An Integral Approach to management and human development based on the spiritual vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with an emphasis on its application to various domains of knowledge and life.
[Published in Next Future, July 2006.]
The Reign of Intuition
This shift from reason to Intuition will be a logical and inevitable future change. The objective age of the past was governed by the externalized intellectual reason, trying to understand the external world with its analytical, outward-looking gaze. The subjective age of the future requires a corresponding faculty which can comprehend the inner world with a deeper, more holistic inner light. It requires “In-tuition”, illumination from within. For the inner world of the psyche and Spirit will be something too complex, fluid, rapid and unpredictable for the rigid analytical reason to understand or manage.
This brings us to the rather esoteric subject: nature and forms of intuition. The dictionary meaning of intuition is “power of understanding things (e.g. situation or feeling) without the need for conscious reasoning or study” or in other words some form of spontaneous knowledge or the ability to arrive at right conclusion without the need for rational analysis. This is undoubtedly one of the characteristics of intuition. But this popular conception of intuition is utterly inadequate to describe the true and higher intuition which will replace reason and lead the future evolution of humanity. For many infrarational instincts and impulses confirm to the dictionary meaning of intuition. But the true intuition is something suprarational. And also, this popular or dictionary meaning of intuition is not something which belongs to the future. This aspect of intuition is more or less manifest in all human beings who had achieved or created something in their thought, life or action. Most of the thinkers, scientists, innovators, leaders who have made significant contributions to human progress were propelled by a conscious or subconscious intuition in their thought, feeling or dynamic faculties of will and action. This intuition comes either from a long experience of the surface consciousness in a particular field of thought or action or else it manifest as a flash from the subconscious or subliminal regions, which is later given a form in thought and life by the conscious mind at the surface.
As the human consciousness awakens more and more to its subliminal regions in the future, there will be a greater and more widespread intuitive awareness in the human mind than in the past or present. But the intuitions of the surface, subconscious or subliminal cannot lead humanity safely to its spiritual destiny. We have already indicated the reasons. All the regions of human consciousness – the surface, subconscious and the subliminal-below the spiritual are a mixture of truth and falsehood, light and darkness under the influence of ego and desire and subject to the dualities of the mind. The intuitions of these below-spiritual regions may provide temporary and utilitarian solution to mundane or technical problems. But they cannot solve the deeper, psychological, spiritual and existential problems of life. For a lasting solution to human problems and the fulfillment of the human destiny we need a higher spiritual intuition which can liberate the human consciousness from ego and desire; see, feel and live in the indivisible wholeness and unity of life; and resolve all the inner and outer dualities and conflicts of life in a higher synthesis. Such an intuition exists only in the spiritual ranges of our consciousness.
But the spiritual intuition is of a different nature from the intuitions of the surface or subliminal consciousness. There are different ranges, types and forms of spiritual intuitions depending on the level or the part of the spiritual continent from which it comes. However we may identify some common characteristics. Some of these characteristics like, for example, direct insight, may be similar to that of the intuitions at the lower levels of our being but at the higher spiritual lever, they are deeper, more intense and penetrating. There are many others which the lower intuition do not possess.
The first characteristic of spiritual intuition is that it is the truth-finder. The idea or the intuitions of the surface or subliminal consciousness can be falsified because, as we have said already, they are part of the belt of Ignorance, and a mixture of truth and falsehood. But spiritual intuition is the faculty of that part of our being which is more or less in direct contact with or under the influence of the deepest truth of things. So spiritual intuition gives pure perceptions of truth. But the extent, comprehensiveness and integrality of truth-perceptions may vary depending on the level of spiritual consciousness.
The second characteristic which is common to all intuition, lower and higher, is direct insight and inner illumination. The literal sense of the word “in-tuition, which gives the sense of illumination, teaching or learning from within gives a much better understanding of this important quality than the dictionary definition. The knowledge of the externalized rational intellect is a laborious acquisition from without. The process of rational knowledge assumes, and gives the impression or the sense, that knowledge is out there in the external world, in the not-self, and it has to be acquired from without by the strenuous process of observation, classification, analysis, deduction the classical process of the scientific method. The process of intuition may also go through this process of reason, but much more rapidly and swiftly, or it may dispense with some stages of the process, and the final act of knowledge, the conclusion, insight or discovery, comes not as an acquisition from without but as a spontaneous revelation from within, as if the truth of things, even that of the external world, are within us in our own consciousness or self. But it is not perhaps “as if”. Indian seers perceived a supreme and eternal consciousness as the creative source of the individual and the universe. The deepest and essential truth of things, even the things of the external world, is a vibrant spiritual Idea in the eternal consciousness of the Divine. In the deepest and innermost core of our being, our consciousness is aware of itself as a part of and one with the eternal consciousness and therefore, knows the truth of things by an inner act of knowledge. So as an Indian tantric text says “knowledge is structured in consciousness”. All knowledge is within us in our own consciousness. The spiritual intuition reveals the knowledge that is within us.
