There are three kinds of knowledge available to us: through other’s experience, through our own experience, and through our innate intelligence and experience. When we climb mountains, we need to use all three.
Through other’s experience, we gain knowledge that prepares us for the journey ahead by gaining greater awareness about it; insights and knowledge about the mountain will help us to make correct decisions when we encounter the mountain. Through our own experience, we gain knowledge about what works for us, what enables us on our actual quest and the nature of that quest. Our innate intelligence and experience – instincts – helps us to make decisions when neither the knowledge we have gained from others nor our own experience seems adequate. What if something we encounter on the trail that we did not learn about and have never experienced confuses us? What do we do then?
This is where we learn to trust ourselves, to have faith in ourselves, our innate abilities and intelligence. If we have the time and have brought resources – perhaps other people or information – with us, we can stop and consult these resources. Even though we have these resources, we may not find information and solutions that make us comfortable. Sometimes we need to decide what’s best for us by consulting our innate, inner resources.
What exactly are these inner resources? We know we have resources within us by the fact that our hearts pump, our lungs breath, our blood circulates. These physical resources sustain us, they keep us alive. We know they operate through their own intelligence. That is, we do not consciously direct them; they are either self-directed or there is an intelligence within us – a subconscious one perhaps – that does. If they are self-directed, then contained within their function, their cells, is the intelligence that does. Whether this intelligence is automatic doesn’t matter. Intelligence is not necessarily a reflection of conscious choice. We have all witnessed conscious choices – perhaps our own – that have been anything but intelligent. When birds fly south for the winter, it is what we call an instinct; we understand that the bird is not making a conscious decision – weighing the pros and cons – about flying south. It just is and does, and we don’t think the decision is any less intelligent because of this. In fact, remaining up north for the winter, freezing and dying, would be a pretty stupid thing to do.
Our heart may react to our circumstances and pump faster or slower enabling us to perform an activity to our greatest physical capacity. Like the bird, our heart just is and does, making innate, instinctive decisions. Like the bird, these decisions are not any less intelligent because they are innate. If our heart didn’t pump faster, we would faint, drop from exhaustion, or die. So not pumping faster would be a pretty stupid thing for our heart to do.
Where does this innate intelligence come from, what is its source? Does it reside within us each individually or does it originate elsewhere? Now we’re again talking about the big picture. What we believe about the nature of the universe is not initially important. However, gaining an awareness of this innate intelligence within us that guides and is capable of guiding us is important. As we get in touch with this ability, this intelligence, we can make up our own minds about the big picture, about the nature of the universe. We will be able to do so as we learn to believe in and trust ourselves. We can make that decision independently from our own knowledge and experience.
If we believe a source of intelligence lies within us, then our heart may know to beat faster because of information, knowledge, imbedded either in its own cells, cells somewhere else in the body, or a combination therein. An event occurs and information stored in the cells triggers an intelligent response by the heart. Our heart has an innate, intuitive, instinctual intelligence.
Could our heart be a microcosm of a macrocosm, representative of the whole? We understand that other organs of our body may operate in the same way. But what of our total body, including our brain? Could there be information stored in the cells of our body and brain that could help us to decide whether it’s better to go north or south when we are climbing a mountain, when we are unsure where in the world we find ourselves? Is there an innate intelligence that could aid us in these situations? If so, how do we get in touch with it?
Most of us have heard popular words to describe innate intelligence. We may have been told to trust our instincts or follow our intuition. We may have some experiences which validate a belief in these concepts or we may feel it’s a lot of hocus pocus. Again, we must each decide for ourselves. But we should keep an open mind, allow for the possibilities, or we shut down to opportunities for growth.
Personally, I have come to believe in innate intelligence. It is what I have come to call self-knowledge. It is knowledge of the self, gained by the self. That is, we learn about ourselves, and the knowledge that enables our learning resides within us.
I have found that I can access this knowledge, this guidance, by asking questions of myself. When I am confused, unsure, upset, or sad, I can ask myself a question, pause, and wait for an answer. I have done this verbally, in my mind, and by putting pen to paper. Some may say the answers are my imagination, my conscious mind answering itself. Whatever the source, I have found these answers insightful and sometimes inspiring. When I have trusted them, trusted myself, I have found my viewpoint expanded and my ability to act positively in the world empowered.
To specific situations I may ask, “What is a greater understanding about this, what should my response be, what can I or do I need to learn from this, how can I make this better, how can I help, what do I need to know to enable my decision, why am I feeling this way, how can I feel and perceive the situation differently?” I have also asked more profound questions regarding the big picture and my relationship to it. I have learned to trust these answers and in turn, myself. Acting upon them in the world, I have seen their truths to be self-evident. Each of us needs to give ourselves the opportunity to discover our intelligence, our truths within.
The ways we discover our innate intelligence can be different for each of us. It may be through our passions, interests, avocation, loving actions, or contemplative, supplicative, and meditative states. When we are open to it, when we believe and seek its expression in the world, our innate intelligence can be reached. It may be in the form of insight, of spontaneous right action, inspiration, a feeling in the body, a creative visualization, or a conviction as to the meaning of something. Whatever its expression, we know it when it happens, we just need to allow it into our lives by trusting ourselves.
When we trust ourselves and allow this innate intelligence into our lives, we can help our children develop it in theirs. We do this by making them aware of it. We can discuss it with them, what it is, how it works, and give them examples in our own lives. Again, when we do this we are human, sharing our lives with them and giving them opportunities to learn and grow. By our example and through their own innate intelligence, our children will learn to make the best decisions for themselves.