Jump to the following topics:
- What is intuition?
- Intuition communicates with us in various ways.
- Intuition is always accurate.
- What is the source of intuition?
- Intuition is not the product of rational analysis.
- Intuition is part of a process of communication.
- The techniques by which we can become more aware of intuition.
What is intuition? It can be defined in various ways:
- What it is: It is a process by which the conscious mind is aware of the dynamics of spirit and matter in a situation. (Spirit is the tangible, non-material substance of which the soul is composed.) In any situation, intuition discerns all dynamic factors -- everyone's needs (material, emotional, mental, spiritual), everyone's psychological state (i.e., emotions, thoughts, etc.), everyone's archetypal-field elements (i.e., residual thoughts, etc., from previous similar archetypal encounters), all material objects (e.g., the available resources including money, any material hindrances to our goal, etc.), and so on.
- What it is not: Intuition is a means of acquiring information by an inner process other than rational analysis (which would use logic to process data from our facts, memories, physical senses, and other input).
- Synonyms for the word "intuition": Intuition has also been called insight, revelation, inspiration, direct apprehension, gut instinct, a flash, a hunch, a premonition, "Eureka" or "Aha," a sixth sense, an inner voice, "vibes," a feeling, "reading between the lines," "red flags," a "nagging" feeling, sensitivity, "ringing true," "an educated guess," "reading him (or her) like a book," "inner radar," "a light coming on," preconscious concept formation, and ESP (or "being psychic," although intuition is not truly a psychic phenomenon).
Intuition communicates with us in various ways. There are three main modes: mental, emotional, visual, and physical. As we read about these modes, we can ask ourselves whether we experience intuition in some of these ways; we might discover that a sensation that we had ignored is actually one means by which our intuition was relaying messages. (Of course, these signs are not always related to intuition; for example, in a given situation, "goose bumps" might be caused by cold weather, not intuition.) Please note that these modes correspond to the techniques of fieldwork: mental intuition corresponds to affirmations; emotional intuition corresponds to energy toning; visual intuition corresponds to visualization; physical intuition corresponds roughly to the as-if principle (at least to the extent that they both are related to our physical existence).
- Mental intuition. In mental intuition, we receive input through thoughts. These thoughts might be expressed as individual ideas, or as a recognition of conceptual patterns or relationships (as when a concept "clicks into place") or models (which are the larger, wholistic framework in which we "put it all together"). We might experience this type of intuition as an inner voice, or as a thought which comes "out of nowhere" from an "intuitive leap."
- Emotional intuition. The difference between simple emotions (such as anger or fear) and emotional intuition is that the cause is not on a superficial level (e.g., a rattlesnake at our feet), but instead we must interpret the emotion or feeling; for example, we wonder, "Why am I uncomfortable?" or "Why do I have a strange feeling about him?" In emotional intuition, we might feel nervousness, emotional turmoil, excitement or depression, an instinctive liking or disliking (i.e., attraction or repulsion), or a sense of "vibes" regarding a person or object or situation.
- Visual intuition. We might experience these images as "visions," or sleep-time dreams, or daydreams and fantasies, or simple imagination. The images might be literal or symbolic. Visual intuition is particularly important to painters, sculptors, architects, and people like Albert Einstein (who developed many of his theories by visualizing light beams and other images).
- Physical intuition. The message is perceived in bodily sensations: a headache or stomach ache, muscular tension or relaxation, a change in heartbeat or respiration, warmth or chills (i.e., "goose bumps" or a shiver), lightness or heaviness, tingling (perhaps in our ears), a distortion in our senses (i.e., a darkening or dulling in our eyesight), or "sympathy pains" (as though we are sensing someone else's pain inside of our own body). When we are experiencing physical intuition, we use expressions such as "gut instinct" and "I feel it in my bones."
