Comparing Thought and Intuition as Problem-Solving Methodologies

The West, in particular, believes in the power of thought to solve problems. The educational system focuses its attention on analysis and categorization, and eventually adds the precepts of logical thought as a methodology to work through problems step by step. The scientific method, as it is called, tests a hypothesis by setting up experiments and systematically eliminating options that do not fit, until a conclusion is reached that fits the facts to the hypothesis. The systems of logic follow a strict line of development forcing a ‘solution’ at the end of the process. The limitation of this system is that everything is framed within the parameters of the logical intellect. Thus, eventually problems are unable to be solved when they involve complex variables, sometimes in conflict with one another, within the mental realm. At some point the only solution lies in exceeding the limits of the mind and entering into a different frame of consciousness that is not bound by mental logic.

If we are looking for the development of a new form of consciousness, the next phase in the evolutionary cycle, we must eventually recognize that the mind can neither fully understand nor judge the functioning of that next evolutionary phase. In fact, the mind must fall into a state of silent receptivity if a new and more powerful movement of consciousness is to manifest.

We find, if we examine the statements of individuals who are recognised as leading seers, thinkers, and developers, people such as Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, and Sri Aurobindo, that they do not rely on the logical intellect to gain insight into the nature of reality and the developments that are possible. They speak of a process of intuition that takes the place of logical thought through cultivation of silence and receptivity. The intuitive process that represents the first openings to a higher formation of consciousness can be seen operative in such individuals who are hailed as geniuses in today’s world, simply because they already have insight and the power to access these higher ranges, as forerunners for the rest of humanity. The Mother explains that development in this direction is possible for virtually anyone who is willing to move beyond the stumbling limits of the mental process.

Albert Einstein described his ‘process’: “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the Truth comes to me.” Einstein has been recognised for his unique insight into the physical universe. He was clearly not limited by the framework of the mental structures that keep us hemmed into pre-digested ideas and solutions. Using a similar process, it is possible to identify and implement new ways of looking at problems we face, and thereby solving issues that have very few, if any, favorable outcomes on the level of thought and logical reasoning process.

The Mother writes: “To learn to be quiet and silent… When you have a problem to solve, instead of turning over in your head all the possibilities, all the consequences, all the possible things one should or should not do, if you remain quiet with an aspiration for goodwill, if possible a need for goodwill, the solution comes very quickly. And as you are silent you are able to hear it.”

“When you are caught in a difficulty, try this method: instead of becoming agitated, turning over all the ideas and actively seeking solutions, of worrying, fretting, running here and there inside your head — I don’t mean externally, for externally you probably have enough common sense not to do that! but inside, in your head — remain quiet. And according to your nature, with ardour or peace, with intensity or widening or with all these together, implore the Light and wait for it to come.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of Mind, Anxiety, pp. 44-49

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