How can we learn to recognize when we’ve received true guidance? The ability to know inwardly what will work in any undertaking comes partly with experience. Somebody who’s been doing an activity for a long time will automatically know what choice to make, because experience hones the sharp edge of intuition.

This feeling of “knowing” is very subtle, and one that will be perceived differently by each of us. Even after years of trying to tune in to higher guidance, I still approach it cautiously.

When people first begin working with their intuition, I find that they can become too affirmative about it. You’ll find them saying things like, “I know this must be so. My inner guidance told me.” I tend to be a little skeptical when people say things like that, because when you really feel something with certainty, you don’t need to proclaim it to the world. It’s best to sensitively hold on to that feeling, and continue to listen quietly within yourself for further intuitive guidance.

What to look for

First of all, to recognize the kind of feeling that indicates true guidance, look for three qualities: calmness, clarity, and joy. Intuition is always based in a deep sense of calmness and detachment.

When you’re trying to tune in to the superconscious mind, ask yourself if the guidance you’ve received makes you feel excited or restless. If so, then it’s safe to assume that you’re just going along with your own desires. Try to associate true guidance with a sense of calm acceptance. When you’ve received an answer rather than thinking, “Yes, YES, YESS!”, your attitude should be, “Whatever is, is. It doesn’t touch me personally.”

In developing your ability to recognize intuition, it’s important to test your guidance over a period of time. Unless you have no choice, don’t make big decisions on the strength of intuition. It’s better to begin with small decisions, and continually test your ability. You’ll begin noticing that when a certain feeling comes, and you follow it, things work out well. Then there’s a different feeling, less calm or clear. At first you may think it’s got to be right, but over time you’ll come to recognize this feeling as false guidance.

There’s another method that has also worked for me over the years. If you’re unsure of your guidance, try inwardly saying “no” to it and pushing it away. If the intuition continues to come back to you with strong energy, then it’s probably more than just your own thoughts at work.

Don’t expect absolutes

True guidance comes according to who you are and what you’ve asked, and rarely expresses itself in absolute terms. It’s unlikely that a mathematician will receive guidance about the right color balance for a painting. Rather he’ll receive it about mathematics—and if he speaks English, it will be in English.

Don’t assume that if you’re guided to do something, that it’s necessarily right for everybody. Be open to the fact that a different course may be needed for someone else. When people offer me what seems like good advice, I can sometimes see that though it would work well for them, it would be a disaster for me. In that case I’ll reply, “This guidance may be true for you, but there are certain things I have to learn by taking another direction.”

Negative signs to watch out for

When asking for guidance, try to be aware of a feeling of blocked energy, or of a psychic threshold you can’t cross over. Be sensitive to this, and don’t try to blast your way through it. The voice of intuition is usually very quiet and calm, so it’s often easy to ignore or shout down. Listen for the merest whisper and be prepared to follow it, because often it’s the quietest voice of all that’s most likely to be right.

If you feel a sense of nervousness or agitation about a course of action, it’s best not to proceed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should abandon the whole project, but perhaps only that a refinement is needed.

I remember an experience I had once when writing a letter to someone who had asked for my advice. I was trying to draw my response from a sense of intuitive guidance, so that I could tune in to what this person really needed to hear. At one point I introduced a new element into the letter, and as soon as I did this, I felt a sense of nervousness in my heart. I thought, “Logically it seems right to put it in, but it doesn’t feel right.” As soon as I removed it, I felt calm again and finished the letter.

Look to tradition

We need to uphold tradition in this sense: those people throughout history who have found the truth have all experienced the same reality, and they’ve never disagreed about it. Nobody has ever come along and said, “In this century God isn’t love—God is hate.”

So when you’re trying to decide if your guidance is right, ask yourself, “What have people of wisdom done?” It’s not enough to follow somebody just because they’re a minister, or a scholar, or the president. But consider who said it and ask, “Do they have wisdom? Is this what’s been done down through the ages?” If so, then don’t think you can get away by doing the opposite.

When you test your feelings to see if your guidance rings true, understand that this is a feeling that doesn’t change with outward circumstances. It isn’t dependent on external things but is centered in your inner self. The happiness you feel when you’re in tune with superconsciousness comes not because you’ve decided to do this or that, but simply because you’re centered in the joy of your own self.

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