Intuition is always accurate. By definition, intuition is the part of us which perceives our surroundings; as such, this instrument is infallible, just as our eyes are infallible in seeing unless they have a defect (which is not an inadequacy in the eyes themselves but rather it a condition which is inflicted by the presence of an alien element). If we receive a message which seems to have originated in our intuition but is incorrect, we will discover that the message actually came from a different source; the possibilities include the following:
- We used analytical thinking instead of intuition. This is a fundamental error; we used one instrument (i.e., the intellect) when we believed that we were using another (i.e., the intuition).
- The source was a dysfunctional archetypal-field element which had asserted its preferences (as in "wishful thinking").
- We misinterpreted the message. For example, a vision of "the Grim Reaper" could be translated as an omen of our impending death, when it instead was referring to the death of someone else, or simply the ending (i.e., a metaphorical death) of an aspect of our life (such as our marriage).
What is the source of intuition? We can consider various possibilities:
- Perhaps the source is the soul (and spirit -- the substance of which soul is composed). In How To Find God, Harold Klemp said that, "We are learning to work with intuition, which actually is Soul speaking to us ..." When we compare the qualities of intuition with the qualities which are attributed to soul, we do find similarities:
- Its awareness. Intuition considers all relevant factors in a situation, even the factors which we do not know consciously. These factors can include the needs of the people (including their thoughts, emotions, physical body, and archetypal-field elements), the needs of objects (including inanimate objects, such as a car about which our intuition detects a potential problem) -- and generally unknowable elements such as future events, and past-life involvements with the people. This profound quality of awareness is associated with spiritual wisdom.
- Its balance. Intuition is impersonal; it does not favor our advantage at the expense of people around us. Thus, if we follow its guidance, we discover that the result is "for the best of all"; we achieve a "win-win situation" in which we all gain what is possible and proper for us to gain (considering our needs, the available resources, any limitations which have been created by dysfunctional a-field elements, etc.). And so, intuition's balance allows us to perform our activities without creating undue animosity and other friction. This type of detached, "ego-less" action has always been recommended by spiritual leaders; actually, the ego is still present as a legitimate representative of our human self and needs, but it does not dominate.
- Its benevolence and even love. Because our actions are balanced (i.e., non-aggressive), the texture of our behavior resembles that of kindness, good-heartedness, and relationship. This quality inspires people to cooperate with us, and to support us in our endeavors. The "love" is merely the character of the spirit-substance which flows between the souls when we are directed by the spirit-derived intuition.
- Its feeling tone. The brief exhilaration which we experience when receiving an intuitive message is somewhat akin to the ecstasy which has been described by mystics who have experienced "enlightenment."
- The information which we receive. We can associate intuition with the soul simply on the basis of the specific ideas which arise; for example, intuition is likely to tell us that "we all have a common spiritual essence" rather than "we are totally separate individuals." Of course, one person's intuitive ideas might be very different from another person's intuitive ideas; for example, someone might say, "I just know that my religion is the only true religion," while someone else says, "I feel certain that there are many paths to spirit." Despite the occurrence of contradictory interpretations of mystical experiences, spiritual teachers generally regard intuition -- in contrast to intellectual knowledge -- as the way in which we can gain spiritual understanding. (These differences might occur because of varying interpretations, or perhaps they occur because the messages are not from intuition at all but are instead originating in our intellect or our charged a-field elements.)
- The wholism of the experience. The concept of wholism is
generally associated with spirituality and mystical states of
consciousness. We can examine various dimensions of the wholism
- The message is a whole. Just as the process is wholistic -- presenting realizations without having used individual stages of analysis -- the product also has an aura of "completeness" and meaningfulness in its own right. However, despite the completeness of the message, it can be built upon; the data can be used for rational analysis or for the information-base from which further intuitive messages might arise.
- This quality of wholeness can be discerned in intuition's capacity for the recognition of patterns; when intuition occurs, we recognize cycles, and we discover relationships among otherwise unrelated ideas and objects.
