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The Difference Between Thought and Intuition

old camera with filmYour mind operates by going through cyclical patterns. Once you think about one concern, you move on to the next; once you go through that one, you’ll move on to the next – until you’re back at the first concern, or similar.

Thoughts are generated “semi-automatically” at the mental level. This means that, much like breathing, you can momentarily take control over what you’re thinking; but when you lose your conscious focus over your own thoughts, they’ll still be generated on their own. You may also find it difficult to try not thinking – much like if you tried not to breathe.

When your mind is generating thoughts, let’s say, “autonomously”, the kind of thoughts that are generated largely depend on what your mind is programmed, or “used to”, thinking. Repetition, and the way you charge your thoughts with emotion, programs your mind. If you’re thinking repeatedly about a particular subject, and/or with a certain emotional charge, your mind will take that momentum and repeat the same kinds of thoughts, with the same kind of emotional tone, until further notice from you. For example, if you are professionally trained in seeking flaws or problems in situations, your mind may keep perceiving life that way by default, even if it’s not necessary or adequate, making you constantly focus on one problem after the next. Acquired mental patterns can be very difficult to disengage, because they gain momentum and can build up across years and decades.

The mind is also extremely malleable and vulnerable to absorb external input, taking it as programming. For example, when you listen to a music that you enjoy, and then that music repeatedly plays in your head; or, when you’re watching a TV series, and long after leaving the TV your mind is still mulling over the show’s issues and drama. Have you ever listened to someone speaking, and that person has an accent, and then you start speaking with that same accent? Have you ever found yourself switching from one side of a debate to the next upon hearing each person speak? You can of course make your own mind about subjects; but your mind is extremely vulnerable and frail when it comes to block external input.

It’s often said your brain can’t make the distinction between reality and fiction, and that your subconscious mind absorbs everything and never forgets anything. Your mind is like a computer that automatically programs itself with whatever input it receives.

Intuition is different. One of the key differences between intuition and “regular” thought is that intuitive insight is not cyclical (at least not like the mind-based thought). You get an intuitive insight once, and most likely before the main thought activity starts taking place i.e. before you start thinking about something. You might get the same insight in the future, but it doesn’t repeat itself like regular mental activity – it disengages. You get it, and then it stops. In fact, it may seem to have a “will of its own”, popping up on its own accord.

Intuition is information that “comes down” from your Spiritual layer into your Mental layer (see chart, third column from the left). The mental layer is divided into two: the upper and the lower. The upper is an intermediary, a “translator”, between the spiritual layer above and the lower mental layer below. In turn, the lower mental is where your rational thoughts, your logical reasoning, and the construct of your ego, are generated and reside.

Intuition is a kind of thought also, simply not one generated by the mind, but merely “translated” by it. As a human you always have a mind, and everything you perceive and experience must in some way be “filtered” in terms of mental perception. So another difference between intuition and (regular) thought, is that in general terms the first does not originate at the mental level, while the second does.

The upper mental handles “meta-thoughts”, in other words thoughts that are less about inference, logic, and reasoning, and more about overall perspectives, big picture kind of thought, and also about creativity. The upper layer thinks outside the box, being the “box” the lower layer. The upper is less concerned about minutia, certainties, and reaching conclusions, and more about simply knowing reality.

Intuition mostly comes into play when you (your mind) don’t or can’t know, understand, predict, or control something – both in the larger and smaller subjects. What weather is it going to make, what shampoo will work best, is this business deal going to work out or not, is this relationship going to work or not.

You might know for sure something that is perfectly clear to you, say, that your car is painted blue. You know your car is blue. It’s a fact. There’s no room for arguing there. The issue is when you don’t know something, either because it has yet to happen, or because you simply can’t access all the information.

In these circumstances your mind will be tempted to infer, extrapolate, use logic, reasoning, assume, debate and argument with others, and reach best-possible beliefs, and a degree of peace. But the mind can never reach a state of knowing, where the distance between perception and truth is zero – at least not until the moment the event actually happens, or the complete spectrum of information is revealed.

Believing is not the same degree of perception than knowing. With belief there is a degree of distance between the mental concept and the actual truth; with knowing, this distance is reduced to a minimum. If your car is blue, you don’t “believe” your car to be blue, it just is (you know).

Intuition works only with knowing. This is another key difference regarding regular thought. While the mind forms beliefs, and attempts to cope and handle what isn’t known for certain, intuition feels like knowing – where the distance from perspective to truth is zero.

Intuition is input that comes from the Spiritual layer, from which you have access to more information – including future potentials – than what you have at the mental/logic level. At this level, a thing either is, or isn’t. Truth is apparent. There is no need to process, reason, or debate, since things just are. It is also not emotional. You might react emotionally once you acknowledge the intuitive information, but the thought itself does not carry emotional charge.

Intuition “filters down” best when your lower mental layer isn’t agitated or busy processing a stream of its own thoughts, but instead it’s receptive and open to detect input from the upper mental and spiritual layers. That is why intuition seems to flow better if your mind is still and quiet. You can’t discern the sound of birds chirping outside if you have a trumpet blasting away right next to your ears. You need a quiet mind to listen to Spirit.

In order to quiet your own mind, it works best if you simply relax and quiet yourself. To calm down the waters of a tank, all you do is to keep it still. You can interpret this as meditation, and indeed meditation seeks to connect yourself better with your spiritual nature. But it works if you just lay down and stay quiet and relaxed for a few moments.

If your mind is agitated, trying to control your own thoughts is usually not very useful, because most likely it will be your mind trying to control itself. Controlling your thoughts is just another form of exerting control and effort – thus the tank is never still. Instead, what you do is to choose to abstract from your mind, and give out the intention to relax and be still, using whatever method works for you.

The mind exists so you can properly focus on your own self, one thing at a time, and give you a structured tool to live in the difficult realm of matter. Intuition exists to transmit you accurate insights to assist you in this process, and also, to remind you that you are not your mind, but a being whose true nature is spiritual.

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  • Lady Galaxy

    Very well written article Nuno. I think as a society, people tend to overvalue their mind over intuition and “rational” decisions take precedence. It explains the imbalance and frustrations many people experience in their life. It’s kinda like living with your eyes closed. When I don’t listen to my intuition and make fear-based decisions (deciding with my mind rather than my spirit) I am denying my true self. In the long-run, this leads to a TON of problems and internal battles, anxiety, depression, etc.

    When I listen to my intuition and let it guide me, I am putting trust in myself and the confidence to take responsibility.

    • “When I don’t listen to my intuition and make fear-based decisions (deciding with my mind rather than my spirit) I am denying my true self. In the long-run, this leads to a TON of problems and internal battles, anxiety, depression, etc.”

      Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

  • Phyllis

    The mind exists so you can properly focus on your own self, one thing at a time, it gives you a structured tool for living in the difficult realm of matter. Intuition exists to transmit to you accurate insights that assist you in this process, and also, to remind you that you are not your mind, but a being whose true nature is spiritual.

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