What is Intuition? How to Develop Intuition?

What is intuition? Can you trust your gut feeling? Is intuition useful in decision making? Sadhguru explores these questions, defining intuition as a different dimension of computing and looks at the remarkable possibility of whether an artificial intelligence can become intuitive. Finally, he shares a Yogic practice to help develop intuition.
Sadhguru Wisdom Article | What is Intuition?
 

What Does Intuition Mean?

Questioner: Can you please explain what intuition is? Is it an aspect of the spiritual path?

Sadhguru: What is intuition? Everything that a human being does is happening from the information that he or she has gathered. Information does not mean you read a book or a newspaper. The five senses constantly gather information through what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch. This continues to happen even when you are fast sleep. Experiments have been done where a person was fast asleep, and ten sentences were spoken to him in a language that he did not even understand. In spite of that, much later, they could hypnotize him and he would speak those ten sentences again. He was not conscious but all of it was recorded as good as on a tape-recorder.  

To move from a “dumb” phone to a smartphone and from a smartphone to an iPad, we did not discover anything new. We are just learning to use it better. It is the same thing with your brain when you are intuitive.

So there is a phenomenal amount of information that you are not conscious of. Just look at the fact that you can walk. Walking is so simple. But if you analyze the process of what it takes to walk on two legs, it is an extremely complex process. How the weight shifts, what happens in the muscles and how the whole thing happens is a phenomenally complex process. If you have to logically understand this, you will go crazy. You will not get it even if you study it for a lifetime. That’s how complex it is, but all of us can walk. We know this intuitively not intellectually. 

A better analogy would be driving. When you were first learning to drive a car, you turned on the ignition, then pressed the clutch, then the first gear, and you slowly released the clutch, but the damn thing would just jump and stop no matter how many times you tried. But now you have been driving for ten years, and you could be talking on your cell phone and still everything happens right. And even today after ten years of driving, if you sit in the car and think, “What should I do properly? First, ignition, then clutch, then first gear, then clutch…” again you won't know how to drive. 

Intuition vs Logic 

If you go intellectually, there are ten steps for every little thing that you do. Instead of going through these ten steps from one to ten, if you jump, people say that is intuitiveness. But intuition is not a different dimension of perception, it is just a different dimension of computing. You are computing it faster, but it is still the same information. If your brain becomes more intuitive, you can use what you know better. To move from a “dumb” phone to a smartphone and from a smartphone to an iPad, we did not discover anything new. We are just learning to use it better. It is the same thing with your brain when you are intuitive. But that is not another dimension of perception. 

Intuition and Spirituality 

If another dimension of perception has to happen, you have to enhance your perception beyond its present boundaries. That’s what spirituality is – to enhance your perception. Essentially, to be spiritual means to go beyond the physical. If a dimension beyond the physical becomes a living reality for you, you are spiritual. When I say physical, it is not just the body and mind. Everything else that you perceive through the five sense organs is physical. If you transcend that, or if your perception transcends the limitations of the five senses, then you are spiritual.

Intuition vs Gut Feeling

Questioner: How much importance should we give to our gut feeling and is this the same as intuition? 

Sadhguru: There is something called as gut feeling and there is also something called as being shit scared. When people do not know which way to go, some things move in their gut. Do not understand that as some kind of an intuition or some kind of an insight into life. Fear is considered gut feeling by a whole lot of people, so you should not go by that.

If there is even a one percent doubt, it is better to use the logical mind, however limited it is, because it is more reliable.

Sometimes intuition is a very confusing thing. A lot of people say, “Oh, I think I have a gut feeling,” particularly people who go to the horse races! Ninety percent of the time they lose, but still they have a gut feeling because it worked once. It worked once and it failed ten times, but they still go on banking on that one time that worked. That is, just by chance things may happen. 

Intuition once in a way is a very dangerous thing because you will not know how to decide whether it is a hundred percent yes or no; a great turmoil will happen within you. Your logical mind says one thing and you think your intuition is saying something else. It must be one hundred percent clear, otherwise intuition is more of a nuisance. It is better to drop it and just rely on the logical process. Even if it takes longer, at least you get somewhere. Intuition may just land you in all kinds of situations because you believe things. There are lots of people like this, who are constantly making wrong decisions about everything in their life because they think they have intuition. If there is even a one percent doubt, it is better to use the logical mind, however limited it is, because it is more reliable. You can cross-check it. Intuition cannot be cross-checked. 

