Have you ever felt an intuitive flash of inspiration—and then wondered “Where did that come from?”

Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, has said that smart people listen to their feelings. The smartest people among us—the ones who make great intellectual leaps forward—cannot do so without harnessing the power of intuition.

As far as we know, all of our brain processes start by axion and synaptic connections. Neuroscientists believe that electrical and chemical interactions generate every letter and word we think, in whatever language we think it. But along with the physical processes that make those connections, our thinking begins with two fundamental human abilities: imagination and memory.

Intuition, or the ability to intuit a thing—meaning to surmise the truth or reality based on both emotional and rational thinking—is a function of both imagination and memory. We all have it, although some people have more highly-developed intuitive faculties.

When we say things like, “I knew that driver was going to turn left,” or “I think Aunt Mary will show up unannounced at Mom’s birthday party,” and she does, we see intuition at work.

Intuition is a form of knowing and not knowing at the same time. It predicts or assumes an outcome, and is sometimes right or sometimes wrong. But it’s still there, and studies have shown that women’s intuition is stronger than men’s.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

We know that children possess more intuition than adults, and tend to lose it as they get older. Intuition seems to function as a kind of sensitivity to reality and what the future might hold, and most adults discount the power of intuition as we age, by focusing solely on what’s before us instead of what’s around us.

Why, then, do women usually exhibit more sensitivity to their intuitive gifts than men? Perhaps, the Baha’i teachings suggest, intuition has a connection to the spiritual qualities of a person’s soul:

Taken in general, women today have a stronger sense of religion than men. The woman’s intuition is more correct; she is more receptive and her intelligence is quicker. The day is coming when woman will claim her superiority to man.

Woman has everywhere been commended for her faithfulness. After the Lord Christ suffered, the disciples wept, and gave way to their grief. They thought that their hopes were shattered, and that the Cause was utterly lost, till Mary Magdalene came to them and strengthened them saying: ‘Do you mourn the body of Our Lord or His Spirit? If you mourn His Spirit, you are mistaken, for Jesus lives! His Spirit will never leave us!’ Thus through her wisdom and encouragement the Cause of Christ was upheld for all the days to come. Her intuition enabled her to grasp the spiritual fact. – Abdu’l-BahaAbdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 104-105.

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. – Abdu’l-BahaStar of the West, Volume 2, p. 4.

Of course, intuitive hunches move our decision-making or actions in one way or the other, towards a burning house or away, toward a crying baby or letting them wail it out of their systems and then sleep. “Hunches” as some call them, may be intuition herself speaking to our hearts and minds at once.

Using intuition comes into play when we hear someone speak to us, for example. We take in the tone, the sharpness or flatness or colorfulness of the language, the hand and eye and facial expressions of the speaker and much more, and his or her words move us–or they don’t. It’s like we all have an automatic inner lie detector, a polygraph, hooked up to physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally judge for ourselves the veracity of the speaker’s position.

So we know that intuition is a distinct gift and power from the Creator, just like our other inner and outer powers, our imagination and memory, our knowing and guessing. All of us, every human being, needs the spiritual bounties that come with a recognition of the divine forces—what the Baha’i teachings call “the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit:”

… the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit. If man does not become the recipient of the heavenly bestowals and spiritual bounties, he remains in the plane and kingdom of the animal. For the distinction between the animal and man is that man is endowed with the potentiality of divinity in his nature, whereas the animal is entirely bereft of that gift and attainment. Therefore, if a man is bereft of the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit, deprived of divine bestowals, out of touch with the heavenly world and negligent of the eternal truths, though in image and likeness he is human, in reality he is an animal … – Abdu’l-BahaThe Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 316-317.

Would you like to awaken, expand and develop your intuitive capabilities and susceptibilities? Abdu’l-Baha wanted all of us to “make great advancement” in this kind of intuitive understanding:

There are two kinds of understanding; objective and subjective. To illustrate: thou seest this glass, or this water and thou dost comprehend in an objective manner their constituent parts. On the other hand, thou canst not see love, intellect, hate, anger, sorrow, but thou dost recognize them in a subjective way through their signs and manifestations. The first is material, the second is spiritual. The first is outward, the second is intuitive. I hope that thou mayst make great advancement in the second kind of understanding. – Abdu’l-BahaStar of the West, Volume 4, p. 179.

If you’d like to develop intuitive insight, and the wisdom that comes with it, focus on the spiritual side of life—you’ll find that your awakening intuition will help guide you through this life and the next.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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