The third quality of higher intuition is its concreteness, almost sensuous and experiential concreteness. The mental and rational knowledge comes as an abstract idea or concept in the thinking mind. But the spiritual intuition not only knows, but can also see, feel, touch and hear the truth. For example, the higher ideal and values of philosophy, like truth, beauty, goodness, love, harmony or unity, which are abstractions to the mind becomes experiential realities of consciousness, felt as concretely as we feel our body or the external world with our senses. This happens integrally only at the highest levels of spiritual mind and in the supramental consciousness beyond it. In the lower levels of intuition, one particular faculty may become prominent.
There is a level of intuition just beyond the rational mind, in which truth is revealed though a luminous and direct insight in thought. There is a higher level in which we can see the truth through inner vision and the deeper realities of life are revealed in living and luminous symbols. The hidden and invisible behind the visible and outer appearance becomes visible to the inner vision of the seer. There is a still higher level in which the truth becomes audible to an inner “hearing” of the inspired poet. For, as we have said earlier, according to Indian spiritual conception, the truth of things is a vibrant and creative Idea in the consciousness of the Divine. It is at once Light and Sound, light of knowledge and a vibration of energy, which together make the content of truth. In other words we may say the truth has a light-aspect which reveals its body and a sound aspect which reveals its inner vibration. While the inner vision reveals the light-body of truth, inner hearing reveals the sound-body of truth in inspired poetry. This is the reason why in the ancient Indian tradition, the Vedas, the scripture of the Hindu, which was revered as a supreme spiritual revelation, is considered as something “heard”, shruti.
At the higher levels of spiritual consciousness intuition becomes “global”. The truth is revealed in its global dimensions. The truth of each thing is known not only in its individual nature but also in its relation or “connectedness” with other things and with the global whole. The past, present and future are revealed in a map of indivisible time-vision. The present actualities, emerging possibilities of the immediate future and the eventualities of the long-term future are known in a single glance.
The other important feature of spiritual intuition is harmony of faculties. At the higher levels of intuition the faculties of thought, feeling, will, vision and action becomes a single indivisible whole. But even in the lower levels in which a particular faculty like thought or vision may dominate, there is no conflict between the different faculties. The subordinate faculties spontaneously and effortlessly follow the dominant faculty and the dominant faculty has sufficient light and force to persuade those subordinate and create in them a free and willing obedience to its idea and vision.
And finally comes the very core of spiritual and intuitive knowledge: Knowledge by Identity. The rational knowledge of the Mind is a knowledge by division. In mental knowledge, there is a clear separation between the knower and the known. In spiritual intuition, this division disappears and there is a blending or fusion of the consciousness of the knower with that of the known. The knower knows by becoming one with the object of knowledge. Here also there are two levels of identity: identity with the outer nature of the object and identity with the innermost and the essential truth, soul or nature of the object as it is conceived in the creative consciousness of the Divine. For example, we can identify with a tree and know the tree as it knows itself. For, there is a consciousness in the tree and by identifying our consciousness with that of the tree, we can know the tree as it knows, lives or feels itself. The higher level of identification happens when we can identify with the divine Idea which determines the essential nature of the tree and know the tree as the divine consciousness conceived it in its creative vision. In this higher identification we know the highest and deepest truth, law, process and purpose of, not just that particular tree, but also the universal “treeness” in the totality of physical Nature.
These are the main features of spiritual intuition. In supermind which is the creative source of the world, all these powers of intuition reach their highest perfection and integrality in an absolute identification with the infinite and eternal Truth.
All these faculties and powers of intuition we have discussed so far will manifest progressively in human consciousness, as it marches forward towards its future spiritual destiny, creating a New Humanity.