What Is Intuition?
A Primer on Direct Knowing
- A Primer on Direct Knowing
- What is Intuition?
- Properties of Intuition
- Intuition in Society
- The Individual Is Key
- Opening the Intuitive Gate
- Inner and Outer
- Scholastic Attempts
- Intuition is Ever-Present
- The Source of Intuitive Information
- Faith, Belief and Knowledge
- Expert Intuitives, Intuitive Inquiry and Verification
- Applications of Intuition
- So What Then is Intuition?
Let’s get acquainted now with what intuition actually is, its various features and its potential for application.
What is Intuition?
“An intuitive statement is one that you know is true even before you know why or how it is true.” [N.D. Walsch]
Intuition is much more than what most people think it is. It is not just an intellectual topic to be pondered over by philosophers and psychologists. Nor is it a mere psychic stunt, though the best psychic performances are fine instances of intuition in action. As already mentioned, intuition can be responsible for occasional insights and hunches, but these may also arise from other sources in the human mind. While intuition often reveals itself through feelings, human feelings themselves are neither the generator nor the products of intuition, only vehicles for it.
Rather, intuition is the deeper mental faculty that underlies and makes possible a variety of behaviors, both ordinary and exceptional, in which new information appears in the mind without apparent cause. This appears strange but it is actually a natural, genuine and inborn capacity of the human mind for acquiring entirely new information, knowledge and understanding without the use of one’s familiar faculties of reasoning, sensing and memory. This is a definition by exclusion, and intuition calls for a better one, but it is simple and correct and will suffice for the moment.
Properties of Intuition
The faculty of intuitive knowing belongs to everyone, not just a few “gifted” people. All of us use it every day of their lives, albeit to varying degrees and usually without much awareness of the extent to which it is being relied upon. We do not notice it because we ordinarily tend to credit its results to rational “thinking.” This is incorrect because at the instant when intuitive information appears in the mind rational activity is bypassed—there is no “thought” at all. In fact the most common barrier to clear intuitive reception is residual thought which has not been fully shut off.
As we shall soon see, this natural and inherent capacity for direct knowing is available to all who want to develop it further into a practical skill. The skill then allows one to apply it intentionally whenever any kind of new information, knowledge or understanding is needed. Relatively few persons in our Western society choose to take this deliberate step but the untapped potential continues to exist. This is shown by those who have done so and practice its use so they can testify to these promised consequences, which are described and explained in the following pages.
This is a strong claim for a universal human capability which we would expect to have recognized and widely utilized long ago. It is not new at all, and there are reasons for its neglect, as we shall see. However, our main task is to understand better its characteristics and the intuitive reception process itself.
Intuition in Society
We need to appreciate first of all that intuitive insights have for ages been responsible for mankind’s most valuable ideas, visions, revelational dreams, serendipities, decisions and creativity. These accomplishments take place first internally, within the mind and largely out of view of waking consciousness and its limited attempts to create them on its own.
Moving outward from this internal mental source and into its immediate manifestation, intuition has had a indirect but broad impact upon man’s most worthy practical endeavors. It cuts across all disciplines, professions, institutions and organized social activities—science and religion, politics and justice, national and global, educational and experiential, commercial and private. Intuitive knowing is behind almost every human activity in which the acquisition of new knowledge and understanding play a significant part.
These societal enterprises expend immense resources in their attempts to acquire new knowledge through the gathering of data, communication, analysis, experimentation and various kinds of research. It is difficult to name a field of human activity that does not involve the acquisition of new knowledge to at least some degree. Man’s intuitive skills, applied almost always only feebly and unconsciously, have played a hidden but significant role in all these societal endeavors.
Of course, society’s greatest, most difficult problems—overpopulation, war and aggression, poverty, ignorance and environmental destruction—are limited more by a lack of individual and political will than a shortage of knowledge. Widespread changes in human consciousness must occur before these heavy challenges can be brought under control and resolved. Even here, though, intuitive knowing can play a constructive part by providing the right kinds of new knowledge to support these large collective efforts. At the least it may soften our miseries until we can work out better answers.
The Individual Is Key
“Intuition is more than a tool. It is a way of being in the world.” [Sharon Franquemont]
Intuition’s greatest relevance to human well being lies less in the social arena than through the central role it plays in each person’s individual life, the essence and purpose behind his own existence and development. Man himself stands above and beyond all groups, societies, nations and planets, all of which exist only to support his existence, growth and expansion, directly or indirectly, and individually before collectively, not the other way around. Physical reality and the known universe did not create man, as science has been trying to persuade us, and our thinking minds are urging us to believe. In a very real sense man has created the reality in which he lives, his own domain and his own destiny. Any and all changes must originate with him.
