The Center for Applied Intuition
Thirty-five Years of Research, Education and Application
“The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will. The solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.” [Albert Einstein]
Earliest Beginnings: A Personal Account
The following sections offer an autobiographical account of the beginnings of the multi-decade work of the Center for Applied Intuition. This 40-year old practicing scientist was about to be disturbed in his stable and predictable scientific world by a cascade of impacting phenomena: dreamed predictions of highly unlikely events, meaningful coincidences (synchronicities), spontaneous insights about family members needing help, and several physical anomalies—all entirely within my own head. I could neither neglect nor explain these unusual events by anything I had been taught or previously experienced. Something was obviously going on that was not “supposed” to be happening, yet it was actually and obviously happening.
I am pleased to be able to credit my first wife Nancy, an adventurous and outgoing psychiatric social worker, for the very first major excursions into the world of intuition. She felt she had to check out, in her very sensible way, any psychologically unusual activities in the dynamic California scene of the mid-1960s. As her husband I found myself half-willingly drawn into a panorama of astrologers, psychics, mediums, healers and new-age teachers—often crazy metafizzles but sometimes inspiring, unusual and capable persons. Among the various controversial behaviors being displayed, some gave me private information about myself I had never shared with anyone, as well as fragments of scientific information they could not possibly have known or figured out beforehand. I checked out some of the latter and found them to be correct. Several very personal experiences, with no one else involved, soon followed.
I was forced to ask myself, how can such things be happening? As a scientist with both feet firmly planted in rational, physical reality, I found these anomalous events, the data and experiences intolerable. I was being compelled to explain, at least to myself, how these strange contradictions with “reality” could possibly occur. A new door was opening in my life and I knew I had to pass through it.
I found out how they could occur, but it took a few years and a great deal of effort. I’d like to share some of this struggle of discovery with you and explain where it led.
First Experiments with Intuition
“Side by side with the subconscious and conscious levels in human personality, a third stratum—the supraconscious —is gaining increasing recognition. … The supraconscious energies are beginning to be considered as the real source of all great human creations, discoveries and inventions in all fields of culture—science, philosophy, law, ethics, fine arts, technology, politics and economics.” [P. A. Sorokin]
The first step was to conduct some simple but careful experiments of my own with a select sampling of these highly perceptive individuals who were generating totally new and correct information “out of the blue.” This was not difficult and the results were consistently positive. They confirmed that the phenomena I had observed were genuine and not contrived performances, deceptive shams or personal delusions, but specific and definable anomalies taking place in the world I knew and accepted. It followed that a few of my personal beliefs about this world, or at least my world, were seriously in error and would have to be updated.
The primary conclusion was inescapable. There had to exist within the human mind a faculty by which new, detailed and accurate information could be acquired, outside of the familiar channels of reasoning, sensing and memory.
Why had no one ever told me about this so fundamental human activity? I had never learned about it in my years at the university. My scientific colleagues knew nothing about it. It was discussed only briefly in encyclopedias and not at all in psychology textbooks. How was this possible, that a human capacity so central to the production of human knowledge could be so completely disregarded?
I reasoned that if this faculty could somehow be harnessed and applied, its impact on mankind’s many knowledge limited endeavors, including self-knowledge, would be very broad and apparently almost unlimited! The potential applications of this “direct knowing” capacity could be generating new ideas, forming new perspectives, solving problems, making decisions and nourishing creativity generally—all of which activities depend on the acquisition of fresh information and knowledge into the mind.
Was I missing something obvious? Was this neglect a grand societal conspiracy or a taboo? Or a heretical breakthrough? Was it just my ignorance? Perhaps I was being terribly naive.
The majority of the information which was given to me in these careful tests was correct insofar as I could readily confirm it. It varied greatly in content, it flowed freely when requested, and for most of it the performers themselves could not possibly have creating it through their reasoning, observations or remembering. Indeed, it seemed that the information was not being created anew but already existed somehow and was just being remembered, regenerated or rediscovered. This interesting hypothesis would require much time and effort to try to confirm it, so the task had to be postponed.
