What pragmatic possibilities might open up if you try on this statement as a truth: Intuition is a natural human capacity.
I can justify it with both scientific evidence and extensive personal experience, but this is not the time or place[i]. Whether or not you accept it, reading further could satisfy some curiosity and just possibly give you a new resource for living better.
What are the implications of regarding intuition as a natural human capacity?
I suggest strongly that intuition is critically needed for human thriving, is perhaps a key to sanity, and at the very least is an important part of our toolkit for life. Why so?
We all know that these are turbulent and unpredictable times; most of us have some awareness that our linear thinking and our extrapolations of data plots provide inadequate navigational support. The old normal has broken. We are emotionally inclined to hope there will be a “new normal” and we fear it’s not about to show up. Author Nicholas Taleb is reported to have expressed some irritation that people ask him for a list of the next five “Black Swans”[iii] because such requests express our reluctance to engage with reality or move past believing that we can control it.
What do I mean by intuition, since there are several layers of depth to the notion?
Intuition is an underlying pattern-recognition capacity that we have all used in constructing our expectations of the world and our responses to it.
Intuition is something we can describe as “gut-feel”, a visceral unconscious knowing about what is happening and how to respond.
Intuition is a biological survival-enhancing capacity that enables us to sense what is beyond our regular senses, such as the presence of a predator or a dangerously positioned car beyond a blind bend.
Intuition is the capability to develop shamanistic forms of perception, such as connecting directly to plants and animals.
It is the ability to be psychic, to know something explicitly that we have no conventional data for. This is the territory of the film and book “Men Who Stare at Goats”[iv] (remote viewing experiments[v]). It is also the territory of psychic assistants to police investigations and of medical intuitives.
I mean all of these descriptions and others in-between. If these seem implausible to you, further research and education, with an open mind, can show otherwise. They are all natural human capacities and are all capable of development. This means you too, whether you believe it or not. I too was once a sceptic. I have been exploring this field for over 35 years now, ever since my first, dramatic, unexpected psychic experience.
Is intuition a luxury or a necessity in these times?
Until recently I viewed intuition as a neglected skill, an optional extra that many people would find helpful, just as I have. Now I am saying something more than that.
If you know the Spiral Dynamics[vi] framework of individual and organizational stages of development, you can locate the descriptions above in the Beige and Purple stages of human existence, as capacities which are pre-verbal, biological and non-analytical. You will also be aware that we move into the Yellow/Teal stage as our adaptive response to shifts in life conditions.
We humans are struggling to cope with radical shifts in our life conditions. We need all the help we can get, including from what we have largely been rejecting, such as the usefulness of intuition for human survival. Even those of us who accept the more conventional forms of intuition would benefit from expanding our boundaries of belief to include other forms of intuition.
We cannot predict or figure out the complex interactions. Since the only thing we know about Black Swan events is that sometime they will arrive, we must learn to sense the undercurrents and flows. In suggesting such a thing I am challenging our culture and training in linear thinking and “evidence-based” knowledge, in conventions about what is provable and real, in the scientific myth that what you cannot measure is not real.
Why don’t we already use our intuition to address our challenges?
Yet in much of our living as humans, we use other ways of thinking and feeling. You don’t expect to measure whether or not you love (or hate) your partner or your parents; you expect to know. When you respond to a piece of music or art, when your humanity is touched, you don’t ask yourself if the sensations are real. Do you think these experiences are different, somehow less real because you cannot justify them objectively?
By the same token, billions of people have some notion of spiritual reality; humans believe in or at least are attracted by “The Force”[vii]. We pray; we have epiphanies and experiences of one-ness and transcendence. Yet we have also been taught to treat such things with suspicion, as only a psychological reality or a philosophical abstraction, less real than a chair or a building. It is past time for us to exercise our inherent personal authority to see non-tangible reality as having equal validity with the material and tangible one.
Even more, it is time to treat intangible reality pragmatically, as a realm with its own tools and applications, relevant skillsets that we can learn, and grounded practices that can help us make better choices in challenging conditions.
This is a fresh kind of intelligence—non-intellectual, beyond Emotional Intelligence EQ and part of our Spiritual Intelligence SQ.
Why is intuition practically useful?
It is a step out of control and into our connectivity. Our universe is shaped by information and we can see it as having an intelligence of its own. The ways that energy forms into matter are shaped by fields of information. We call that information “the laws of physics”. How organic matter behaves is likewise governed by patterns of information, all that the universe has learned about how to operate as a living system. Our additional distinctly human behaviours have their own patterns, their own components of the information field.
Everything that exists is stored as part of that information field and we are able to access it. The information is in us and around us and it flows through us in unceasing interaction.
Viewed from our usual frame of reference the world of energy is paradox-filled. Since everything is connected and the field has no ultimate boundaries or compartments, it is not subject to our usual concepts of time and space. When we operate in the intuitive realm we learn to be comfortable with features that don’t “make sense”.
This unfamiliarity is a strength because it makes it possible to get better guidance. Our challenge now is to work ourselves free of our old assumptions. They cause us to believe that the ordinary reality is more reliable and that we are wrong when the non-ordinary does not match our preconceptions. It demands trust.
How might intuition help individuals, organizations, and humanity?
This learning journey is on offer to us. It can be the source of more responsive ways to navigate life, have greater flexibility, and actualize more possibilities. Being connected to the flow of all existence is a spiritual endeavour. However, it’s less mysterious, more accessible and more empowered than many traditional views of spirituality.
It is practical and grounded in our everyday existence as individual explorers.
Pragmatic spirituality gives us the opportunity to shape our lives, our organisations and our societal choices in ways that are better aligned with the trajectory of life itself, have more flow, and are more attuned to our own individual inner truths and shared purposes.
How does it get any better than that?
Jon Freeman is a mentor and a coach, Spiral Dynamics trainer, Organisational Development specialist and author. He has been teaching intuition skills since 1985.