This grand picture of man’s purpose and destiny has always been known to a minority of mystics, philosophers, and enlightened persons throughout human history. During this new century it appears to be gradually floating upward toward a much wider awareness. The relevance of conscious experience in generating this new understanding, and its intimate connection with the core part of our inner selves, are becoming clearer. Intuition and the practices for intentionally enhancing it—meditation, prayer, deep contemplation, a developed sense of inner peace—can be seen as the key means for gaining access to this interior domain and then living it with an enlarged sense of purpose and direction.
Opening the Intuitive Gate
The intuitive gate is the individual entry point where this inner knowledge can be recognized most easily. It first becomes noticed, then important, then a personal priority, then a call for positive action, and finally an instigator of life change. In recent decades and in many areas of life intuition has already begun to be adopted as an accepted gateway. Those sufficiently motivated are awakening to the normally obscure and unconscious parts of themselves, the deeper realms that can be released through an increase in intention, attention and will. These three faculties alone can reshape all daily thoughts, beliefs and choices, for they govern in turn the entire drama of an individual life. Intuition is very much involved in the practice of all three.
Those who have learned how to activate and cooperate with their natural intuitive capacity have gained a powerful and practical “tool” for functioning constructively and effectively in today’s dynamic world—as leader, teacher, creator, implementer, accomplisher, healer or direct server of others. They have grown themselves into the higher level of consciousness, which is a long-term personal fulfillment for themselves and for everyone with whom they are involved. Intuitive knowing is their principal ally along this path of self-knowing, greater self-understanding and personal expansion.
Inner and Outer
“Man cannot persist long in a conscious state; he must throw himself back into the unconscious, for his root lives there.” [Goethe]
So in the simplest of terms, intuition is one’s personal communication channel between his thinking, awake and conscious mind and his inner, largely unknown, mysterious and usually obscure unconscious mind. The human unconscious, which we experience only indirectly through subjective processes such as feelings, impressions, sensations, emotions, dreams and intuition, holds this invisible domain in place, always ready for awakening. (An overactive intellect and unregulated emotions are off to the side, not directly involved and more of hindrance than a help.) Most important of all, the unconscious mind is the locus of one’s individual essence, core, beingness and true identity. It is the root of his primary power, deep self-knowing and central life purpose. It is also the link to his cosmic origin and the ultimate source of life energy. Intuition provides the primary communicative access to this essence. What more could you possibly need if you want to “know thyself”?
Yes, intuition may be regarded as a mere phenomenon to be studied by scholars, but it may also be seen as a natural part of life, just as we view intelligence, creativity, imagination, kindness, empathy, even the capacity to speak a language. It’s not so special, you see, but it is also not noticed until brought to attention. Even then, it remains inactive until developed and used. Desert people never learn to swim. A child never spoken to never learns to speak. The ability to learn to receive new knowledge intuitively is natural and potential in everyone. It may be intentionally developed, perfected and then utilized for one’s personal growth and enhancement—among various other purposes, as we shall soon see.
“Of all the hard facts of science, I know of none more solid and fundamental than the fact that if you inhibit thought, and persevere, you come at length to a region of consciousness below or behind thought … and a realization of an altogether vaster self than that to which we are accustomed. … All minor questions and doubts fall away in face of it.” [Edward Carpenter]
Another way to approach intuition is through its relation to the various knowledge disciplines studied by scholars, taught in educational institutions, written up in books and accumulated in man’s huge base of shared knowledge in philosophy, psychology, literature, science, medicine, history, etc. Unfortunately, the subject does not fit well into any of them, and it has never attracted their attention or been seriously investigated. These fields have barely acknowledged intuition and have come up with very little to explain it in familiar terms. Intuition has had to stumble along as an aspect of parapsychology and mysticism, on the fringe of psychology, and most recently in “edge science” where it is showing a few signs of being better recognized.
Intuition can be regarded as a subject of research, of course, either to study empirically how it works, in psychiatric, neurophysiological or psychological terms. It may also be explored as a practical art, to determine its limits and seek out ways to use it effectively. The latter option is the approach to intuition taken at CAI.
