Following Intuition can be a tricky thing, as it is much more subtle than listening to the ramblings of the mind. However, we all experience profound moments that change the course of our life forever. For me, it occurred while in college.
One night, I found myself standing in the bedroom of my first apartment, looking out the window while waiting for my girlfriend. I remember the experience well. It was my junior year and I had been dating my sweetheart (I’ll call her “Sandra”) for a little more than two years. Sandra was a lovely young woman with long straight blonde hair and a slender figure. She was studying to become an elementary school teacher and fit the bill to a tee. She was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I had ever met.
Sandra had asked if I would mind if she went to dinner with an old boyfriend (I will refer to as “Erik”). While I didn’t like the idea, I also didn’t want to be one of those possessive boyfriends who confined his partner to his own belief of how she should or should not act. At the time, I lived in a downstairs apartment, while Sandra lived upstairs. Consequently, I would know when she returned. It had already been several hours and I began wondering what was taking so long. After all, how long does it take to eat dinner? I expected them to be back by then and was beginning to feel uncomfortable.
Listening to the Mind While Under Duress is a Mistake
I recall pacing the living room as another hour went by and the discomfort grew. I now heard the mind as it started to send messages, attempting to explain the discomfort. How disrespectful, it said. How could she treat me this way? I don’t deserve this. Nobody takes this long to eat dinner. And on and on it went, attempting to make meaning of this really uncomfortable situation.
Then another hour went by and the discomfort grew to anger. The mind responded, How dare her! Who does she think she is? Why would she put me through this? This is what I get for trying to be a good boyfriend. When she gets back I’m going to tell her what I think about the way she is treating me. I’ll never agree to something like this again!
As the mind sent these messages, I paced back and forth. I walked into the living room, back to the bedroom to look out the window, and then back into the living room again. Nothing seemed to help. The body was in the middle of an emotional storm and the mind continued to send messages in attempt to explain what was going on. However, every thought was like adding more kindling to the fire growing from within.
Mixed Messages Are From the Ego
Then another couple hours passed. It had been over six hours now and the anger turned to fear. The mind began sending new messages. What happened? Did they get in an accident? Is she stranded alongside the road somewhere? What do I do? I have no idea where they went so I couldn’t begin to know where to look!
After being mentally tormented by the mind for another hour, Sandra finally returned. To make matters worse, she and Erik remained in the car for some time. I stood by the window watching in disbelief. What is she doing? Why are they just sitting there? Are they just sitting there? Why isn’t she getting out of the car? As the mind sent these thoughts, the fear turned back into anger. The longer they sat there, the angrier I became.
Then I watched as the two of them got out of the car and headed upstairs to Sandra’s apartment. The anger turned into rage and it was more than I could take. A few minutes later I found himself walking up the stairs toward the apartment that held, at least what I perceived to be, the catalyst to the inner turmoil. I shoved the door open, barged inside, and stared down my bewildered girlfriend, pointing to the shadowy figure standing off to the side and screamed, “Get him out of here right now or I will throw him off the balcony!” And I meant it!
Powerful Emotions Distort Truth
I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. In fact, upon reflection, I had no idea what Erik looked like, and still don’t. Fortunately, for all parties concerned, Erik left immediately and the potential catastrophe was averted. Needless to say, Sandra and I had a long talk that night. We ended up breaking off the relationship for a while, attempting to come to grips with what had happened.
Sandra explained that the reason they took so long while they were out was that, after dinner, they had gone to see the movie “Out of Africa,” which was nearly three hours long. She had no idea I would be waiting for her. Further, it was before cell phones existed, so she felt no need to go out of her way to try and make a phone call. I knew that Sandra was not the kind of person to cheat on me and believed her story. After all, she had never given me reason to doubt her, either before or after the incident. Why had I gotten so out of control?
Now I realize I was following the mind rather than intuition. After all, I knew Sandra was not the kind of person to cheat on me, but the mind talked me into a different belief. Jealousy was a frightening part of my personality that I did not want in my life. Who knows what might have happened if Erik chose to act differently? What would have happened had he decided to confront me instead of leave? I know I was serious, and I know I had enough rage inside to follow through with the threat. If we were to have gotten into a confrontation, I had enough powerful energy surging through my body that I could have severely injured or even killed the guy. No doubt that would have drastically changed the direction of my life.
Finding the Middle Way
I now know that our inner feelings are meant to guide us in the same way our outer feelings do. The sense receptors on our skin help us to determine the temperature of our environment, the hot and cold of the objects around us, enabling us to find a place of comfort near the middle, the place of warmth. Similarly, our inner feelings act as a guidance system to our authentic self, allowing us to find, as Buddha put it, the “middle way,” where we can witness the emotions without becoming them.
The psychological self will turn this simple hot and cold system into a complex network of differentiated emotions as a means of explaining the entire event. In turn, the intuitive powers of the authentic self become lost in a cloud of confusion. Our minds are supposed to help us discern reality from falsehood. Paradoxically, the more we use our minds to think about the meaning of different life experiences, the more we color the truth of reality with our beliefs and expectations of what it “should” be.
So, if we were to go with the wisdom of the Buddha, and walk through life under the premise of the middle way, then we would use our inner feelings as a guidance system to direct the mind/body through life. We simply move toward that which feels right and away from that which feels wrong. Then, the authentic self would be allowed to express itself in accordance with the laws of the Universe.
Learning How to Follow Intuition
The phrase, “let your conscience be your guide” is another way of saying we must learn to follow our intuition. Intuition comes before thinking, not as a result of it. We must learn to use the hot and cold system of feelings in order to act in accordance with the authentic self. In turn, we will learn to transcend the psychological self and avoid the suffering that comes with it. Then we will live a life of peace and joy.
Of course, we must become accustomed to living this way. It may take more life events in some than in others before being able to communicate effectively with the authentic self. Others might catch on rather quickly. Eventually, anyone can learn how to follow the guidance of the soul. The key is to first open the mind, thereby giving the idea a chance, and to remain aware and alert to hear the higher self speak. Once we know it is possible, we must consistently observe the feelings before acting on them. The more we do this one thing, the more we will understand the messages delivered by the authentic self.