Many of us are searching for something: a way, a method, a philosophy, a religion to help find our place in this rather large universe.
We read books, go to workshops, take classes, attend church to help ground ourselves in our life, looking outside ourselves, hoping some author, guru or saint will say something magical that will bring everything into focus.
But we don’t need outside help; we have all the answers. Inside us is a spiritual Internet into which we can plug our questions and find the answers.
It has been argued that humanity’s highest faculty is intuition. We’ve all had those eureka moments where we puzzled over something, and then, in flash of insight, we knew the answer.
Because we don’t cultivate our intuition, those instances are so rare that we don’t think we’re intuitive. If we think about it at all, we assume it’s a gift given to a few by a whimsical universe.
Life planted intuition in all of us, and like a seed, it must be watered, nurtured and its soil weeded. Plants in our gardens usually don’t just grow and produce fruit without care and attention.
“Intuition is a function which we all possess, but which very few of us can use at will,” Christmas Humphreys writes in Zen: A Way of Life. “It must be developed, and this can only be done by use.
“Satori (enlightenment) is a flash of intuition deep enough and wide enough to break the barriers of thought in the individual mind, and to let the Whole flood into the part, the relative fragment ‘see’ for a moment of no-time, the Absolute.”
When we are angry, sad, jealous or vengeful, when emotional storms are raging — or we’re just thinking, thinking, thinking — we can’t hear our intuition. It’s like being at a party or a crowded coffee shop; we strive to listen, but it’s difficult to hear what’s being said.
And often we can’t be bothered to listen because we’re too busy telling the universe what to do. We do that when we complain, when we judge, when we rage against our parents, our spouses, our bosses, about what they did and how they did it, what they didn’t do and what they should have done.
We must train ourselves to quiet our mind, listen and act on what we hear because that small, still voice can awaken us to the truth of who we are. Often in moments of repose or just as we fall asleep, we stop our mental complaints and the mind is quiet enough that the universe can finally get through. That’s why some people always have a notepad beside their bed.
Inventor Thomas Edison often sat in a chair with ball bearing in his cupped hands. When he drifted into sleep, the ball bearings would fall and he’d awaken and write down any ideas.
That’s commitment, but then he single-handedly changed society with his thousands of inventions. We don’t have that pressure or responsibility; we only have to change ourselves. The more we listen and the more receptive we are, the more we change and oddly enough, the world changes with us.
“What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists ... and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want ... and are fully determined not to quit until you get it,” said Alexander Graham Bell.
It also requires faith. While practice helps us discern intuition from the normal muttering of the mind, we should act on the messages we receive.
Socrates shaped his life — and as a result Western civilization — by listening to his inner voice. It also shaped his death. Athenian authorities didn’t particularly want to kill the founder of moral philosophy; they just wanted him gone. His friends had arranged for his escape, but since his daemon didn’t tell him to run, he stayed – and died.
Henri Bergson, who built his philosophy on intuition, and won the Nobel Prize for literature, said intuition is a direct perception and experience of the continuous flow of reality, without the use of intellectual concepts.
Maybe that’s the problem. We like concepts and intricacy; if the solution appears simple, we ignore it, never realizing that great knowledge is not a necessary step to wisdom. Intellectual knowledge can lead us away from wisdom.
Around the turn of the 20th century, a university professor went to visit Nan-in, a Japanese Zen master. While the master served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the tea into the visitor's cup, and kept pouring.
Finally, the professor could no longer restrain himself. “It's over full! No more will go in!”
“You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”
To hear the still voice, we, too, must empty our cup, throw away our ideas of how life should unfold, and still the internal noise so we can hear the universe.
“Within every person there is an intuitive sense of the transcendent, an inner knowledge that there is more to life than one is experiencing, and a yearning to unfold more of than more,” Eric Butterworth writes in the Universe is Calling. “No matter how realistic or humanistic we may be, we still look up.
“There is an upward pull of the universe, ever seeking to lift you to the heights of your divine nature. It is as real and as inexorable as the force of gravity.
"The universe is calling . . . are you listening?”
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.