Thoughts on instinct, intuition, and inspiration

Here’s a thought I had:

In the article “Thoughts on three forms of conception” I spoke of the three forms of conceptions (Imitation, Creativity, and Intuition).  Of these, intuition is the oldest forms in creatures, as all creatures have it.  This is followed by the creative, found in a smaller number of creatures, followed by the imitative, found in even a smaller number.  This makes imitation, in a sense, the most ‘superficial’ of the forms, which is probably why I look down on it so much.  It lacks depth.  I have always saw intuition as ‘deep’, probably because it is the oldest form seen in creatures.

Intuition seems to refer, in its simplistic form, to instinct.  As I use it here, instinct refers to an innate tendency, something that is ‘within a creature’.  In that way, instinct is a reference to a ‘reality’, a ‘truth’, the ‘fact’ of existence as it establishes an innate condition within a creature which determines how it lives.  In many ways, instinct defines the reality of a creature, defining what it is and what is important.  This makes instinct, really, the ‘great truth’ of any creature.  Because of this, one could say that instinct is the base of a creatures conception and reality.  In other words, since instinct is a part of the innate makeup of a creature it shows that instinct or, rather, natural innate tendencies, create the basis of a creatures reality and conception of the world.  This more or less says that a creature does not ‘learn’ anything new, in actuality, but bases everything on an already existing reality or ‘truth’, rooted in the instinct.  In short, it cannot learn what instinct does not allow it see.  One can speak of this as the instinctual reality.  This already existing reality is solely based on what a creature is designed, so to speak, to do and refers to a number of things:

  • A creatures behavior.  This refers to what a creature can do.  If instinct inclines a creature to scurry into a hole when it senses danger (such as with a squirrel) then it will not create a hunter-like conception of the world (such as with a hawk).
  • A creatures physical abilities.  This refers to what a creature is physically capable of doing.  A human, for example, does not have the physical capability to live in the water like a fish.  As a result, a human does not creature a ‘water creature’ conception of the world.

So we see that I tend to view instinct as not only the creatures behavior but its physical characteristics as this allows it to perform its behavior.  Because of this, they are interrelated.

Any creature cannot learn beyond what it is “designed” to do.  In some respects, all a creature does is “apply” an already existing condition and reality (the instinctual reality) that is within them.  This act of “applying” instinctual reality to reality is really the three forms of conception as described in the article mentioned at the beginning of this article.  In that sense, then, the three forms of conception is nothing but the “applying of instinct” in an active way. 

Instinct does two things:

  1. It makes a creature do something.  For example, it makes a creature look for a mate or for food.
  2. It is in response to something.  For example, flinching in response to pain.

Here we see that instinct places a creature in an active role in the world.  That is, it makes it interact with the world.  So we see these as the basis for any creature:

  • Passive – instinctual reality (what a creature is “designed” to do).
  • Active – the three forms of conception (the active applying of instinct with the world).

All creatures must have these.  In some sense, these two qualities define living creatures.

I tend to feel that instinct goes beyond behaviors and actions.  I often feel that intuition is really the ‘shadow of instinct’ in our lives.  That is to say, it is the continuing presence of instinct in our lives.   It is not instinct itself but a remnant of a presence of it.  This would mean that intuition is actually a “sense”.  To be more specific, it is a “sense of an earlier self”.  I speak, in particular, of the pre-self (see my article “Thoughts on the pre-self, primal self, world self, post-self, and the greater self“).  This is the self before the self has appeared.  As a result, in the pre-self condition instinct is felt as our self.  This is because the self has not appeared yet.  In other words, we perceive ourselves as instinct.  What it does is perceived as us . . . we are it.  This creates a deep inner sense and closeness with the instinct.  This makes intuition seem ‘deep’ and ‘awesome’ at times.

But, the growing self eventually collides with instinct.  Coming desires and wants, and ones will, ends up conflicting with instinct and its innate nature.  This conflict creates something like a schism . . . the separation of instinct and self begins.  As the self develops even more, the schism creates a number of senses within the self such as:

  • That something controls us.
  • That something moves us.
  • That something is within us.

