“Nothing is more demonstrable than the proposition that the perfection of matter is reached at the expense of instinct. The zoophyte attached to the submarine rock, opening its mouth to attract the food that floats by, shows, proportionately with its physical structure, more instinct than the whale. The ant, with its wonderful architectural, social, and political abilities, is inexpressibly higher in the scale than the subtile royal tiger watching its prey. “With awe and wonder”, exclaims du Bois-Raymond, “must the student of nature regard that microscopic molecule of nervous substance which is the seat of the laborious, constructive, orderly, loyal, dauntless soul of the ant!”
Like everything else which has its origin in psychological mysteries, instinct has been too long neglected in the domain of science. “We see what indicated the way to man to find relief for all his physical ailings”, says Hippocrates. “It is the instinct of the earlier races, when cold reason had not as yet obscured man’s inner vision. …Its indication must never be disdained, for it is to instinct alone that we owe our first remedies.”
Instantaneous and unerring cognition of an omniscient mind, instinct is in everything unlike the finite reason; and in the tentative progress of the latter, the god-like nature of man is often utterly engulfed, whenever he shuts out from himself the divine light of intuition. The one crawls, the other flies; reason is the power of the man, intuition the prescience of the woman!
Plotinus, the pupil of the great Ammonius Saccas, the chief founder of the Neo-platonic school, taught that human knowledge had three ascending steps: opinion, science, and illumination. He explained it by saying that “the means or instrument of opinion is sense, or perception; of science, dialects; of illumination, intuition (or divine instinct). To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge founded on the identification of the mind with the object known.””
H. P. Blavatsky