The mind gathers details from the senses, attempts to classify them according to past experience, and then tries to both judge the meaning of the situation and extrapolate how future steps will occur. This process relies on known powers of the mind, powers of analysis, powers of what is known as ‘stepwise decomposition’ and powers of logical reasoning to move from a series of data to a conclusion about a future trend or direction. Those who are best at this process eventually learn about things like preconceived expectations, confirmation bias, and observational bias in various forms, including relative position of the observer to the situation observed. While specific training in the field of forecasting, and developed methodologies to provide feedback loops and incremental development of critical thinking skills in fact improve the predictive results, the process remains nevertheless limited by and subject to the framework of the mind’s methodology, which is an indirect form of knowing and subject to error due to factors that are not seen or taken into account, improper weighing of factors in relation to one another, and the intervention of unforeseen and unknown forces that deflect or modify what otherwise might be a very straightforward result.

Intuition on the other hand, employs a different type of knowing. It is more direct, relying on a link between the knower and the object of knowledge, such that it can follow the line of force acting upon the object. Once again, even intuition may be limited by intervention of forces that are outside the scope, but the result nevertheless will be much more closely aligned through a direct relationship between knower and object than through even the best methods of indirect knowledge employed by the mind.

As the consciousness becomes more subtle, more flexible, wider in its embrace, and less reliant on the limited capabilities of the mind, it is better able to understand and judge things and see their potential and their trend line into the future. At a certain point, the seer who is in touch with intuitive (or even higher forms of knowing) insight is able to actually see the forces at work and respond to them. At that point, we can compare the mental process to that of a blind person for whom the external view is hidden. If the cause of blindness is removed, the individual can see things that were formerly hidden from him. Similarly, the development of intuition as a power of knowing acts like the removal of blindness which is the native state of the mental consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “If we observe a happening, we judge and explain it from the result and from a glimpse of its most external constituents, circumstances or causes; but each happening is the outcome of a complex nexus of forces which we do not and cannot observe, because all forces are to us invisible, — but they are not invisible to the spiritual vision of the Infinite: some of them are actualities working to produce or occasion a new actuality, some are possibles that are near to the pre-existent actuals and in a way included in their aggregate; but there can intervene always new possibilities that suddenly become dynamic potentials and add themselves to the nexus, and behind all are imperatives or an imperative which these possibilities are labouring to actualise. Moreover, out of the same nexus of forces different results are possible; what will come out of them is determined by a sanction which was no doubt waiting and ready all the time but seems to come in rapidly to intervene and alter everything, a decisive divine imperative. All this our reason cannot grasp because it is the instrument of an ignorance with a very limited vision and a small stock of accumulated and not always very certain or reliable knowledge and because too it has no means of direct awareness; for this is the difference between intuition and intellect, that intuition is born of a direct awareness while intellect is an indirect action of a knowledge which constructs itself with difficulty out of the unknown from signs and indications and gathered data.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pp. 3-4

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
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