The Secret of Knowing – Part II

Except from The Secret of Knowing, copyrighted by Laurence De Rusha


Three Levels of Mind

Let’s explore the domain of the mind with a brief investigation of the philosophical levels of mind with the most influence on our lives: intellect, instinct, and intuition. The first two definitions are from wordnet.princeton .edu; the third one is from the online Concise Oxford English Dictionary.


Intellect: reason: the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination [within our awareness].

Although the brain is one of the most complex structures in the universe, the mind, distinct from the brain, is still difficult to define. Even after millennia of philosophical pondering, new and powerful testing equipment, and current neuroscience, there is little agreement across science disciplines in classifying the makeup of mind.

There is some agreement among cognitive psychologists, and they catalog the mind’s internal processes as feelings, reasoning, imagination, linguistics, and verbalization. Of these, let’s concentrate on imagination, linguistics, and verbalization and call them our intellect.

Imagination is also known as the faculty of imagining and is our ability to form mental images without perceiving through senses, i.e., sight, hearing, or other senses. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is, therefore, a fundamental faculty through which people make sense of the world.

Linguistics refers to the mind’s ability to interpret language in terms of the concepts that underlie its forms. This includes processes of understanding grammar, meaning, and combinations of words.

Verbalization refers to the mind’s ability to take thought energy and convert it to language that can be spoken or communicated in some way.

To summarize, the intellect is comprised of imagination, linguistics, and verbalization. Furthermore, it analyzes and chooses, and is self-aware.


Instinct: inborn patterns of behavior often responsive to specific stimuli.

Instinct is that part of you that is millions of years old is your unconscious processes, and because it is silent, it is difficult to pinpoint. Today scientists tend to agree the reptilian brain or R-Complex is the seat of instinct. Without it, we would not understand the basics of life, such as why it is important to flee from an oncoming car or tiger. Or how to even beat our heart.

The autonomic nervous system might be called instinct because it regulates the body’s many activities and requires no conscious choice. The body could never rely on the fickle out-loud intellect to manage its various functions through its process of choosing. Imagine the more than 10,000 chemical reactions per second necessary for the body’s survival. Now imagine the intellect managing these processes—it is hardly stable enough to operate a couple of these actions. That’s why all vital functions of the body are managed by instinct: breath, pulse, and liver, bladder, and cell function, for instance.

Before we go further, I would like to clarify the term subconscious mind, which is a popular term but generally frowned upon by the psychological community because of the confusion that exists around the “sub” prefix of the word. This could refer to a topographical position or lower ranking (as in not as good as the conscious mind). Unconscious is the appropriate term and means “beyond awareness.” In contrast to the intellect’s verbalized thought, instinct is part of the unconscious mind and therefore outside of our awareness.

A well-known early contributor to this subject of the unconscious mind was Dr. Sigmund Freud, arguably somewhat off in some of his science, but a pioneer of freeing consciousness from physiology. He gave us the concept of unconscious mind and separated mind from brain. And in many ways, eighty to ninety years later, his work provided a jumping off place for other groundbreaking fields of study, such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), cognitive neuroscience, and similar fields. Each, in turn, has given us various insights into the operation of the unconscious mind, of which instinct is a part.

To summarize this section, instinct is our beyond-awareness automatic behaviors, fight or flight patterns, and control of automatic bodily functions.

Intuition and the mindIntuition

Intuition: the apparent ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.

Research into intuition by psychologists, psychotherapists, and neuroscientists began in earnest in the early 1960s. A few studies were covered in the media, but most of the work stayed in the academic community. It finally reached Main Street in the 1980s when the phenomenon called “medical intuition” became news. Since then, it has steadily gained popularity.

Because of this acceptance, more people are asking the question, “What is intuition?” I gave you dictionary definitions, and here is another compiled from several sources: An answer that is not logical, scientific, and rational; it is receiving the right answer without any accurate supportive data.

A similar definition is found in the book Awakening Intuition by Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D., as “… the process of reaching accurate conclusions based on inadequate information.” Is it any wonder that intuition is so confusing?

There are many questions about intuition that our intellect would like also answered: What is intuition? How does it work? Why doesn’t it work all the time? Where does it come from? How is it different from instinct?

