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.