These senses, really, create the base of intuition.  In other words, the sense of intuition is based in the separation of self from instinct.  Since its a residue of the pre-self we could describe this as the intuitive pre-self.  In this condition, the sense of self is not strong enough to overpower the sense of intuition.  In this way, it creates something like a ‘sense of self with intuition’.

The sense of the intuitive pre-self is felt throughout our lives, some people more than others.  Some people, though, have a greater sense of it which may help them ‘tap’ it, so to speak.  This is not because they “become” the intuitive pre-self but because their current self is open to it.  We could speak of this tendency as the intuitive self.  This is that part of ones self that is aware, open, and able to focus on the intuitive pre-self.  This intuitive self appears as two things from the intuitive pre-self:

  • As a ‘sense’.  One could describe this as a sense of a ‘connectivity’ to the world that can become spiritual.  Because of this, it can be described as contemplative or ‘prayerful’.
  • As an ‘insight’.  This is when intuition actually creates an awareness or knowledge that one is not normally able to attain.  Sometimes it can appear almost miraculous.

Normally, people equate intuition with the ‘insight’ variety.  In actuality, ‘insight’ is the lesser form (as it appears the least in life) and, in my opinion, it is the least effective.  This is primarily because ‘insight’ is:

  • Sporadic.
  • A specific type of knowledge involving specific things.
  • Limited in its effects.

To me, intuition as a ‘sense’ is the most powerful manifestation of it.  This is because:

  • Its a constant sense.
  • Its an awareness.
  • It affects ones growth.
  • It creates a greater view of life.

In other words, intuition as ‘sense’ has more life-affecting effects and can change a person.  Intuition as ‘insight’ does not do this.

The person who tends to emphasize the intuitive sense tends to feel it strongly.  They can be described as ‘seeking intuition’.  In general, ‘seeking intuition’ is generally a tendency to abandon creativity and imitation (as described in the three conceptions article I mentioned at the beginning) and to continually ‘look inward’. In general, they tend to seek the intuition as ‘sense’ with occasional ‘insight’.  The effect of this is that it creates an intuitive disposition.  This fact reveals an interesting quality:  people with intuitive disposition tend to ‘look for’ or ‘seek’ the intuitive  pre-self.  In that way, it creates what can be described as an intuitive quest.  This tends to create a quest that entails a search not without a person but within a person.  I should point out that this is, in fact, a search, a questioning, a seeking, a hunting.  This shows a need  and a need more or less says that there is a sense of lacking.  This shows that intuition fulfills a need because something  is lacking.  In this way, we can speak of the intuition void.  This is the void a person with the intuitive disposition feels.  They quest to have it ‘filled’, so to speak.  In actuality, what this void consists of is a void within their self.  Basically, their “self” is incomplete and seeks the intuitive pre-self to complete it.   This, then, is a reflection of the ‘greater self’ (which is described in my article on the pre-self, post-self, etc. above).  This ‘greater self’ reflects a need to bring all the self’s together into a greater whole, from ones current self to ones early self, before one had a self.  Because of this, the intuitive disposition often tends to create a person who looks at the world more roundly and wisely and religiously . . .  reflections of the ‘greater self’.  I describe this quality as contemplative and their intuitive quest can be described as contemplation.  Because of this, what I am speaking of here, when I speak of intuition, is really a contemplative attitude in people.  I am not speaking of seeking specific ‘insight’, ‘miraculous knowledge’, or specific ‘knowings’, but the seeking of the ‘sense’ of intuition.