For most of our history, myth, folklore, and fiction have dominated this astonishing yet very human capacity. Phrases like “it’s a woman’s thing” or “something witches do” or “only a high priest can do it” or “only the gifted have it”has been used as another way of identifying intuition (sometimes with judgment or without) for decades.

Most often schooling has ruled out intuition as a legitimate process. We have been so indoctrinated into critical thinking (referring to thought processes that evaluate information such as accuracy, logic, fairness, and clarity of conclusions) and left-brain processes that they have become the dominant force in education and daily lives. I hope to clear up some of these outmoded concepts and help you realize that you and everyone else have the ability to be intuitive. If you understand intuition, to the limit the rational mind can, you will certainly begin using your greatest gift.

I call intuition a gift because it is selectively given but because it’s so special. Yet it is not a gift that is selectively given! Everyone has it, and everyone used it in childhood before the rational mind developed. And everyone can learn how to use it again.

Marcia, a former bank executive, participated in a workshop I facilitated on the subject of discovering our natural gifts. Intuition is the main influence and training of my workshops, each of which is focused on specific areas, such as business, health, etc. Marcia hoped to discover her “real life purpose and gifts.” As she worked through the exercises, she recognized that she had thoughts and feelings “out of the blue” that was accurate but that she dismissed because they could not be explained or substantiated until much later.

Over the next months, Marcia recognized these patterns of dismissing what came up as illogical and changed the behavior by practicing her intuition until she was clear about how it worked for her. Today she is a successful business intuitive or as she prefers a “business consultant” who utilizes her intuition. She is helping companies and executives solve problems and learn to use their intuition as a powerful guide to their own success.

Here is the conundrum: the intellect can never understand intuition because intuition is beyond (or higher) than intellect. Although intellect wants and needs a logical, rational, and scientific explanation for intuition, intuition is not logical, rational, or scientific. Intuition comes from a higher level of mind than intellect, which is why the left-brain reasoning mind has difficulty understanding it. Having no apparent cause or quantifiable process, intuition can’t exist, says the intellect.

However, the experience of hundreds of thousands of people says intuition does exist, and this is where the confusion between intellect and direct experience takes place. Our experience can be dismissed by the rational mind and those who doubt intuition. This is why having a personal experience, undeniable to you, is so important.

Perhaps like me, you remember a time when you got the right answer to a math problem but couldn’t prove how you knew that it was right. The mind just can’t do an adequate job of explaining or even accepting what is beyond its grasp. That’s the reason intuition has been dismissed for countless centuries.

At best the intellect can sense a gap in thinking through which intuition flows. The gap is the silence or space between thoughts. Since we are used to having strings of thoughts leading to other strings of thought, it is hard for us to witness the gaps between the strings.

Just because it is difficult to quantify doesn’t mean science is totally ignoring it. Science does, however, look at it as a nearly insurmountable problem because there is so much difficulty in predicting intuition, and there seems to be no formula or observable cause, and no way to quantify or measure it against some known conscious process, scale, or metric.

Nevertheless, new studies are underway and yielding fascinating results. Research at the Institute of HeartMath (see page 90) suggests that the seat of intuition is at or near the heart. The investigators found when intuitive insights were detected, electrical circuits near the heart fired prior to the circuits of the brain. This would indicate that the heart is directly involved in intuition, prior to the brain taking part. In our “Secret of Knowing” story the hooded woman in the desert says, “You can’t always believe the eyes in your head; you can, the eye of your heart,” meaning intuition.

In the early twentieth century, metaphysician, lecturer, and author Dr. Ernest S. Holmes wrote in his 1928 edition of the Science of Mind textbook, “The doorway to the Absolute stands open at the center of our intuitive perceptions.” Later he says, “The Spirit of man seems to have an external and internal perception. Its external perception is by appearance; its internal, through intuition.”

Francis Vaughan, a pioneering transpersonal psychologist, and author wrote in her book Awakening Your Intuition:

… [It] is known to everyone by experience, yet frequently remains repressed or undeveloped. … Developing the intuitive faculties allows one to recognize the possibilities inherent in any situation.

Although very few studies are specific about how intuition works, experiential data do tell us it is not limited to any culture, education level, or religious tradition.

Four Parts of the Mind with Vinita Bali with Sadhguru

The power of intuition – video | Katrine Kjaer