I wanted most of all to discover the specific conditions under which this anomalous “phenomenon” could take place, who could do it, the kinds of information it could provide, how deeply it could go and whether it could be practically applied for supplying entirely new bodies of knowledge wherever and whenever needed.
As the pursuit of the mystery continued I discovered that this faculty of innate or direct knowing was not new but had been known and utilized for most of human history. In the distant past and in many cultures today it was not regarded as something anomalous or strange, to be studied and explained by scholars, but was simply taken for granted as a natural part of life. In Ancient Greece, for example, it was called nous, from which the later terms gnostic and noetic derived. Other non-industrial cultures in both East and West were very familiar with such direct knowing and had their own names for it. In the Western world, starting around the seventeenth century, this kind of knowing began to fall out of recognition and practice as the emerging science, with its strong emphasis on physical reality and rational thinking, began to take over as society’s preferred means for generating new knowledge about the natural world—at least its material portion. Direct knowing slipped into the background. It is still largely invisible and not much respected.
A proper modern term for this mysterious faculty is intuition, the reception of knowledge into the mind without the use of rational thinking, sensing or ordinary memory. This is a definition by exclusion—what intuition is not—but it will do for the moment until we can understand its main characterizing properties. The small amount of professional literature on intuition—historical, psychological and philosophical—has only barely addressed this creative capacity of the human mind. Intuition from these att has not been seriously explored and nothing of substantive value has emerged from these early attempts. Science and most formal disciplines still regard intuition as a superstition and a heresy rather than a legitimate subject of study.
Many parapsychological investigations of intuitive phenomena took place in the twentieth century. Competent but controversial, they provided ample scientific evidence that intuitive phenomena actually occur. Their defensive approach did not reveal what intuition is, how it works and how it might be used. As explained elsewhere on this website, the criteria used to establish evidence of anything new as scientifically acceptable are objective and reductionistic, thus not readily applicable for studying a subjective human capacity such as intuition.
Intuition Poorly Understood
“Once our culture begins to honor intuition, it will expiate the doubt that usually robs intuition of its power, and much of our worldview will change.” [Ram Dass]
Intuition is publicly recognized nowadays, when it is acknowledged at all, in the form of hunches, gut feelings and mysterious coincidences. It is often ridiculed as “woman’s intuition,” as if to imply that the female gender is more superstitious and credulous. Nevertheless, several major advances by scientists in recent centuries can be traced to these unexplained insights, as fragments of new knowledge seemingly and suddenly appeared from nowhere. These and other instances of instant knowing are usually attributed to rational thinking, but the best examples show clearly that there was no way in which reasoning alone could have generated them—they transcended all logic and observational data. Since they cannot be explained by science, they are considered a taboo and tend to be pushed under the rug as just another residue of old superstitions and not worthy of serious attention.
It is now well understood, even in classical psychology, that the practice of intuition is not exceptional but in continuous use by everyone as a part of what is ordinarily and normally called “thought.” It remains unnoticed not only because it is seen as some kind of unconscious reasoning, but because most persons have no interest in learning the source of their insights. We are rarely forced in daily life to explain our inspired choices and behavior toward other persons, or to ourselves. It is convenient to assume that our best thinking and decisions arise from being rational and intellectual, just “good sense,” rather than arising from intuitive knowing.
Getting Down to Work
My personal search led to many inquiry sessions with a growing number of capable intuitives to try to answer the questions about intuition listed above. This was not just an intellectual or empirical pursuit. These seemingly exceptional persons took me into their personal lives, and they turned out to be not so exceptional as I originally thought. They had simply chosen to develop and utilize their natural intuitive capacities, which anyone is free to do, but few persons choose to actually do it. Confirmations continued to accumulate, and they gradually supported the early suspicion that intuition is a powerful means of acquiring totally new information and knowledge.
Research on Intuition
While this exploration of intuition began as an independent personal endeavor, it soon evolved into a systematic and legitimate research program. I had fortunately been educated on how to carry out this kind of research and had acquired 25 years of working experience at it in various branches of science. In 1977 I formed legally a non-profit organization called The Center for Applied Intuition (CAI), then acquired a board of directors, office, equipment and office staff, and made cooperative arrangements with a few of the most reliable intuitives. Policies, activities, projects and goals were soon set in place.
