We tend to treat intuition as something amorphous and difficult to define. We want to somehow fit it into the framework of a mental process, possibly one that is very fast, but nevertheless works through the logical steps to arrive from a set of facts to a decision. At the same time, we try to undermine the power of intuition by trying to make a joke of it, such as when we laughingly refer to a “woman’s intuition” as if it is something less than, and less valuable than the logical, rational process undertaken, theoretically, by the men who are laughing. We do the power of intuition a grave injustice by both sides of this argument! 

The sages of the Rig Veda experienced states of awareness that apparently were inspired, extraordinary statuses, and which did not fit the plodding logical process which is the province of the mind. Noted geniuses, such as Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla made it clear that their insights and advancements were not based on some mental logical process, but came about through what can only be called an inspiration, an intuitive process. Sri Aurobindo codified various types and stages of intuition. These can be recognised by the force by which they manifest and by the method of their appearance to the individual. 

The first stages of intuition can be seen as very rudimentary. They do not rely entirely on the mind, or some speedy process of solution that appears to be instantly known; rather they come with a feeling or some inner sense. This can be a ‘negative’ sense, something premonitory that tells the individual he should avoid certain things; or it can be in a ‘positive’ sense guiding the individual in a different direction than he was going. There are instances of intuitive information arising during a dream state or during some altered state of conscious awareness that can arise through meditation, or other means. In some cases, the individual can actually experience certain individuals in his own future whom he has never met and recognise that he may expect to meet that person and when he does, he should take up (or in the case of the ‘negative’ intuitive state, deny) the relationship for some reason. Sometimes an individual is offered certain things which may be suitable to his seeking and desire, but the voice of intuition tells him to turn it down as the time is not yet ripe. There are many such instances to establish that some process other than mental, or vital-desire-based, is providing insight or guidance.

The real question then arises as to how to hear and recognise intuition for what it is, and to be able to distinguish its promptings from the constant clamour of the mind, the vital and the physical being. 

A disciple asks: ”Mother, how can the faculty of intuition be developed?”

The Mother observes: ”There are different kinds of intuition, and we carry these capacities within us. They are always active to some extent but we don’t notice them because we don’t pay enough attention to what is going on in us.”

“Behind the emotions, deep within the being, in a consciousness seated somewhere near the level of the solar plexus, there is a sort of prescience, a kind of capacity for foresight, but not in the form of ideas: rather in the form of feelings, almost a perception of sensations. For instance, when one is going to decide to do something, there is sometimes a kind of uneasiness or inner refusal, and usually, if one listens to this deeper indication, one realises that it was justified.”

“In other cases there is something that urges, indicates, insists — I am not speaking of impulses, you understand, of all the movements which come from the vital and much lower still — indications which are behind the feelings, which come from the affective part of the being; there too one can receive a fairly sure indication of the thing to be done. These are forms of intuition or of a higher instinct which can be cultivated by observation and also by studying the results. Naturally, it must be done very sincerely, objectively, without prejudice. If one wants to see things in a particular way and at the same time practice this observation, it is all useless. One must do it as if one were looking at what is happening from outside oneself, in someone else.”

“It is one form of intuition and perhaps the first one that usually manifests.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pp. 188-189

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.