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Intuitive Intelligence

September 4, 2013

Q: Why is it always so hard for me to find people who I can collaborate with?

The Arahant: It’s because you are have world-class intuitive intelligence. Most people are not at all intelligent; and most of the people who are intelligent use symbolic intelligence.

In other words, most intelligent people have to express their thoughts in words and symbols. Then they laboriously reason their way through various logical combinations to reach a conclusion. You, on the other hand, analyze the words and symbols of ideas until you understand their internal relationships; then by concentrationjhāna—you enter a state of mind where you can directly see the conclusion.

Most minds cannot understand the link between the data and the conclusion without a long chain of reasoning. But you simply jump directly to the conclusion without symbolic logic or reasoning, because you just know it by direct perception. It’s like a hyperspace jump. Either you can see the way through higher dimensions between two points, or you can’t. Most people can’t, but you can.

That’s why its frustrating for you to work with others. You can see, but they can’t. You feel like you have to explain even the simplest thing to them as if to a child. It wears your patience thin.

Worse, your ideas are always at least five years ahead of the time—usually more like 50. The world is not ready for you, I’m afraid; but they will be. Just make sure you write everything down so people later on can benefit from your work. It’s good that you have become a monk, otherwise you’d probably go crazy.

You use the same type of thinking used by Einstein and the Buddha in their research. Einstein’s greatest discoveries were the result of ‘thought experiments‘ conducted in the laboratory of his mind. He was looking for relationships between time and motion, and out of those intuitive observations came his work on Relativity. The Buddha also confirms that knowledge comes through perception and not reasoning.

“Potthapada, perception arises first, and knowledge after. And the arising of knowledge comes from the arising of perception. One discerns, ‘It’s in dependence on this that my knowledge has arisen.’ Through this line of reasoning one can realize how perception arises first, and knowledge after, and how the arising of knowledge comes from the arising of perception.” — Potthapada Sutta (DN 9)

Direct perception of any knowledge is possible by assuming the proper viewpoint. The practice of jhāna (concentration) enables you to see things directly as they are. This is intuitive wisdom, and it is vastly superior to symbolic thought.

“He, by getting rid of these five hindrances, which are defilements of the mind and deleterious to intuitive wisdom, aloof from pleasures of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind, enters and abides in the first jhāna which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought, is born of aloofness and is rapturous and joyful. By allaying initial thought and discursive thought, his mind subjectively tranquilized and fixed on one point, he enters and abides in the second jhāna which is devoid of initial thought and discursive thought, is born of concentration and is rapturous and joyful. By the fading out of rapture, he dwells with equanimity, attentive and clearly conscious, and experiences in his person that joy of which the Ariyans say: ‘Joyful lives he who has equanimity and is mindful,’ and he enters and abides in the third jhāna. By getting rid of anguish, by the going down of his former pleasures and sorrows, he enters and abides in the fourth jhāna which has neither anguish nor joy, and which is entirely purified by equanimity and mindfulness.

“Brahman, such is my instruction for those monks who are learners who, perfection being not yet attained, dwell longing for the incomparable security from the bonds. But as for those monks who are perfected ones, the cankers destroyed, who have lived the life, done what was to be done, shed the burden, attained to their own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, and who are freed by perfect profound knowledge — these things conduce both to their abiding in ease here and now as well as to their mindfulness and clear consciousness.” — Ganakamoggallana Sutta (MN 107)

From → Q&A

7 Comments
  1. marinoklisovic permalink

    Is this intuitive wisdom something we used to have?

    The other day I was looking at some old books and came across an old book that I used to play with when I was very small (this was before I went to school). It’s an old book about human body, full of beautiful illustrations. This helped me recall how my brain used to work.

    Then I had no doubts in myself; having doubts in myself was inconceivable. I would look at the picture of human body and face and intuitively, in an instant, understand the feelings on the person on the picture. The picture was like a portal into a new world It was something original, something mine, something I was born with. I could understand the world in my own way, even though I knew very few words. It’s like I already knew everything, before I knew any word.

    • “I said, ‘You don’t understand what I said. When I was a boy, everything was right. Everything was right'” — She Said, The Beatles

      Intuitive wisdom is always there, but it gets covered up with our accumulated nonsense. We can understand the world directly, in our own way. But that ability is lost the more we rely on others to give us verbal knowledge. The Buddha’s teaching is unique because it is also verbal knowledge in the beginning, but it shows the path out of the trap. It also gives a method to realize the deepest truths of existence and consciousness for oneself.

      • peaceandwisdom2013 permalink

        I had some questions on intuitive wisdom as well. Thank you for clarifying these points. Also, thanks marinoklisovic for beginning this discussion. I have a follow-up question:

        1) Does it follow that intuitive wisdom arises spontaneously as one progresses through deep meditation (ie progression through jhanas)? If so, wisdom regarding what? I ask this because surely the yogis/ sages/ Brahmins acquired wisdom, yet their way was critisized by the Buddha. Did these yogis not acquire the necessary wisdom to free themselves? Was it their craving and desire to become that blinded them?
        Did the numerous yogis and contemplatives of the past become comsumed by the desire that they did not reach Nibbana?

        I ask these questions because I am surprised that the practioners before the Budda did not have Right View.

        Please reply at your convenience. Kind wishes.

      • Yes, intuitive wisdom arises exactly in that way. The major error of all approaches to enlightenment previous to the Buddha was that they sought to maintain the personal self eternally. That road leads only to delusion and destruction, as I personally experienced. Marino is one of my oldest friends; he was there and saw it first-hand. No one can go against Dhamma and remain sane. Attachment to becoming is the disease. Death is release, but if viewed as non-becoming it is just another step on the path of becoming. We discussed that fully in Luminous Mind:

        The Buddha teaches that in addition to craving-for-‘being’ there is also a craving for what, on the surface, is the opposite of ‘being’. This is referred to as vibhavataṇhā, craving-for-‘nonbeing’. The Pāli word vibhava has been translated as ‘nonbeing’, however it is not easy to render in English. Ready-to-hand translations of it as nonexistence, nonbeing, self-annihilation etc. tend to miss the point. Therefore it is all the more important to get at its correct meaning.

        The puthujjana first takes what is not-self to be self. Thus his existence is really a ‘self’-existence, a ‘being’ (bhava), although he thinks it is the existence of a self, a being-self. Then he finds that this ‘being’ is unsatisfactory. But since this ‘being’, which for him is actually being-self, is unsatisfactory, he thinks that being-self is unsatisfactory. So he looks for what he thinks is nonbeing-self. In other words, he looks for cutting-off of a not-self, assuming that it is really the cutting off of a self. In this way he looks for a false nonbeing, a false cutting off. He looks for ‘nonbeing’ (vibhava).

        The trouble is that the puthujjana looks for nonbeing-self, having taken what is not-being-self to be actually being-self. Thus every attempt towards ‘nonbeing’ (vibhava) directly involves the confirmation or assertion of ‘being’ (bhava). In other words, every attempt to do away with the existence of a falsely assumed self carries with it the assumption of the existence of a self; so that the fatal error of assuming that his existence is the existence of a self is thereby perpetuated. Trying to get away from ‘being’ through ‘nonbeing’ is only becoming more tied to ‘being’—like a dog tied to a post with a leash, in attempting to release itself from the post, only keeps running round and round the post.

  2. marinoklisovic permalink

    This desire for non-being is like a denial: “This X does not exist!” But in order for this work, X must exist. We always have to be in connection with X to say, “X does not exist!”.It’s like we hold something in our hand and say that it doesn’t exist.

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