- We experience wholeness during the experience itself. At the moment when we are receiving a message from intuition, we might perceive a variance from our usual sense of self (in which there is a separation between the person who would know, and the object of knowing, and the process by which the knower gains knowledge); instead, we momentarily transcend that typical state into a quasi-mystical state which we might term "knowingness," in which the three elements are not distinguishable but rather there is simple, impersonal awareness, with the content of awareness being that of the intuited idea.
Intuition is not the product of rational analysis. In that linear, step-by-step analysis, we examine various aspects of a problem; we advance from one point to the next, toward a conclusion. However, in intuition, the "conclusion" arises without being preceded by these logical steps. We might have analyzed the problem previously, but the intuition-derived idea does not appear as the next step in the analysis; instead, there is an unexplainable "leap" into a new insight, as the idea comes to us "out of the blue" -- spontaneously, instantly, involuntarily, and effortlessly "knowing without knowing how we know" -- sometimes as if the idea has always existed in its own right (in some ethereal world) and we merely discovered it. Because the intuition process differs from that of the analysis process, we might say that intuition is nonrational. But our decision to rely on intuition is eminently rational, when we realize that intuition is a way of sensing (and deriving a strategy based upon) all relevant factors in a given situation; we would be irrational to rely instead on rationality, which has limitations (as listed in the chapter regarding the intellect). Sometimes our intuition tells us to do something which seems irrational -- but the proposal seems irrational only because it is based upon a consideration of factors of which we are unaware; if we comply with intuition's guidance, we discover that the problem is resolved impeccably and to the satisfaction of our rational function. Indeed, intuition and intellect can work in a partnership; each system contributes, in its own way, to our knowledge and efficiency (i.e., our input and output). We can achieve a balance in two ways:
- We know whether intellect or intuition is the correct tool with which to manage any given situation. We might notice that we are using the improper mode in some circumstances; for example, during sex, instead of being intuitive and sensitive with this unique person, we might be over-analyzing our technique, or using a recommended method without regard for this individual's particular response to it.
- We realize that both intellect and intuition participate in virtually every action. (Einstein said that "... an idea is the product of intuition as well as reason.") Thus, we are continually open to input from both inspiration and analysis.
Intuition is part of a process of communication. It seems to be an accurate representative for soul's perspective; previously in this chapter, we examined the soulful qualities of intuition (e.g., its awareness, balance, benevolence, feeling tone, quality of information, and wholism). Intuition is a communication system from soul to the human mind; intuition translates soul's wishes into a format which can be understood by our mind. This translation process is necessary in order for soul's information to be usable in the human milieu; for example, soul might have an intention to create a particular human condition such as the experience of wealth, but it is the mind which (1) explains the definition of wealth as it exists in the human world, and (2) understands the material processes by which wealth might be obtained. In any communication system -- and particularly in any translation process -- the information is altered; thus, the information which is received in the mind is accurate for our human purposes but it is not the same information as it exists in soul. In the communication from soul to mind, the information is filtered through various mechanisms until it has a format which is recognizable to the mind -- perhaps as a concept or a vision or a physical sensation. At each step of the filtering process, the information is converted into a metaphor of its previous state (in a process which is analogous to the way in which the light rays in our eyes are converted into nerve impulses to be sent to the brain). Thus, in the mind, we receive intuition's information through layers of metaphor. As we experiment with intuition, we refine our ability to understand these metaphors so that we can translate them more precisely into usable mental concepts; we have less distortion at each step of the translation process. But still, we are dealing with mere metaphors as long as we are working from the standpoint of the mind. However, instead of experiencing intuition through the mind, we can experience perception as it exists in soul. From our position in soul (while, of course, we also live in a human body), we are on both the sending and receiving end of the communication, being both soul and human. Mind is no longer our identity; instead, it is merely a tool of soul, like a microscope by which soul examines parts of itself, and we realize that the nature (and indeed, the purpose) of mind is to perceive reality in archetypal fragments so that they may be studied one-at-a-time. Mind is not a separate, dualistic object which is separate from soul but rather it is the part of the soul which is used for this purpose of self-examination. Intuition is the message which tells mind where to focus its narrow attention, and how to respond to the archetypal situations which it perceives. Why does soul create this process, and then participate in it? Because those archetypes are aspects of spirit, which is the substance of soul (in the same manner in which water is the substance of a lake); as we learn about each archetype, we learn about a facet of spirit. Our experiments with intuition -- receiving it and enacting it -- are experiments in our ability to respond to the archetypal situations of life, of spirit, with precision and balance and love. And for that reason, we have created our human body, our human life, and our human world.
