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Intuition:The Blessedness and Source of all Knowledge

by Swami Sivananda


Intuition is an active inner awareness of the immortal blissful Self within. It is the eye of wisdom through which the sage senses in everything the unseen Presence. It is the Divya Chakshu (or Prajna Chakshu or Jnana Chakshu) through which the Yogi or the sage experiences the supreme vision of the all-pervading Atman or Brahman. It corresponds to the Brahmakara Vritti of the Vedantins. It is the third spiritual eye of Yogins and sages.

Instinct is present in animals and birds, intellect in human beings, intuition in adepts or Yogis or illumined sages. Pure reason or Visuddha Buddhi takes the aspirant to the door of intuition. Intuition does not contradict reason. It transcends reason. The eye of intuition opens when the heart is purified through the practice of Yama, Niyama, when the mind, intellect and the senses stop their functioning.

Sanjaya had this eye of intuition through the grace of Sri Vyasa. Arjuna also had the eye of intuition through the grace of Lord Krishna and experienced Visvarupa Darshan.

Bergson won recognition for intuition as the possible method of knowing the transcendental 'I' and the Thing-in-Itself. But his work is merely a theory of the method of intuition. It is purely methodological. He could not say how that method could be developed in a way to give practical results. In a word he could not show the path to get at the Self or the Thing-in-Itself.

It was left to Bergson to declare man to be a geometrician. His consciousness has adapted itself to understanding the world in terms of time and space. If it were freed from keeping busy with the perception of the outer world and focussed upon a world of 'Noumenon', it would transcend time and space and adapt it to perceiving noumenon in a special way. This way he calls intuition and is distinguished from sensuous perception. But how to free it from the world of phenomenon, it is left for the Indian Yogic method of developing intuition through Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (superconscious state).

Intuition is the only method of science of Yoga or the science of the Soul (Brahma Vidya). Yoga as practised by the Indian Yogis is essentially scientific. It is capable of uniform application and guarantees uniform results to the average man who trains himself in the method of intuition.

The goal of life is intuitive realisation of the Self or Atman which is the substratum for everything, which is the cause for everything and which is the soul of everything. What is the goal of life? What is the summum bonum? What is the supreme purpose for which we are born in the world? Western philosophy gives no certain answer. Whatever answers they give are in terms of life. What life itself is, they try to explain in terms of the physical sciences which are themselves formulated by a living being.

Intuition, intuitive discernment, in fact is the only touch- stone of philosophy. The method of intuition is the only method of discerning the Truth ultimately. Intuition is the method. Realisation of the Self is the goal. Without developing intuition the intellectual man remains imperfect and blind to the Truth behind the appearances.

The important point to remember is that the solution of the problem of religion, philosophy and science is one, namely, the development of intuition as in the sages of the Himalayas. The goal of life which these sages indicate is truth itself. The goal has been discerned in the clear perspective of complete knowledge, immediate and direct (Aparoksha Anubhuti or Aparoksha Brahma Jnana). It involves no guess or conjecture or inferences. Intuition opens up new and difficult regions to conquer. No pursuit is far more glorious than the prizes of inner war.

In the light of developed intuition all other philosophies seem to be interesting table-talks, funny essays, humorous attempts in the game called blind-man's buff. They cannot stand serious criticism. The intuitive method alone is the method of philosophy.

There are also lower forms of intuition. Really they are not intuition. The creative power of the unconscious mind is such that sometimes the rational activity of the mind will go on below the subliminal level. It will go on far below the threshold of consciousness in sleep and dream very often. It will yield ready forms of rational thought. Coleridge composed Kublai Khan, an originally long poem in dream. The problem of a proper needle for the sewing machine was symbolically solved for its inventor in dream. Shelley poured out ready forms of poetry. Mathematical geniuses give ready calculations but none of these are intuitional in the sense of the spiritual science. These activities do not permit conscious willing except in the limited forms in which they manifest. Also they brook no encroachment by reason. But intuition as developed by the spiritual science widens the scope of reason and makes conscious willing possible in the highest possible degree in every direction.

Indian philosophy by developing intuition fulfils the highest aspirations of the Western philosophy. Without the philosophy of intuition, as it is practised in the East, the philosophy of the West is similar to that of science before the telescope, the microscope and the special instruments of science were invented. It was not possible to know what the microbes were before the invention of the microscope. Any attempts to form a conjecture of the microscopic cells of life or matter must, obviously, have been perfect failure. To philosophise before developing all the latent powers of observation that are there in a man is not really scientific. It cannot engage serious men of action. It can never yield any tangible results. The proverb of the philosopher running after a black cat in a dark room while the cat is not there must continue to hold its own unless intuition is developed.


Intuition is the golden key of blessedness. Intuition is the science of success. It is the science of Truth. It enables man to get eternal bliss and infinite knowledge. It opens up regions of beauty and blessedness and gives the method to conquer those regions. It gives man wonderful powers to move the world if he likes. Above all, it enables the intellect to cognise Reality and to build its concepts for the purpose of communication.

