Volume VII - In an Eastern Rose Garden
Intuition is a part of knowledge that is beyond man's personality, and above his knowledge of things and names. It comes at times when man becomes passive and exposes himself to that knowledge, consciously or unconsciously.
There are some who are more intuitive, and there are others who are less so; and if we study the nature of their character, we shall know the nature of their intuition. Those who are confused, who are constantly hurried, who are changeable in their nature, who are afraid of death, of disease, of their own actions, of their enemies, of their surroundings; those who have constant doubt, wondering whether they can trust this person or that, whether a friend may or may not prove worthy, and so on – it is all these who have less possibility of intuition. Those who can trust without troubling themselves, those who have few doubts, are usually clearer in their perception. Those who trust in the inner guidance, who understand the secret of the instinct that works through animals and all creatures, those who are pious, those who wish to walk in the light, who always prefer the right way of thinking and speaking and acting it is these who often experience intuition.
Intuition is the first step, inspiration is the second, and revelation is the third. When revelation begins, it has arisen from intuition; for intuition is the first stage.
What is its way of manifestation? How is intuition expressed? Intuition is of two kinds: it may come without intention, without being invited, or it may come when one asks oneself a question. In the first kind a person may be sitting down, and the thought comes to him that a danger is awaiting him; in what way it may occur he does not know, he just feels it. Next day he finds that something was going to happen to him. Then he sometimes thinks that happiness is coming from a friend, that someone from whom he has been parted for a long time is coming to see him. Sometimes he thinks an enemy is going to turn into a friend; and yet he had not been thinking of the subject. The thought comes to him suddenly. It proves true, it proves right. Without inquiry a thought comes to us which tells us of a coming event. People sometimes take this to be a spirit-communication; sometimes they take it to be thought-transference from someone else. Both ideas are possible, but intuition is a greater and higher thing than spirit-communication or thought-reading, because it is pure; it is our own property; it belongs to us. In this we do not depend upon a spirit, or upon another person sending a thought to us. In this we are perfectly independent; we receive the knowledge from within, which is far superior, greater, and higher.
The second kind of intuition is that of which it is said in the Bible, 'Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' Knocking at the door is asking within one's own self, 'What will become of this particular business, or aim, or object that I am thinking of?' As soon as one knocks at the gate of God, which is one's heart, from there the answer comes, and it is a truer answer than any other person can give. There is no one who can know as much about our life, affairs, objects, motives as we do ourselves. And therefore nobody can advise us better than ourselves.
Mankind cannot understand this secret, and consequently begins by depending on the advice of others. This would be advantageous if one had the good fortune to find a better adviser. But sometimes the person from whom advice is asked is foolish, sometimes he is an enemy, sometimes he himself is in confusion and cannot advise. Therefore people keep themselves from their real and true adviser: the guiding faculty within.
Intuition begins in the form of impressions. As soon as we see a person we have an impression of him. His face, his features, his expression, his atmosphere have in a way made an impression on us of his goodness, his righteousness, his wisdom or foolishness, his being useful or not, his being displeased with us or not, his being our friend or enemy. Whatever his condition may be, we receive it without knowing from any other source that these are his feelings. According to our own openness of spirit we get our impressions. We may receive a kind of impression as to whether we will be successful in our business or not. All these impressions convey to a man that his intuition is beginning. That is the first step.
After having intuition about individuals in their relation to ourselves, the next step is the intuition which occurs when another person is telling us of his projects. We have an impression as to whether they will be successful or not. We cannot give a reason for it; or even if we do we become aware that as we utter the reason it is not the real reason. For as soon as we begin to think it out, we at once descend from the higher, the spiritual source of information. To try and prove the basic truth of its spiritual source by means of reason, is to use earthly means to establish that which belongs to heaven. A proper reason for an intuition cannot be given.
The source from which this knowledge comes is not reason. People who are very good at reasoning can go on fighting all their lives, and yet nothing may come of it. Ultimately their reasoning turns into a play on words and terms; and as a word can be made to mean anything, they have always an easy way of escape from being caught by the person with whom they argue. It is just like wrestling; or just as in a court of law two barristers will each present their case as being the truth even though they may in fact know that it is not true. They fight with their reason and logic.