The techniques by which we can become more aware of intuition. Intuition is a natural function which we all possess. It cannot be developed; it is already fully functioning, such that this part of us always knows everything which is affecting our lives or will affect our lives (at least in the near future). What we can develop is our awareness of intuition, so that we can differentiate its message from those of our ego, our a-field elements, our external influences, our rational thinking, and our other forms of input. Intuition continually monitors our environment, because our circumstances are always changing; even if we are alone and unmoving (or even asleep), intuition is sensing the distant activities which will affect us eventually, e.g., the thoughts of someone who is planning a surprise visit to our home tomorrow. To develop our cognizance of intuition, we can use the following techniques:
- We can become more aware of our inner life. If we are excessively extroverted, we might not be noticing the subtle messages from intuition. We can have a balance between outer activity and a cognizance of our inner affairs -- our emotions, feelings, fantasies, sleep-time dreams, physical sensations (e.g., tension), and other events, including intuition. To achieve this "fully present" balance, we don't need to spend long hours in introspection and meditation (although we can choose to do so); instead, even in the midst of a busy day, we can periodically check our intuition and feelings: "Is my intuition saying anything that I need to know right now?" And in the occasions when we feel uncomfortable (or when we experience one of the phenomena which is associated specifically with mental, emotional, visual, or physical intuition), we can go directly to our intuition to see whether a message is being delivered. Intuition is continually streaming messages to us -- but, at first, we might notice only the most urgent messages. As we refine this balance between inner and outer, we can transcend that duality such that we no longer have to switch back and forth; instead, the two merge into one subjective experience in which the external objects are perceived not as physical entities which are separate from our response but as part of a seamless, wholistic experience which includes the objects, us, and the interaction itself, as a single unit.
- We can become more aware of the types of messages within us. We are constantly receiving information and suggestions from various sources: intuition, ego, a-field elements, the physical body, emotions, feelings, etc. The study of intuition is a sorting-out process -- learning to distinguish the voice of intuition from those other voices, as though we are listening for a particular person's voice in a noisy crowd. To sort out these impulses, we need to know ourselves very well -- the nature of ego, the elements of our a-fields, the ways in which intuition speaks to us personally (perhaps as a tension headache), and the normal sensations of our body (so that we know, for example, the difference between a headache which is caused by intuition and one which is caused by simple eyestrain). Our first error might be that we are mistaking an entirely separate impulse for that of intuition; our second error could be that intuition's message is being colored by factors such as our preferences, desires, hopes, fears, hatreds, likes and dislikes, and the other thoughts and emotions that are telling us what we want rather than what is. We can recognize intuition by these characteristics:
- Its objectivity. Intuition arises from a transcendental, impersonal part of us which knows and weighs the best interests of everyone and everything in a situation. Its messages protect us and benefit us, but they do not press for our advantage at the expense of other people; thus, the messages are not selfish, greedy, or cruel. Although all of our actions (even those which have been suggested by intuition) cause some type of destruction (e.g., something must die in order for us to eat, or to build a road, or even to breathe in this atmosphere of microscopic life-forms), intuition has an overriding kindness and wisdom which grants the greatest benefit to all within the range of resources at hand. If we have an impulse which is intentionally vicious, it comes from a dysfunctional a-field element, not from intuition.
