The True Power of Intuition

It is a common idea, amplified by the developments in the field of computer technology, to believe that by speeding up the process or action of reasoning, one can achieve new levels of cognition that appear to avoid the normal step-by-step process undertaken by the logical intellect. This process, when it is fast enough and does not seem to get bogged down in detailed analysis, is considered by many to be “intuition”. Sri Aurobindo clearly distinguishes this mental process from the true power of intuition. First, the source of this “intuition” is through the mind and is thus subject to the errors and mis-perceptions that are inherent in the mental view of things. Second, it must rely on the sense-perceptions for the factual basis upon which it makes its judgments. “This lower light may indeed receive very readily a mixture of actual intuition into it and then a pseudo-intuitive or half intuitive mind is created, very misleading by its frequent luminous successes palliating a whirl of intensely self-assured false certitudes.”

Sri Aurobindo defines intuition as a power arising out of a higher plane of consciousness than the mind. “The true intuition on the contrary carries in itself its own guarantee of truth; it is sure and infallible within its limit. And so long as it is pure intuition and does not admit into itself any mixture of sense-error or intellectual ideation, it is never contradicted by experience. The intuition may be verified by the reason or the sense-perception afterwards, but its truth does not depend on that verification, it is assured by an automatic self-evidence. If the reason depending on its inferences contradicts the greater light, it will be found in the end on ampler knowledge that the intuitional conclusion was correct and that the more plausible rational and inferential conclusion was an error. For the true intuition proceeds from the self-existent truth of things and is secured by that self-existent truth and not by any indirect, derivatory or dependent method of arriving at knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 22, Vijnana or Gnosis, pp. 459-460