Articles and Opinion
HOW TO DEVELOP INTUITION
Jose Antonio Cangco
If you are in the habit of randomly opening the pages of a book and reading the first passage or phrase which catches your eye, then you are practicing a kind of fortune telling. Bibliomancy is defined as “divination by reference taken at random in a book especially in the Bible.” Here’s hoping you shall develop your intuition after reading this piece, as well.
When we are under pressure or agitated, most of us will fumble and say the wrong things. Even if we are as at ease as a cat enjoying quick-melt butter, we may still be rattled in many situations. This is normal but it does not help us in any way specially if our mind seems to abandon us and then hide among the many wild thoughts racing in our heads.
Our being easily rattled is not a desirable trait, nor does it lead to intuition. It is a bit curios why understanding how we can prevent being rattled (for example, when we are in the middle of a formal speech and suddenly we panic and become lost for words because to our consternation we find another set of thoughts we did not rehearse taking over us), has some semblance to developing intuition. One minute before we get lost in our speech, we were confident, then the next instant we begin to get confused. Worse, we start to shake and sweat, and as a drowning man will grasp at a floating straw to save himself, we scramble to arrange our thoughts and ideas in the hope of coming up with something sensible to say to our audience.
If we believe in intuition, things may turn out differently. What really happens is we become confused with the different thoughts coming and going in our consciousness and when we get caught in an unguarded moment we do not know which one to grasp. A few of these may have some semblance to the subject we are trying to discuss, but in the majority of cases, only one of these can hit the nail right on the head.
Those occasions when we are prone to saying the wrong things, making faulty decisions, following the wrong tracks or believing incredulous concepts and notions happen because we do not really know our own mind and thoughts, treating them as strangers. After musing and reflecting over the mistakes we commit, the braver among us accept responsibility and redemption, and the wise learns a lesson or two from them.
If we go back over the events, we find out the jitters started when a second line of reasoning or another set of seemingly related thoughts appeared, interrupting and taking over our own process of thinking. This explanation is clearer when, alone, we try to go over a problem and throw light on it by learning how to identify which one among these jumbled thoughts is the most relevant to what we need and to our purpose. It is similar to hitting the smallest target in a revolving disk in a carnival; after we shall have discerned the thought, only then may we be able to confidently and definitively say we have hit it.
Shall we say this task is comparable to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack? Not so, because if we know what kind of needle we are looking for, the task becomes easier.
Maybe we have always taken for granted all needles are the same. Maybe they all are, but are we sure? Needles are classified whether these are for hand or machine sewing. Then they are further categorized according to size, tip, eye, length, purpose (darning, sewing, quilting, etc.) and the type of material (silk, leather, canvass, etc.) they are made for. The point in enumerating the foregoing is to show that not all needles are the same; similarly, assuming or believing that all our thoughts are one and the same at any given time is misleading. By failing to differentiate one series of thoughts from the others we give rise to mismatched ideas. This manifests as a failure on our part to clearly identify and isolate the relevant idea, resulting in miscommunicating information to our readers and audiences.
A successful businessman knows his target market and breaks it down to segments, so can we also examine many of our thoughts and notions to pinpoint which one of them is suitably the answer to a question or a problem we may have at hand. After we shall have identified and pinpointed that particular thought we shall be able to narrow, convey, express and communicate our notions and ideas better.
According to ancient knowledge of the East the mind has two parts, consciousness and the subconscious, and can process only one thought at any single time in the consciousness. It goes on to say that thoughts appear and disappear from our awareness in amazing speed, this process happening so fast it seems sometimes we are capable of multitasking and thinking of so many things altogether. In reality, however, these other thoughts are in the subconscious, and such natural arrangement should make us able to focus only on what is going on at the moment, in our consciousness.
Keeping an open mind, though, is a prerequisite to being able to identify and pinpoint that particular thought because identifying and unveiling it, particularly narrowing and zooming our attention to it, is the crucial stage of developing intuition.
Now, a problem affecting almost all of us is we have so many different thoughts and ideas floating in our consciousness they almost overwhelm us. Inasmuch as we have too many ideas and thoughts cascading down on us we have to focus on the one being the most relevant to what we need. Until our ideas shall have become clearer to ourselves and to our best estimate will be understood by our listeners, we should refrain from entertaining other outside thoughts. Like the great Dr. Freud said when he was entertaining friends for dinner, “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”.
As an example, when we communicate in whatever language the subject of our statements is always a noun. In the sentence, “Peeling, cutting, and washing potatoes is hard work” the complete subject already takes 5 words in an 8-word sentence. In a compound-complex sentence such as “With his preparing the vegetables, her cooking the broth, and my sister’s arranging the table ware, it will soon be time to eat” we start to get confused.
Luckily we can help get things moving up a bit. To know which thought or idea is relevant we should simplify. Simplifying means removing excess bits and pieces so the thought that will be left will fit perfectly to what we have in mind and will portray the idea we want to convey most precisely.
You read it here first. When we are confronted with a problem we break it to its understandable components, simplifying it along the way. Priorities are then made as regards each part and a level of difficulty is assigned. To get the mind moving faster it frees some of its resources by tackling or solving the easy parts first. This process already gets some of the useless thoughts out of the way, so to speak.
After we have simplified a problem or a question into its basic meaning, the answer or most relevant thought is always the one coming to our mind first. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Yet, it is true. This truism is hard to fathom because in an instant, other thoughts, notions, manifestations and ideas can already start pouring down on us and flood our head with tremendous amounts of ideas and data, a lot of these turning out to be useless. Now, to paraphrase the words of the ancient wise men, to be able to develop intuition they say we need only to know which one among our thoughts came first.
It is a tall order for us to follow, more so to apply and practice. This is because some of our other thoughts, conjectures, and speculations are frequently more pleasing and readily available for us to use than looking for the truth - the first thought -- and the correct solutions to our problems.
Where does intuition come from? Intuition is not the result of the thoughts we have resulting from our interaction with the world around us, it is thoughts emanating beyond our physical body.
It originates from another part of us known in ancient times as Atman more conveniently translated for our purposes as the greater self or overself. Sometimes the overself is known as Brahma, depending on how it is used. Where is God in this setup? He is above everything, beyond our full and total understanding.
Of what use is this ancient knowledge to us? For the serious person, developing intuition leads to greater insights about the past, the present or future, gives closure to some questions and can even lead to peace of mind and tranquility. It is for the person’s use and benefit to learn and understand greater things, and then, not to harm anybody.
Some of us may think we are the most wonderful creatures on the planet, but in the greater scheme of things, there is no discrimination, we are all equal. We are now the slaves of our thoughts; we even labor hard just to try to understand ourselves. Yes, many of our thoughts may be in shackles and in disarray, yet if we arrange them properly we progress.