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The Power of Intuition

My good friend, Dr Phil Harker and I have been communicating about intuition. He has some useful insights that I will share with you shortly.

We shared recently, the comments of Aldous Huxley in his introduction to the Bhagavad Ghita (translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood). Huxley referred to what he called the “Perennial Philosophy” which is the underpinning doctrines that seem to be common to most of the major world’s religions, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Hebrew, Taoist, Christian or Muslim.

He postulated that there were four such doctrines:

1. The phenomenal world of matter and of individualised consciousness – the world of things and animals and even gods – is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
2. Human beings are capable of not merely knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realise its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
3. Man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
4. Man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so come to a unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.

There is enough material in this to do twenty blogs! However I would like you to read Doctrine 2 again. Human beings are capable of connecting with the Divine Ground by intuition. We will come back to that in a moment.

Phil has developed a model of human behaviour that asserts that the most important determinant of human behaviour is our world-view. He maintains that there are in fact only two basic world-views – viz. whether we engage with the world from a vantage point of love or from a vantage point of fear. The question I have often put to him is how do we make that choice? Well, if there is no quantitative information on which to base the choice, then surely it has to be intuitive.

Interestingly, Huxley had come to a similar conclusion. “Human beings may make one of two choices. They can either live the life of the outer man, the life of the separative selfhood ….Or else they can identify themselves with the inner man through unitive knowledge.”

Or as Albert Einstein said, “Everyone has two choices. We’re either full of love …or full of fear.” How do we make this all-important choice? It is intuitive.

So much of what we know and value relies on intuition. Einstein, himself, knew intuitively that the theory of relativity was right. It took him many years to prove using traditional scientific rationale.

James Clerk Maxwell, the Scottish physicist and mathematician, when formulating the equations that describe electro-magnetic radiation, added a term to one of his equations because without it, it “looked” wrong. Again, it took years to prove that the amended equation was correct. On the centenary of his birth Einstein described his work as the “most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton”.

A great exponent of the intuitive approach was the French mathematician, Henri Poincare′. He insisted his own mathematical discoveries were due to intuition.

There are many, many examples of intuition guiding the thinking of scientists, mathematicians artists, philosophers etc.

My question to Dr Phil Harker was, when something comes to mind unbidden and seems to be of significance, how can we tell it is an intuitive insight and not just some fanciful whimsy or an example of my ego engaging in some subterfuge.

Phil’s response is particularly insightful. Here are his tests for truth.

(i) is it consistent with the best definition of Love that I can conceive of [Love sees no guilt and does not condemn, Love does not destroy what is real, Love does not end, etc],
(ii) is it beautiful in terms of the best definition and understanding of beauty that I can conceive of,
(iii) does it have that ‘ring of truth’ to my intuition,
(iv) can it be refuted by pure reason, and finally,
(v) is it practical and have some relevance to my experience and what I know of the experience of others.

Intuition has been instrumental in developing our understanding of the world. It seems that often intuition leads and then reason follows. I hope the above gives you some assistance in taking advantage of your intuitive insights.

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  1. 3 Comment(s)

  2.   By Greg Brown on Aug 9, 2009 | Reply

    From my own experience there has been several times when I have experienced intuition. In all cases however it was in relation to something I was already working on and had thought about a great deal for some time. A problem I could not solve, etc.

    The solution or idea just appeared in my conscious mind and I new immediately that it was correct and significant. I still tested and checked it, however I knew it was correct before I did this. The intuition always happened when I was relaxed and not thinking about the problem.

    I am not sure where the intuitive thought came from but it seems there are 2 possibilities. It came from outside my physical mind (brain) or it was always in my brain being processed in an area that was seperated from the conscious areas that I use all the time. In other words the solution to my problem was being processed in my brain perahps over weeks when I was sleeping etc but I was not aware of it.

    If the intuition came from outside of my physical mind then I would have to ask why I don’t get intuition about things that are or no interest to me. Perhaps some people do achieve this but I don’t. From discussions with others and my own experience it seems that intuition comes at the end of hard conscious work on pretty much all occasions. We get intuitive insight on things that we are interested in or have thought about a great deal. We need to have processed it well in our conscious mind before the subconscious will give us some free processing of it’s own.