Intuition In Machine Learning – Can We Build Machines That Are Intuitive? 

Questioner: Experts say that human intuitions are essentially biochemical responses of our body. It is like an inherent and inbuilt biochemical algorithm. If that is so, can artificial intelligence recreate human emotions? Does human intelligence have something to do with the biochemical activity that is happening in our system? 

Sadhguru: Absolutely. You know today that you being mentally balanced or imbalanced, stable or unstable, clear or unclear in your mind has a chemical basis to it. Even being happy or unhappy, loving or not loving, joyful or miserable has a chemical basis. As you sit here, whether you make this experience of sitting here beautiful or ugly is a matter of intelligence, and it is also a matter of chemistry. They are not different. 

I tell them, “I think through my whole body. You think with just your brain.”

People have been asking me, “Sadhguru, how are you doing such a variety of activity without freaking out and losing your mind?” I tell them, “I think through my whole body. You think with just your brain.” It is completely wrong to understand intelligence as thought. Thought is just one small expression of intelligence. This is a folly that modern societies have made, because the modern education system has made people believe that thought is the only form of intelligence. If thought is the only form of intelligence, you will naturally understand that accumulating data, analyzing data and projecting this data according to your analysis is intelligence. This is a process that any machine can do. You are beginning to understand now that even the most complex thought that you think is phenomenal can be done effortlessly today by your computer. 

Most children find mathematics as the most difficult subject, but a simple calculator can do more mathematics than your teacher can. Your computer can do much more mathematics than any mathematician can do. Obviously, what you thought as a very difficult intellectual process is being processed by a machine far more easily than you can imagine. People argue that, “Mathematics is one thing, literature and music is different.” It is not. It is just that mathematics is simply cold numbers, so it looks like it is not a very human subject. Even literature and music, which are considered more an outpouring of human heart, can be done by a machine. Maybe we have still not built machines good enough to do that. But a whole lot of music is becoming electronic. Musicians are just lip-synching and letting the machines do the music, and everyone is consuming it. Machine-music may not be very palatable right now for a very aesthetically trained ear, because machines have still not evolved to that place. But it will inevitably happen in some years that you will not be able to make out the difference, or it will probably be more perfect. 

Intuition is just that you are computing in such a way that you do not have to go through the logical process every time. This is definitely a more sensible way of using your intelligence. If you have to go through a logical process every time, you will naturally freak with small aspects of life. Why do you think people are feeling more stressed by the day? The moment you are educated, you start thinking logically about every aspect of your life. You try to add up your life logically and it does not add up and you are stressful. Nothing has gone wrong. The Sun came up, there is oxygen in the air, you have eaten your breakfast and you are stressed. This is because in your stupid logic you are trying to add up what is today, and you are miserable because it is not adding up. 

So intuitive means your computing is skipping the logical steps and arriving at the answer, which is definitely a more sensible way to conduct your life. Is intuition just a biochemical algorithm? Yes it is. When we say, “biochemical algorithm,” it is in a constant flux and you can set it the way you want. It is set one way by genetics, culture, and external influences, but if you are conscious, you can set it in another way. It is a mechanism. The question is whether this mechanism is conducted consciously or not. 

You have an intellect, an intuitive dimension and a deeper level of intelligence which is the very basis of the making of the creation. That intelligence which is the very source of creation is also embedded within you. The question is only about the level of access. Everyone has an arm but everyone cannot use their arm the same way. A ball player uses it one way; a writer uses it another way; an artist uses it another way; a Yogi uses it another way. Your biochemical algorithm is constantly changing depending upon how you apply yourself. 

How to Develop Intuition 

People are just doing guesswork all the time and thinking it is intuition. If you want to develop intuition, the first thing that you must learn is how to simply sit here fully alert and not thinking about anything. Someone was asking me, “Sadhguru when you're riding, what are you thinking about?” I am not thinking about anything, I am just riding. If your attention is on all the time without any kind of judgments – simply attention, not thought, just attention – you will naturally become intuitive. 

If your attention is on all the time without any kind of judgments – simply attention, not thought, just attention – you will naturally become intuitive. 

Most people have very intuitive back flashes. They all have intuition after things are over. That intuition is no good, because that is not going to help. That is only going to impair your logical thinking. If you try to address the complexity of life through logical process, you will inevitably go crazy. Most people never apply themselves to that extent. Their logic is four steps and then it will go somewhere else. Why a leaf is green and why another one is turning yellow – if you apply yourself logically, there are a million steps to this. 

