Intuition and Intellect
To understand how the spirit uses the brain to reveal itself in matter, it is essential to be conscious of the fact that because of their difference in kind, the spirit and the brain also possess different faculties.
The capabilities of a tool are indeed always dependent on its particular characteristics; that is why we must distinguish what emanates from the spirit, which is non-material in nature: the intuition, from what emanates from the material brain: the intellect. The intuition is an immediate experiencing of things, one that is not the fruit of reasoning. The intuitive faculties enable us immediately to feel inwardly what is actually happening or in process, the solution to a problem or how to act for the best in a given situation. This feeling bursts forth spontaneously from the depths of our being, for intuitive knowledge is not a foreign element in us, not something on which we must work in order to obtain something. It is an integral part of our capacity as spirit-beings.
The knowledge of the intellect, on the other hand, is not spontaneous but produced. It is not an integral part of us, but is stored up in us. It necessitates learning the fundamentals, thus their classification and memorisation and, for these to be made readily accessible, reflection, analysis and deduction on the part of the brain. Self-observation can easily show up the difference that exists between these two faculties. Sometimes, we intuitively feel the answer to a question, or the solution to a problem. The answer or solution impresses itself on us as an obvious fact, even though we cannot explain how it came to us or why we consider it to be right. On the other hand, the solution to a problem costs us mental exertion when obtained from reflection and analysis. It is only after having dissected the situation, examined each part of the problem in detail and reflected on each of its aspects that, by deduction, it becomes possible for us to find a solution. This solution, being the fruit of reasoning, can then be explained logically and precisely.
The same goes for the knowledge that we can have of someone’s character and real worth. When the intuition is active, the few moments of even a brief meeting are sufficient to give us a perfect assessment of the nature of the person we are dealing with. Against this first, quick and often inexplicable impression, one must contrast the pondering of the intellect. The latter, after many detours, arrives at often uncertain conclusions, later usually disproved. The accuracy of the first impression is thus confirmed, the first impression which the popular adage describes as “always right”. At first sight, the intuitive faculty and the intellectual faculty would appear to be irreconcilable, because their characteristics are the opposite of each other. In reality, though, they are complementary, and it is only thanks to their combined actions that they permit the human being incarnated on earth to achieve the greatest and most beautiful things it is capable of. Indeed, thanks to his intuitive faculty the human being is apt to take decisions conforming to the high spiritual values which he has within him, that is, just, principled, constructive decisions. He thus gives a correct orientation to his goals and projects.
However, owing to its non-material nature the spirit is not in a position to find out how to carry out its projects in matter. What is material is indeed of a different species from it and, consequently, of a species which it does not understand, on which it has no grasp. The material species is, on the other hand, compatible with the brain and its product - the intellect. The latter is therefore not only able, but is also the more competent, to understand and to act on what is material. Thanks to its faculty of analysis and reflection, as well as all the elements that it has assembled from observation, the intellect can find the best way to proceed in order to execute the decisions and projects of the spirit in the dense matter of the earthly plane.
The sequence of events is thus as follows: the spirit, with the help of its intuitive faculty, takes a decision. This decision is transmitted to the cerebellum (back-brain), then to the cerebrum (frontal brain). The latter works on it, in order to “realise” or make it manifest materially; which happens through the movement of one or other parts of the body. Having said this, and before looking in more detail at the differences between intuition and intellect, let us see with the help of the knowledge provided in the Grail Message, the surprising path that the intuition takes in being transmitted from the spirit to the brain. In a chapter dealing with the intuition (Volume 2, Lecture 70), we read: “The activity of the human spirit awakens intuitive perception within the solar plexus, thereby simultaneously making an impression upon the cerebellum. It is the effect of the spirit, that is, a wave of power issuing from the spirit. Man naturally perceives this wave in that spot where the spirit within the soul is connected with the body – in the centre of the so-called solar plexus, which passes on the wave to the cerebellum where it creates an impression.”
The solar plexus
The gateway for the intuition, the point where the spirit is linked with the body, is thus the solar plexus! This is an unusual item of information which, despite its unusualness, does not contradict current knowledge of the solar plexus and the nervous system.
A plexus is where a set of nerves join to form a sort of little power station and where they communicate between themselves, whereas normally each nerve is separate from the others and works in isolation. The solar plexus is situated at the pit of the stomach. In it join the nerves which connect the liver, the pancreas, the kidneys, the stomach and the intestines. It belongs to the autonomic nervous system, of which we have not yet spoken, and which has the task of regulating the organic life: respiration, circulation, digestion and so on. The autonomic nervous system is distinct from the central nervous system which has the task of transporting the sensory influx and the motor signals.
The strongly receptive nature of the solar plexus is visible anatomically. In contrast to the cerebrum, the grey matter of the plexuses is located at the centre and the white matter on the outside. The white matter comprises nerve fibres, that is, extensions of cells, whose task is the reception and transmission of an influx. The grey substance is made up of the cellular bodies themselves, whose task is not reception or transmission, but elaboration. Thus, the solar plexus is, above all, anatomically speaking, an organ of reception.
Does a line of communication exist between it and the cerebellum? Yes. The solar plexus is placed between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. These two branches form one of the twelve pairs of cranial nerves which, in order to descend into the abdomen, cross the peduncles of … the cerebellum. The wave of power which the solar plexus receives from the spirit can therefore be transmitted to the cerebellum, as described in the preceding passage, since a direct path exists between the two. Apart from the anatomical reasons cited above, the experience of each one of us also shows that it is completely plausible for the solar plexus to be the gateway from the spirit. Actually the strong impressions that the spirit transmits — joy, alarm, love — and, which being formed, we feel in our body, we do not feel at the mental level, in the cerebrum, but right inside the pit of the stomach, at the solar plexus. Numerous common expressions testify to this feeling: when someone is scared, it is said that he has fear in the belly or that he has a knotted stomach; if he lacks courage: that he has no stomach for it. Still in relation to courage, to fortify themselves, to gather strength to face up to an ordeal, some people take a strong drink to give themselves “fire in the belly”. The belly is mentioned – sometimes the heart: “having a shock” for example – but not the head or brain (cerebrum). Yet these organs – heart and stomach – are not actually concerned. It only happens that that they are situated in the proximity of the solar plexus. It is also significant that, of all the body’s plexuses, the emotions are always connected with the solar plexus, but never with another.
The intuitive perception we have of the task of the plexus as entrance door of the ego into the body, reveals itself also in an unconscious gesture which everybody makes when questioned. In order to check whether it is really us, we cry out “who, me?” with the hand spontaneously directed towards… the pit of the stomach, that is to say, our solar plexus, and not towards our head, our brain.
After this little digression on the solar plexus, let us return to the process the spirit uses to make impressions upon the brains: “In accordance with the specific nature of the various impressions received, the cerebellum, like a photographic plate, forms a picture of the process as willed by the spirit or as created with the strong power of the spirit through its volition. A picture without words! The frontal brain takes over this picture and seeks to describe it in words, thereby generating thoughts which then find expression in language … Thus the spoken word is the resultant effect of pictures transmitted through the frontal brain! The latter can also direct the course of the effect towards the organs of locomotion instead of the organs of speech, whereby words are replaced by writing or action.” (Volume 2, Lecture 70)
The spirit’s intuitive will is of a spiritual nature. By means of the solar plexus, it is transmitted as an energy-wave to the cerebellum, which forms a picture from it. This picture is then picked up and condensed by the frontal brain into terrestrially usable notions: thoughts and words. Here again, an unusual piece of knowledge is given to us, namely that before we think or speak, the intuitive will of the spirit manifests in picture-form. And what is more, a picture without words. Are there any known facts that would confirm such an affirmation? Yes, there are. Dreams are among these.
When we dream, we are not aware of our earthly surroundings, because the frontal brain is resting. What we thus experience does not take place through the frontal brain and day consciousness, but is experienced or perceived by the spirit. Now how do dreams come about? Above all: in the form of pictures. The visual nature of dreams must be strongly emphasised, because, of our five senses, it is that of vision that predominates in dreams.
We dream above all in pictures. Does this mean that sounds and words are excluded from dreams? Although certain dreams are associated with words, there is a category of dreams called R.E.M., in which no word is uttered. The R.E.M. phases of sleep are special periods, only a few minutes long, which are repeated 5 or 6 times a night. The designation of R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) originates from the fact that during these periods the eyes carry out very rapid movements beneath the closed eyelids. R.E.M. dreams are characterised by great intensity and clarity, and the absence of words. Certain people have been able to experience this of themselves. In their dream, they carried out a long conversation with someone, all of a sudden realising that no one has spoken. The conversation had taken place silently, through a direct exchange, without words! Albert Einstein, whose theories upset all the prevailing notions of the universe, felt that thought processes were above all based on the ability to see in pictures. The theory of relativity, in which he demonstrates how measurements are affected by gravity and movement, dawned on him at the age of 16, as he sought to visualise what effects one could experience if one rode a light beam advancing through the universe. Seeing in pictures was more important to him than the intellectual knowledge which uses words.
