Beyond Thought and Intellect:
The Unlimited Insight of Soul Intuition
Article from Self-Realization magazine - Fall 2011
From the Wisdom-Legacy of Paramahansa Yogananda
Everyone Has Intuition, Even You
All of God’s children are endowed with the highest intelligence: intuition, the all-knowing wisdom of the soul.
Intuition is that power of Spirit inherited by the soul by which truth is perceived directly, without the medium of any other faculty.
Intuition is soul guidance, appearing naturally in man during those instants when his mind is calm. Nearly everyone has had the experience of an inexplicably correct “hunch” or has transferred his thoughts accurately to another person.
Every man has the power of intuition, as he has the power of thought. As thought can be cultivated, so intuition can be developed. In intuition we are in tune with Reality — with the world of Bliss, with the “unity in diversity,” with the inner laws governing the spiritual world, with God.
…but it needs to be developed:
In the life of every person, two forces of knowledge are operative from birth: (1) the power of human reason, along with its satellites of sensation, perception, conception, and so forth; (2) the power of intuition.
The former is developed through social institutions and interactions. The latter usually remains uncultured, undeveloped, because of want of proper guidance and methods of training.
So long as one’s intuition remains undeveloped, he is guided mainly by the limited understanding of mortal intelligence, with only occasional promptings of intuitive wisdom. Thus he engages in some good actions, but also in many wrong actions, and acquires many bad habits. Through the operation of the law of cause and effect, or karma, he finds himself following helplessly his own self-created destiny, which often leads to misery.
A life can be successful, healthy, and complete — balanced with wisdom and happiness — when activity is guided by God’s inner, intuitive direction.
The only way to know and to live in truth is to develop the power of intuition. Then you will see that life has a meaning, and that no matter what you are doing the inner voice is guiding you.
While animals are guided primarily by instinct, and ordinary man is guided by his ego, the yogi who is united to the Self is guided by the soul.
This intuitive power can be developed by learning the step-by-step methods of scientific deepest meditation that lead to Self-realization.
Qualities of Intuition
Distinct from senses, thoughts, and intellect…
|“Intuition manifests in the calm consciousness as feeling, perceived mostly through the heart. When such feeling comes, you receive through it a definite sense of right direction and unshakable conviction.”|
The senses and mind are the outer doors through which knowledge percolates into the consciousness. Human knowledge filters in through the senses and is interpreted by the mind. If the senses err in perception, the conclusion drawn by the understanding of that data is also incorrect. A white gossamer cloth fluttering in the distance may look like a ghost, and a superstitious person believes that it is a ghost; but closer observation reveals the error of that conclusion. The senses and understanding are easily deluded because they cannot grasp the real nature, the essential character and substance, of created things.
Man’s highest faculty is not reason but intuition: apprehension of knowledge derived immediately and spontaneously from the soul, not from the fallible agency of the senses or of reason.
Intuition comes from within; thought, from without. Intuition gives a face-to-face view of Reality; thought gives an indirect view of it. Intuition, by a strange sympathy, sees Reality in its totality, while thought chops it up into parts.
…and includes feeling
Beyond the senses and intellect, intuition manifests in the calm consciousness as feeling, perceived mostly through the heart. When such feeling comes in meditation, you receive through it a definite sense of right direction and unshakable conviction. Increasingly you will be able to recognize and follow this intuition. That doesn’t mean you give up reason. Calm impartial reason can also lead to intuition. Use common sense. But remember that arrogant or emotional reasoning leads to misconceptions and mistakes.
|“Pure reason and pure feeling both have intuitive qualities. Pure feeling sees as clearly as pure reason.”|
Pure reason and pure feeling both have intuitive qualities. Pure feeling sees as clearly as pure reason. Most women have a keenly developed intuition. Only when they become unduly excited do they lose their intuitive powers. Pure reason is also intuitive, if this power is sufficiently developed. Otherwise, should the premise be wrong, the conclusion will be wrong also. Sooner or later, every man who reasons clearly will develop true intuition, which never errs.
