Have you ever felt an intuitive flash of inspiration—and then wondered “Where did that come from?”

Gerd Gigerenzer, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, has said that smart people listen to their feelings. The smartest people among us—the ones who make great intellectual leaps forward—cannot do so without harnessing the power of intuition.

As far as we know, all of our brain processes start by axion and synaptic connections. Neuroscientists believe that electrical and chemical interactions generate every letter and word we think, in whatever language we think it. But along with the physical processes that make those connections, our thinking begins with two fundamental human abilities: imagination and memory.

Intuition, or the ability to intuit a thing—meaning to surmise the truth or reality based on both emotional and rational thinking—is a function of both imagination and memory. We all have it, although some people have more highly-developed intuitive faculties.

When we say things like, “I knew that driver was going to turn left,” or “I think Aunt Mary will show up unannounced at Mom’s birthday party,” and she does, we see intuition at work.

Intuition is a form of knowing and not knowing at the same time. It predicts or assumes an outcome, and is sometimes right or sometimes wrong. But it’s still there, and studies have shown that women’s intuition is stronger than men’s.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

We know that children possess more intuition than adults, and tend to lose it as they get older. Intuition seems to function as a kind of sensitivity to reality and what the future might hold, and most adults discount the power of intuition as we age, by focusing solely on what’s before us instead of what’s around us.

Why, then, do women usually exhibit more sensitivity to their intuitive gifts than men? Perhaps, the Baha’i teachings suggest, intuition has a connection to the spiritual qualities of a person’s soul:

Taken in general, women today have a stronger sense of religion than men. The woman’s intuition is more correct; she is more receptive and her intelligence is quicker. The day is coming when woman will claim her superiority to man.

Woman has everywhere been commended for her faithfulness. After the Lord Christ suffered, the disciples wept, and gave way to their grief. They thought that their hopes were shattered, and that the Cause was utterly lost, till Mary Magdalene came to them and strengthened them saying: ‘Do you mourn the body of Our Lord or His Spirit? If you mourn His Spirit, you are mistaken, for Jesus lives! His Spirit will never leave us!’ Thus through her wisdom and encouragement the Cause of Christ was upheld for all the days to come. Her intuition enabled her to grasp the spiritual fact. – Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 104-105.

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 2, p. 4.

Of course, intuitive hunches move our decision-making or actions in one way or the other, towards a burning house or away, toward a crying baby or letting them wail it out of their systems and then sleep. “Hunches” as some call them, may be intuition herself speaking to our hearts and minds at once.

Using intuition comes into play when we hear someone speak to us, for example. We take in the tone, the sharpness or flatness or colorfulness of the language, the hand and eye and facial expressions of the speaker and much more, and his or her words move us–or they don’t. It’s like we all have an automatic inner lie detector, a polygraph, hooked up to physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally judge for ourselves the veracity of the speaker’s position.

So we know that intuition is a distinct gift and power from the Creator, just like our other inner and outer powers, our imagination and memory, our knowing and guessing. All of us, every human being, needs the spiritual bounties that come with a recognition of the divine forces—what the Baha’i teachings call “the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit:”

… the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit. If man does not become the recipient of the heavenly bestowals and spiritual bounties, he remains in the plane and kingdom of the animal. For the distinction between the animal and man is that man is endowed with the potentiality of divinity in his nature, whereas the animal is entirely bereft of that gift and attainment. Therefore, if a man is bereft of the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit, deprived of divine bestowals, out of touch with the heavenly world and negligent of the eternal truths, though in image and likeness he is human, in reality he is an animal … – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 316-317.

Would you like to awaken, expand and develop your intuitive capabilities and susceptibilities? Abdu’l-Baha wanted all of us to “make great advancement” in this kind of intuitive understanding:

There are two kinds of understanding; objective and subjective. To illustrate: thou seest this glass, or this water and thou dost comprehend in an objective manner their constituent parts. On the other hand, thou canst not see love, intellect, hate, anger, sorrow, but thou dost recognize them in a subjective way through their signs and manifestations. The first is material, the second is spiritual. The first is outward, the second is intuitive. I hope that thou mayst make great advancement in the second kind of understanding. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 179.

