|We, the human race, need to become more intuitive. This may seem a fringe concern in the light of the problems that we have carried over with us into the 21st century. Yet the intuition has a central and potentially determining role to play in the complex and varied tasks of human and world renewal. This is so even in the very practical steps required to address the most immediate and urgent outer needs. For intuitive insight can identify the right steps and how to take them so that they lead to the greatest long-term benefit.
We call the lucky hunch, the coincidence, the 'gut' feeling, or the tuning into how someone close to us feels "intuition." These are not much help in solving world problems. They are also far removed from the intuition that Einstein considered the most important aspect of his talent. Even so, these common- place phenomena hint at a higher sense innate in the human being, the capacity to look and to see in a way that is entirely new. It is the 'intuition' as this higher sense, the peak experience of the seer in any field, that is a vital ingredient in the creation of a better world. This is the intuition Einstein referred to when he stated that there was no logical way to the discovery of the elemental laws of nature: "There is only the way of intuition."
Jung made the comment: "Intuition is a function by which you see round corners." This image is particularly apt for the day-to-day type of phenomena we call intuitions, ranging from the lucky hunch through to instances of telepathy and pre-vision that are personal in content. Whereas perhaps a more telling image for true or spiritual intuition is that it is the ability to see through clouds. The everyday intuitions could also be thought of as 'hori- zontal', in that they occur entirely within the realm of personal concerns. Seeing round corners captures this sense that they take place on one plane of existence.
Pure or true intuition is by contrast 'vertical'. It is the spontaneous knowing of some aspect of truth as it exists in superhuman realms of awareness. It is spiritual insight undistorted by the dark and heavy clouds of lies, half-truths, selfish desires and illusions - all human created - that hide the Real; insight undistorted by this fog in which humanity struggles daily. Pure intuition is characterized by its universality. To quote Alice Bailey, "it is never interested in or directed to the revelation of anything concerned with the personality life."
We use the words that name the highest of qualities, such as love and intuition, in an endless variety of ways, many true to the higher meaning in some respect or other, and many not. The word 'love' is used to describe attraction in the personal realm from slogans in advertisements to sell just about anything, to the sweetest of relationships. On higher levels love describes the many faces of soul - the selfless, wise and altruistic. While higher still this same word is the best we have to describe the mysteries of the Greatest Good - God is Love. The word 'intuition' likewise is used to describe experiences from the distorted and trifling to the sublime. This same word is used for vague personal imaginings; for deep impressions during a middle phase in which it is being cultivated, whether knowingly through meditation and spiritual practices or unknowingly through the right combina- tion of skills in compassionate living; and for the perfect art in which the human being can "see into the mind of God."
Clearly what I am referring to, in saying that we need to be more intuitive, is the intuition in its higher expressions. Little credited though it may be, this higher intuitive perception has determined the course of human history. Always visionaries have had the seemingly superhuman capacity to touch and know another reality. Where they have been able to translate this experience into wise words and deeds they have become catalysts for human better- ment. The intuition gifts ideas imbued with the spirit of the future. It brings the vision of new possibilities. This is one of the most important roles it plays in human affairs.
Think of visionaries in the field of endeavor best known to you, and the role they have played in shaping its most beautiful and constructive features. Intuitives have already revealed the foundations upon which to build a better world, inspiring initiatives in every field with such ideas as those of human rights and responsibilities, environmental awareness and the need for global ethics that reflect our interdependence and our common dreams, hopes and needs. There has been a precious harvest of life-enhancing insights over recent decades - all signposts for the way ahead, and all justifying the claim that the intuition has a vital role at this time.
Dispelling the Illusion of Separateness
There is another role that this higher power is playing and will increasingly play in the future. As more people awaken their powers of intuition through inner growth, human consciousness will be increasingly open to and conditioned by its essence, the sense of the oneness of life. In other words their approach to life will become more inclusive. The illusion of separate- ness, carried through from thoughts to desires, and to actions is the greatest obstacle to human progress. It is intuition which dispels illusion. Intuition and illusion are opposites. If intuition is direct experience of some aspect of truth, illusion is the veiling of truth through wrong perception, inter- pretation and expression. If intuition is insight into Reality, the mind imprisoned by illusion is the 'slayer of the Real'. If intuition is the experience of identification with the whole, illusion distorts this into the sense of identification with the part.
Let's look briefly at this illusion of separateness and how the intuitive, inclusive approach weakens it. I have called it the greatest single obstacle to human progress. It is a way of thinking that denies interdependence by promoting the advantage of the part - the individual, the group, the organisation, the country or the group of countries - at any cost to the greater whole. The ever-growing chasm between rich and poor in the human family demonstrates the potency of this illusion, as does the global environment crisis.