Moreover, impoverished intellectual activity does not appear to be incompatible with a rich inner life, as suggested by the admittedly extreme cases of the mentally retarded. A significant case in point is that of the sculptor Alonzo Clemons, an African-American with an IQ of no more than 40, the residue of a head injury suffered as a toddler, (the average IQ being 100, that of the moron 50 - 85 the imbecile 30 - 50). He can only count up to 10 with difficulty, and his vocabulary comprises only a few words. He cannot express himself correctly in sentences, but communicates in a telegraphic style. Yet, this sculptor can model clay statues — especially animals — with complete accuracy. The muscles, tendons, manes, and so on are rendered with great precision and full of life. For that, he only needs to look briefly at the model. His work then takes off without the latter, entirely by means of pictures which he has recorded within himself and which he then reproduces with so much accuracy.
Another case of imbeciles displaying a surprising capacity to function with pictures, despite their almost total intellectual incapacity, is that of the English twins, Charles and George. They became famous during the 1960s for their ability to juggle with the dates and days of the calendar. This gift appeared to have been developed in their youth through the study of a perpetual calendar. Although unable to multiply 3 by 6 – they could not even comprehend the difference between multiplication and division – yet they could say what day of the week corresponded to any date from up to 40,000 years ago to 40,000 years into the future. They were equally capable of stating the date of Easter for each year of the same period of 80,000 years!
Their manifest arithmetic incapacity excluded any possibility of obtaining the dates by calculation like certain prodigies at mental calculation. On the contrary, with the twins Charles and George, it was noted that when they looked for a date, their eyes moved or stared in a peculiar way into space, as though they were unrolling and looking at an internal directory. This ability to see manifested equally in another way. When one day a box of matches spilled and its contents were scattered on the floor, simultaneously both twins immediately cried out “111”. When counted, the spilled matches were indeed 111 in total. When asked how they could count the matches so quickly, they replied that they had not counted them, but that they had seen 111 matches!
The ability to work in pictures, hence by seeing rather than by the reflecting that the intellect does, is thus an ability of which we know little, but which is completely real and effective. The two preceding examples hint at the reality. That we can think without words is moreover not something which is that strange to us. Try to visualise what happens when a word is “at the tip of your tongue". We seek to express something. We know exactly what it is. Inside us the picture is clear, but it is impossible to verbalise it. Does not that prove that thoughts and words are two distinct things? And that to pass from one to the other a process of transformation or densification is necessary? Indeed if thought and word were identical, we would never need to look for a word, for it would be there at the same time as the thought. For a long time, the belief was held that thought was inseparable from language and that “what could not be said, and said well, did not exist” (Paul Valery).
The example of aphasiacs shows, however, that this is not the case. If these persons lose their ability to express themselves or to understand the spoken language, they do not at the same time lose their thinking faculty. Numerous aphasiac mathematicians, chemists or physicists continue to work and to solve problems which arise in their professional activity.
That thought does not necessarily imply words and speech is also demonstrated by the existence of numerous visual languages created almost everywhere in the world to enable the deaf and dumb to communicate. These languages obviously use no words, but only visual signs. The latter are accomplished with the help of the hands and the arms, as well as by body movements and facial expressions. All these languages have their own ‘grammar’ and allow for, quite as well as the spoken language, expression with flexibility, finesse and precision about everyday events just as much as about the most abstract questions. The deaf and dumb are thus able to have an internal life and to think, without using words. This possibility exists, moreover, before the learning of one gestural language or the other. The cognitive life of a deaf and dumb infant is not non-existent. It does not lead a vegetative life, but acts, reacts and takes an interest in its environment like all children. There is thus something within us that transcends the means of expression and communication that we use in matter (words, signs…). This finer faculty, which has its origin in our spirit, is the intuition. It follows that, contrary to customary belief, thinking or reasoning do not depend on our having established words, grammar and logical rules, but it is the opposite that takes place. Words and grammar comply with the innate way of working of the spirit. Human spirits all have the same place of origin: the spiritual plane. The way of working of these spirits is thus similar. It follows that the world’s different tongues – 5,000 languages and over 20,000 dialects – are no arbitrary creations, each different from and having no connection with the others, but they possess the same basic structure. The linguistic researches of Chomsky, Bickerton, and so on, confirm this fact. They show that despite their apparent diversity, all languages are based on a common grammar. This grammar is found everywhere the human being creates a language. It is identical with the spoken language as well as the sign language of the deaf and dumb. One finds it also in the Creole languages: new languages created spontaneously by people of varied origins who are compelled to live together. For example, the African slaves of different cultures transported to sugar cane plantations. Despite the large number of Creole languages – there are more than 350 in the world – all present an almost identical grammar, as if they all had a common thread.
