Saturday, March 10, 2012
Our western culture cannot agree on the use of the term "intuition." Many use it disparagingly, thinking it to be an overactive imagination. Others dismiss it on the basis of random and therefore unreliable hunches. Certainly it is unscientific and should be excluded from the use of our highest gift: reason. St. Thomas Aquinas defined man as a "rational animal." As definitions go, it has its uses, for sure. But it is limited.
Evidence -- both anecdotal and also scientific -- abounds for the existence of telepathy and other psychic powers. But culturally as well as scientifically we've yet to seriously explore the realm of knowledge and the process of knowing to which the term "intuition" refers.
Science shows us that the bandwidth of frequencies which each of the five human senses detects is very limited. Many animals have more sensitivity to wider frequencies than humans. Humans have obviously not topped the proverbial food chain on brute strength or instinct alone.
Intuition is the sixth sense. It differs from the other five not by its nature but by degrees. The five senses work in the limited time and space of the physical body. The sixth sense scans bandwidths of psychic frequencies that are not limited by time or space. But it does act as a scanner. As olfactory nerves scan frequencies related to smell, the sixth sense scans frequencies related to thought and levels of consciousness.
As a criminal upon entering a city quickly finds criminals, and a banker, bankers, and so the sixth sense tunes into those frequencies of thought and consciousness that emanate from our mind and consciousness. As I am not a sculptor, I do not receive ideas and inspirations about a new piece to sculpt. Poets "receive" poetry; inventors, inventions, mothers, knowledge about their children, and so on.
Our society may not have the language that acknowledges the vital and useful role of intuition in our lives but that doesn't stop us from using it all the time. Let me make a minor distinction for the sake of clarity: the facility of memory (as in, "Oh, golly, where did I put my car keys down THIS time?") differs from intuition in that intuition gives us access to something we would have no "reason" to know beforehand. I may have put my car keys down in a new spot but I have every "reason" to have remembered and to have noticed, even if but subconsciously.
But a new idea for a book comes from a different realm, at least in theory. The idea for a new book that just popped into my head may, in fact, be partly traceable to a story someone told me, or some experience from my past. Either facts may have been re-arranged into something new and different but based, nonetheless, on the initial facts. Here, then, we could say that my intuition reached down into my subconscious and re-worked the material (when I wasn't looking), and handed me this new idea. Einstein didn't hear a symphony either. He received a solution to something he had opened his cosmos-searching mind to. The fact that parts of our past and our memory re-surface does not lessen the value or power of the intuition. It simply makes it personally relevant and eminently practical: just what I needed!
Many people can beat the morning alarm clock's harsh buzzer by hair's breadth of a nanosecond: smashing the snooze button right in time. Now, tell me, if you were sleeping, who was watching the clock?
Paramhansa Yogananda defined intuition as the "soul's power of knowing God." In this he pointed to intuition's highest potential and most noble purpose. But this doesn't limit its scope. God, after all, is everything and contains all things and beyond. So why can't intuition be the means by which Einstein felt the solution to relativity, or Beethoven heard his ninth symphony in his head in an instant.
Our age is only beginning to explore the mind's potential and its processes of knowing. Sages have long said that the greatest question of all times is "Who am I?" The Temple of Apollo in ancient Greece counseled all who came to "Know Thyself," even as Shakespeare warned us "To Thyself be true." When Jesus Christ asked his disciples, "Who do men say I am?" they replied that some were of the opinion that Jesus was one of the prophets, or even John the Baptist. Only Simon Peter articulated aloud what the others must have intuited already: Jesus was more than an ordinary mortal, he was attuned with the Cosmic Father, a true incarnate son of the living God.
