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Intuition and the Search for Authenticity
by Art Ticknor

What is intuition? Is it distinct from whims and other forms of inspiration? Is it always in our best interest to act on it, or should we try to vet it with common sense? How does it apply specifically to the seeker of truth and a true state of being?

As a person who was a "nothing but the facts" man, intuition was not common in my life. My first conscious experience of it came at age thirty-three when I met Richard Rose. The symptoms were "hearing" the reverberation of a large brass gong being struck somewhere inside me, followed by the words: "This man is telling the Truth; I've never heard it before, but something in me recognizes it."

My second conscious experience of intuition occurred a few months later, when I was on a solitary retreat. I had been reading Rose's Energy Transmutation, Between-ness and Transmission (at that time published informally and titled "The Transmission Paper"). A light bulb went on in my head – something I thought only happened in cartoons – and the words that formed were: "My only hope for mental clarity is through a prolonged period of celibacy." This in a guy who, a few months earlier, would have laughed at the idea of any intentional restraint of the sex drive, and whose mind put up no argument whatever with the inspiration. In fact, celibacy descended on me as a gift and remained so for nearly five years without an iota of struggle on my part. To put that in context, I recall how amazed I was when it lasted for thirty days – never having conceived of such a thing as even a remote possibility.

Sorbonne corridor What is intuition? It's sensitivity to non-sense data. Of course the intellectual part of us may consider that utter nonsense. But I "saw" something that convinced me otherwise. It was during a later solitary retreat. I had by then been introspecting the mind for quite a few years, and occasionally my viewpoint had jumped back so that I saw something previously unseen in the mind mechanism. This was one of those times. Without any warning I was watching the thinking process in slow motion, seeing it in great detail. There was just one thought-chain in the mind's view at any time, and I was able to look back up the chain to see where it started – with a single percept in every case – and then watch how it bounced off a memory, setting off a daisy-chain reaction, until the next percept hit the mind and started a new thought chain. Looking back at the beginning of these chains, I could see that the percepts were arriving by one of two pipes or channels coming into the mind: one was the sensory channel, and the other was "other" – i.e., non-sensory. I remember thinking of it as the X-channel, source unknown.

It's the data coming in from that non-sensory channel that I associate with intuition. Those non-sensory percepts also bounce off memories and create thought chains, but seemingly in a quieter way most of the time. Sometimes the intuitive insights seem like the result of a super fast computerization, sometimes a hunch or inspiration coming out of left field, and other times the result of prolonged contemplation or looking has led without fanfare to something becoming obvious – although we'd likely be hard pressed to explain its obviousness to someone who hasn't yet "got" it.

Another characteristic I've noticed about intuitive thought chains or insights is that they carry a strong sense of conviction with them. This was very apparent to a guy whose intellect could always see two or more sides of any issue – whereas "out of the blue" thought chains came with great certainty. And that brings up the question of reliability. I've noticed with some friends and acquaintances whose minds seem to operate primarily on feeling or intuition that they tend to follow many if not most of what appear to me as whims or caprices. Is that good or bad in terms of how we live our life, especially if that life is aimed at knowing the self, at knowing what life is all about?

Joseph Sadony was an intuitive man of scientific bent. He was gifted with intuition as a child and devoted his life to studying it. As an adult, during a thunderstorm he told eleven witnesses to look at a certain tree, and when he would count to three, lightning would strike the tree – which it did, splitting the tree. He related in Gates of the Mind how as a child he did something similar with a distant train whistle. While with several of his friends, he told them that when he counted to three they would hear the engineer of a train – which was miles away and beyond the range of human ears to hear its engine or noise it made on the tracks – blow the whistle. Sure enough, it occurred as predicted. Sadony said his friends accused him of being weird. He told them, no, it's something that anyone of them could also do, but they hadn't expended the necessary effort to tune into it. His conviction was that the body's entire neural network was like a giant antenna.

Sadony also believed that the way to develop intuition, to lead an intuitive life, was by acting on every intuitive hunch or calling. He gave the example of having the impulse one cold winter night to drive into town with his wife and sons. On the way they came to a spot in the road where there was a pile of leaves. He said he had driven through dozens of windrows of leaves like that, but this time he stopped the car with his headlights on the leaves and asked the boys to kick through it. Beneath the leaves they found a log big enough to have caused a wreck if they had driven through the leaves. When the boys had carried the log off the road, they stood there trying to decide whether to continue in to town – it was midnight, and all the stores were closed – and a car full of teenagers came down the road going at least sixty miles an hour, plowing through the leaves where the log had been.

I think how we determine whether to act on whims/intuitions/inspirations depends on the direction of our life-vector. (A vector, as you may remember from studying physics or math, is a force aimed in a direction.) If our vector is aimed at pleasure, or at optimizing pain and pleasure, then we act on an inspiration to drive to the store for ice cream. If it's focused on wealth, or the security or status we think wealth may bring, then we "listen" to hunches on good sales or investments. If the vector is aimed at true perspective on life and death, we tune into and act on the "voice of silence," which points us in the direction of self-definition. Depending on our life aim, we may laugh or cringe at a thought of sexual abstinence, or we may act on it.

How do we develop sensitivity to non-sense data? Interestingly, the word "intuit" points the way. It comes from the Latin tueri, to look at. And the preceding modifier, in-, means in, inside, within – thus giving us the direction to look. Searching for the real self, we "go within." Going within involves looking (listening, feeling) within. In the initial stages we back inward, as more and more of what we previously thought to be us comes into view as we introspect the mind. The view consists of objects of consciousness, while what we're looking for is the subject or viewer. By looking at something sufficiently, the truth of its relationship to us becomes evident. We "see" it intuitively.

When it comes to awareness, we're in the nearly lifelong habit of looking away. Why? Because what we see "back there" is nothingness, the void, no sound, no motion. In other words, death. But if we look at it instead of turning away, its relationship to us reveals itself. This is nirvana, the blowing out of the final obstacle to moksha or liberation.

May intuition lead you there.

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