As I said above, it seems that the intuitive quest begins by the abandonment of the creative and imitation forms of conception initially.  That is to say, one must ‘let things be’.  This shows how the intuitive quality tends to be passive in nature.  The creative and imitation forms are more active, requiring a person to do something.  When this happens the self figures prominently and basically pushes intuition out.  This shows a basic intuition/self conflict, that when the self is strong, intuition fails.  As a result of this, intuition requires a loss of self.  Because of this, intuition is often associated with the forgetting of ones self, self-abandonment, self-destruction, and death.  The loss of self tends to open the self to the intuitive pre-self, allowing it to experience it.  But it does not end there.  It must be used and integrated with the self.  Remember, the purpose of the intuitive quest is the development of the ‘greater self’.   The creative and imitative forms become critical hers as they are used by the self to complete intuition and, therefore, create the ‘greater self’.  The creative and imitative forms affect intuition in these ways:

  • The creative form uses intuition by creating a way for it to be manifested (a belief, a purpose, etc.).  Without the creative form to give intuition a ‘face’, so to speak, it remains a ‘sense’ and, in so doing, behaves much like a mist or fog in ones life.
  • Imitation gives a guidance to the creative form.  It does this by example, using existing knowledge and authority, etc.  Without imitation intuition tends to go nowhere and often is not even noticed at all.

And so we see that, the full effect of intuition requires creativity supported by imitation As a result, intuition requires all forms of conception to be complete and to develop the ‘greater self’. 

As a result, we see these stages in the intuitive quest:

  1. Intuitive disposition.  A person must be predisposed to this tendency to begin it.
  2. The intuitive quest.  This quest must be carried out, of course, to complete it and a person must initiate it.
  3. The loss of self.  A person must find ways to do this.  I’m under the impression that this is where most people fail in the intuitive quest.
  4. The sensing of the intuitive pre-self.  If this is not sensed nothing, of course, happens.
  5. The experiencing of the intuitive pre-self.  This, really, refers to the ‘opening up’ of the self to the intuitive pre-self and being affected by it.
  6. The use of the creative and imitative forms to give intuition meaning and direction.  Without these intuition goes nowhere.
  7. The ‘coming together’ of the intuitive self with the self:  the creation of the ‘greater self’.  When this happens intuition is really completed.

If we look at it simply, we can actually say that there are two main stages in the intuitive quest:

  1. Having intuition.
  2. Completing intuition.

These describe, in a way, the ‘two great hurdles’ of intuition.  Each pose their own unique problems and difficulties.  Common hurdles of ‘having intuition’ include:

  • Having an intuitive sense.
  • The creation of the loss of self.
  • Having an ability to sense the intuitive pre-self.

Common hurdles of completing intuition include:

  • Having no form or ‘face’ for intuition to manifest itself.
  • Having no example or authority to follow in the interpretation of intuition.
  • An inability for the self to embrace the intuitive pre-self and integrate it thereby hindering the creation of the ‘greater self’.

It seems that, in the intuitive quest, there is always a hurdle existing, some stronger than others.  Each one of us has a particularly strong hurdle we must overcome.  In many ways, the intuitive hurdles show a great mismatch of self’s, that the self’s are never always in ‘alignment’.  There are times when they are but, in the course of life, they keep getting mismatched.  A big reason for this is that, as we live and experience life, we tend to focus on the self which moves us further from our intuitive pre-self so that when we seek it again it is misaligned.  In this way, we are as if meandering between different self’s and having to occasionally be ‘realigned’ from time to time.  As a result, the hurdles of intuition are always existing, to varying degree’s and strength.

Intuition is not just a human thing.  It is seen in the animal world.  Since intuition requires a self the only creatures that develop it are creatures who develop a self, which are primarily mammals as near as I can tell.  It seems strongest in creatures that display these qualities:

  • ‘Delayed growth of self’.  These creatures go through a ‘childhood’ and growth cycle in their youth.  This creates what can be described as a lagging of self’s where the self as if ‘lags behind’ the intuitive pre-self.   The result of the lagging of self’s is to create a period of time when the self is not strong enough to overpower the intuitive pre-self.  As a result, the intuitive pre-self is experienced for a longer period of time unhindered by the self.  Because of this, the intuitive pre-self is open to the growing self for a longer period of time making the self more receptive to it.  This, in a sense, helps create an intuitive disposition.
  • The self gap.  Another quality is extension and projection, which is particularly strong with humans (though it may exist with some mammals).  In this there is a tendency to equate the world with the self.  In extension this happens before a self develops.  As a result, the world IS the self.  In projection, this happens after the self has developed and so we see our self IN the world.  The result of this is that it creates what can  be described as a self gap.  This is a sense of an absence of self.  That is to say, in extension and projection the self is experienced either as absent (as the self is the world), or partially absent (as the self is doing stuff in the world).  This creates a void-of-self which has the same effect as the lagging of self’s where the intuitive pre-self is experienced for a longer period of time.