CAI’s primary goal was to study the “phenomenon” of intuition as a natural mental faculty in order to try to answer the major questions listed above. The main emphasis was to be on its practical applications rather than a scholarly pursuit to create a new and systematic body of knowledge, as is usually done in psychology, or to gather more and more evidence to prove literal accuracy according to the standards employed in parapsychology and science. I was also not interested in making impressive predictions and demonstrating entertaining “stunts” to accompany the many popular “psychic” activities which were in vogue at the time. This new task was to be a serious, well motivated study to gain basic understanding of intuition, even if it took us beyond the realm of scientific credibility.
The first tasks had to be to (1) gather and qualify a staff of exceptionally capable intuitives and (2) devise an inquiry protocol for interviewing them. The intuitives’ capabilities were usually very obvious from a single session with them, but to be certain and fair a simple test was devised that could identify the strongest candidates. The inquiry protocol, on the other hand, evolved slowly through months of trial-and-error experimentation before I learned how to formulate questions that were clear, direct, unambiguous, free of assumptions, purposeful and not biased by hopes for what I wanted to hear. Even the accepted interview criteria adopted by congressional committees, criminal investigators, courtroom lawyers and media reporters had to be improved, since all of these were commonly full of presumptions, imprecise and too loose for intuitive inquiries.The inquiry questions had to be direct and to the point of what I wanted to know.
These two preparatory steps employed in the first experiments turned out to be critical to the future success of applied intuition. They required first that the intuitives be provably expert at their skill, and second, that our questioning of them had to be just as expert. When these two conditions were followed the information received from the intuitives was almost always specific, clear, complete and responsive to the questions asked. It was highly accurate as far as I could confirm it at the time. I was truly amazed that the process of acquiring totally new knowledge could be so simple. How is it that no one had already discovered it!
When this preliminary validation had been assured we were ready to begin to generate larger bodies of intuitively received information in various fields. I chose problem areas that were constrained by a lack of essential knowledge not already known or obtainable by familiar means—or otherwise limited by political, economic or cultural constraints. Since I had already acquired a fairly broad base of experience in several scientific subfields, there were several to choose from. I was soon kept busy preparing challenging inquiries, systematically posing them to the intuitives on staff and collecting their responses.
An avalanche of totally new information poured into my tape recorder and was duly transcribed as “data” for possible analysis and later application. Over the following ten years the CAI staff, with eight or ten “expert intuitives,” together as an exploratory team to carry out nearly two hundred inquiry sessions, each 1 to 3 hours in length. The information was obtained initially in about twenty subject areas but soon narrowed down to ten for deeper exploration. I checked portions of it for accuracy, novelty, responsiveness to the questions asked and general credibility; the results continue to be positive. No serious effort was given at that time to confirm it more thoroughly, carry out predictions or formally verify it. These would have to wait until much later.
In most areas the inquiries were repeated with three or more intuitives in parallel so as to form a consensus that would allow comparisons to be made among their responses. In this way discrepancies could be identified and perhaps corrected before attempts were made to formally verify the collected information. Before long, however, the similarity of the repetitions became redundant (and boring) except in certain difficult technical areas where multiple viewpoints and ways of explanation were helpful. The repetitions were also retained for clients who might be better impressed by the redundancy. Otherwise, consensus was gradually dropped in favor of single inquiries.
Intuitive inquiry is an effective tool for obtaining information and knowledge that is difficult or impossible to acquire by familiar means.Consensus was never used in personal counseling and business consulting since clients were not interested in it and preferred to do their own verification.
The Personal Use of Intuition
“The history of science makes clear that the greatest advancements in man’s understanding of the universe are made by intuitive leaps at the frontiers of knowledge, not by intellectual walks along well-traveled paths.” [Andrew Weil]
Almost unnecessary to say, I also began to experiment with my own intuition and explore the deeper levels of my own mind, with the hope of understanding better how the intuitive reception process actually works for expert intuitives. You are not likely to hear much about this subjective pursuit here. The several reports from CAI’s expert intuitives are more informative and convincing, and they sound less like boasting.
