Friday, January 6, 2012

The Power of Intuition and its Development

What is Truth?
Text of a talk by Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda at Encinitas SRF Temple, Feb 13, 1938
(Source: "Journey to Self-Realization", pp. 107-113)

Truth is a very ambiguous word; it is a delicate concept to explain. Everyone has convictions they swear to as truth. But among countless differing ideas, what is really true?

Truth is relative, and truth is absolute. It passes through many evolutions in the relative stages before it reaches the absolute state. For example, two people are discussing a business venture. One makes a proposal that is sure to bring success, and the other person makes a counterproposal that accomplishes the same goal but has additional advantages. But then a third person comes along and has an even better idea. Each method was "true" in its own right, but in a relative sense.

Truth is that Which Gives Permanent Happiness
In the absolute sense, anything that contradicts true happiness is untruth; and that which gives permanent happiness is truth. Permanent happiness refers not to the temporary thrill that comes with material success and pleasure, but to the joy found in the soul's attunement with God. By this standard, you can judge any action you perform as to its projected end result - whether or not that action will promote lasting happiness.

The ultimate truth is God, and God is the ultimate Truth. The universe is upheld by this Truth through the operation of the Lord's cosmic laws. These laws are basic truths that are eternal and not subject to man's manipulation. For instance, the absolute truth is that since God is templed in every creature, it is wrong to kill or to harm another. In the relative sense, however, the less of two evils may be to use force to protect the innocent from an evil person, or to kill a lower form of life to save a higher form of life. But to destroy anything just for the sake of killing is wrong. The universal law is unity through love, necessitating the practice of tolerance and amity. If you want to find truth, your thoughts and actions must be true - physically, morally, and spiritually in accord with the eternal divine principles.
Truth is the ultimate Substance. Let me first explain where the presence of that Substance is to be found. Everything is linked with Cosmic Intelligence - the tree, the sky, a bird, man. That link is called Substance, the essential nature of all phenomena. It is the connecting link that makes of all manifestations one Essence. This Substance or Truth is hidden; what you see are only phenomenal appearances arising out of Substance by the power of cosmic delusion, or maya.

The Three Ways of Arriving at Truth
Now, there are three ways of arriving at truth: through sense perception, through inference and through intuition.
If your sense perception is wrong, your inference is wrong. Looking at the horizon you may think there is a fire, because you see smoke, but as you approach the site, you find it was just a cloud of dust. In order to apprehend the truth of anything you depend on your sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, plus the power of the mind. These, however, could not be ultimate proof of the truth, because of the senses lie, the mind will lie, and senses are extremely limited. Jesus therefore conveyed truth to the masses in parables "because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand [Matthew 13:13, Bible].

The ears are tuned only to certain rates of vibration. The highest and lowest sounds your ears cannot catch. If the power of your hearing were sufficiently increased, you would hear the magnificent sound that the universe is making as it rolls along through space. Everything is in motion and that motion is accompanied by sound. Nothing is at rest, except in that transcendental sphere of Spirit where there is no vibration. Right within your body you can hear those vibratory sounds of creation, manifestations of the omnipresent Aum or Amen. But being of a higher rate of vibration, those finer sounds are audible only to your astral ear - the subtle power that provides the gross sense of hearing to your physical body.
Similarly, if the power of your eyes were increased, you would see all kinds of different lights. Your physical eyes show you only a very limited scope of light, but your spiritual (astral) eye sees the true nature of all things as images composed of God's creative light. Your whole body, which you perceive as solid flesh, is nothing but electromagnetic waves. Dr. Crile has shown that the brain of a dead calf, and also that of a dead human being, emanates a great amount of electric rays [Dr. George Washington Crile [1864-1943] was an army surgeon who devoted his career to discovering a better understanding of the phenomena of life. Unsatisfied by the conventional explanations then to be found in physiology and biochemistry, he established the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where for twenty-two years he conducted biophysical research that led him to formulate in 1936 his "radio-electric" theory of the life processes.]. Ordinarily when you close your eyes, you see only darkness, but with spiritual development, you will see wondrous lights. The bible says: "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not [John 1:5, Bible]. These are fundamental truths that you do not perceive because your senses are all tuned only to a limited range of certain gross vibrations.

