A few weeks ago, we had a conversation about the role of intuition in our lives, and how it can inform our short- and long-term decisions. One theme that we did not address in that conversation was the interplay of intuition (guided by our feelings) with the role of reason (guided by our mind, our thoughts). How do we balance intuition and reason, and what are the risks that we undertake when we favor one over the other?
As a ‘schooled’ engineer and practicing scientist, one who swims with numbers and equations and spreadsheets and contour plots every single day, the realm of reason is very familiar to me. The scientific process of the design of experiments uses the cornerstone of reason on which to lay its foundations. All new analyses and observations have to pass through the gates of reason before they are deemed to have validated the hypothesis for which the experiment was conducted in the first place! But what does all this have to do with risk and reason in spirituality?
In order to explore the connection, we need to transition from pure science into the realm of technology, into the realm of the discovery and invention of ‘things’ that make our lives better. The technologist often cannot wait for science and reason to give them all the answers, and learns to rely upon empiricism (a close cousin of inutition) to do their work. One powerful example is that of the invention of the aircraft engines by technologists. A hundred or so years ago, the Wright Brothers were seized by the idea that it had become necessary for humans to fly. They began by putting all the reasons of ‘why it could be done’ aside.
What did it take to succeed? It was good, old fashioned, risk. They used a combination of a ‘flying’ concept, added ingenuity and experimentation, followed by ‘tweaking’ of their design based upon ‘direct observation’ and ‘intuition’ – to achieve their first successful flight. Would we be flying the advanced aircraft of today if they would have waited for reason-based science to verify all the principles of flight before beginning to build and test their flying craft? We don’t know the answer to that speculative question. What we do know is that a combination of risk, feeling based intuition, empiricism and observation overcame the perfection of reason.
As it turns out, there is direct application of empiricism and risk adoption in spiritual practice(s). If we tow the line of reason, and wait for all that we feel and observe to be explained by the reasoning mind, we will either remain ‘stuck in place’ or simply go around in circles with our mental gymnastics. It is when we respect reason but take action to answer the calling that we feel in our heart and spirit, to serve and keep serving when reason seems to indicate otherwise, to keep listening for the whispers of stillness even when reason nudges us to do otherwise… Reason asks us to stop when love and the feelings that it creates gently lead us by the heart.
Risk leads us back to the knowing that reason, like the mind, is limited by cause and effect. Risk leads us back to the river that flows in the land beyond cause and effect. Risk leads us over the bridge, which we may have never walked before, to the garden of the infinite. The choice is ours to make – will we move beyond pure reason, or at least bring love into reason?
What are some of your thoughts on risk and reason? I invite you to share in our weekly twitter conversation with hashtag #SpiritChat – Sunday, October 11th at 9amET/1pmUTC. Yes, you will invest some of your time in participating, but it is a low-risk investment – and, we will give you plenty of reason to return week after week to visit with the new risk-taking friends that you will meet along the way.
Thank you for reading, share in the comments if you will, and Namaste!