- Its directness and simplicity. Intuitive messages tend to be graceful and quick, in contrast to the lengthy, complex intellectualizing of the analytical function. Intuition's messages might require time for us to interpret them, but the phenomenon itself occurs in an instant.
- Its lack of a "logical path." Intuition's ideas do not exhibit a step-by-step path of logic from other people's ideas to its own. If we discern a logical path by which we came up with an idea, we know that the idea did not come from intuition.
- Its originality. This quality derives from these factors:
- The absence of a logical path. Instead of building our ideas upon those of other people, intuition is experienced as a "leap" which culminates in a fresh viewpoint, a new way of putting together our data or physical materials.
- The temporal nature of intuition's messages. They are based on a "snapshot" of the dynamic factors of each unique situation. Dynamics are constantly changing, so an intuitive revelation at one moment is unlike a revelation at any other moment.
- Its precision. Intuition is accurate; if we do what it tells us to do, we look back later in amazement at how well everything came together. This type of precision is impossible from the intellect because (among other reasons which are listed in the chapter regarding the intellect) the intellect works only with known facts while intuition works from a body of information that is always much larger.
- Its accompanying experiences. At the moment when intuition strikes us, we have particular sensations -- perhaps exhilaration, excitement, a thrill, or a feeling of something "clicking" together. We might experience those sensations during an analytical process, e.g., when we struggle and then finally understand a mathematical problem, but again this is an occurrence of intuition, because intuition (not intellect) has introduced a new perspective on the problem such that we now understand it. In contrast, if we had solved the problem without intuition (as in a simple 2+2=4 equation), we would have a simple analytical agreement, without sensations.
- We can set aside some time for relaxation (physical and mental). Many people say that their best ideas come to them when they are relaxed -- when awakening in the morning, or when bathing, or when daydreaming. Contrarily, if we are hurrying all of the time, we are not likely to notice the subtle voice of intuition -- although some people are able to maintain a type of inner silence and stillness even when they are busy, as though they are in the motionless eye of a hurricane.
- We can be more relaxed in regard to the messages from intuition. If we have asked for information but we are worried that intuition's response will be contrary to our wishes, our tension will interfere with our ability to discern that subtle response. To diminish the worry, we can have faith (or knowledge, based on past experience) that intuition's message will be truthful and benevolent (or even that it comes from a spiritual source and thus it cannot be harmful). This state of relaxation requires detachment regarding our situation, and trust in intuition.
- We can refrain from substances which artificially either relax us or stimulate us. These substances include coffee, tobacco, and drugs. Our mind needs to be clear in order to notice the quiet voice of intuition.
- We can be relaxed with regard to our progress in developing our awareness of intuition. In this approach, we have a gently check for input from intuition periodically; if we detect nothing, we accept the matter, and go on with our lives. (In this process of growing, we also accept our errors, and the possibility that we are more intuitive in some situations than in others, i.e., more intuitive in crises than in calm circumstances.) When intuition develops in its own gradual course, it regulates the amount of information which it delivers to us; we are told whatever we need to know, but we are not deluged by irrelevant data from the infinite sea of information which surrounds us. Contrarily, if we become forceful and impatient in our desire to be more aware of the subtle areas of life, we are likely to become too introverted, and we might trigger an "inflammation" of the psychic senses -- resulting in many problems, including an overwhelming influx of information such that we are continually barraged by a distracting awareness of people's thoughts, and of our intense, over-sensitive feeling-reaction to everything around us.
- We might become too specialized. Instead, we can also familiarize ourselves with an eclectic range of life-experiences -- meeting many different types of people, reading books which are unrelated to our main focus, traveling to other cultures (even within our own city), learning foreign languages, participating in hobbies and sports, etc. This liberal education enriches us with hard data and also with other rewards which will be helpful in our use of intuition: a discovery of new talents, a recognition and examination of common patterns in life and human situations, and an opportunity to look at the world through the perspective of people who are very different from us.