Intuition: All-knowing Power of the Soul
So how are you going to find the truth, the reality that lies behind what the senses perceive? You cannot do it by your rationalizing mind, because your mind falls victim to the senses; it only infers about what the senses tell it. The mind therefore does not comprehend the infinite forces that are dancing all around. Only by the development of intuition can you know what is truth. Intuition is direct perception. It is the all-knowing pure comprehension of the soul.
You have an inkling of the nature of intuition through those unexplained feelings called hunches. A hunch is undeveloped intuition, something you know without the medium of the senses or inference, some truth that comes of itself. You may be sitting quietly, and for no reason you think of someone you haven't seen or had contact with for a long time; and then suddenly he arrives, or you hear from him. Now how did you know? It was through a momentary flash of intuition. That kind of spontaneous intuition all of you have had at some time.
Errors in judgement are a result of not having developed intuition. Most of you have had the feeling that you could be great, and do great things; but because you have lacked intuitive power, that potential has, for the most part, remained dormant. To progress and to avoid the misery of mistakes, you have to find what is the truth in everything. This is possible only if you develop your intuition. That is the practical truth of the matter. That is why I am asking you to cultivate and use intuitive power in everything. In your relationships with others, in your business, in your married life, in every part of your life, intuition is essential.
By not developing the faculty of intuition, you make wrong decisions, pick up the wrong business associates, and get caught up in wrong personal relationships. Since the judgement of your mind is conditioned by the information fed to it by the senses, if you senses become deluded you may think a person is wonderful without knowing what he truly is inside. You may think you have found your soul mate, so you enter into matrimony, and then end up in the divorce court. But intuition will never make such a mistake. It will not look at the magnetic power of the eyes or at the attractive face or personality of a person, but will feel and perceive accurately in the heart that that person is really like.
By the power of intuition, which I learned to develop from my guru, Sri Yukteswarji, I have never made a mistake about human nature. Intuition has been very helpful to me in that regard. But I do not try to see the wrong side of people; to help others I give them unconditional love, even when I know they may misuse my trust.
Many people, lacking intuition, put a lot of money into finantial prospects that do not produce anything, and consequently they lose everything. I have been successful in every decision I have made through intuitive power. It never fails.
As you develop, intuition comes as a certain feeling or a still voice. Because ladies are more receptive to feeling than are men, they usually have more intuition - except when they become emotional. Men are generally ruled more by reason than by feeling, but if they have fine inteligence balanced with feeling, that leads to intuition.

Through Intuition, Know the Purpose of Your Existence
If you use your intuition, you will know the very purpose for which you exist in this world, and when you find that, you find happiness. This earth is a stage, and God is the Stage Manager. If everyone insisted on being kings and queens, an unfolding drama would be impossible. The servant and the hero as well as the royalty must perform their parts well for the play to become successful. The villains are those who upset the righteous drama of the Lord. Those who choose such a role must pay dearly for their blundering disregard of divine direction. No matter what material position one possesses or fortune one has amassed, he cannot be called successful if it was gained by evil means. True happiness ispossible only if one plays his part rightly, and not otherwise. The one who is playing the millionaire, and the one who is playing the role of a small businessman - both are the same to God. On the last day, God shears every person of all posessions and titles. What you have acquired in your soul is all that you take with you.
Great men like Jesus know truth because of their intuitive power. They perceive not only through the eyes and the mind, but through intuition that is so developed that they know everything. Jesus, who lived such a pure life, knew he would nevertheless be betrayed and crucified. But he knew also he would be ultimately in the arms of immortal God. So are we all the children of God, sent here to play our part; it is not the part, but how we play it that concerns God. Never be discouraged when your role is difficult. When you will be through with your acting, you will be received as a child of God. Until then, you will not be wholly free.

Intuition Develops through Meditation
The only way to know and to live in truth is to develop the power of intuition. Then you will see that life has a meaning, and that no matter what you are doing the inner voice is guiding you. That voice has long been drowned in the mire of untrue thoughts. The surest way to liberate the expression of intuition is by meditation, early in the morning and before goig to bed at night. As you keep your engagements for business, and for everything else that you think of as important, so should you not forget about your engagement with God. You may think you are too busy, but suppose God were too busy to give you life? You would drop in your tracks! To keep your daily appointment with God you must reserve the time for Him. Meditate and pray deeply, and wait for His response. If you repeatedly call on Him joy and peace will strike your heart. When that comes, you know that you are communing with God. If you make the effort, you shall contact that Power. Give yourself that opportunity. You cannot succeed unless you try.
If you spend your life in constant excitement, you will never know true happiness. Live simply and take life more easily. Happiness lies in giving yourself time to think and to introspect. Be alone once in a while, and remain more in silence. If the radio is going all the time, or other stimuli are constantly bombarding the senses, it truly affects the nerves and creates nervousness.
And don't think so much about reforming others; reform yourself first. The greatest field of victory is your own home. If you are an angel at home, you can be an angel everywhere. The sweetness of your voice, the peace of your behavior, is needed in your own household more than anywhere else.

Attain the Power That Never Fails
When you contact God, intuitive perception of truth will guide you in everything you do. Seven years ago, I came in a housecar to this site overlooking the ocean [Encinitas, California, near Los Angeles] and said, "I feel there will be a great place here one day." and today we have here our temple and hermitage - the nucleus of an ideal center for God.
The purpose of this center is that it be a place where you can come to contact God, to experience God. Why not consciously attain that Power which never fails you? Realize that Power within yourself. Make it a habit to come here regularly. I don't want curiosity seekers. I am keeping my engagement with God, and I seek only those true devotees of God who will come here in these beautiful surroundings to recharge themselves in His power.
You will find that Power works in everything to make your life complete, you health vibrant with cosmic energy, and your mind keen with the focused clarity of concentration. You will realize that your sould is a receptacle of God's unfailing, ever-guiding truth and wisdom.
God is the Fountain of health, prosperity, wisdom, and eternal joy. We make our life complete by contact with God. Without Him, life is not complete. Give your attention to the Almighty Power that is giving you life and strength and wisdom. Pray that unceasing truth flow into your mind, unceasing strength flow into your body, and unceasing joy flow into your soul. Right behind the darkness of closed eyes are the wondrous forces of the universe, and all the great saints, and the endlessness of the Infinite. Meditate, and you will realize the omnipresent Absolute Truth and see Its mysterious workings in your life and in all the glories of creation. "Or Arjuna, understand that knowledge to be sattvic [pure truth] by which the one indesctructible Spirit is perceived in all beings, undivided in the divided [Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, verse 20]."

