Chapter 5 of the Book

Lesson 12 Chapter 1 Module 6

Simply Knowing

This chapter is about intuitive intelligence.

Intuition is a perfectly natural part of our everyday experience. We often know something without knowing how we know. For example, we glance at a stranger and make a very rapid assessment. Without knowing how we know, we know a lot about that person, just by looking at her for only a moment.

This can tell us whether this is a person whom we would like to get to know better. It can tell us whether we would trust this person. And it tells us whether the person is potentially harmful. One thing is clear, this process takes place well beyond the speed of our rational mind. But how does it happen? How can we know so much, without conventional evidence or without working it out in our mind? I believe that we are able to do this because everything is connected to everything else.

When I say everything, I really do mean everything. And it is this total connectedness enables us to receive and transmit information in ways that are not yet understood by science. Here is an example of what I mean. Recently, for no apparent reason, a friend of mine suddenly appeared in my mind. He lives on the south coast of Spain, over 800 kilometres away. The experience was so strong that I decided to call him there and then. When I did, he told me that he had been thinking of me that very moment. This kind of thing had happened before, so I was not too surprised. 

Has this happened to you? Do you trust it, and act on it?

I am convinced that these inexplicable events happen because we are connected to each other in more ways than we imagine. This needs a little explanation. As Ervin Laszlo points out in his book, The Creative Cosmos, the universe is not a vacuum. It is the opposite. It is a plenum (meaning “full”), because there is no such thing as empty space. Every cubic millimetre of what we think of as empty space is in fact crammed with a huge number of “fields”, all interpenetrating each other. At any point in the universe, including any point on or in our own bodies, there are an incalculable number of gravitational and electromagnetic fields flowing through each other. These fields are the very stuff of which we believe matter, not vacuums, are made.

Admittedly, from our own limited human perspective, the universe appears to be largely empty. Even on the most star-studded night, there is more dark than light up there. Yet, were it possible for us to see things from the point of view of, say, an electron, our own human bodies, solid as far as we are concerned, would appear to consist largely of empty space, in just the same way as the universe appears to us to be largely empty, such are the vast differences in perspective. From the universe’s point of view, it is we who are the equivalent of electrons, or even smaller! From its own point of view, however, the universe is a single, solid body, just as we are solid from our own point of view. 

Now, if the universe is indeed a single, solid body, when seen from its own perspective, this suggests that all its parts are connected to each other, just as all the parts of our bodies are connected to each other. In some ways we already know this. For example, we know that all matter is connected to all other matter by means of gravity. It is true that the influence of gravity weakens with distance, as in Newton’s equation, but it nonetheless continues to extend indefinitely. This surely means that every fragment of matter in the universe, including those fragments of which our bodies are composed, is connected to every other fragment. When you think about this, it is astonishing.

What do you think the implications are?

The universe is connected in other ways too. For example, it is connected by light. Although the effect of light also weakens with distance, it too continues forever. We know that the light from distant stars and galaxies reaches us hundreds of millions of years after it has been emitted. This is why we say they are millions of light years away. If it can endure for that long, there is no a priori reason for supposing that it cannot endure forever. Now if this is true for light, a particular band on the electromagnetic spectrum, it must also be true for all the other forms of electromagnetic radiation that fill the universe. This suggests that the universe is interconnected, not just as a plenum of gravitational fields, but also as a plenum of electromagnetic fields.

But there is more. There is something in physics called “Mach’s Principle”. Although it is quite technical, it can be expressed colloquially as “all matter is generated by all the other matter of the universe”. This implies that not only is all the matter of the universe wholly interconnected, it owes its very existence to this connectedness. To make this personal, you and I exist only because everything else exists. As Arthur Koestler pointed out in his book Janus: A Summing Up, the metaphysical implications of this are profound: “....for it follows from it not only that the universe as a whole influences local terrestrial events, but also that local events have an influence, however small, on the universe as a whole.” One of the many implications of this is that everything we feel, think, say and do has an influence, however small, on everything else in the universe. The converse is also true. Although the effects may be very small, we are influenced every second of the day by everything that happens in the universe. But the story does not end here. There is “non-locality”.

“Non-locality” is the term used in science to describe the relationship retained between two sub-atomic particles after they have interacted in some way. However distant they move from each other after their interaction, an instantaneous relationship is retained between them. Whenever something happens to one of the pair, the other is immediately affected, even if it is on the far side of the galaxy. The normal limitations of the speed of light do not apply. This has been confirmed experimentally over decades. I have long believed that non-locality is not restricted to the world of sub-atomic particles. My reasoning is as follows: although the strength of the gravitational force weakens with distance, it is nonetheless instantaneous. Unlike light, it does not take any time for gravity to travel any distance. Everything, however big or small, is instantly connected to everything else by gravity. This suggests that instantaneous connection, regardless of distance, operates at all levels from the sub-atomic to the supergalactic.

I believe that non-locality applies not only to inanimate things, such as particles and galaxies, but also to us. When two people interact, an instantaneous relationship is retained between them, possibly forever. When something happens to one of them, or when they think or feel or do something, the other is immediately affected. This is not to suggest that we notice these non-local effects on us. Far from it. The effects are normally far below our normal level of perception. But I do believe that total connectedness is a fact of our lives and that it explains our intuitive knowing, as well as what we like to think of as “coincidences”. Telepathy, precognition, astrological correlation, and intuition, at present without any scientific explanation, may turn out to be signs of non-locality, because they are all examples of instant connectedness without any apparent physical cause. And if total connectedness is a basic feature of the universe, then perhaps we should prepare ourselves for it becoming a basic feature of our lives too. We may one day be able to connect to others and the world, without the need for technology, regardless of how far away they are. There’s a book to be written here, I think!