Intuition is Ever-Present
Many persons recognize intuition only in their dreams, reveries an emotional crises, in young childhood and near death, in moments when the outer mind is at ease and the inner mind is more inclined to reveal itself. I’ve known many persons who deny the very existence of intuition. They presume that their thinking and five senses are responsible for all of the knowledge they have acquired. But this makes no sense at all. Intuition as a human capability is always present, and it is used by everyone every day as an essential companion to rational thought and sensing. The Western intellectual mind is inclined to mistakenly credit intuition’s perceptions, ideas and insights to the busy intellect, but this cannot be, for the intellect is not capable of such activity.
Some suppose that intuition has a religious, emotional or spiritual basis, which may be partly true simply because it is so much involved in our deepest inner experiences, which we may think of as spiritual. An active intuition can certainly enhance one’s religious or spiritual life. However, it is no more or less “spiritual” than the other human capacities just mentioned—or any more than all life is spiritual, which it obviously is.
The Source of Intuitive Information
“Intuition is the source or the bestower of revelation. Through intuition, progressive understanding of the ways of God in the world, and on behalf of humanity, are revealed.” [Alice Bailey]
For many centuries before this present scientific era intuitive knowledge was widely recognized and accepted in society at large. It was speculated upon by its major thinkers, who wondered about its source: where does all this knowledge come from? Every major religion and philosophy had its own term for this source: the Veda, God’s Book of Remembrance, the Akashic Records, the Book of Life, the Greek nous (from which our words noetic and gnosis derive) and most recently the Collective Unconscious. These names are convenient labels but not informative in themselves, for they do not tell us what or where the source is except something vague and unseen and outside of ordinary waking consciousness.
Whatever it might be, this gigantic reservoir is certainly too large and long lasting to fit into a finite human brain, or even a person’s DNA, so it must be abstract—i.e., non-physical—yet somehow accessible to an inquiring mind. This is not much different from human language, for example, which is also abstract, invisible and ubiquitous yet not readily explainable in familiar terms, even though we can speak it every day. Similarly, our inability to explain intuition need not prevent us from making good use of it.
Faith, Belief and Knowledge
Intuition seems similar to “faith,” which in the best sense of the word denotes an unshakable knowing, a deep-seated certainty and a transcendence of sense and reason. It is also called “the evidence of things not seen.” All of these properties are shared by intuitive knowing. Rational minds are not comfortable with the notion of faith because it seems to demand acceptance without any reasonable basis. This is literally true because faith, like intuition, does not depend upon reason and is complementary to it. Faith and intuition may differ in the means used to acquire them, but the result is substantially the same.
Perhaps more to the point of the difference, faith has a strong association with religion, which has had to get along for centuries without the substantiated an empirical body of knowledge about the material world that science now provides. Religion’s unifying authority lay in a collection of beliefs which were dubbed as faith—not necessarily wrong or right but richly infused with irrational and inconstant superstitions which had more to to with mental control and social power then with genuine knowledge. Science struggled successfully to separate itself from these beliefs, but in the process it disdained all religious faith in favor of its own. The old faith honored intuition as a valid means of access to truth, but its replacement unfortunately excluded intuition as a rejected superstition, and it is being recovered only with difficulty.
Intuitive knowing transcends belief, which we may rightly define as tentative individual knowledge awaiting personal validation before it is fully accepted as genuine personal knowledge. If a belief were already known we would not feel it necessary to argue, defend and preach for it, as we so often do whenever we are not quite sure of something. Believing in God, for example, is a very different state of mind than knowing God.
Knowledge is by its nature an individual thing, and the step to collective knowledge requires an institutional vehicle such as religion or science to socialize it and make it widely “acceptable.” Thus we may speak today of “scientific knowledge” as if it is a property of the natural world instead of a fabricated construction. In fact its physicalist perspective has left out so much of the natural world, mainly the human mind, that it repeatedly creates difficulties when its otherwise abundant knowledge is applied.
The “information” accessible through intuition consists not only of objective physical facts—statements that can be said to be true or false and may be proven as valid—but also subjective knowledge in the form of comprehensive understanding, broad perspectives, novel ideas and experiential knowing. None of these is describable compactly and verbally but it still constitutes important individual knowledge. Intuition feeds both kinds. Each person’s accumulation of private self-knowledge is a crucial part of his evolving relationship with the greater reality of which he is a part. As he encounters challenges along his path of life, intuition nourishes him in the form of musing, reveries, insights and dreams by giving him “information” of a higher order than mere facts. This process may remain largely unconscious, but it may be made conscious if he so chooses, as part of his healthy “mind diet.”