Thus the innate need of the spirit to express what he has inside him is fulfilled at any cost by inventing a language. But varied as the resulting languages are, they are only condensations of something which precedes and transcends them: the language of the spirit. The passage from the intuitive experience to pictures, then to words, thoughts and intellectual reasoning, materialises in the dividing up of the brain centres responsible for these transformations. Indeed, in the rear part of the brain, directly beside the cerebellum, is the occipital lobe, the centre of vision. A little more to the front (Broca zone in the upward frontal lobe) is located the centre of the spoken language. Still further to the front, the frontal cortex is the centre of abstract reasoning and elaboration of action-plans. Thus, first pictures, then intellectual reasoning, then words, (arguments)!
As it has been described, the process concerns the information that the spirit has communicated to the cerebrum. It is, however, obvious that it is the opposite route that is taken when the cerebrum has received some information on the earthly situation and sends it to the spirit. The words and thoughts produced by the frontal brain are conducted to the cerebellum, which transforms them into pictures (images). The latter would then be communicated to the spirit by an energy wave originating in the cerebellum and transmitted to the spirit by way of the solar plexus.
The transformation of words and thoughts into pictures is a process that we experience every day, but which we are generally not aware of. For example, each time we read, the words are transformed internally into pictures. When we read a novel, the words quickly become blurred, giving way to an inner film, that is, to a succession of pictures which spring up before the inner eye along with the reading of the text. The pictures of the intuition are easier to receive during the night, as happens during R.E.M. dreams. The quite natural reason for this is that, during sleep, contrary to what happens during the day, the field of our consciousness is not occupied by pictures of the external reality that the eyes transmit to us. For this reason, during the daytime the intuitions reach us in a more accessible form, that is, slightly condensed. It is no longer a question of pictures, but a feeling or words, words that we “hear” internally. This small inner voice that speaks to us is what is commonly called “the voice of our conscience”. (Conscience literally means knowledge from within.)
The descriptive term “voice of conscience” expresses the fact that what conscience we have of what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, just or unjust, resides in our spirit. Our brain (cerebrum) is indeed incapable of grasping these notions. They correspond to higher values which are alien to it.
To appreciate this, just imagine what would happen if one had to enter into a computer the notion of justice, or of beauty. How does one proceed? Must one enter all the human laws, conventions and rules? Even allowing for it to have assimilated them, it would never be in a position to render justice. It would further be necessary to inform it of all the special situations and mitigating circumstances, or those not to be taken into account, in order to rule on a case equitably. As all parents experience daily with their children, being equitable is something that can be accomplished by very dissimilar actions and decisions in identical situations. Without knowing all the worldly laws, each human spirit is nevertheless capable of sensing what is just or unjust. Laborious studies are unnecessary; it is something innate which one bears within oneself, in the spirit. Like the notion of justice, the notion of beauty cannot be input to a computer. Even if the latter were instructed on the laws of proportion and the harmony of colours, on the golden section, and so on, it would be incapable – supposing it could see – of saying whether something is beautiful or ugly, without having taken lessons to learn it and without knowing the most basic laws of beauty taught in the art schools. In speaking about feeling, we have reached another form in which the intuition materialises in order to become perception in the brain. In addition to pictures, dreams or the voice of the conscience, the intuition can also be felt purely as a strong impression which makes us absolutely convinced about one thing or the other. It manifests in us for very simple things as well as for very important matters. When we leave for work in the morning, for example, a strong prompting can rise in us to take an umbrella, even though no sign of imminent rain is evident: it is sunny, the sky is blue and the weather forecast is good. Generally, in the absence of validating signs, the intellect rejects the intuition received, for it sees no good reason for taking an umbrella on a dry day. When, to everyone’s surprise, it suddenly starts to rain, the umbrella is not available, to the great discomfort of whoever has to struggle unprotected against the downpour! Here some might wonder if the reverse can happen, too, and then reason triumphs. No. Only a decision reached from imagination, which still arises from activity of the intellect, can bring such about.
More serious events, even tragic ones, are also subject to warnings by the intuition. From time to time, we read accounts of this in the media. People who have miraculously escaped a plane crash, or a train collision, relate how as they were about to board the train or aeroplane they perceived very strongly an intuition urging them not to, and without any material reason to justify such a refusal.
