Sometimes it is difficult to expose oneself emotionally and intellectually. As children we learnt early on to suppress our feelings in love relationships. Many of the elders did not encourage us to share our authentic self by speaking honestly and freely about our emotions, instincts, and desires. “Children should be seen and not heard,” they stoutly declared. Often, what they perceived to be an excess of sentiment or exuberance was discouraged and labelled as unruliness. As a consequence, we retreated into our own world, hiding a valid and empowering element of our personality, and eventually developed into men and women who are afraid to share our emotions deeply and liberally.
Last week this thought surfaced when I was lovingly “assaulted” by a youngster, about four years old, as I sat waiting to transact some business in Syndicate Bank, Mangalore. She stole away from her elderly guardian, came up to me with a smile, cupped my face in her hands and looked into my eyes. It was a spontaneous and warm action, and considering my alleged proclivity for younger women, not unwelcome. I hugged her gently, grateful for “the tender ministration of strangers”. Her grandfather apologised profusely for her “forwardness”, explaining that he did not know “what had gotten into her”. However, unabashed, she climbed on to my lap and proceeded to caress my hands. “Your spirits meet,” he conceded with a touch of amazement and amusement. “It is instinct.”
This meeting of spirits, or instinct, as the gentleman so colourfully described the pleasant encounter, is deemed by metaphysicians as “knowing the unknowable” and results from inner guidance, a quality native to all human beings. Without fanfare or reservation, that little girl and I sensed a spiritual connection and we both knew that it was safe to express it openly. Many of us fail to honour this mystical dimension of our being because we are self-protective and mired in the hurts and the fears of the past. It takes courage and insight to release a legacy of rejection and disapproval, and to evolve into an attitude of open-heartedness and trust.
Ancient seers regarded intuition, or “following one’s mind”, as a higher form of the mind than rational thinking. It is the body, mind and spirit working in cohesion to endow us with a wider and wiser sense of awareness and understanding. Ultimately, intuition is that inner voice that alerts us to danger, urges us to travel a different path, and to evolve into the highest vision we can conceive of ourselves.
This “sixth sense” was once believed to be present predominately in females. Anthropologist Margaret Mead declared that female intuition was “age-long training in human relations”. However, most of the world’s great thinkers, artists, scientists and inventors acknowledged a super-sensory truth revealed to persons with “opened minds”, which motivated them to create a revolution in human thought and culture. Rosseau wrote of “sovereign intelligence which sees in the twinkle of an eye the truth of all things, in contradiction to vain and deceptive knowledge, while the Greek philosopher, Plato, labelled this phenomenon, “divine madness”. The renowned Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, who in modern times has been elevated as a martyr for scientific truth, affirmed the validity of intuitive wisdom. “I do not believe the same God who endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
Native wisdom or intuition comes to us in surprising and ingenuous ways. Most often, it manifests as “gut feelings” that activate physical sensations in the body such as trembling or tightness in the chest, the precursor for a creative discovery or signal of the impending danger that could result from pursuing a particular course of action. Revelations or unexplained coincidences that lead us to a goal or important decision also emanate from intuitive insight. Some people describe this phenomenon as “being in the right place at the right time”. Other manifestations can be sudden bursts of joy, or calm, which herald the end of a period of pain and confusion.
Intuition and instinct are about valuing our thoughts, emotions and body sensations and living at a conscious level. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the celebrated American jurist, encouraged this exploration and expansion of the spirit: “Man’s mind, stretched to a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”