Let’s now explore some ways to improve your intuitive intelligence.

Capturing Significance

I lived near the Peak District in the North of England at a moment in my life when I was not sure what to do next. With time on my hands, I decided that the least I could do was to get fit. So, I started to run on the nearby hills. It was difficult at first. On the uphill stretches I could just about manage to jog slowly, with frequent stops to catch my breath. However, as the weeks passed, what had begun as an effort eventually became a pleasure. I was able to run continuously on routes that took me over high plateaux, with splendid views. I cannot recall ever being so fit and healthy.

It was during that time that something strange happened. I noticed that I became unusually creative each time I ran uphill. I was filled with thoughts and ideas that felt very significant. The experience was so powerful that I got into the habit of carrying paper and pen, so that I could capture these moments of significance. In fact, some of these thoughts have found their way into this book! However, something unexpected occurred. Ideas that had felt important as I ran uphill lost their feeling of importance when I was going downhill. This happened every time, and I have no explanation for it. But I learned not to discard my notes, even though they seemed to mean much less when I got back home. Almost invariably, their sense of importance returned after a few days.

A typical intuitive experience includes the feeling that something unusual and significant is happening. You probably know what I mean. But, just as typical, that feeling often fades, with the possible consequence that we forget about it, and do not act on it. Yet nothing is insignificant. Everything means something. 

This is why I think it important that you find a way to capture moments of significance, just as I did with pen and paper on the hills.

Unzipping the Files

Another thing I learned to do in my hill-running days was how to “unzip the files”. More often than not, the fascinating new ideas came to me in a flood, all at once. It was too much to remember, too much to write down. Years later, when computers and email became part of our lives, I realised that the flood of information I received when running uphill was the equivalent of receiving a zipped file. As you know, this is a way of sending a lot of information quickly. When we receive it, we then have to unzip it, to make sense of its contents. I assume that we all have this kind of experience from time to time, when we are suddenly filled with a lot of information, too much to process normally. I believe that this is typical of the intuitive experience. 

My first reaction was to try to write down all of it. But the thoughts came in faster than I could write. So, I started to carry a small pocket recorder, on the basis that my voice could record faster than my hand. But that did not work either. There was still too much to record. In fact, the solution came as a surprise. I found that it was not necessary to record everything. I learned that it was sufficient to record only the “headlines”. Although I was concerned that, by doing this, I would lose some important ideas forever, I need not have worried. I discovered that the “headlines” were enough to recall the detail, and that I could do this even after an interval of a few days. These days, I am very confident about this. 

It does not matter how important any new thought or information feels, it is always enough just to record a summary.

Suspending the Rational

Nothing I am about to say should give you the impression that I think there is anything wrong with the rational mind. Although I think we are sometimes too intellectual for our own good, I consider the rational mind to be one of our most wonderful human attributes. It enables us to do things that (apparently) only human beings can do – read and write; create all kinds of marvellous technology; and discover a vast amount of knowledge. I think you will agree, however, that there are times when the rational mind gets in the way. For example, we have a sudden intuition about something. For a few moments, it feels important and true. And then, almost immediately, we start analysing and editing. That is when doubt creeps in, and we may end up not acting on the intuition. How often have we said to ourselves “I knew that was right. Why didn’t I just do it?”

Perhaps you already do this. Perhaps you are already in the habit of trusting your first hunch and acting on it. If so, well and good. If not, if you analyse and edit too much, then could I suggest that you follow your first hunch whenever you get one, and just see what the results are. It may feel a little scary, as if you are stepping into the unknown and taking a risk. You may be surprised at how often it works or turns out to be true.

There Are No Coincidences

In 1952 the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote a short book entitled “Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle”. He made three important points. First, coincidences are happening all the time, probably more than we realise. Second, there is no rational explanation for them. And third, coincidences in our life are probably more significant than we might think. I agree with all three points. I believe that coincidences are happening all the time. It is just that we are not always aware of them. And it is true that we do not have good explanations for coincidences, but I suspect that one day we will, as we grow in consciousness, and as we discover more about the total connectedness of everything. As for Jung’s third point, what we make of the coincidences is a very personal matter. Personally, I take them very seriously.

I treat all coincidences as messages to me. I assume they are trying to tell me something important. The trick, of course, is to learn how to interpret the message. This does not come easy, because coincidences often make no sense, at least not to the rational mind. However, it gets much easier to interpret them once we accept that everything is trying to tell us something. We can think of coincidences as a special form of the clues that Sherlock Holmes was so adept and spotting and deciphering. Expressing this more generally, Nature always responds to our questions, but only in the precise terms of the questions. She makes herself available to us when we ask something of her. But I think it goes beyond this. I think that Nature is constantly making herself available to us, whether we are asking something of her or not. To express this as a general principle, everything is always telling us something, and sometimes that comes in the form of a coincidence. Holmes knew this well and used it to great advantage. 

What about you? Are you willing to believe it and make good use of it?

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