WHAT THE BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS SAY ABOUT IT
BAHÁ'Í QUOTES ON INTUITION
"Question.—One of the powers possessed by the Divine Manifestations is knowledge. To what extent is it limited? Answer.—Knowledge is of two kinds. One is subjective and the other objective knowledge—that is to say, an intuitive knowledge and a knowledge derived from perception. The knowledge of things which men universally have is gained by reflection or by evidence—that is to say, either by the power of the mind the conception of an object is formed, or from beholding an object the form is produced in the mirror of the heart. The circle of this knowledge is very limited because it depends upon effort and attainment. But the second sort of knowledge, which is the knowledge of being, is intuitive; it is like the cognizance and consciousness that man has of himself. For example, the mind and the spirit of man are cognizant of the conditions and states of the members and component parts of the body, and are aware of all the physical sensations; in the same way, they are aware of their power, of their feelings, and of their spiritual conditions. This is the knowledge of being which man realizes and perceives, for the spirit surrounds the body and is aware of its sensations and powers. This knowledge is not the outcome of effort and study. It is an existing thing; it is an absolute gift."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - Some Answered Questions
"… the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit. If man does not become the recipient of the heavenly bestowals and spiritual bounties, he remains in the plane and kingdom of the animal. For the distinction between the animal and man is that man is endowed with the potentiality of divinity in his nature, whereas the animal is entirely bereft of that gift and attainment. Therefore, if a man is bereft of the intuitive breathings of the Holy Spirit, deprived of divine bestowals, out of touch with the heavenly world and negligent of the eternal truths, though in image and likeness he is human, in reality he is an animal; even as Christ declared, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” This means that if man be a captive of physical susceptibilities and be lacking the quickening of spiritual emotions, he is merely an animal. But every soul who possesses spiritual susceptibilities and has attained a goodly portion of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit is alive with the divine life of the higher Kingdom. The soul that is portionless and bereft is as dead. Therefore, He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” Just as the physical body of man is in need of its force of life, even so the human soul is in need of the divine animus and vivification emanating from the Holy Spirit. Without this vivification and sustenance, man would be an animal, nay, rather, dead."
'Abdu'l-Bahá - The Promulgation of Universal Peace
"The fourth criterion I have named is inspiration through which it is claimed the reality of knowledge is attainable. What is inspiration? It is the influx of the human heart. But what are satanic promptings which afflict mankind? They are the influx of the heart also. How shall we differentiate between them? The question arises, How shall we know whether we are following inspiration from God or satanic promptings of the human soul? Briefly, the point is that in the human material world of phenomena these four are the only existing criterions or avenues of knowledge, and all of them are faulty and unreliable. What then remains? How shall we attain the reality of knowledge? By the breaths and promptings of the Holy Spirit which is light and knowledge itself. Through it the human mind is quickened and fortified into true conclusions and perfect knowledge. This is conclusive argument showing that all available human criterions are erroneous and defective, but the divine standard of knowledge is infallible. Therefore man is not justified in saying “I know because I perceive through my senses”; or “I know because it is proved through my faculty of reason”; or “I know because it is according to tradition and interpretation of the holy book”; or “I know because I am inspired.” All human standard of judgment is faulty, finite."
'Abdu'l-Bahá - Foundations of World Unity
With regard to your question as to the value of intuition as a source of guidance for the individual: implicit faith in our intuitive powers is unwise, but through daily prayer and sustained effort one can discover, though not always and fully, God’s will intuitively. Under no circumstances, however, can a person be absolutely certain that he is recognizing God’s will, through the exercise of his intuition. It often happens that the latter results in completely misrepresenting the truth, and thus becomes a source of error rather than of guidance.
From a letter dated 29 October 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer
"True distinction among mankind is through divine bestowals and receiving the intuitions of the Holy Spirit."
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 316)
"When you wish to reflect upon or consider a matter, you consult something within you. You say, shall I do it, or shall I not do it? Is it better to make this journey or abandon it? Whom do you consult? Who is within you deciding this question? Surely there is a distinct power, an intelligent ego. Were it not distinct from your ego, you would not be consulting it. It is greater than the faculty of thought. It is your spirit which teaches you, which advises and decides upon matters."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Promulgation of Universal Peace
"The Word of God is the storehouse of all good, all power and all wisdom … It awakens within us that brilliant intuition which makes us independent of all tuition, and endows us with an all-embracing power of spiritual understanding."
Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 439
"For every thing, however, God has created a sign and symbol, and established standards and tests by which it may be known. The spiritually learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverance, and a heartfelt fear of God. For an unlit candle, however great in diameter and tall, is no better than a barren palm tree or a pile of dead wood…."
'Abdu'l-Bahá - A Compilation on Scholarship
“A man may converse with the ego within him saying: “May I do this? Would it be advisable for me to do this work?” Such as this is conversation with the higher self.’”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - Paris Talks, p. 179
"It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself. Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone’s action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right."
Shoghi Effendi - Guidelines for Teaching, p. 325
"At a time when conquest and aggression have lost their credibility as means of solving difficult problems, qualities in which women are strong, such as the capacity to link intuition to the other rational processes, and facility with networking and cooperation, are gaining importance."
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women Peace Process
"In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - Paris Talks, p. 161
"The woman’s intuition is more correct; she is more receptive and her intelligence is quicker."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 104
"The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over women by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting—force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá - Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 156
beautiful story on intuition
I think this is the first story I heard from Inez Greeven, at her home in Carmel , California , around 1980. Please feel free to share it in any way you wish to…
Inez’ sister India Haggarty was a pioneer living in a hotel in Paris in 1931. This was 10 years after the passing of the Master, and 20 years after His visit to that city. There was another pioneer in Paris at that time, and I‘ll call her “Mrs. S”.
One night in 1931 India had a vision of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He appeared to her and told her that He wanted her to go, right then, to her Bahá’í sister Mrs. S. “Bring her flowers, and bring her money,” He said.
India got up out of bed and immediately prepared herself to leave her hotel. As she was fixing her hair in the mirror, her face was still radiant from the vision of the Master. She called down to the hotel clerk to summon a taxi for her.
She gathered up all of her money. She set aside the money she needed for her personal expenses, and put all the rest of her cash into a small purse.
She went downstairs and asked the clerk, “Where is the nearest florist shop?” The clerk answered that there was one quite close by, but as it was just 5 o‘clock in the morning, it was of course closed. India said thank-you, and waited for the taxi. When it arrived she said to please take her to that florist shop. The driver said all right, but it’s closed. She said, knowing that the Master had a way for her to get flowers, that he should take her there anyway. They arrived, and the windows were all dark. “I told you it was closed,” the driver said. India said to take her to the next florist shop, and it, too, was closed.
As they drove through the city, they came upon the farmer’s market area, where all of the local growers brought in their vegetables and flowers to sell to the local stores. There was a wagon filled with flowers, and India got out of the taxi and went over to the driver. She came back with an armful of red tulips, and got into the taxi.
She handed the driver a slip of paper with the address of Mrs. S. on it, and they drove across Paris in the early morning darkness.
[At this point in the story, Inez said to me, “Now imagine. A conservative American woman is going across Paris at 5 in the morning to bring flowers and money to another conservative American woman.”]
The taxi dropped India off at Mrs. S’s front door, and she stood there, with her arms full of red tulips. She knocked at the door. She heard a rustling, and the door opened. Mrs. S. was standing inside, wearing a heavy black coat, and it was obvious that she had been crying. Her face showed great distress. Mrs. S looked at India, and at the red tulips, and cried out, “OH! ABDU‘L-BAHA!” and burst into tears.
She sobbed and sobbed. She and India went into her home and sat down, and India tried to comfort her friend. After she was composed, Mrs. S asked India , “Why have you come here?”
India answered that the Master had come to her in a vision, and that He had told her to bring flowers, and money. She handed the purse to Mrs. S. Mrs. S. was astounded. When she could speak, she said, “You think I am rich. Everyone does. And I did have money, but I ran out, and I was ashamed to tell anyone. There isn’t one speck of food in this house. As you can tell, the house is cold; I cannot afford to heat it. I have been suffering, and I could no longer bear it. I decided last night, to end my life. I awoke this morning, and I went and put on my coat. I decided to cast myself into the Seine , and drown myself. I went to the front door, and was just putting my hand on the doorknob to go out, when suddenly, you knocked. I opened the door, and you were standing there. I could not believe my eyes.
Twenty years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to my house, in this city. And when I opened the door to receive Him, He was standing on my front porch — with an armful of red tulips. And to see you standing there with these tulips, and bringing this money, I could not believe it.”
Now THAT’s a true story, because I heard it from Inez Greeven, and she showed me the postcard.