Expert Intuitives, Intuitive Inquiry and Verification
“Invention occurs as a constructive act. … The really valuable factor is intuition.” [Albert Einstein]
While few persons are aware of the intuitive process continually working within their minds, everyone has the potential to recognize this inner resource, learn to bring it under control and then develop it so as to acquire fresh information, knowledge and understanding as needed. Those who have developed the skill to do this well I call expert intuitives, for lack of a better term. They are able to answer questions, their own or when requested by other persons, and then communicate what they have received as may be necessary.
All of the novel intuitive information presented on this site and in its associated publications was obtained from these expert intuitives, using a procedure called intuitive inquiry. To an observer this method appears similar to ordinary interviews as conducted by news reporters, police inspectors and courtroom examiners. There are important differences, however, because the questions for intuitive inquiries must be carefully prepared and posed to remove ambiguities, biases, hidden assumptions, unclear motives and any “leading” toward particular answers one might desire or expect. Typical interviews do not meet this standard.
Experience reported elsewhere on these pages has shown that when this preparation is carried out properly, the answers received step up to a higher level of accuracy, clarity and depth. These qualities are paramount for factual, complex and unfamiliar subject matter, for which unreliable information, intuitive or any other, is almost worthless. For personal information they are less crucial, since the human mind can usually compensate, but serious errors are still possible without careful preparation of the posed questions.
The inquirer may also choose to employ the method of intuitive consensus, which combines parallel and agreeing responses from three or more intuitives to the same questions. Consensus is not always necessary, since the responses are normally almost identical, but it is still sometimes useful for particular subject matter and when the client’s questions cannot be controlled.
Validation of intuitive information is also important. It may be perfect and accurate at the source from which it originates, whatever that may be, but by the time it passes through the intuitive’s and inquirer’s minds it is subject to distortion, and external means must be employed to check it. If you are your own expert intuitive then further confirmation may not be necessary, but otherwise new intuitive information must always be checked by independent means before it can be trusted to be correct, given to others and usefully applied. This step of confirmation, also discussed in detail elsewhere, may be called validation or verification. Various external sources can be called upon for this purpose—libraries, internet, journals, authorities from the university, and scientific experiments, analysis and proof. All are secondary approximations to the direct perception of the individual expert intuitive before it is spoken, which source may be taken as close to the truth that one may rightly expect from any source.
Applications of Intuition
CAI has always emphasized applied intuition, its practical and useful side, in contrast to academic, intellectual or philosophic attempts to create a new body knowledge from it. Applied intuition also diverges from popular activities such as psychism, channeling, psi phenomena, spirits, etc. which were so active in the 1970s and 1980s and still entertain today. Both of these other two approaches undoubtedly have their place as awakeners and inspiration, but they are too narrow and limited to support the generation of a broader understanding of intuition within society at large.
CAI therefore focused on ten specific and potential applications of intuition for its long-term program. They varied from technical and specialized to those of general interest, from readily verifiable to those that will never be verified, and from highly personal use to those with of broad societal impact. Four of them turned out to be susceptible to formal verification by scientific criteria; these generated abundant evidence that the intuitive information was correct, novel and responsive to the questions asked, though it took a long time for this confirmation to accumulate. For four others not so amenable to verification many points and insights attained a high level of credibility and usefulness by common standards. They may be verifiable in the future. The last two consisted of intimate and detailed counseling and consulting inquiries to assist private individuals and several companies. These required neither consensus nor external verification but generated a high degree of client satisfaction. They were probably the most humanly effective, and for those of us at CAI were certainly the most immediately satisfying of all the applications.
So What Then is Intuition?
With this background, intuition can now be defined as the human mental capability for drawing on an apparently unlimited source of knowledge (the collective unconscious or whichever name you prefer) to obtain almost any desired information, including that not accessible by common means. This capability bypasses the rational faculty, the familiar five senses and ordinary memory, which are not required and can even hinder the reception process. Intuition is an active part of what is usually called “thinking,” though it remains unrecognized, unappreciated and undeveloped by most persons. At the same time, it is an innate and completely natural faculty that may be developed, by anyone wishing to do so, into a useful skill, thereby making it readily accessible.
The many properties and qualities of intuition cited above as “another way of knowing” follow directly from this definition and these primary properties. They reveal an untapped potential whose further exploitation and application could have a profound impact at all levels of human life that are dependent upon information, knowledge and understanding, and even in the deeper levels of the psyche which connect man with his cosmic origin and govern all inspiration and creativity.