Both these seem to predispose the creature to intuition not only in the experiencing of it but in the use of it by the self.  As to how extensive non-mammals experience these traits is difficult to say.

An important point here is that that there needs to be two separate self’s:  the intuitive self and self.  This, then, creates a layer of self’s as necessary for intuition.  This layering of self’s predisposes these creatures not only to an intuition but things like a ‘neurotic disposition’, so to speak, s well as unique mental experiences, such as dreaming, mystical feelings, religious feelings, etc.  Its possible that any creature that dreams has some degree of these feelings, though its difficult to say for sure.  No doubt, it is strongest in humans.

A much more involved form of seeking intuition is inspiration.  Seeking intuition, as I described above, is something people do naturally, some more than others.  Inspiration seems to require a character type and ability which many people don’t have.  In many ways, inspiration is a ‘deliberately seeking intuition’.  As a result, it entails a ‘willing of the self’ which is not really seen with seeking intuition.  Because of this, the self figures more prominently.   Generally, inspiration requires an active effort on the part of the person, an actual decision to seek it whereas seeking intuition just ‘sort of happens’.

Since inspiration is an extension of intuition the seeking of inspiration tends to follow the two traits of the intuitive self described above:

  1. The seeking of awareness and sense (the intuitive ‘sense’).  This consists of things like contemplation and prayer.
  2. The seeking of ‘things’ (the intuitive ‘insight’).  This could be knowledge, poetry, song, music, shamanistic journeying, etc. in which a specific ‘thing’ is sought, which could be an ability, an expression, a knowing, etc.  A common form of inspiration, seen commonly in humanity, are various forms of ‘art’ and artistic ability.

Typically, these are done with more deliberate effort and may even entail a specific technique.  In fact, I generally associate inspiration with a technique.  This could be anything like playing an instrument, writing a poem, and painting to an attitude, awareness, contemplation, or seeking a ‘mystical sense’.  So we see that the inspiration technique has a range from defined, such as playing the piano, to mysterious, such as contemplation.  Its not uncommon for some forms of inspiration to bounce around from extreme to extreme.

Because of the reliance on technique we see various things which are important with it:

  • The practice of the technique.
  • The benefit of previous experience.
  • An ability or skill at the technique.
  • A belief in the inspiration.

If any of these are lacking the inspiration technique suffers and, naturally, a person has difficulty.  As a result, the development of these qualities tend to benefit inspiration.

The article mentioned at the beginning of this article, about the three forms of conception, mentions imitation as one of the forms.  This brings up an important point:  one must be careful that one does not confuse imitation with inspiration.  In other words, just because you can do what another person can do does not constitute genuine inspiration . . . its just imitation.  I mention this as it is an easy mistake to make.  Many people make this mistake thinking that they are ‘smart’, for example, because they can understand relativity, or play a tune on the piano, both of which is something someone else created.  This is so prevalent that we could speak of a inspiration/imitation confusion.  Imitation, in many ways, is diametrically opposed to intuition/inspiration:  the more one imitates the more intuition/inspiration is hindered.