Monday, January 2, 2012

SXS Quotient: Defining a metric for holistic success in life

When is one's life successful and fruitful? Having a clear definition and measurement of success helps us strive towards it by identifying and filling gaps. This definition should clearly point us towards concrete actions needed to improve. Ideally, the metric should be
  • simple and actionable, i.e., easy to understand and act upon.
  • measurable: i.e., numerical to gauge progress relative to oneself and others,
  • objective, i.e., not subject to widely different interpretations,
  • absolute, i.e., can stand by itself to interpretation,
  • comparable, i.e., amenable to ranking along an absolute scale, and
  • universal, i.e., applicable to a wide range of personalities in various walks of life.
  • authoritative, i.e., based on the opinions of well-regarded people.
Since this is a bit unrealistic, here is a proposed definition that serves the purpose of guiding a saadhak. This definition is based on my understanding of the Indian philosophical notion of success. Please feel free to comment.

SXS Score (pronounced 'Success score')
There are three dimensions to holistic success along which we need to track ourselves, and strive to improve.
  1. Serenity - शान्ति
    • It can be measured as Anudvega = (100 - % time spent in udvega), 
    • where udvega = duhkha, illness, agitation, anger, boredom, depression, dissatisfaction and other negative conditions)
    • A measure of Ananda (आनन्द)
  2. EXcellence - शक्ति  = कर्मसु कौशलं
    • How much power and influence I have exercised over nature or its resources? What did I accomplish that I could not before? Proportion of my innate/acquired talent that I have visibly manifested. [This is not yet measurable, and needs to be refined]
    • A measure of chit (चित्‌), loosely translated as conscious energy.
  3. Social Enablement - श्रेयस or औदार्य
    • How many others' success (measured by SXS score) did I directly enable? What positive impact did I bring to someone (other than myself and my blood relatives)? A negative number indicates that I contributed to their SXS reduction. Here, `others' can include human as well as non-human beings.
    • A measure of सत्‌ or universal awareness. i.e., the spread of my circle of love - those whose pleasure and pain I feel as mine, expressed as a percentage of the world's population, or people per billion (ppb) :-)
The first two are personal aspects of success, while the third is the divine aspect. The first is an inner state that indicates how much I am enjoying my living - an indication of Ananda. The second indicates my manifested power, shakti, personal accomplishment. The third is the impact made on society.

Balanced success requires a high score on all three fronts.
Serenity ScoreExcellence ScoreSocial Enablement ScoreExample
lowlowlowA tamasic person who makes no difference to the society. The majority of the population.
highlowlowA tamasic person leading an unimpactful life. Many devotees of major cults.
highlowhighA dedicated social worker.
lowhighlow/negativeA rajasic asura - ambitious person who is destined to be burnt out very soon.
mid-highhighlowA rajo-tamasic typical ambitious achiever who leads a successful wealthy life, but is worthless to society at the end. A typical mid-level corporate professional.
highhighlowAll animals. They are always calm, do one thing very well, but cannot help others succeed.
lowlow/highhighA typical hero or role model nowadays, e.g., a successful entrepreneur. They create a major ripple, but cannot make any lasting beneficial impact on society.
highhighhighA pure sattwic worker - the true Aryan + yogin. Many Indian Swamijis and cult leaders.

Periodically, we should check ourselves along these dimensions to see how we are faring.

How to Improve our SXS Score
To improve on 1 (serenity), we need spiritual saadhana, a proper awareness (not mere knowledge) of man's psychological makeup, split between buddhi and manas, and control of manas.

To improve on 2 (excellence), we need 1 plus a constant struggle to push ourselves against our limit in both personal and corporate life - set a high personal/career goal for ourselves and achieve it - thereby boosting our self-confidence to achieve even more. In this process, we discover new capabilities within ourselves and acquire new skills that we never thought we had before. This gives us more and more joy, provided we do it in parallel to 1. Otherwise we will be burnt out quickly.

To improve on 3 (social enablement), we need to make it a habit to engage in some action that uses the skills we discovered/acquired in 2 above and (a) will not benefit us in the least, i.e., purely in a spirit of selfless service, and (b) may benefit someone other than our relatives. This is how we overcome ego and become truly sattwic.

3 brings to us a true sense of fulfilment and opens up huge reservoirs of energy that won't be available when we focus only on 2. We will soon become channels and dynamos of universal energy that is essential to bring any lasting improvement to society.

To learn more on how to improve your SXS score, read Intuition and its Development by Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda.