The Theosophical Forum – February 1948

IMPULSE OR INTUITION — WHICH? — Howard Utter

The non-existence of any relationship, either absolute or partial, between impulse and intuition makes it easy to distinguish one from the other. The two are not correlative, and the idea that they have a double or reciprocal relation is a result of lack of understanding the origin, nature, and functional laws under which each operates in its native, but separate sphere, of the human constitution.

The simplest definition of impulse is: a sudden thought. A thought that comes quickly and without warning is certain to have its origin in the intermediate nature and therefore must be considered an impulse. The simplest definition of intuition is: knowing without knowing how one knows. Intuition is not sudden, but often is an answer to a long studied problem, intense meditation, or stored up wisdom gained in former lives. It is the voice of man's own Inner god.

An impulse is a sudden or transient emotion tending to induce action. Here are three characteristics which brand its origin as no deeper than the psychological nature. This transitory emotional event, passing before the vision in a brief time and then disappearing from view after inducing some action, not necessarily for good, of the personal self, is a marked contrast to the permanent, impersonal wisdom of intuition and inspiration streaming steadily from the Monadic Spirit, which does not urge violent and unreasoned action, but more often than not warns to refrain from action entirely, which, if committed impulsively would prove to be destructive rather than constructive.

An impulse is a conative state of consciousness, occasioned by and fused with a feeling of craving, in view of some object of sense-perception or of the imagination, with a strong tendency to discharge in some kind of purposeful movement. The faculties of desire, impulse, or exertion are functionings of the psychological Kamic-Manas and are distinguished from the intuition flowing from the Buddhi-Manas by cognition and feeling.  The character and end of these impulsive movements may (1) be quite completely instinctive and not recognized, this failure to recognize being the result of habit, that of allowing desire of the lower personal self to be the ruling motive for action; (2) have the form of acquired habits of reaction; or (3) result from instantaneous judgment as to how to meet an emergency. These last two will be reactions exactly corresponding to habits of thought. If the thought habits have been to follow the desires of the lower personal nature these reactions will be impulsive; if the habit has been formed of setting aside the psychological and waiting for the Light of Understanding and Knowledge these reactions will then be intuitive. Intuition, the voice of our Spiritual Soul, is always recognized as Wisdom, and will never be confused with animal instinct.

The two psychical characteristics of an impulse are its strong tendency to initiate action and its lack of deliberation. These two characteristics designate man's psychological nature to be in full control of his actions and his life directed by impulse.

Experience has taught that the consequences of impulsive actions are always disappointing, by the reason of their failure to attain for us our highest aspirations, and only increase our unwanted Karma. These alone are adequate reasons to reach a conclusion that impulse is an incorrect and confusing basis for action and life.

Far better to keep the psychological nature of man's constitution in self-surrender to the Higher Self, flooding the Mind with the Light of his Spiritual Monad, with intuition, inspiration, and, if self-surrender is complete, even genius.

Man's possession of divine free-will is a power to choose." confusing, failing, Karmic creating impulsive action; or Intuitive Divine Wisdom of his own Inner God. Each must ask himself and decide: WHICH?


The Theosophical Forum

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