Intuition and the Mental Process

The transition to a supramental consciousness from the mental level involves both a transitional phase and some transitional stages. The first step is for the mind to become receptive to input from a higher level of awareness, preparatory to shifting the entire action upward. The intuition is able to seize on thoughts, ideas or inspirations that lie outside the normal framework of the reasoning intellect, and is thus recognized as a power for achieving this first step of bringing the higher awareness to bear, at least to some degree, within the normal human framework of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The reason understands itself, but not what is beyond it,–of that it can only make a general figure or representation; the supermind alone can discern the method of its own workings. The power of intuition acts in us at present for the most part in a covert manner secret and involved in or mostly veiled by the action of the reason and the normal intelligence; so far as it emerges into a clear separate action, it is still occasional, partial, fragmentary and of an intermittent character. It casts a sudden light, it makes a luminous suggestion or it throws out a solitary brilliant clue or scatters a small number of isolated or related intuitions, lustrous discriminations, inspirations or revelations, and it leaves the reason, will, mental sense or intelligence to do what each can or pleases with this seed of succour that has come to them from the depths or the heights of our being.”

Because the intuition represents the action of a higher power rather than being a native power of the mental framework of the reasoning intelligence, it is hampered in the power and scope of its action by the impediments imposed by the habitual mental process. “The mental powers immediately proceed to lay hold on these things and to manipulate and utilise them for our mental or vital purposes, to adapt them to the forms of the inferior knowledge, to coat them up in or infiltrate them with the mental stuff and suggestion, often altering their truth in the process and always limiting their potential force of enlightenment by these accretions and by this subdual to the exigencies of the inferior agent, and almost always they make at once too little and too much of them, too little by not allowing them time to settle and extend their full power for illumination, too much by insisting on them or rather on the form into which the mentality casts them to the exclusion of the larger truth that the more consistent use of the intuitive faculty might have given. Thus the intuition intervening in the ordinary mental operations acts in lightning flashes that make lustrous a space of truth, but is not a steady sunlight illumining securely the whole reach and kingdom of our thought and will and feeling and action.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 771-772

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