    In relation to the “choice” of a paradigm of love or fear and where this choice comes from, again I suggest that it results from world experience or lots of data entry into the conscious mind. For those who never think about the concept of a world view or ever consider a way of looking at the world that is different to themselves being a separate vulnerable entity I suggest that they never get the intuitive choice to change from Fear to Love. There is perhaps one exception to this. I have read that under great stress (emotional and/or physical) a profound shift in world view can and does occur with little or no prior “data entry”.

    As a small aside. I’d ask the question does a change in world view happen suddenly or does it happen over time? Einstein was reported to have said (not sure if this is myth or fact though) we are either full of love or full of fear. If this is the case then the change from one to the other must be sudden and profound. Intuition is an appropriate mechanism to explain this. If this is the case though then we would all be equally fearful etc (all or nothing). From my observations this is not the case. It also seems that to see the world from a pardigm of love is the equivalent to achieving enlightenment. From what I have read on this topic it is in the main something that is achieved through much effort on the part of the conscious mind. In most cases years of meditation, contemplation and training. There is a great story in Augustus Find Serenity on exactly this topic. The student keeps coming back to the master with his ego on full display to tell of how he has achieved the goals set for him and each time is dissapointed that the master has yet another task for him. Finally he does not come back. He has no need to.

  3.   By Ted Scott on Aug 11, 2009 | Reply

    Some great thoughts there Greg.

    I would agree that there does seem to be two kinds of intuition.

    The first, as you’ve rightly alluded, is when we are able to subconsciously process information that finally appears in our conscious mind as an “insight”. It is indeed a useful process when we are struggling to come to a decision and we decide to “sleep on it”. Many insights come this way.

    Or personally when faced with a conundrum, I decide to meditate; oft time after I will be able to make a far better decision. Somehow in these situations we are able to access the results of our mind’s subconscious processes.

    And yet there does seem to be some form of intuition ( as you describe it) that comes from outside our selves.

    I am led to think of savants that can quote the mathematical constant Pi to hundreds of decimal places. It is difficult to believe that they are processing information to come up with these outcomes.

    Or again the savants who can name what day of the week a certain date was even though it might have been hundreds of years in the past.

    These people seem to be able to access information beyond their normal field of consciousness.

    As alluded to in my blog, Aldous Huxley seemed to believe that there was some sort of collective consciousness that he called “mind at large’. He believed that the mind was naturally designed to reduce the information we received from this source because otherwise we would have been overwhelmed by information.Perhaps savants whose minds have other functions suppressed might be able to access this material more than most of us.

    These are mere speculations on my part. Despite this I know that intuition is a powerful process and much of what we know today was fostered by the intuition of significant contributors to the human body of knowledge.

  4.   By Greg Brown on Aug 17, 2009 | Reply

    There is another sub-type of intuition that is rarely discussed that is also worth a mention. This is the intuition about future events or events that it is impossible for someone to know about. This type of intuition clearly must come from outside the individual. It is largely ridiculed by the scientific community as fantasy not fact and that may be the case. Still there does seem to be a lot of credible evidence about unusual insights that people get at different stages in their lives.

    From what I can gather those seeking enlightenment through meditation etc experience this type of intuition more than most. What is surprising is that it is seen as a distraction or a trap on the road to achieving enlightenment. Ken Wilbur in his book “The Spectrum of Consciousness” discusses this distraction when exploring different levels of consciousness.

    The net result seems to be that it is not spoken of in a positive light by either the scientific side or the spiritual side. The established church has a history of condemning it as the work of the devil. I am not sure why this is the case and perhaps it is worth some discussion. It seems to be more common for women and it is often associated with disasters or other significant events and often when there is a loved one involved. The number of last minute cancelations for the Titanic is an example of this. The number of cancelations was much higher than normal and people interviewed about this said they had a feeling of impending disaster and just did not want to go. The sceptics on the other hand claimed that there is no evidence that anyone talked of impending disaster fears until after the event.

    For myself though I have not experienced this type of intuition so I speak purely speculatively. I think I am far too analytical.

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