You must feel as well as think; if you do not have feeling along with your thoughts, you will not always be successful in reaching the right conclusion. Feeling is an expression of intuition, the repository of all knowledge. Feeling and thought, or reason, must be balanced; only then does the divine image of God within you, the soul, manifest its full nature. Hence Yoga teaches one how to balance his powers of reason and feeling. One who does not have both equally is not a fully developed person.
The harmonious balance of reason and feeling leads to intuitive perception and the ability to know what is Truth. Achieving this balance, men and women become gods.
Consequences of Undeveloped Intuition
Ignorance of what you really are:
Undeveloped intuition is a crystal placed before the soul, producing a double image. The soul itself is the real image; the reflection is unreal — the ego or pseudosoul. The more undeveloped the intuition is, the more distorted the ego image will be. When human life is guided by this false identity, which is brought about by the presence of undeveloped intuition, it is subject to all the limitations and false notions of delusion. A chaotic existence of error and its consequences is therefore inevitable.
|“Anyone seeking success would accomplish more if he concentrated upon increasing the receptive quality of his brain cells, instead of depending just on books and college work for his progress.”|
When a man is identified with his body, he feels nothing more than the sensations of sight, smell, taste, touch, sound, weight, and movement....God sent man to earth to be entertained by the bodily dreams, not to obscure his consciousness of immortality by being identified with the body.
If one can for a sufficient length of time remain unidentified with thoughts and sensations, and without being unconscious, he will know through the development of intuition the nature of the soul.
“I am not the breath; I am not the body, neither bones nor flesh. I am not the mind or feeling. I am That which is behind the breath, body, mind, and feeling.” When you go beyond the consciousness of this world, knowing that you are not the body or the mind, and yet aware as never before that you exist — that divine consciousness is what you are. You are That in which is rooted everything in the universe.
The advanced student should meditate deeply until his thoughts become dissolved into intuition. In the lake of intuition, free from the waves of thought, the yogi can see the unruffled reflection of the moon of the soul.
Undeveloped intuition brings errors in judgment and wrong decisions. . .
Errors in judgment are a result of not having developed intuition. Most of you have had the feeling that you could be great, and do great things; but because you have lacked intuitive power, that potential has, for the most part, remained dormant.
Since the judgment of your mind is conditioned by the information fed to it by the senses, if your senses become deluded you may think a person is wonderful without knowing what he truly is inside. You may think you have found your soul mate, so you enter into matrimony; and then end up in the divorce court. But intuition will never make such a mistake. It will not look at the magnetic power of the eyes or at the attractive face or personality of a person, but will feel and perceive accurately in the heart what that person is really like.
. . .while developed intuition brings success in life:
To progress and to avoid the misery of mistakes, you have to find what is the truth in everything. This is possible only if you develop your intuition. That is the practical truth of the matter. That is why I am asking you to cultivate and use intuitive power in everything. In your relationships with others, in your business, in your married life, in every part of your life, intuition is essential. By not developing the faculty of intuition, you make wrong decisions, pick up the wrong business associates, and get caught up in wrong personal relationships.
There is always uncertainty in depending only on the material ways of success. But the intuitive way of success is different. Intuitive perception can never be wrong. It comes by an inner sensitivity, a feeling by which you know in advance whether or not you are going to succeed by following your determined course.
Many people, lacking intuition, put a lot of money into financial prospects that do not produce anything, and consequently they lose everything. I have been successful in every decision I have made through intuitive power. It never fails.
The scientific man or the businessman or anyone seeking success would accomplish more if he concentrated upon increasing the receptive quality of his brain cells, instead of depending just on books and college work for his progress. The world starts with books and outside methods, but you should start by increasing the receptivity of your intuition. In you lies the infinite seat of all knowledge.
Ways to Develop Intuition
First develop common sense. . .
Intuitive wisdom, though transcending ordinary knowledge, does not make one otherworldly or impractical; it is the parent of common sense, which is simply intuitional reaction to one’s environment.