The idea of separateness underlies the materialistic ethos that champions the superficial and the short-term. Deeper issues are ignored in the forward thrust of the money markets. If the priority is the right image, the slogan that will catch the eye and 'sell' the product or function regardless of quality, then it's easy to turn a blind eye to harmful long-term consequences. There is going to be little concern for any debate on ethics from businesses and organisations that operate such bizarre practices as the re-labeling of shoddy or environmentally harmful goods or services to give them a more trendy image with no real improvement to them.
If the myriad social ills of today are anything to go by, happiness for most people does not lie in this approach which 'packages' the human being as exploited labour or consumer. How can it when the soil in which materialistic systems are rooted has little goodness in it, when they thrive on ruthless competition, greed and self-interest. How can it when the illusion of separate- ness that underlies these systems can be traced as the primary cause of global poverty and inequality.
For most people, the sense of fulfillment and personal worth depends upon social practices and relationships that are rich in spiritual values. The well-being of humanity now and in the future depends upon us choosing spiritual values to live by. It depends upon our choice of shapers of society (be they in government, business, education or whatever) who reflect and express the humane, inclusive, wise and far-seeing capacities of the human being -- capacities that materialistic structures and norms obscure, deny or parody. This in turn depends on our ability to recognise values that are truly life-enhancing in the first place. For this we need that intuitive sense of our shared humanity, our common destiny and our interdependence. From this inclusive approach we then can recognise what is most likely to be of benefit to the whole, allowing us to choose from the vantage point of greater wisdom.
How Do We Become More Intuitive?
We can think of the intuition as our seventh sense, and its unfolding as the next step in the natural process of human development, as inevitable in its emergence over time as have been our other senses; hearing, touch, sight, taste, smell, and that distillation of wisdom which we call the common-sense. The true intuitive, the one who can see through clouds, is rare. But intuitive perception is increasing as many now are spiritually awakening and accepting the changes they need to make to realise their higher potential.
To become more intuitive we have to face ourselves, know ourselves, and find how to let go of spiritually limiting and corrosive habits, ambitions, and the separatist tendencies of a little self. We have to learn how to ask ourselves the right questions, and how to hear and act on the answers that come. How can I help? What is it I truly want? The answers to such questions will come in different words, symbols or forms. However if we interpret the response in the light of the soul it will inevitably express in some way the incentive to do all we can to help those who suffer, and to contribute to the creation of a better world.
The ageless wisdom teachings indicate the most effective approach if the aim is to become more intuitive: "Only as the heart enlarges its capacity to suffer with all that breathes, to love all that is contacted, and to under- stand and sympathise with the least desirable of God's creatures can [this] work go forward." Tolerance is said to be the first expression of intuitive understanding, reflecting the essential nature of the intuition as "the synthetic, inclusive grasp of the life and needs of all beings," as the sense that "negates all that builds barriers," as the means by which we achieve "the identification with that which is loved." Perhaps it is not too fanciful to read a deeper significance into the choice by the UN General Assembly to proclaim 1995 The International Year of Tolerance in the lead-up to the new millennium. To affirm and to strengthen the quality of tolerance is, knowingly or not, to recognise the need for intuitive understanding.
We become increasingly sensitive to the world of the intuition through persistent efforts to live by our higher impressions. An idea strikes us that seems particularly lighted and we sense how it could help others. It can pass in a fleeting moment. Years back I heard a play by Vaclav Havel. It was broadcast by the BBC when he was a dissident, long before his later role as the president of his country. In the play a character says of the inner voice that prompts us to better deeds that all you have to do is to 'hum a little tune and you drown it out' or words to that effect. It so easy to do just that. But if we seize these higher impressions and act upon them so that others benefit we will find, over time, that our lives become more selfless and inspired and that the flower of the intuition begins to unfold.
Imagination is the "seed" of this inner flower. The pathway for the manifestation of all ideas is via the imagination. First they are grasped by the intuition, then they are imaged and 'thought through' the various stages of the journey into form. Until we begin to meditate or become deliberately conscious of our thought processes for some other reason, we may be largely unaware of the way our imagination conditions our experience of life. If our 'daydreams' are negative, full of anxiety, fear or harmful images they act as a magnet drawing negativity to us. If our imagination is fired by altruistic concerns it lifts our consciousness and energy flows to them. If we use the creative imagination to build images of human unity and peace we strengthen these qualities in ourselves and in our environment, evoking response from higher levels of awareness. To cultivate the creative imagination in this constructive manner sends a powerful call to the intuition.
In exceptional spiritual visionaries intuitive perception may seem to be an effortless knowing, an easy bridging between the sacred and everyday understanding. However, no matter how effortless this process, it will be the hard-earned result of long practice of spiritual living in the past. Such spiritual attainment always reflects a significant expansion of consciousness and its manifestation in the meeting of real human or world need.
