Sunday, January 10, 2010


I'm not really sure what to write about today, but I have a feeling I should write about intuition.  In fact, whenever I have this feeling, I go with it.

This was the feeling I had when I decided to apply for my landed immigrant status in Canada.  It was the same feeling I had when I spontaneously proposed to my wife (a long and beautiful story), and presumably the same feeling she had when she accepted my proposal (she says that her mind was running away in terror at the thought of getting married, but her heart wouldn't let her say 'no'.  How can you not love a woman like that?).

It is also the feeling I get when I am about to give a public talk.

Hey, there's a good excuse for an aside.

Most often when I prepare for a talk, I actually prepare five talks and practice them as often as I can before going on stage.  When I was first asked to give a talk in a church, that was what I did.  You see, this lovely woman phoned and asked if I would like to give a talk in their church.  I agreed, before thinking about what I had just been asked, and then quickly said, "Oh, but you know I'm a Baha'i?"  "Yes dear.  We thought we'd like a different point of view for a change.'

Can't argue with that.

I had a month before the talk, so I prepared five talks and rehearsed them over and over.  I'd go through them in my mind while eating, or sitting alone at night, or even walking down the street.  I must have gone over them hundreds of times.  But when I got to the church, and was introduced to the congregation, everything flew out my left ear.  I stood up there, and couldn't think of anything to say.  I had a feeling that I should say a prayer, so I did.  Then I looked around and saw a stained glass window of the Last Supper.

And that was the basis of my talk.

It must have been alright, for I was asked to speak there each month for the next few years.

Anyways, where was I?  Oh yes, intuition.

How often do we prepare for something, only to have it go a little bit wrong?  And then we try so hard to keep with the original program.  Sure there is something to be said for persistence, but there is also something to be said for flexibility.  This is where intuition can come in handy.

In fact, I  always say that the preparation I did for those five talks was what trained me to be able to speak coherently when I spoke on something else altogether.  It was training the instrument, my voice, so that God could use it as He saw fit.  Then I just had to step back and go with the intuition, trusting in God.

In fact, most of the stories I write about in which I was speaking front of people have nothing to do with what I was supposed to talk about.  They always have to do with the moment of inspiration.

Intuition, or inspiration, is a very interesting subject, but often overlooked in modern society.

According to 'Abdu'l-Baha, it can help you "grasp (a) spiritual fact".  Very handy, that.

Also, in case anyone besides me missed it, there is an interesting reference to intuition in the paper on Women and the Peace Process released by the Baha'i International Community in 1993.  They refer to intuition as a "rational process".
At a time when conquest and aggression have lost their credibility as means of solving difficult problems, qualities in which women are strong, such as the capacity to link intuition to the other rational processes, and facility with networking and cooperation, are gaining importance.
We often seem to be afraid of our intuition because we cannot demonstrate it to others as easily as we could a scientific argument, but does that mean that it is any less valid?  I would say not.  In fact, some of the most famous scientists relied heavily on their intuition, and then applied "the other rational processes" to test their intuitive understanding.

Why should we do any less?

When I was giving that first talk in the church, I began with what my instinct told me say, instead of what my mind prepared.   While I was doing this, I was also watching the audience reaction.  That was my confirmation.  That was what told me to continue doing what I was doing, for intuition alone is not always accurate.  We sometimes make mistakes.

There are plenty of stories in which I was giving a talk, and my intuition was way off.  As soon as I realized it, I would go onto an aside (sound familiar?) and see where the tangent would lead. Based on the response from the audience, I would sometimes never return to the original topic.

So what is intuition?  It is a quick or keen insight, providing an understanding of truth without any direct reasoning.

Does that mean it shouldn't be tested, or confirmed?  Of course not.  We should always confirm.  After all, aren't we believers in the need for an independent investigation of truth?

Whenever Einstein or Edison or Newton, to name just a few, had an insight, or an intuitive understanding, they would always try and confirm it through a more rigorous process.  But even then, there were things that they knew they couldn't rationalize, such as Einstein's understanding that God "does not play dice".

More importantly, though, are 'Abdu'l-Baha's statements about intuition, and how it relates to gender issues, and thus to world peace.

In one place, He says, "In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense."  In another, He adds, "The spiritually learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverence, and a heartfelt fear of God."

Finally, in a third quote, He brings it together. If we wish to be more balanced in our life, and be more in tune with our spiritual nature, then we need to learn to cultivate the intuition, and balance that with our intellect. He says: We must also remember that our intuitive understanding of the Writings is only that: our own.  We cannot impose them upon others, nor insist that others agree with us.
The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over women by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting -- force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age, less masculine, and more permeated with the feminine ideals -- or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.

Now, why I wrote all that will, I am sure, become clearer to me in the future.

For now, I have a feeling that I should get something to eat.  Of course, that may be more than just intuition.

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