Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise.

From outward things, whate’er you may believe .....

-----Robert Browing



 This is reflected in our very language, where “rational” is synonymous with sanity and ‘reasonable” and “logical” are the benchmarks for truth. But the spiritual path exposes the limits of rational intelligence like a steep hill exposes the limits of roller skates.


Where information is incomplete and ambiguous, where analysis is forced to proceed from premises that can’t be verified, the tools of reason are usually most insufficient.


And those conditions are built into the spiritual path.


In the deepest realms of inquiry, mysteries defy the rules of logic and evade the dogged pursuit of rational minds. That is one reason why attempts to either prove or disprove the existence of God have convinced exactly no one.


The problem is not that scientific rationality is so highly valued; it plainly deserves to be. Rather, the trouble is 1) its limitations tend to be overlooked; 2) its methods have been (illogically, irrationally unreasonably) extended to areas like religion where they don’t necessarily apply; and 3) nonrational ways of knowing have been so repressed that we have to remind ourselves of their value over and over again.


If you try to navigate the spiritual path by reason alone you are bound to think yourself into dead ends, detours, and endless circles of futility Sometimes, it is best to exit at the scenic overlook of intuition.


There is nothing supernatural about intuition, and nothing about it is incompatible with reason. They are not rival kingdoms but complementary functions of one very sovereign and indivisible mind.


In my book The Intuition Edge, I identified six types of intuition:

1. Discovery. The   sudden insight that reveals the answer to a baffling conundrum. These ‘Eureka!” moments usually arise after the unconscious mind has been primed by the desire to know something and has been fed information through observation and analysis. Often, the breakthrough arrives when least expected, when the mind is otherwise engaged.


2. Creativity. Instead of a singular truth or an answer to a question with only one solution, creative intuition generates alternatives where more than one is often possible. The revelation produced is not correct in the factual sense, but something fresh, unique, and unusual, yet appropriate to the situation. This is the intuition of brainstorming and artistic fertility.


3. Evaluation. A binary function that whispers (or shouts or screams) “Yes” or “No,” “Do it” or “Don’t do it,” etc., when you are faced with a choice. The moment of truth might come after a long period of rumination, when you can no

longer put off the decision and your gut finally tips the scales . It might also come when you have to act quickly and there is no time for fact gathering or analysis.


4. Operation. This most subtle form of intuition is like a gyroscope or a radar system. It provides inner guidance, sometimes so gently that you have to pay attention to realize you’re actually being prodded. It might tug you this way or nudge you that way, without telling you why. It just might come in the form of what some might call a “sign” or as a persistent urge, a repeated feeling, or a vague intimation. Smooth operational intuition exemplifies the Taoist concept of wu wei, that effortlessness that Alan Watts called “not standing in your own light when working.”


5. Prediction. This gives you glimpses into the future that mathematical projections and rational forecasting just cannot provide . It’s the sense of knowing that something is going to happen without having a clue as to why. It might come in a vision as clear as a snapshot or as a sense of portent whose features are as blurry as a figure in a fog.


6. Illumination. This most sublime form of intuition transcends the other categories. In fact, it transcends all conce pts and ideas. Strictly speaking, it even transcends intuition.


 It refers to the apprehension of the Holy that mystics through the ages have exalted as Supreme Knowledge. Whether described as divine Presence or the light of God or Self-realization, whether labeled samad hi, rigpa, nirvana, satan, or any other term, this awakening to the ultimate reality is beyond the power of language to describe.


In its purest form, the knowledge it unveils is not knowledge of anything in the usual sense. The polarity of knower and known dissolves. What remains is only consciousness aware of itself—in the words of the Upanishacls, soundless, formless, intangible, undying, tasteless, odorless, without beginning, without end, eternal, immutable, beyond nature.’


                                         Learn to be silent.

                                         Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.



O bviously, what I am calling illumination differs from the other types of intuition. With the others, the subconscious mind dispenses an answer or instruction in the form of thoughts, visions, feelings in the gut or chest, and other codes. By contrast, illuminatjon is nonspecific and nonlocatized. It is also its own reward, the core element of a spiritual awakening that has been described as the end of ignorance, the end of alienation and the end of suffering


But it also has practical relevance in our context because the illuminative experience transforms everyday awareness and upgrades the other five intuitive functions. This is because the spiritual practices used for bringing it about---—meditation, prayer, contemplation, etc.---—make the mind quieter, clearer, and less agitated, the very conditions under which intuition flourishes . Stillness creates an ideal backdrop against which the notes of divine wisdom can be discerned. Some call it the voice of God.



This gives spiritua l practitioners a distinct advantage when it comes to really cultivating everyday intuition.


Nevertheless, even veteran mystics have been conditioned to believe that objective reasoning is the only true path to knowledge.


We have all acquired habits of mind that work against, and even stifle, the intuitive mind. Therefore, if you want help from intuition in navigating the spiritual path, you have to remain alert. That means catching yourself before you suppress your intuition or dismiss an intuitive response just because, on first blush, it can’t be explained, It also means becoming familiar with the nuances of your own inner voice. It means allowing yourself to expect intuitive answers, to look for them, welcome them and pay attention to them. Perhaps most of all, it means creating the right conditions for them.


Intuition is, by definition, spontaneous and usually most unexpected. It’s not like going to the shelf for a reference book or turning on a calculator. Intuitive thoughts and feelings come when they are ready; you can no more coerce them into being than you can force someone to fall in love with you. You can, however, make yourself available. As Shakespeare said, through Hamlet, “The readiness is all.”


Beware of Imposters


C onsider Abraham

He hears what he assumes is the voice of God telling him to pack up everything and take off for parts unknown . Later, that very same voice tells him to sacrifice his son, and he comes within a knife’s blade of doing so. For the most part, things worked out all right for Abraham and his descendants.


But the chances are that if you woke up your spouse and said, ‘Get dressed, God told me to sell the house and head out west to the desert,” you’d get the alarm clock thrown at you.


And if you even came close to harming your child, you’d be arrested, although “God told me to” would probably tip the scales in favor of an insanity plea.




March/April 2005. (Pgs. 18-19)

Vol. 185. No. 2


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