Nothing develops the muscle of our sixth sense more effectively and scientifically than the daily practice of meditation. While this is yet to be validated by scientific testing, I have no doubt that in time it will be. I, for one, started my adult life with the thought that I was not a creative person. I'm no Leonardo di Vinci but every day brings fresh insights into the small world of my daily tasks. Many a time have I sat before this computer wondering what I was to write. After a moment's quiet reflection coupled with a silent prayer offered with faith and affirmation, drawing down, as it were, the grace from above, I have been rewarded with what seemed right to me to say and which has very often been corroborated by independent testimony of readers.
That part of meditation during which, after various practices such as breath control, devotion, energy work, or creative visualization, we are completely still and silent, communing inwardly with the peaceful Presence of Mind -- this is the muscle building segment of building intuitive strength.
We mimic this instinctively when, during the day, confronted with the need for a solution, we pause, perhaps look up, or slightly up and to the side, and, "Lo," the answer comes. Scientific studies of creativity valid the common experience that it might help to "sleep on it," take a shower, go for a run......another words, step back from the intensity of focusing on the problem and the need for a solution, and let the solution flow into your mind like the soundless flow of oil into a drum.
Yes, we can say "I had an idea." But I didn't "create" the idea. I received it. It would be truer, therefore, to say, "I received an idea!" Once, Paramhansa Yogananda, was asked whether creativity could be under the control of the will. He responded, while preparing to leave for a lecture commitment, "Yes, take this down." He immediately dictated a poem which, when later published in a book of poems, was singled out by a reviewer as an example of one of the best poems in the book!
Intuition comes from listening: not just with our auditory faculties, but with our heart, our mind, and our whole being. It's like using the body and mind as a crystal radio set receiving unseen signals and transmissions. To do this requires a quietness of mind that only comes from not being so reactive to our ceaseless conscious and subconscious thoughts and the unending chatter of the five senses, jangling like telephones competing for our attention.
We must test our intuition by being cautious and practical, rather than boastful and insensitively plowing ahead where "angels fear to tread." Thus an intuitive person is calm, sensitive, and humble (in the sense of not being preoccupied by his ego's needs for attention and self-assertiveness). The word faith can be substituted for intuition even if we apply that word more to the realm of our spiritual life than to creativity and problem solving. "God's adequate response to our every need" is proof of His existence, together with the joy found in meditation. This counsel was given to Paramhansa Yogananda by his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, and reported in Yogananda's now famous life story, "Autobiography of a Yogi."
"Stop, look, and listen" say the old-fashion railroad crossing signs. This is the mantra of the intuitive person. A once popular modern expression was "Think outside the box." Well, don't so much think, as look outside the box and see. A person of intuition is a "seer" in the classic sense of that term. Through intuition we see things that others, more attached and bound to the five senses, cannot see.
Some feel intuitions in the heart; others in the prefrontal lobes (forehead); others in the body or in the mind itself. Some "hear" words; others "see" images; others, still, move their body (like a painter) or speak (like a lecturer), or counsel and so on. Intuition is ever-new and ever-fresh and ever-creatively self-expressive.
A key to becoming intuitive is to gradually lessen your reactions: you might react to someone well dressed or attractive in a certain way but this superficial response may blind you to their, perhaps, less than noble intentions. Or you may respond to someone young, or poor or of a different race or religion in some formulaic way based on your own prejudices. This will blind you to who they really are or what they have to offer you. "Who do men say I am?"
I am more than a body; a personality; a man or woman; smart or dumb. I am not who you think I am, nor yet who I think I am.
My teacher, Swami Kriyananda is founder of the worldwide network of Ananda communities, and is direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. His life of public service has been one of intense service and meditation. He has written well over one hundred books and composed hundreds of pieces of music which vary widely in style and composition. His blending of art, devotion, will power, concentration, administrative and executive abilities is unmatched by any in my experience of life. Creativity with divine attunement has been the doorway to soul freedom and an example and inspiration to all who have been privileged to know him.
A life of self-sacrifice with devotion brings faith and intuition and a comfort and joy no riches, no fame could ever bestow.
Joy to you,