Science for me is very close to art. Scientific discovery is an irrational act. It's an intuition which turns out to be reality at the end of it -and I see no difference between a scientist developing a marvellous discovery and an artist making a painting.
- C. Rubbia (Nobelist and director of CERN)
Intuition is the inner knowing that comes without outer sensory stimuli. It is the modality that senses most deeply, yet one that our society has valued least. We invest most of our efforts in educating our children to use their outer senses, ignoring and even denigrating the inner ones.
Intuitions surface to consciousness from unknown sources and through channels that are usually below our everyday awareness. Intuition is often perceived as or accompanied by an inner uneasiness, a sort of spiritual itch that invites us to scratch below the surface of our ordinary perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. If we respond to this itch, this inner ring on the intuition hotline, if we invite our intuition to speak, we are often rewarded with important messages.
Commonly, intuition visits us spontaneously in many ways, minor and major. You may know who is ringing your phone before you answer it, or think of a long-forgotten friend on the morning of the very day you run into her on the street. You may have a hunch about choosing an unknown road, job opportunity, or restaurant that turns out to be hugely right for you. You may be one of the lucky people who had a bad feeling about going to work one day, so strong that you simply stayed home – avoiding a serious disaster. (I have heard of several people who worked in or regularly visited the World Trade Towers who intuitively stayed away on September 11.)
If you have ever worried about coming out and admitting your intuitive abilities, you should know that you are certainly in good company. Many famous people have acknowledged their intuition, including Socrates, Joan of Arc, Carl Jung, and Adolph Hitler; among others.
While you might question or even dismiss some reports as simple luck or exaggeration, here is a typical story that stretches such explanations (Inglis 1989, p.10-12).
Winston Churchill, who was reputed to have had a charmed life, related that he had always felt he had a protector. “I sometimes have a feeling – in fact I have it very strongly. . . a feeling that some guiding hand has interfered.” At another point he credited “that Higher Power which interferes in the sequence of causes and effects more often than we are always prone to admit.”
Churchill gave the example (in My Early Life) of his escape from captivity during the Boer War in South Africa. He failed in his plan to hop a freight train to Mozambique, and was left with only a hope and prayer that the local Kaffirs might help him, as he had heart that many of the Kaffirs hated the Boers. . . He could see the fires of a Kaffir settlement nearby. The difficulty was that he had no way to distinguish the potentially friendly from the unfriendly Kaffirs, and a wrong guess could prove fatal. He sat down to ponder his options.
Suddenly, without the slightest reason, all my doubts disappeared. It was certainly by no process of logic that they were dispelled. It just felt quite clear that I would go to the Kaffir kraal. I had sometimes in former years held a “Planchette” pencil and written while others had touched my wrist or hand. I acted in exactly the same unconscious or subconscious manner now.