Intuition & Service
That the spirit of altruistic service is now widespread in the human family shows how increasingly people are turning from materialism, realising how it vastly underrates human potential and is profoundly life-destroying. This realisation indicates a shift towards more spiritual values. For many it triggers a major step forward in self-realisation. With inner work and outer service there is new sensitivity to higher levels of consciousness and intuitive perception is cultivated. A new perspective results. The bonds of unity between all who work effectively in any way for the betterment of humanity and the world become almost as if visible. Events and initiatives that are life-enhancing seem as if they are lit up from within, so appealing are they. Leaders and groups with good motives and a genuine concern for the greater good are recognised as if one has an inner tuning fork that sounds its note in response to integrity. These are signs of the intuition.
From this perspective another realisation dawns. It becomes increasingly apparent that any initiative in any field that changes consciousness for the better and that meets real need is in essence a group effort. For instance, who writes the books that bring new vision into human thought? Certainly the one who wields the pen or labours at the keyboard, whose thoughts push frontiers of understanding and who is able to grasp ideas imbued with the spirit of the future and then clothe this new understanding in words that do it justice and have meaning to the wider readership. In this manner insights previously too subtle, too rarefied for recognition are precipitated into the human field of conscious knowing. This may seem to be a classic example of a solo effort, but not so.
New ideas are not conjured up in the thin air of elevated thought by the intellect of the writer. They are precipitated from higher levels of consciousness where they have been nurtured, magnetised and made attractive to pioneering human thinkers through the contemplative powers of the more enlightened. Every outer achievement of true value to the human family and to the world has this inner counterpart, for the most part unrecognised and unacknowledged. Yet the human creator, the one through whom new insights gain entry into human thought may often, in the peak experience of revelation, know that higher forces are aiding him or her.
On outer levels any noteworthy positive achievement is more obviously a collective effort. It results from the contribution of the many who have focussed thought and labour in that particular area of endeavour. The individual may write the book or make the breakthrough in some field of art or research, and by so doing win the laurels of praise or the ridicule that is so often the lot of the pioneer. But many others, known and unknown to him or her, have also played a part. These others have created the footholds on which the one who makes the breakthrough will have climbed. They have helped condition the environment in which intuitive insight became possible.
Hope for the future springs from inner sources. Its foundation is the heart-centered intuition, innate in every human being, and now, at this time of crisis, awakening in so many. Its role is crucial. Its presence illumines all that is life-enhancing, bridging as it does between the sacred and the everyday world. "Straight knowledge" is a term used to describe true intuition: straight knowledge - spontaneous and undistorted. "High freedom" it has been called, this experience, in waking consciousness, of the presence of our true Self in every other form, the glimpsing for a moment of the light that radiates from every atom, the transformation of perception that comes when a truth becomes one's own direct experience.
By releasing divine ideas into the turbulent realms of everyday human thought the intuition provides the richest nutrients for the growth of spiritual values. Any future worth living will mean that this seventh sense is far more awakened. This will reflect the rite of passage from a materialistic era with its fixation on the little self, the superficial and the short-term. A more intuitive humanity will be a more mature humanity, no longer primarily the consumer, no longer living as if future generations do not have a say.
Theory about the intuition has become direct experience in many of those who serve with real spiritual power. The Dalai Lama is an outstanding server who demonstrates this. His message to the world on January 1st, 2000 calls for humanity to learn from the "constructive as well as extremely destructive" experiences of the twentieth century. "We need"' he said, "to approach the next millennium more holistically, with more openness and farsightedness." His consistent advocacy for compassion and a universal sense of responsibility ring true. His words carry the power of authenticity, they transparently reflect the good heart.
U Thant, a former UN Secretary-General, spoke of the need for "a revival of humanism in our hearts" and to explain what he meant he described the sense of identification with others: "A dead child in the arms of its grandmother is my child. The wounded soldier -- whether American or Vietnamese or Jew or Arab -- with inevitable thoughts of his home, his family, his village, his town, his country, is my son." The intuition is this experience of oneness. In its light we see that right resolution of the crises of our time depends upon our choosing pathways that are forged by the will-to-good, pathways of an inclusive love and compassion.
Jan Nation (1947-2001), a student of the Alice Bailey teachings for over 30 years, was closely associated with the Lucis Trust for much of her life. Born in Australia, she moved to New Zealand in 1969 and ten years later moved to London, where she and her husband, New Zealander Steve Nation, joined the staff of the Commonwealth Headquarters of the Lucis Trust. From 1985-1997 Jan served as chair of the London headquarters. She and Steve co-founded Intuition in Service and the United Nations Days & Years Meditation Initiative in 1999. "The Way of Intuition" was first published in 2000 at www.intuition-in-service.org .