sounds too good to be true, they may say, “Something doesn’t smell right. There’s something fishy about it. There’s something distasteful about it.”
Others may have visual or auditory intuitions, as did Richard Bach, best-selling author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Here’s what he said in an interview (Harper’s Bazaar, Nov. 1972):
“I was walking along one night, worrying about the rent, when I heard this voice say, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. But no one was there. I had absolutely no idea what it meant. When I got home, I suddenly had a vision of a seagull flying along, and I began to write. The story certainly didn’t spring from any conscious invention on my part. I just put down what I saw.”.
Now we come to the most important part of the article; mainly, how do we cultivate intuition?
Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic by Osho.
Written by a controversial figure, but unquestionably one of the brightest minds of modern times (Osho a.k.a Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, 1931~1990) - Intuition Workout: A Practical Guide to Discovering and Developing Your Inner Knowing by Nancy Rosanoff .
Compass Of The Soul: 52 Ways Intuition Can Guide You To The Life Of Your Dreams by Lynn A. Robinson.
I will close with a quote by Caroline Joy Adams:
“Listen to your inner voice... for it is a deep and powerful source of wisdom, beauty and truth, ever flowing through you... Learn to trust it, trust your intuition, and in good time, answers to all you seek to know will come, and the path will open before you.”
Chuck Gallozzi lived in Japan for 15 years, immersing himself in the wisdom of the Far East. He is the author of the book, The 3 Thieves and 4 Pillars of Happiness, 7 Steps to a Life of Boundless Joy. He is also a Certified NLP Practitioner, speaker, and seminar leader. Among his additional accomplishments, he is also the Grand Prix Winner of a Ricoh International Photo Competition, the Canadian National Champion in a Toastmasters International Humorous Speech Contest, and the Founder and Head of the Positive Thinkers Group that has been meeting at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto since 1999. He was interviewed on CBC's Steven and Chris Show, appearing nationally on Canadian TV. Chuck is a catalyst for change, dedicated to bringing out the best in others and his main home on the web is at: Personal-Development.com.