May you all develop intuition and attain Self-realisation in this very life!

Intuition Is the Chief Source of Knowledge

The ultimate source of all proofs is direct apprehension alone. The scriptures and the teacher cannot show us God. It is the Self alone which sees Itself when the mind is calm and pure, says Indian thought. The absolute can only be given in an intuition (Bergson).

The deepest secrets of nature, the great structural facts of the universe are not matters of physics and chemistry. They are living facts, fatefully connected with the life of each individual by and for himself. They are matters to be experienced rather than to be demonstrated not by an intellectual apprehension of truth merely but by a living and vital contact therewith. (Kings and Rational Mysticism.)

However vague and vast and sentimental, we cannot resist the inference that in personal intuition, we have an insight into depths of Truth unplumbed by science (Walter Grierson Conclusions of Modern Science).

The West is prepared increasingly to recognise the existence and validity of the faculty of intuition as a supplementary mode of cognising Reality. It is direct and immediate in its operations. It is its own authority. Instead of standing outside, intuition enters into its object and becomes by sympathy one with it. It is finally and pre-eminently the faculty which assures us of the meaning and significance of things, of a divine meaning and personal significance. (Joad Counter-attack from the East).

For Plato neosis is the highest kind of knowledge, immediate and super-intellectual. He believed in the conversation of the soul with itself. Aristotle speaks of the Absolute Self- knowledge of God, pure activity, which knows no law and no end outside itself. Plotinus and the Neo-Platonists were convinced that logical knowledge alone is inadequate. All intellectual analysis is for Bradley, a falsification of the real, as it breaks up its unity into a system of separate terms and relations. However inside the 'what' may extend, it can never embrace the whole of existing reality. (Bradley).The unified structure of Reality is revealed more in feeling than in thought, in the higher unity in which thought, feeling and volition are blended into a whole. (Bradley). Bergson also suggests intuition for intellect as the proper organ of absolute knowledge. Cloce is of opinion that logical knowledge takes us away from the individual, while intuitive knowledge gives us an insight into the individual. Bradley, Bergson and Cloce in different ways urge that intellect succeeds in stiffening life and binding it in concepts.

A man only considers discursively that which he does not yet possess. Perfect reason no longer seeks, it rests upon the evidence of that with which it is filled. (Enneads).

The great illustration of intuitive knowledge given by Hindu thinkers is the knowledge of the Self. Self-knowledge is inseparable from self-existence. It is the only true and direct knowledge. All else is inferential. It is the presupposition of every other kind of knowledge. It is the basis of all proof. An 'I' is implicit in all awareness. Descartes' I am is akin to the I am of the ancient seers. Even Locke concedes the reality of intuitions. He says, as for our own existence we perceive it so plainly and so certainly that it neither needs nor is capable of proof. In Kant, the 'I think' accompanies all representations. It is the vehicle of all concepts in general. Richte holds the view that the knowledge of the Self is due to intuition. Schopenhauer says we become aware of something which is more than phenomenal in our inner experience. Bergson says we attain to awareness of reality through the immediate consciousness. Can we really think of omniscience apart from omnipotence? If I knew another individual person through and through I should be that person. (Ritche).

Theophrastus declares that they who seek a reason for all things do utterly overthrow reason. Bosanquet says, Truth is normal to mind and error is the exception. If you can get the mind's thought pure you must possess in it a true characterisation of reality. Its doing so is not conceptional. It is inherent. The voice of the inner man counted more for Socrates than external perception or logical reasoning. Plato gives this faculty the designation of Recollection. He says all learning is a process akin to remembering as all truth is at once new and old, cognition as well as recognition. Aristotle's 'nous' represents the intuitive apprehension of the first principles. He says How can there be a science of first principles? Their truth is evident to everyone. We know them by 'nous', by direct contact. Spinoza says, To know the essence of things, as God does from within, we need the higher grade of knowledge, intuition. He draws a clear line of demarcation between imagination, reason and intuition. He says in the short treatise, Intuitive knowledge does not consist in being convinced by reason but in an immediate union with the thing itself. It is one of direct revelation of the object itself to the understanding. The highest peace of mind arises from intuitive version. Pascal says, Reason itself concedes that there is an infinite region beyond reason. The mind thinks in two ways he says, the mathematical way and the finer way. In the latter case, we feel the Truth.

Both intellect and intuition are faculties of the same mind. There is no break of continuity between them. Intuition does not contradict reason. It fulfils it. They are not exclusive of each other. Intuition gives the cognition of the whole. Intellect can only have a conceptional knowledge of the whole. Intuition has direct knowledge of the whole and intellect gives us analysis of parts. Intuition is wisdom, the nous of Aristotle, the all-embracing intelligence of Dante. Pratt in the Religious Consciousness affirms the mystic ecstasy is cognitive in form. It seems to reveal reality to the mystic quite as much as does his sight or hearing. His experience is one of intuition. It is the sense of being face to face with Reality.


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