. . .?then add prayer for intuitional guidance:
Learn all you can about your goal and the practical steps needed to achieve it. Whether you are investing your money, starting a business, changing your occupation, after you have investigated, compared, and applied your intelligence to the limit, don't rush headlong into it. When your reason and investigation points to one thing, then meditate and pray to God. In inner silence, ask the Lord if it is all right to go ahead. If you pray deeply and earnestly and find that something is turning you from it, don’t do it. But if you have an irresistible positive impulse, and you pray and pray and go on praying and this impulse still persists, then go ahead. Your prayer for guidance must be sincere, so that whatever impulse you feel will be from God and not mere reinforcement of your own flawed desire.
That is the way I developed the practical application of my intuition. Before starting any endeavor, I sit in meditative silence in my room and go on expanding that power in my mind. Then I throw the concentrated light of my mind on what I want to accomplish.
|“Only when restless thoughts cease can one hear the voice of God communicating through the silence of intuition....In the devotee’s silence God’s silence ceases.”|
Always ask the Father to guide you. If your ego is blind and has a strong voice, it may drown out intuition and mislead you. But if you seek only to please God by your efforts to do something worthwhile, He will guide your footsteps from error to good.
Meditation is the surest way. . .
The surest way to liberate the expression of intuition is by meditation, early in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Whenever you want to solve a problem intuitively, first go into deep meditation or silence, as you have been taught in the Lessons. Don’t think of your problems during meditation. Meditate until you feel that a sense of calmness fills the inner recesses of your body — until a divine happiness fills the inner recesses of soul — and breath becomes calm and quiet. Then concentrate simultaneously at the point between the eyebrows (Christ Consciousness Center) and the heart. Lastly, ask God to direct your intuition, so that you may know what you should do about your problems.
The clear-thinking man should be distinguished from the man who thinks too much....Intuition manifests only in calmness; in the undeveloped man, it only occasionally peeps in through the loopholes of leisure periods of the active mind and restless senses. The clear-thinking individual does not allow intellect to overrule intuition; by his patient calmness, he permits the full play of intuition in guiding him to right determinations.
To attain a higher state of consciousness and divine perception, it is necessary through meditation to withdraw the mind from its continual restless activity. In that interiorized state, spiritual sensitivity, or intuition, awakens.
An advanced Kriya Yogi, who in samadhi meditation has withdrawn his consciousness and life force from the realm of the gross body and senses, enters that inner world of wisdom revelations. He becomes aware of the seven sacred altars of Spirit in the spine and brain, and receives all knowledge emanating from them. Thus in tune with truth through intuitive soul-perception, he knows invariably the correct guidance for all aspects of his spiritual and materially dutiful conduct.
The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion it may hear the infallible counsel of the Inner Voice.
God speaks to you through your intuition. . .
Spirit does not necessarily talk through the lips of a form in a vision, or a materialized human body, but may intimate words of wisdom through the medium of the devotee’s awakened intuition. God may counsel a devotee by assuming the form of a saint, but usually He adopts the simple method of speaking through the devotee’s own intuitive perception.
God’s voice is silence. Only when restless thoughts cease can one hear the voice of God communicating through the silence of intuition. That is God’s means of expression. In the devotee’s silence God’s silence ceases.
No devotee should be satisfied until he has sufficiently developed his intuition — by impartial introspection and deep meditation, as in Kriya Yoga — to experience the communion of soul and Spirit. If a devotee meditates intensely for at least short periods every day, and has longer periods of three or four hours of deep meditation once or twice a week, he will find his intuition becoming sufficiently superfine to realize unendingly the dialogue of blissful wisdom exchanged between the soul and God. He will know the interiorized state of communion in which his soul “talks” to God and receives His responses, not with the utterances of any human language, but through wordless intuitional exchanges.