In any case it gradually became apparent to me that there is much more to intuition than a source of intellectual, impersonal and useful information. I became aware that intuitive knowing can a major contribution to understanding oneself more deeply, and especially in the ongoing effort to create healthy personal relationships. My own intuition was obviously the preferred channel for learning more fully who I was,what my life was about, who I could be, where I should focus my attention and energies, and where I could go for help when I needed it. Its capacity for solving a wide range of external problems could be extended to internal problems as well, especially those which my thinking mind was not able to handle.
The expert intuitives could do the same, of course, and I often consulted them, for they were able to provide this deeper and significant kind of understanding for their regular counseling clients and for themselves when they needed it. (All worked as intuitive counselors before joining CAI.). But they were one step removed from direct personal access, which provided a more intimate link and did not even require works and sentences.
These more subjective ways of “putting intuition to work” in a personal mode constituted another kind of application, and one which seemed to have the greater long-range implications in the world than the specialized and practical applications which I had originally in mind.
CAI’s different counseling efforts could therefore work together to bring intuition forward into the public domain as a powerful human capability, as a significant means for acquiring knowledge and for intimate personal growth as well.
“Intuition is simply the ability to sense and understand things at a deeper level.” [Sanaya Roman]
While this new understanding of the possibilities of obtaining and utilizing intuitive information developed, CAI began to offer public demonstrations, lectures, publications, classes, a weekly radio program in the San Francisco Bay Area and a few similar gatherings throughout the US and abroad. This public exposure served as a testing ground for communicating effectively our discoveries among different lay, professional and commercial communities. While the audiences were not usually large—the greatest short event was 1000—they let us discover how people were receiving our unusual message, accepting it or not and perhaps finding it meaningful and useful in some way.
Major multi-day events occurred later in the 1980s with four professional conferences, each attracting 250-300 participants, on the role of intuition in personal development, psychotherapy, primary education in the US, and AIDS. CAI also carried out several programs with Japanese: three tour groups of seekers to the San Francisco area and three visits of CAI staff to Japan, when we provided lectures, intuitive counseling, intuitive consulting with companies, and meetings with leaders of Japanese organizations interested in intuitive approaches.
Documentation and Verification
When CAI formally closed its doors in 1991 its remaining projects which had not come to a natural ending or were commercialized were taken over by other organizations. Leadership was transferred to the director of a small spiritual center in Clearlake, California. For me, the entire undertaking needed to be documented, so I withdrew and moved to Europe, where I could write up the main discoveries and publish them in a book in 2003 and 2005: Opening the Inner Eye: Explorations on the Practical Application of Intuition In Daily Life and Work is still available from Amazon and most other book-sellers). This book is now about 80% superseded by this website.
Verification of portions of the intuitive information had not been possible, but during the 1990s scientific evidence began to accumulate which confirmed the accuracy and timeliness of some of the more factual portions. This was done by carefully comparing the intuitive data with published scientific findings. By 2012 four of the more factually oriented inquiries, conducted twenty-five to thirty-five years earlier, had been well verified.
This verification process, discussed in greater detail in another page, was not always possible for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the new intuitive information could not be validated because no scientific progress had been made in the interim; some was simply not testable by its very nature; still other portions were testable but not within science’s limited capabilities. Nevertheless, the four verifications which were possible were completely successful. In fact, no downright errors with evolving scientific knowledge were encountered whenever the questions asked had been clear and unambiguous and the received information was specific enough to verify.
These four examples were presented at scientific meetings, two were published in scientific journals and two others are under preparation for publication. They provide strong support for the claim that intuitive inquiry is an accurate, viable and potentially useful tool for use within science, and therefore within all knowledge constrained areas which rely upon new knowledge for their advances.
“Each of us has two minds, a waking mind and a sleeping mind. Our waking mind is what thinks and talks and reasons. But the sleeping mind is more powerful. It sees deeply to the heart of things. It is the part of us that dreams. It remembers everything. It gives us intuition. Your waking mind does not understand but your sleeping mind does. It already knows many things that your waking mind does not.” [Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind. p. 670-1]