First of all, it is necessary to realize that when we see that our impressions are right and our doubts cannot destroy them, and we have been right in ten impressions and wrong in only one, then we know that the wrong one was not what we thought it was. When this realization has evolved, then we are able to know things intuitively. The difference between imagination and intuition is sometimes puzzling to define. Both come in the same way. When a certain imagination began to construct itself, we cannot say. The imagination came suddenly; but so also does intuition. That is why it is so difficult to discriminate between them. The truth is that if imagination comes with light, then it is certainly intuition. Every imagination is intuition until it has been corrupted by reason; and when the intuition is corrupted by reason it becomes imagination. But every imagination and every thought which is illumined by the intelligence is always an intuition; and therefore to an illuminated person any thought or imagination is intuition. To him there is never a thought or imagination which is not an intuition.
But it is difficult to keep these from being corrupted by reason, because as soon as they are produced we doubt whether they are right or not right. We doubt it until we have killed all the truth of our intuition. Our doubts are always the enemies of our intuition; and therefore practice is required in everyday life to keep intuition from being corrupted and finally destroyed by our doubts. We ought to build a fence round intuitions as if they were delicate plants, and protect them from being destroyed by reason and doubts. By doing so, in time we grow to be sure of our intuitions, and then we never fail to get things right. And when the intuitions become right then the dreams become right. We see what is really going to happen in every thought which comes to us; the truth of life. Then our life becomes a miracle; there is no need to look for wonders in the outside world. Our own has become full of wonders. To the illuminated one every night's dream becomes a book that tells the past, the present, and the future, both of himself and of all those whom he cares for or wishes to know about.
The next step is inspiration. Inspiration is not only the coming of a single thought, a single idea, but of a flow of ideas. One may express them in poetry, in music, in philosophy, in speech, in writing, in thinking. The inspirations come as many ideas. Inspiration is a developed intuition. The expression of inspiration is according to one's particular ability. If a person speaks a beautiful language, he can express his ideas in that language. All prophets and messengers have received the same message, but they have uttered it in different languages. Why? Because surely it is one idea, one knowledge from heaven, but it is expressed according to the language the receiver is accustomed to, seeing that he has no other with which to express it.
The angels are not as great as man, because though they are gifted with the higher knowledge and are in the higher spheres, they have no power of expression. Man gets his knowledge from the higher source, but expresses it through the means provided by the lower spheres.
The Quran tells that God said to the angels, 'I am going to create man, who will be the chief of creation.' They asked, 'Are we not a satisfactory army of servants who are always busy in Thy praise and admire Thy beauty and glorify Thy name? Why intendest Thou to create one who will do evil and shed blood, as he will do?' The answer was, 'Are you capable of appreciating all that I have made? Can you tell me what are the names of these things that I have made?' God asks man; man tells Him all the names of things, the things that are sweet or bitter, then names of all manner of things; he knows and enjoys all these things in nature. That is why God says, 'We have created him that he may be the chief of all creation, and enjoy all that We have created.' Therefore those who think that the heavenly knowledge is sufficient are mystical; but the joy of the heavenly knowledge and the full understanding of it come from being able to express it in this world's medium of expression. Therefore man can have knowledge both from within and from the external world. When the two come together, there is a perfect expression.
The last and most delicate degree of intuition is revelation. This comes to prophets and perfected beings. This is a full light thrown upon the human personality, full light from within. To their eyes, ears, sense of taste or touch, all things disclose their secret. Those who have received this knowledge even partly, have by receiving it come to understand the properties of this plant or that, to know that this bitter medicine is good for this purpose,, this sweet one for that, this drug or that vegetable for another. The knowledge of the property of the names and forms of the world is understood by them to the extent that revelation has helped them. When they look into the mind, they know all about the mind. When they study the earth, they come to know it. Whatever they try to know, they succeed in knowing; such is revelation. Those who look in the higher spheres are prophets, those who look on the earth are scientists, musicians, soldiers, and so on. It is from the direction in which he has studied that a man receives the revelation. In the higher spheres all things become clear to those who direct their attention to these spheres.
A man even sees his future in the teacup, with limited light; similarly he sees it in cards, in the crystal, in the coals of the fire, in smoke. All these things have the future written in them; it is the same light that shines upon them and begins to reveal itself in them. It is not only books, but all things in nature which begin to reveal the secrets of nature to him.
Sadi says, 'When the eyes open and begin to see with the divine light and divine sight, even the leaves of the trees become as the pages of the sacred Book.'