Our world view today is almost entirely formed by science and when I say science I mean reason, science’s progenitor. Reason is our God in the sense that it is the highest we are prepared to acknowledge. To live your life on a rational basis is certainly much better than to live it according to prejudice, unthinking cultural conditioning or emotional reaction because it is more or less objective (in theory at least), and generally aims for the greatest happiness for the greatest number. But, despite these advantages, reason is still very limited because it is a mental activity and the mind (as we currently experience it) is restricted in its field of operation to the material level, that is, the level of form. This means that reason, on its own, is a quite inadequate way of appraising reality in its totality. Unsupported, it is unable to see that there is anything beyond the material level, and, as a result, will often deny that there is.
But there is a transcendent dimension to life and knowledge of that puts everything else in an entirely different perspective. We don’t normally experience this higher dimension (the adjective is correct since it is a dimension of greater insight and freedom) because we are so identified in this world with our material selves, but, if we allow ourselves to do so, we can sense it, and we also have it revealed to us through religion. The expression that revelation takes may not appeal to the modern mind, precisely with its focus on the rational, but an unbiased sensibility should be able to see that the truth is there behind the out-moded presentation. The question is how can we move beyond simple faith and access that truth ourselves? Not through reason which largely relies for its data on input from the senses so cannot see behind the appearance of a thing to the thing in itself. We must try some other way.
There are really only two ways. Experience is one. Those who have been fortunate enough to have had a spiritual experience find that it takes them beyond the view of the world as described by reason alone while in no way conflicting with what is sane or rational. The other way is through what some call the intuition but what I will call here, in line with medieval philosophers and because it sounds more precise, the intellect. This is the light of God reflected in the human soul and it is that faculty in us that enables us to know by direct perception.
The person limited to reason will usually deny the existence of direct perception or else claim that what is called that just falls into the hunch, instinct or vague feeling category. Hence that it is purely subjective. However the fact that they may be right about that in some cases does not invalidate the reality of true intellect. It simply means that in our current state of spiritual development (or spiritual ignorance) imitations of it abound, and the lower is regularly mistaken for the higher.
Reason is always dualistic. There is always the thinker and the thought, and the thinker thinks his thought. But the intellect is not like that. It comes into being seemingly independent of the person in whose consciousness it appears. It is not born of experience, either personal or collective, for it is not the product of the past but arises spontaneously out of the living present, the ever-existing moment. It links the individual to the universal and the source of all things. It is objective, whole and, most of all, illuminating. Reason seeks to dispel darkness bit by bit and never succeeds totally but the intellect lights up the mind with complete clarity revealing truth in its pristine purity. Furthermore, what we know through reason is always external to ourselves but with the intellect knowing is part of being for it comes from identification with what you truly are.
Once we accept the reality of the spiritual intuition or intellect we will naturally wish to know how to develop a proper response to that. It’s really very simple. As implied above, the intellect will open up to the degree you coordinate your being to the reality of the higher worlds; that is to say, to the extent you bring yourself into harmony with the intrinsic quality of those worlds. This requires a radical reassessment of your life’s purpose followed by realignment of all the levels of your being. Thus it is not simply a question of believing in spiritual things and hoping for the best but of truly perceiving what is higher and of God and what is lower and of man, and then living according to the former. It is not a matter of passively sitting in meditation and waiting for insights to pop into your head nor does it involve ‘raising your consciousness’ (whatever that means). It is an active thing and it requires, first, purifying yourself of worldly desires and ambitions, and then doing exactly the same thing on the spiritual level. Many aspirants to the divine mysteries merely transfer the focus of their egotistical attention from one plane to another but it is still the ego seeking reward for itself and no spiritual benefit will ever come from that. I don’t wish to sound harsh here but, as I learnt from my experience with the Masters, the first requirement for any spiritual pupil is self-honesty. If you aspire to truth you must start by being completely truthful with yourself. Anything less and you are simply wasting your time.
Just as we identify thought with the head so we can identify the seat of the intellect as the heart. The heart is the centre of our being. It is where we are joined to all creation and, symbolically speaking, where spirit is anchored in the body. The sun can also be regarded as a symbol for the intellect with the moon, shining by reflected light, standing for the ordinary mind. Taking this analogy further, we can compare the darkness of night with our current state of spiritual unawareness, illumined only by a few pale shafts of light here and there, while the dawning of the day foreshadows the awakening of spiritual knowledge.
All seekers need to develop intuitive sensibility but this is not the work of a few months or even a few years and during that time they should bear in mind the advice given by the Masters which was to trust the intuition but be careful to distinguish between that and wishful thinking. I have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating as many people have been tripped up by confusing the two. Those of us who have started the climb out of this world into the next need to be alert to the fact that, while we may be becoming more sensitive to spiritual truth, we are still limited by attachment to the ego. We still have our desires, fears and prejudices, and our intuitive awareness will not be perfect until we have surmounted these. Always remember that the intuition is not personal. It will enable you to see the truth but, for as long as you are identified with your lower self, it comes to you filtered through the mind.
Reason is a God-given faculty which helps us to make sense of this world and shape it to our will. But it tells us nothing about ultimate things. It knows nothing about the world beyond this one and cannot reveal where we have come from or where we should be going. A person limited to reason is spiritually blind and ontologically ignorant and will remain so until their inner eye starts to open. This is the eye of the Intellect, the organ of spiritual vision, and only when the mind is illumined by the light from that eye can it be said to have truly awakened.