Also keep in mind that imitation is not the same as technique.  Technique is a certain set of behavior a person does to achieve something.  It tends to be more personal in nature.  It tends to be somewhat ‘mechanical’ in nature.  A ‘purely technique-oriented person’ would almost be robotic.  But keep in mind that technique can start off as imitation, and often does.  Its really no surprise that technique tends to also be diametrically opposed to inspiration in the same way imitation is.  Because of this, a person must move away from imitation or technique or the inspiration will begin to fail.  This need to move away from these can be described as the imitation-technique jump.  That is to say, a person must jump away from imitation and technique in order to find inspiration.  The inability to make this jump often means a person has no real ability.  The imitation-technique jump shows that though one generally begins with imitation and/or technique as a start, only in jumping away from them is genuine inspiration found.  To put it another way, imitation and technique are only the beginning, their continued use actually hinders a person.  This is another way of saying, in a way, that genuine inspiration must ‘come from within’.

Inspiration needs ability to be performed in particular.  Because inspiration is so personal, having ability is very important and necessary to make it successful.  As a result of this fact, a big part of inspiration often entails finding out where one has ability.  It can be a trial and error sort of thing, such as trying to figure out what instrument one should play or if one should draw or paint.

Because the self figures so prominently in inspiration the self tends to interfere with inspiration.  This makes it so that there is more of a need, in inspiration, to lose ones self in order to find or seek the intuition/inspiration.  As a result, techniques to lose ones self are critical with inspiration.  Some ways this is done include:

  • Absorption in activity.
  • A preoccupation in ones ability and how they do it.
  • A change in ones state of mind.

A person often has to achieve one or more of these have inspiration.  In many ways, only when a person finds these states is inspiration found.

There seems to be degree’s in the loss of self:

  1. The self is as if ‘distracted’.  In this case, its as if put in a situation where it does not notice itself, though its still there.
  2. There is a ‘disappearance’ of self.  This often entails a complete preoccupation of the self with something.
  3. There is a ‘death’ of self.  This is generally associated with religious belief.

The first two are conditions where inspiration is just an act one does, such as painting.  The third, in particular, reveals a quality that can have great impact on inspiration:  belief.  The importance that belief can have on inspiration can be quite dramatic.  In fact, I have found that belief is critical for any involved ‘deep’ inspiration.  Its so dramatic that one can say that there are two forms of inspiration:

  1. Mundane inspiration (playing the violin, writing a story, drawing, etc.).
  2. Mystical inspiration (based in belief).

In the former inspiration is just an act, an expression.  In the latter inspiration hits a person to the core (the pre-self . . . instinct).  This is because, in mystical inspiration, the belief is a force that as if ‘crosses the bridge’ to the sense of the pre-self, where the world is the self.  This is experienced as a religious-like feeling, oftentimes, and becomes a connection, so to speak, to ones earliest self.  In this way, mystical inspiration as if becomes a link to our earliest self.

In many ways, these two inspirations describe what can be described as a ‘circle of the self’.  Mundane inspiration takes this path:

the pre-self>>>the intuitive self>>>the self

The path, then, goes from the deepest self to our current self and stops.  In that way, we could call this the ‘half circle of inspiration’, so to speak.  Mystical inspiration takes that half circle path but then, through belief, it goes back to the deepest self, completing a big circle, much in this way:

the pre-self>>>the intuitive self>>>the self>>>the intuitive self>>>the pre-self

In this way, we could call it the ‘full circle of inspiration’ and makes a complete ‘circle of the self’, so to speak.  As a result of this, we can see that mundane inspiration tends to entail only an act of the self and, therefore, emphasizes the act itself:  its a question of what one does.  One paints, plays a musical instrument, etc.  Mystical inspiration, on the other hand, emphasizes the self:  its a question of what one is.  One reflects on life, god, ones meaning, etc.  Mystical inspiration, then, requires belief.  As a result, it generally is a matter of religion.  One could even go so far to say that the religious life, really, is nothing but the seeking of mystical inspiration, which is seen most profoundly in monasticism. 

So we see that instinct “ties” us to the world creating our ‘truth’.  The seeking of this “tie” is really the seeking of ‘truth’.  In this way, the seeking of intuition, and inspiration, becomes the seeking of ‘truth’. 


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Education, learning, and over education, Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Inspiration, free association, and intuition, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Science and technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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