The spirit, thanks to its more extensive potentiality, can not only protect us from dangers, but equally can permit us to be more creative than is possible with only our intellect. The latter can only link one item of information to another in trying to discover something new or different, which is not at all the case for the spirit. Scientists consider creativity and the flash of genius to be the result of intense working by the brain (cerebrum). Its numerous centres set to work simultaneously, exchanging data, stimulating each other, collaborating in the production of something they would never have been able to achieve in isolation. Based on this understanding of the process, a technique of spontaneous production of innovative ideas was developed in the fifties, called brain-storming. This technique consists of bringing several people together, submitting some problem or the other to them, and inviting them to put into words all the ideas that occur to them, no matter how hare-brained they may seem. Neither criticisms nor comments are permitted during the session, so as to avoid any inhibition of spontaneity. The goal is to promote stimulation between the brains of the different participants, so as to reproduce on a larger scale what takes place in the individual brain which creates. The number of ideas produced through this technique is indeed very impressive. In some cases, up to 100 ideas in three-quarters of an hour. However, evaluations have revealed that the ideas obtained in this way are in the end not as good as, in any case a lot less than, the ideas obtained from isolated individuals. The need to be isolated is mentioned by numerous artists as one of the conditions needed for the expression of their creativity. The reason for this is that, to have the inspiration, it is necessary to reduce external stimulations, so that the spirit will not be disturbed by them through the brain, and can then concentrate entirely on what it longs for. Such a state is obviously a lot easier to attain in solitude. The spirit is thus entirely receptive to the intuitions which can come to him and which, in this case are called inspiration.
Concerning inspirations received by artists, Max Bruch (1838-1920), the German composer, explained during an interview: “They are marvellous revelations. I have often thought about them, but even now, and only for the first time, do I learn the details of the hidden internal processes of the soul of famous composers during the performance of their works. When a composer creates a work of lasting value, he finds himself confronting this eternal force, the source of all life, from which he draws. Yet I have observed that it is advisable to obey certain rules, two of the most important being solitude and concentration. Brahms was right when he declared that he must be absolutely alone and that nobody should disturb him. It is in silence that the composer must await instruction from a power higher than his reasoning. When he is able to find connection with this power, he becomes a projector which transforms the infinite and the invisible into the world of the visible, or else, for a composer, into the world of the audible… It is from this same power that Bach, Mozart and Beethoven drew, and all composers are dependent on it if they want to create something of value. He who consciously opens himself to this inner power will be inspired; however, he must be adequately equipped technically in order to be able to put the ideas suggested onto paper in a convincing way.” (Extract from Arthur M. Abell: “Talks with Great Composers”, Replica Books.)
The end of the quotation strongly emphasises the necessity of the collaboration between the faculties of the spirit and the brain. The latter is indispensable in order to permit the material fulfilment of the intuition. Indeed the most beautiful melodies, or the most beautiful pictures, received by the spirit of artists could never take form on earth if there were not a composer or a painter capable of transposing them into matter!
Inspiration and intuition are, however, not a peculiarity of the artist. Scientists too benefit from it. The stories – probably more mythical than real – of Archimedes who, while taking a bath, discovers why bodies float on water, or of Newton, inspired by a falling apple to discover the law of gravity, are well known. The accuracy of the intuition which Poincaré, the brilliant mathematician, had, made such strong impression on him that he did not check the result until much later. When he tried to explain what had happened to him he affirmed that, for him, the solution had not been the result of a scientific judgment, but that he had “sensed” the evidence of the solution as “an aesthetic judgment, founded on the intrinsic sense of beauty”; aesthetic judgment or sense of beauty which, as we have seen, are attributes of the spirit.
The intuition can appear like something always instantaneous; it is nevertheless also in a position to extend in time. This is the case, for example, when an artist is inspired. In this connection the story is told that one of the great poets of the 20th Century, the German Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), wrote in 18 days not only his Elegies but also his 55 Sonnets to Orpheus. These works are considered to be his finest poems. Altogether they comprise over 1,200 verses of an exceptional technique, and of which the greatest part was written in one go, without a single correction.
Against this quick and “easy” possibility of the spirit to produce great and beautiful works, one must weigh the often laborious work the intellect has to carry out to reach a result. The way Thomas Edison (1847-1931) discovered which metal was suitable for the manufacture of the filament of electric bulbs is an example of this. He tested hundreds of materials, one after the other, proceeding by trial and error and elimination, until he discovered the right one!