Question: What is intuition?
Eckhart Tolle: You could say that intuition is a kind of knowing, but you don’t know how you got there. You know something, but you don’t know by what path you’ve arrived at what you know. It’s a sudden arising of knowledge or knowing something, but “I don’t know how I know this”. What is at work here is non-conceptual intelligence, when intuition arises.
Intuition is not arrived at by thinking, not by logic. It’s arrived at in a way that we cannot explain. It is closely related to creativity and inspiration. Inspiration also comes from that place. It is given to you. [It is given to] all great artists, musicians, writers, and even great scientists who made deep discoveries that were revolutionary – like Einstein. Einstein had a ‘sense’ of his theory of relativity. Before he could fully prove it, he already knew it was true. It was intuition that came to him. Of course, he had done a lot of thinking before that happened.
Sometimes you have to do a lot of thinking, and then suddenly, thinking doesn’t get you anywhere anymore, and you stop thinking, and you go out and take a few deep breaths. Or you go out into nature and sit under a tree. And suddenly, intuition is there. Something you couldn’t have arrived at through thinking.
It’s vital for every human being to contact that place within, where intuition arises, because otherwise you are confined to the limitations of your conceptual mind.
Otherwise, your life is just repetitive, and no new ideas can come. If it’s a fresh and new idea, it comes from a place where all creativity arises – which ultimately, is the stillness within. That’s where intuition arises. If you can be still even for a moment, then there’s a possibility that some intuitive thing arises as a thought or as a spontaneous thing that you say, and you’ve surprised yourself. Maybe somebody needs your help or advice, and rather than thinking “I should be helping that person. What can I say next to help them?”, rather than that you just become still, listen, look. And suddenly you may find yourself saying something. It’s intuitive. Suddenly a deeper intelligence comes and uses your mind.
That’s what we call intuition. Realize that this is at the basis of all creative activities, all truly creative activities. Perception is something that comes from the outside, and intuition comes from the inner. It comes from you. It is essentially one with who you are, intelligence itself.
The easiest way to develop intuition is to develop the ability to be still at times. Rather than “trying” to develop intuition, go to the place where all intuition arises. You don’t need to worry about becoming more intuitive if you focus more on being still. Not necessarily for long periods of time, but have moments of stillness in your life, so that every day is interspersed with moments of stillness.
You could just close your eyes and take one or two deep breaths. Or you don’t even have to close your eyes, but while you’re listening or looking at somebody, feel yourself breathing. Feel the inner aliveness within your body.
If you are looking at your computer screen, look away for a moment, or close your eyes for a moment, and take one or two conscious breaths. It brings you to stillness.
Wherever you are, there are always opportunities for a moment of stillness. And that is vital, because otherwise your life is unbalanced. If you don’t find stillness, all you have is activity – one thing after another. And this covers up your potential intuitive faculty, continuously. Seek out moments of stillness. Even the busiest person can do it. If you’re driving home, or driving to work, every traffic light is an invitation to stillness. [There are] so many opportunities for stillness. Stillness is where intuition arises.
“When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness, you become still yourself. You connect with it at a very deep level. You feel a oneness with whatever you perceive in and through stillness.”
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