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The Aperture of Intuition

aperture The Aperture of Intuition

The opposite of rational is not irrational but intuitive. And while the mind and heart work together, my experience is that the heart absorbs and integrates more deeply than the mind. One way to think of intuition is as an aperture that opens and closes the heart like the lens of a camera, letting in life until it colors our soul.

Reason is often an intermediary for a quicker, deeper, more elusive facility. Reason allows us to think like a ladder, while intuition allows us to think like a constellation. Weaving both, I write about what I need to know, not what I already know. If I had only written about what I know all these years, I would have written very little.

The truth is that I feel things more quickly and more deeply than I understand them. I understand things more quickly and deeply than I can speak them. And I speak things more quickly and deeply than I can write them. One of the reasons I am so prolific is that, years ago, I gave up the notion that I had to understand what I was feeling, thinking, speaking, or writing before I could put it down. Since that time, my writing has become an ongoing curriculum, because I no longer record what I understand but explore what I feel.

I write because I have questions, and often the writing leads to more questions, not answers. But in the process of expressing, something happens that’s valuable to the act of living. And in the same way that a flame gives off heat, I believe that if my expressive search is clear enough and authentic enough, chances are the heat of that fire will warm others.

I’ve been asked if intuition is Divinely inspired. I wholeheartedly say yes, but I want to enlarge Divine to include the Taoist notion that the world is informed by an elusive and incomprehensible yet all-powerful current or life-force, whether we call that current God or something else. Lao Tzu says, Find the current and things will become clear, the way running water cleanses a rock. The act of living produces oxidation, tarnish, and moss, all of which cover the rock. But like water running over us, the act of feeling, perceiving, and expressing cleans us off. When the rock that is me is clean, I’m most open to the current around me.

Intuition appears when we get out of the way. The mind tries to measure, weigh, and discern things that are beyond its capacity to measure, weigh, and discern. So, there are times when we have to suspend the mind’s want to measure what it meets. In order to eat, we have to chew our food to make it small enough to digest. But once that’s done, it in no way resembles what we took in. The challenge—spiritually, emotionally, and mentally—is not to make everything we take in assume our shape in order to enter us. But to find ways to open up, so we can take in things as they are and therefore be affected by them.

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, discuss the difference in how you reason and how you intuit, how thoughts come to you and how they affect you, as well as how intuitions come to you and how they affect you. Which is more natural to you, reasoning or intuition? How can you strengthen the one you struggle with?

This excerpt is from my new book, Drinking from the River of Light, just published by Sounds True.


In this collection of interconnected essays and poetry―covering subjects ranging from the importance of staying in conversation with other forms of life to a consideration of how innovators such as Matisse, Rodin, and Beethoven saw the world―Nepo presents a lyrical ode to the creative urge that stirs in each of us.



Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression
Create Miraculous Shifts In Your Life
Ayurvedic Time and Balanced Sleep

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