If you’d like to develop intuitive insight, and the wisdom that comes with it, focus on the spiritual side of life—you’ll find that your awakening intuition will help guide you through this life and the next.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

11 Comments

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  • Junia Noel
    Jul 07, 2017
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  • Joyous Messenger
    Jul 05, 2017
    "Why, then, do women usually exhibit more sensitivity to their intuitive gifts than men? Perhaps, the Baha’i teachings suggest, intuition has a connection to the spiritual qualities of a person’s soul."
    How is your suggestion even possible if souls, as we know, have no gender??
  • Jul 02, 2017
    Intuition, as used in the Writings, is not hunches or precognition, it instead is insights into matters of the physical world or the spiritual verities. These insights are not the result of intelligence, but may quicken the intellect and point to a path of inquiry or to a solution of a problem. This is also what Einstein was intending, in my opinion.
    The quotes presented in the article were not from the Authoritative Writings. The Master tells us that true intuition is through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is no respecter of genders. "Sixth, the world of humanity ...is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit...
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    • Jul 04, 2017
      Reed, point well taken, all is through the Holy Spirit. Hunch or insight or sixth sense aside, I was merely trying to show it as a human faculty that can discover reality (at times), and that intuition has a relationship to imagination and memory -- and especially wisdom.
    • Jul 02, 2017
      (continued) Therefore, if a man is bereft of the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit, deprived of divine bestowals, out of touch with the heavenly world and negligent of the eternal truths, though in image and likeness he is human, in reality he is an animal; even as Christ declared, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."" (PUP)
  • Linda Leeb
    Jul 01, 2017
    I do not believe in "women's intuition," at least not as some sort of God-given innate gift. I think that women are generally much more observant than men, both consciously and unconsciously, again, not as some inherently female trait, but as a result of our powerlessness. Because women have historically been and continue to be much more vulnerable to all kinds of harm, physical and otherwise, we have become much more alert to everything around us. Women know more about men than men do about women, and much has been made of that--think of the millions of jokes and assumptions ...about how complicated women are. We're actually not that complicated, it's just that men have not had to observe women as closely as women have had to observe men.
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    • Jul 04, 2017
      Linda, Thanks so much for your feminine insight here into why we have tended to believe in women's intuition more than what is possessed (in general) by men. Certainly in my experience women tend to be more observant which bolsters this idea. Hopefully in this new age the qualities of women will be elevated as they should.
    • Linda Leeb
      Jul 01, 2017
      Continues... So women understand men better. We have had to. Our lives have depended on it. Men have traditionally wielded all the power. Women have been dependent on men. As a matter of survival, women have learned to detect men's moods, actions, thoughts, emotions, and tendencies in microscopic detail. Most of the time, we are not even aware we are doing it. So we call it intuition, as if it were some mystical or uniquely female ability, When you have no direct access to power and are basically defenseless, you learn to be hyper alert to what is going ...on around you. It is a useful quality in being of service as well, as it develops the habit of focusing on others.
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  • Jul 01, 2017
    What a delightful article and perspective Rodney. Intuition is one of my favorite subjects and you, one of my favorite authors!
  • Mark David Vinzens
    Jul 01, 2017
    This is a brilliant perspective, Rodney. The holy wisdom traditions always adored Mary Magdalene as the “Apostle of the Apostles” (she is known to have landed on the shores of southern France where extraordinary legends about Mary are passed on to this day) Theodore J. Nottingham wrote a book about it: “Mary Magdalene. Hidden Illumined One: The Journey, the Legends, the Teachings“ or from Cynthia Bourgeault: „The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity“. She believes that Mary Magdalen was Jesus‘s most important disciple, the one he considered to understand his teaching best.
    • Jul 04, 2017
      Mark David your example of Mary Magdelene is well made, as one who had faith like a rock despite the contradictions apparent at the time. Certainly she was filled with the Spirit and knew and felt more that outside appearances allowed.