While intuition is defined by some experts as a feeling or understanding of something without using our cognitive sense, others argue that all of our thoughts and feelings are informed by our past experiences and knowledge. Also defined as “unconscious cognition”, intuition has been related to a number of other principles, such as instinct, “gut” and imprinting, albeit not universally. The subject of intuition has been studied for thousands of years, and there are many schools of thought about its meaning as well as the importance of intuition’s role in our daily lives.
Vedic Texts, Gurus, and Intuition
The Vedas, the oldest known Sanskrit writings, are considered revelatory by Hindus, among others, and focus on the human pursuit of spiritual understanding and enlightenment. These sacred and ancient texts include philosophies on religious ceremonies, mantras, and meditation. The focus of the Vedic texts is not the pursuit of understanding our physical world but in the acquisition of a deeper awareness of the spiritual world which is aspired to. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), the famed Indian philosopher, Yogi, and eventual guru, believed that the Vedic texts were written with the idea that our focus as humans should be rooted in intuition rather than on intellectual pursuits, knowledge, and reason, and encouraged his followers to return to this “higher” plane of thinking. Another legendary guru, Osho, founder of Dynamic Meditation, considered operating through intuition alone to be the ultimate objective for humanity, and was, in fact, a more enlightened way of living, disregarding thinking and reasoning and acting on one’s intuition alone. His theory of intuition was that intuition is “the highest rung of the ladder”, with the lowest rung being instinct, which is strictly biological and “of the animals”. The middle rung, intellect, is of the conscious mind and the more sharply honed the intellect becomes the more it battles with the instinct for power. He contended that the goal of educational and religious institutions was to suppress intuition in favor of intellect, discouraging and disavowing the power of allowing oneself to trust one’s intuition. In his view, instinct is the center of the unconscious, intellect is the center of the conscious, and intuition is the center of superconsciousness, a state which he defined as the fulfillment of our highest human potential.
Intuition as Defined by Modern Psychology
Sigmund Freud, considered by many to be the father of modern psychology, regarded the concept of intuition as moot, contending that all of our feelings, ideas, and perceptions were born of intellectual experiences. Another giant in the world of psychology was Carl Jung, who was, in fact, a colleague of Freud’s. Jung disagreed with Freud’s assertions regarding intuition and believed that there were certain people who were naturally more intuitive than others. Referring to them as “intuitive types”, he believed that they acted more on feelings and sensory perceptions rather than reason, a behavior that he considered neither good nor bad, preferable or unpreferable. There is certainly some continued disagreement and debate over whether cognition and intuition are indeed separate entities, although it is generally agreed that the concept of intuition does not include intellect or analysis.
Intuitive vs. Analytical Thinking
Another school of thought regarding intuition purports that most all people lean toward being primarily an intuitive thinker or an analytical thinker. An intuitive thinker tends to act and make decisions based on their “gut” feeling about something, wasting no time in weighing the pros and cons of the options in front of him. An analytical thinker, on the other hand, prefers to consider all of the possibilities to be sure he is choosing the most appropriate and beneficial alternative, disregarding any intuition that may make itself known to him. But being defined as one or the other may not matter as much as one might suspect. A 1970s Yale study confirmed that while highly intuitive subjects were able to make nearly instantaneous decisions when compared with more analytical thinkers, they were right just as often as the latter group, although they didn’t have any specific explanation or reasoning behind their choices as did the analytical thinkers. In 1985, research psychologist Gary Klein developed the model of RPD (recognition primed decision) which blends both intuition and analysis, particularly in dealing with difficult decision-making processes. He assisted in the design of the “situation room” in the White House to aid those serving in the highest levels of U.S. Government in such decisions.
While all of us are capable of both intuitive and analytical thought, it is clear that most of us have a tendency to lean toward either one or the other—trusting our intuition or weighing the facts carefully. It’s worth noting that those individuals who trust their intuition also tend to be more likely to believe in the spiritual or supernatural, be willing to accept ideologies based on faith alone or be counted as a member of an organized religion. Conversely, primarily analytical thinkers tend to be less likely to engage in similar behavior or subscribe to such belief systems, even when they were raised in an environment where that was the case.
Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying, “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead ... Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.” He understood that not every decision can be made through analysis, and many believe his understanding of the value of trusting his own intuition was his true genius and the reason for his arguably unrivaled success. While he had many intellectual contemporaries, few were able to produce the number and quality of technological breakthroughs that Jobs did—perhaps because he had learned the value of trusting his intuition rather than graphs, charts and focus group results. He intuitively knew which products to launch and which to shelve, with very few exceptions. The choices he made to rely on his intuition—and the intuition of those he entrusted to help him build Apple—has changed the world.
The Reliability of Intuition
While many of us rely on our intuition to guide us through daily life, there are some who believe that this is misguided. One school of thought regarding the reliability of intuition argues that its value only bears out when the outcome can already be determined based on our previous experience or expertise regarding the topic. For example, a nurse who is dealing with a patient whose symptoms don’t immediately point to a specific ailment may have an intuition about the nature of the patient’s malady. As a professional who has dealt with such patients throughout her career, she is much more likely to have some intuition about such a situation that turns out to be correct than someone without her experience. When the outcome is completely random, however, intuition may not be reliable at all and “trusting your gut” when you have no former interaction with the subject at hand may turn out to be the worst option. Some experts theorize that it takes a minimum of ten years of experience in a given practice before one’s intuition can be relied upon. Absent this, it is likely better to evaluate each issue before making a choice whether to go with your intuition or to determine if the situation would be better served with a careful analysis.
When Intuition Trumps Analysis
The term “analysis paralysis” refers to the condition of being unable to act because there is seemingly no correct or best choice, leading to inaction or “paralysis” due to over analyzing a situation. We fear making the wrong choice, and in our reluctance to fail, we do nothing. In reality, trusting your intuition and choosing what may not turn out to be an ideal option is rarely disastrous. Your intuition may tell you to take the left fork in the road when the faster route was to the right, and you may take longer to arrive at your destination, but perhaps you saw or experienced something beautiful that you would have missed had you analyzed a map and determined the path to the right would have gotten you there faster. Our intuition may not always lead us to the most logical choice or down the smoothest road, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the route may end up more circuitous, we have still achieved our intended objective. What would be truly disastrous is to never arrive due to the inability to make a decision because we fear making the wrong one. Trusting our intuition, even when it is imperfect, can often have better results than spending our lives analyzing every situation into the ground.
© 2017 5th Dimensional Quantum Healing & Awareness by Author: Roisin Herrera