Real Religion Is Based Upon Intuition
All bona fide revealed religions of the world are based on intuitive knowledge. Each has an exoteric or outer particularity, and an esoteric or inner core. The exoteric aspect is the public image, and includes moral precepts and a body of doctrines, dogmas, dissertations, rules, and customs to guide the general populace of its followers. The esoteric aspect includes methods that focus on actual communion of the soul with God. The exoteric aspect is for the many; the esoteric is for the ardent few. It is the esoteric aspect of religion that leads to intuition, the firsthand knowledge of Reality.
Intellectual discourses about the Creator will not give you God. But by seeking Him within, making the effort every day, you will find Him. The way to God is not through the intellect, but through intuition.
Ordinary human beings, studying and working with material life, are circumscribed in their understanding by their sense perceptions and rationalizing intelligence. With undeveloped intuition, their limited power of intellectuality cannot truly comprehend matters of the spirit even when such truth is expounded to them. Though colossal intellects and famous theologians may be well read about the soul, they may nevertheless understand little about it!
On the other hand, even illiterates given to deep meditation will be able clearly to describe the nature of the soul from their own direct experience. Intuition bridges the chasm between intellectual knowledge of the soul and actual realization of the divine Self.
Intellectual giants, masters of many languages, veritable walking libraries of knowledge and deductive philosophy, but who are devoid of the help of clear-eyed intuition, have a deluded intelligence — functional on the plane of relativity, but obstructive to divine wisdom.
It is by intuition that God can be realized in all His aspects. We have no sense that can reveal knowledge of Him; the senses give knowledge only of His manifestations. No thought or inference can enable us to know Him as He truly is, for thought cannot go beyond the data of the senses; it can only arrange and interpret the impressions of the senses.
|“God is beyond mind and intellect…His true nature can be felt only through the soul’s power of intuition.”|
God is beyond mind and intellect…His true nature can be felt only through the soul’s power of intuition. We must find His consciousness through the superconscious mind — the nucleus of mind and intelligence. His infinite nature is revealed to man through the intuitive superconsciousness of the soul. The joy felt in meditation reveals the presence of Eternal Joy spread over all creation. The light seen in meditation is the astral light from which our tangible creation is made. Beholding this light, one feels a unity with all things.
Intuition Produces True Wisdom, the Antidote to Cosmic Delusion
Man is so drunk with delusion, it obliterates his true perception so that the darkness of his ignorance cannot apprehend the light of God vibrating everywhere. Both cosmic delusion (maya) and individual illusion or ignorance (avidya) work together to thus obscure and confound the soul’s inherent intuitive sense of God’s omnipresence. In meditation this darkness of sensory dependence goes away and intuition prevails, revealing oneself as light in the magnitude of a whole universe of light.
When man is settled in that inner kingdom of divine consciousness, the awakened intuitive perception of the soul pierces the veils of matter, life energy, and consciousness and uncovers the God-essence in the heart of all things.
When by meditation and devotional practice of divine teachings the soul’s intuition begins to guide the development of intelligence, it is then that delusion instead of wisdom is doomed to destruction.
The Transcendent Vision
This life is a master novel, written by God, and man would go crazy if he tried to understand it by reason alone. That is why I tell you to meditate more. Enlarge the magic cup of your intuition and then you will be able to hold the ocean of infinite wisdom.
The devotee who transcends the myopia of body consciousness sees with the superior vision of divine intuition, and resolves all formerly incomprehensible dualities in the ecstatic perception of creation as Beauty and Joy.
How expressively the Gita extols this truth: “adorned with countless celestial robes and garlands and ornaments” — the stars are His crown jewels; the earth His footstool; the lightning, thunder, storms, and cataclysms the flash of His accoutrements and snap of His cloak as He dances in joy the whirling rhythms of creation, preservation, destruction. Everything in the objective world is an added decoration to beautify the cosmic garment of God; behind all these is the hidden Divine Reality.
Meditate with patience and persistence. In the gathering calmness, you will enter the realm of soul intuition. Throughout the ages, those beings who attained enlightenment were those who had recourse to this inner world of God-communion. Jesus said: “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” *
Go within the Self, closing the door of the senses and their involvement with the restless world, and God will reveal to you all His wonders.