Many different experiences of awareness are generally called “intuition”. Sri Aurobindo has clarified what he calls the “intuitive mind” to avoid the confusion engendered by the loose use of the term intuition. For many people, intuition is really a form of what we may call “gut instinct”, which is itself, a subliminal perception that distills itself as a sense or feeling that prods one into action. People talk about an intuition of discomfort when they are in an environment that raises their sense of concern or fear.
Sri Aurobindo’s definition is that of a higher awareness that yields a clarity and a spontaneous knowledge and certainty that does not require the slow, step-by-step process of the logical intellect. He clarifies further that it is this action of the intuition that guides the logical intellect in its steps and conclusions to begin with, although the intellect will inevitably truncate and distort the intuitive wisdom.
Sri Aurobindo notes in The Life Divine: “But these two stages of the ascent enjoy their authority and can get their own united completeness only by a reference to a third level; for it is from the higher summits where dwells the intuitional being that they derive the knowledge which they turn into thought or sight and bring down to us for the mind’s transmutation. Intuition is a power of consciousness nearer and more intimate to the original knowledge by identity; for it is always something that leaps out direct from a concealed identity…. This close perception is more than sight, more than conception: it is the result of a penetrating and revealing touch which carries in it sight and conception as part of itself or as its natural consequence. A concealed or slumbering identity, not yet recovering itself, still remembers or conveys by the intuition its own contents and the intimacy of its self-feeling and self-vision of things, its light of truth, its overwhelming and automatic certitude.”