The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Musashi #6: Intuition

"Develop intuitive judgement and understanding of everything." There are many different ways of addressing "intuition." At the edge of esoteric martial experience, we may be speaking of a proprioceptive sense, some kind of sensing of electromagnetic fields or subtle body language cues that offer information too swift or subtle for the conscious mind to absorb. Certainly too swift for language: by the time you've labeled something with a word, you're usually hit, cut, or thrown.

Intuition on this level might be the capacity to respond to information without labeling it or justifying it logically. That doesn't mean it's "supernatural," just that the logical, labeling mind is only a fraction (however large) of our total perceptual/cognitive apparatus.

On a practical level, I suggest a technique called "Mind Reading" when dealing with other human beings. It involves several steps.

1) Start with assuming that everyone wants love, health, and success. True, the definitions for these things differ, but experience suggests that about 99% of people want all three, although at least 10% of people will lie their asses off about it. "I don't want a relationship", "I don't care about my weight" and "I don't care about money" are said one hell of a lot more often than they are actually felt.

2) "Every tree grows as tall as it can." If you see a burned, stunted tree in the forest, trunk splintered and twisted, one might assume a lightning strike. If you assume that in an optimal growth environment a child could grow to be loving (and self-loving), successful and healthy (human beings have astonishing athletic capacity, in some ways surpassing any animal on earth), when you see people who are less than magnificent (about 99% of us) in all three arenas, it is reasonable to assume that they did not have an optimal environment. Develop your own theories about what causes various problems, remain aware that you're probably wrong, adn let your deeper experience of people fill in the blanks. Adjust your guesses. You'll start figuring it out.

3) Look at the "gap" between where people are, and the stories they try to sell about WHY they are in poor health, lonely, or broke/unhappy in their careers. That gap will tell you a lot about their self-image. Most story-telling is about collapsing this gap, forcing people to confront the reality of their lives. Plots are just the manipulation of events to cause this collapse in a particular human being.

4) Wisdom, to a degree, is recognition of cycles, and metapattern recognition. The way to learn #1 and #2 and #3 is to apply them to yourself. Go deep. Be honest at a level that is painful. Take responsibility for where you are in your life, and what has gone wrong. It isn't that we really have 100% responsibility for what happens in our lives, but most people don't see the connections between their short-term actions, attitudes, and values and their long-term results. I'm not talking about guilt, blame, or shame. Responsibility means "the ability to respond." Without it, you are helpless, and childlike. If you would own your life, step up and claim your power. If you leave it on the table, trust me...someone else will grab it.

5) As you develop greater intuition about people, you'll start seeing their truth before they open their mouths. "What you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say." I person who is honest about their own failings is hard to lie to. But...and this is critical ...KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Everyone has the right to privacy. Everyone has wounds they conceal. To learn to intuitively understand people is one thing. But nothing will destroy a relationship faster than using this information against them, to make points or win arguments. Be kind, if you wish kindness in return.

But tell yourself the truth, and learn to see it in others.


Shady_Grady said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article Steve! I love it when you talk about Musashi. Please continue!