- We might become self-satisfied "experts." As we gather
knowledge, we might become so comfortable with our facts, and
with our status as an expert, that we avoid our intuition.
Intuition threatens our status because:
- It always knows more than we do.
- It might provide a fresh viewpoint which shatters the brilliant conceptual models upon which we have built our career, our published works, and the admiration of other people.
- Its frequent imposition of new viewpoints can be so disorienting that we give up on any attempt at "storming the gates of heaven" intellectually, and instead we begin to believe (perhaps rightly) that we truly "know" nothing at all.
- It allows even a non-expert to experience a revelation in the subject matter (and, in fact, it occasionally favors amateurs because they are not committed to the preconceptions and the traditional way of viewing the subject matter).
- In school, a "correct" answer is one which is true and also is justifiable by rational reasoning (instead of being defensible only by the statement, "my response just feels right"); some teachers dismiss students' hunches as mere "guesses." Obviously, intuition can be nurtured in courses such as art, music, and athletics -- but it could instead be repressed in those classes if the teacher penalizes students for creativity and impulse in favor of strict technique. (Ideally, we have a balance between technique and imagination). Intuition can be encouraged (or at least permitted) even in analytical classes such as science and math -- subjects in which, ironically, the greatest discoveries have been made through intuition, not through rote memorization or traditional ways of thinking. A teacher can set an example by using his or her own intuition when exploring a subject with the students.
- In childhood, our parents might have discouraged us from using our intuition. They might have believed that intuition was mere fantasy, and that analytical thinking was more important (rather than equally important) in the quest for maturity and for success in life. A child is likely to be ridiculed: "Oh, that was just your imagination" or "That was a just a dream."
- Women have been expected to be intuitive (as in "women's intuition") while men have not -- although this stereotype is changing as gender roles evolve, such that men now feel more free to talk about their intuition. Some women might begin to repress their awareness of their intuition as they enter previously male-dominated segments of society (e.g., business management), and they might mistakenly believe that they must now relinquish their intuition in favor of the hard facts of the intellect.
- Traditionally, businesses (and business schools), have focused on rational decision-making. However, in recent years (as indicated by books and by articles in business journals), businesspeople are beginning to acknowledge openly the value of intuition, even if they must use mundane terminology such as "gut feeling" and "instinct" and "following my hunches." As in the non-business world, intuition is useful when (1) we must make a decision in a hurry, (2) we do not have enough information (even though we are inundated with it), and (3) we are dealing with material which is not subject to rational analysis (e.g., the character of a job applicant). Some intuitive businesspeople use statistics and market research as a "reality check" (to verify that their hunch is not too far out) but -- for these people -- the primary purpose for data is merely to justify their intuition-based decisions to their analysis-oriented boss. But even that type of boss will generally consider the feeling regarding the data -- and he or she might go so far as to agree with General Motors' Alfred P. Sloan when he said, "The final act of business judgment is intuitive."
- Every subculture has its own values, some of which might either deny or advance the value of intuition. (A "subculture" is any group of people -- a family, a corporation, a profession, a social club, etc.) For examples, some families encourage their children to be imaginative, creative, spontaneous, adventurous, fun-loving, and emotional and feeling -- the qualities of the right hemisphere, which is associated with intuition.
- Observations. Where did I leave my car keys? Who is calling me (when our phone is ringing)? Is the sky cloudy today (before we look outside in the morning)? What do my feelings tell me about that stranger, or that news report, or that painting? What will that person say or do next? Whose letters will be in my mailbox today? Which tie will my boss wear tomorrow? What do I believe with regard to this moral, political, or religious issue (knowing that our beliefs are based on intuition and not facts)? Is this person trustworthy?
- Courses of action. What should I do next? What should I say next? Will I be happy if I date that person? Will I be successful I accept that job offer? Which highway will have less traffic congestion? What is the solution to this household problem? How can I earn more money?