If you were born with two strong legs – would it make sense to ignore one and spend your life hopping around on one leg?
If you would not do this to your body – why would you do this to your brain?
Our current education system, most businesses and most science-based occupations – encourage and cultivate the conscious rational mind and strongly discourage emotional engagement as being irrational and unreliable.
This way of thinking was advocated by the 17th-century philosopher Descartes who still influences our thinking today – particularly in business and the sciences. Descartes considered the world including people and animals to be simply ‘Machines ‘that are governed by the laws of material matter alone. To him the only legitimate and reliable source of knowledge is the intellect (i.e. the cold, unemotional, logical and rational mind)
Is this thinking outdated? Well, ‘let the proof be in the pudding’ as they say.
The fact is that ‘Business’ without compassion can be a monster! You need only look at the way that ‘agricultural business’ treats chickens, cattle and other livestock. Todays ‘factory farming’ practices inflict cruelty on creatures (that experience terror and pain just like us) in the most abominably ‘heartless ‘manner. The brutal and excruciatingly painful experiments conducted on animals ‘in the interests of science’ have also been horrifically cruel and ‘heartless’.
I believe that it is not morally acceptable or justifiable to allow such thinking and behaviour to continue – because humans and all other life forms on Earth are more than machines.
To evolve beyond such ‘barbaric’ behaviour into ways of thinking and behaving that are more humane, emotionally intelligent, practical and productive– we need to engage with all three of the kinds of intelligence that we are born with.
The intellect (the conscious rational mind) is a wonderful tool for the quantitative measurement of material things (like; how much, how far, how quick etc.). However the intellect is not at all good at measuring the qualitative aspect of things (like; beauty, elegance, love, compassion, serenity, harmony, and good vs. bad). For these qualitative aspects, we are born, equipped with our instincts. Just as the intellect has different forms and levels of refinement, so too do our instincts, ranging from the basic instinctive capacity to breathe and move without consciously thinking about it, to the more refined subconscious levels of ‘gut feeling’ and ‘knowledge of the heart’. Thousands of lives have been saved when soldiers, policemen, firemen and others have reacted to their ‘gut feeling’. Fortunes have been won based on a ‘hunch’ and millions of people have achieved success and self-fulfillment in their relationships and careers – by ‘following their heart’.
Our feelings and emotions play a critically important role in determining the quality of our lives.
There are two significant differences between the way that the intellect and the instincts work.
The first is in the way that they communicate. Whilst the intellect communicates primarily in the form of words, our instincts communicate through our feelings.
The second major difference is their cognitive capacity.
The capacity of your unconscious and subconscious mind is vastly greater than your conscious mind. And they can process information faster and at far more subtle levels than the conscious intellect can. It has been said that the intellect is like the cash in your pocket compared to the size of the economy which represents the scale of your unconscious and subconscious minds.
So why would you want to limit your cognitive capacity by utilizing only your conscious, rational mind?
Let us therefore recognise that both the intellect and intuition provide very different but equally valuable sources and forms of knowledge and understanding.
It should also be recognised that using one form of intelligence to the exclusion of the other is likely to produce an ‘imbalanced’ outcome. I believe that a ‘balanced outcome’ is achieved when consensus is reached between both instincts and intellect. In other words, if it ‘makes rational sense’ and also ‘feels right or good’, then it is likely to be ‘balanced’ or what I would call a ‘wise outcome’. However, if it is rational but feels bad – I would recommend that you keep looking for an alternative solution until both logic and feelings are satisfied. The inverse applies equally.
And then we come to our intuition!
Intuition is quite different. It is not a feeling, but rather a sudden ‘knowing’ or ‘understanding’ that arrives ‘out of the blue’ with no logical or rational process leading up to it!
Albert Einstein is said something along the lines of ‘Sometimes I just know something – it then takes me a while to prove scientifically what I intuitively know’. This instinctive ‘knowing’ also played a significant role for one of the world’s greatest inventors Thomas Edison who after hundreds of failed attempts finally validated his ‘intuitive knowing’ to produce a working light bulb.
Accessing and utilizing your intuition I would compare to using your computer (your conscious mind) to access the internet (your unconscious and subconscious mind– see link to a TEDx Talk on this at the end of this Blog). Like any other human capacity, the more you use your intuition, the better and more reliable it becomes. Ignore it and it will wither and waste away. To trigger it into action, I firstly formulate my question VERY CAREFULLY (Fuzzy questions get fuzzy answers). Then I sit quietly and present this question as if speaking to my own internal Guru. Then I wait for an answer. Sometimes it’s a quick response and other times I have to ask the question again and again over several days or even months before I get an answer. When you do get an ‘aha’ moment in response – sit down immediately and put it in writing in as much detail as possible. It’s in this process of putting it in words that you get greater clarity and are better able to remember the feedback that you received from your intuition/internal Guru.
Still going to hop around on one leg of the intelligence capacities that you were born with?
Engage with and benefit from your ‘3Di’. It will be of benefit to ‘people, planet and profit’ to expand your cognitive capacity by utilizing all three of the forms of intelligence you were born with: Instinct; Intellect and Intuition.
Here is a practical talk on intuition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ71pKKDe1E
In our next blog we explore whether the practice of UBUNTU is an outdated tribal tradition – or a safety net for the looming threats of climate change, environmental pollution and diminishing food and other essential resources.