One day, when I was in elementary school, I spent time with my family on Mother’s Day. On our way to an event afterwards, my brother asked me if I wanted to ride with him in his car.
I couldn’t explain it, but something felt wrong, and I had to listen to my gut.
I told him that I would rather ride with my sister, and he seemed disappointed. My sister even encouraged me to ride with him, but I kept saying “no.”
My brother got in a car accident that day, and he later told me that if I had gone with him, I wouldn’t have survived. That memory has always stayed with me.
The experience taught me at an early age to trust my gut feeling, or intuition, no matter what. The definition of intuition can feel unclear sometimes, but fortunately, the Baha’i writings offer insight into this subject:
Intuition is a power, or a light, by which a human being perceives the realities of things without the medium of the outward senses. – Abdu’l-Baha, as quoted by Marzieh Gail in Summon Up Remembrance, p. 235.
This feeling of insight and knowing transcends superficial understanding. It increases my awareness of a truth that requires faith to follow because it does not rely on sensory perceptions. This power guides me through life, as it often helps me sense who is sincere and who isn’t, or which paths I should take and which I should avoid.
I think this power functions like a muscle that needs development. It requires focusing inward, listening closely, and following that intuitive voice from within. As Abdu’l-Baha said:
You have intuition. You must follow it always, because when you follow it, it increases and becomes more clear. Only a few have this gift. It is like the tinkling of bells, a sixth sense, like the voice of God speaking. The more one follows intuition, the more it increases. – Abdu’l-Baha, as quoted by Ramona Allen Brown in Memories of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 14.
My mother, also a very intuitive person, noticed that the more she listened to her intuition, the clearer, more frequent, and louder divine guidance became. Just like listening saved my life many years ago, it also saved my mother’s life before I was born. She said:
When I was pregnant with Teisha, I was driving down 270 and all of a sudden, … something told me to look to my left and I saw a car just coming out of their lane … it would have come right into my door. … I’m looking ahead [and thought]: ‘Can I speed up? No, there’s a car in front of me. Can I slow down? Somebody’s behind me.’ Somebody’s coming to the side. I have no option, but something says, ‘If you turn sharply, since you’re in that right lane, you can run up the embankment. That’s your only choice to live.’ So, I did that. Split-second. But as I’m doing that, the car behind me … started to slow up, so I decided if I run up the embankment, I just have to get off the highway. I can’t slow down. I can’t speed up. I’m in between two cars, so I mashed on the gas as fast as I could and ran between the cars and ran up the embankment. How did I know to look right at that second? … I had no time – no time to think about it, no time to react, I just had time to listen to my intuition that says run up the embankment.
Many of us know to turn to God in prayer, but too often we forget to wait for and listen to the answer. I have always been wrong when I ignored my intuition, and I have always been right to trust it. Whether we call it a gut feeling, a sixth sense, a voice, or intuition, we need to believe in our ability to receive insight from a power greater than ourselves, and strengthen and develop this power by listening to that voice. Who knows? It might just save your life.