The Gut and Intuition

In Taoist practices the source for all things is sometimes identified as the Original Dark, and the gut suggests this darkness, the underworld below the mantle of the diaphragm. It is a realm that includes the inscrutable, that which is just beyond one’s grasp. In Chan Buddhism, there is an expression that suggests the power of intuition: “I do not comprehend the word, but I recognize the handwriting.” This points to the dreamy, intangible side of intuition. We can glimpse the text itself, yet our knowing is provisional—we do not understand in any rational or cognitive way exactly what is being said. This half-recognition speaks to the fleeting, evanescent nature of all things, like the process of digestion that involves passage through the stomach and intestines. For ingested food is transitional and does not exactly belong to the self.

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