If you try to logically figure all this, you will inevitably go mad. But if your attention is on without thought process, you know it by experience, because you have absorbed it. This is the power of human attention. If you have the necessary attention, becoming conscious will naturally come to you. If you become conscious, you will set the biochemical algorithm of your system. You will influence that in a way that it works for you and for the benefit of everyone around you. It is not just about intuition. If you know how to manage your biochemical system, you can influence all life around you. 

Attention! 

Usually, venomous creatures like the cobra are very sensitive to the biochemical functions that are happening within you. They are able to figure out the fundamental life process that is happening within us simply because of their attention. They are at a certain level of attention because their survival is always in question. For modern societies, survival is not in question, it is kind of guaranteed, so our attention levels have come down and our thought process has gone up like crazy. 

What we need is attention. Human attention can open up any door in the universe. But the attention should become free from judgmental process. That means that you should not go on judging everything around you from the limited data that you have gathered. Because even if you think you know everything, the data that you have gathered is very limited. If you spend a lifetime paying attention, what you know is still very little. But as you become more and more conscious, you determine the biochemical algorithms. That means you determine the nature of the experience. But can we build machines like this? Yes, we can. 

When there is no word, there is no conclusion. When there is no conclusion, there is no death. This is the way of liberation.

As we can build machines which can do mathematics, write stories and make music for us, we can build machines which are intuitive in nature. Already, your smartphones are advertising that this phone is more intuitive than the other phone. Before you know what you want, it is popping out and saying what you want, because it has figured you out from the usage to some extent. As you can figure out other human beings, your phone is figuring out who you are. Maybe it knows more about you than you know about yourself. It is not self-realized but it has figured you out. 

This needs to be looked at more profoundly than just talking about intuition or emotion. It needs to be looked at as a life process, because life process is such that there is no separation between intelligence, intuition, thought, the beat of the heart, function of the liver, kidney, spleen or brain. It is one seamless function. To grasp it that way is most important, only then will you experience life to its fullest. Then you will find that you are speechless about life, because there is no word to describe a phenomena like this. Words are coming because you are looking at small pieces and coming out with all kind of descriptions, simply because we are seeing everything through the keyhole of human intellect. When there is no word, there is no conclusion. When there is no conclusion, there is no death. This is the way of liberation. 

Machines can become everything that you are and do everything that you can do, probably better than you. The only thing is that they cannot become consciousness. Some people are saying that we will build consciousness into a machine. That is not going to happen. What you call as consciousness is the essence of life. It is that indescribable force which makes everything happen. That will not happen in a machine. 

Yogic Practice to Develop Intuition 

The simple Yoga practice that we teach enhances both logic and intuition. I am logical but I do not do anything logically; everything is intuitive for me. The volume and variety of activity that I have taken up in my life would drive people crazy. But because I do not go through it logically, I arrive at things intuitively, there is no effort in it. It simply happens.

Intuitiveness will not work without data. You definitely need data, but there is no calculation. Data is being gathered every moment because all the five sense organs are continuously gathering data. The kind of things that people come to me with is not just spirituality. If someone is building a building and there is some problem with the engineering, they come to me. If someone is fixing a machine and there is some problem, they come to me. It is not because I am trained in this. It is just that if you see this building, whether you are conscious or not, your eyes have taken a complete picture of it. If you keep a certain level of clarity, it can be pulled out any time you want. 

If I drive today, especially in the Himalayan range, I know every bend on the road, every rock and every major tree. When I drive, it is like the next corner is already in my mind. People do not understand why I am driving at this speed. Everyone else is traveling at twenty-five to thirty kilometers an hour, and I am just whizzing because I am already seeing the next two-three bends in the road in my mind. I do not have to bother about the road at all because the road is very clear in my mind. I only have to watch out for the vehicles. And it is so in everyone’s mind but they have messed it up so much that they cannot pull out the information when they need it. 

As you do the practice, if you are connected with your consciousness, then the mind is just free. It is so free that everything that you have smelled, tasted, touched, heard and seen is all there. You do not have to try to remember anything. It is all simply there. You can just pull it back. Memory is not about remembering, memory is just about your ability to bring back the data. 

Editor's Note: Watch this video from Sadhguru where he explains how to perceive life beyond logic.