Intuition in the philosophy of Henri Bergson

New Philosophy of Life
Written by Okada Jikan Mokichi, 1950

When I was young, I agreed with the idea of the late Mr Henri Bergson. He was a French philosopher and his theory was popular at that time. I still remember his theory so often. I think that it provides a great benefit for religious faith, too. Therefore, I take up his idea here. I think that his philosophy consists of three concepts; Duration, Intuitionism and self in the moment. Especially, I am impressed by the idea of Intuition very much. Let me introduce it.

It is not easy for humans to grasp things correctly. It is quite difficult to understand their actual conditions. Bergson explains this reason. He says that human beings naturally have the comprehensive idea of education, tradition, custom and so on. This idea becomes like a stick and potentially exists in humans although they rarely notice it. This stick prevents humans from grasping things correctly. For example, people assume that all new religions are superstitious and evil. The stick does prevent people from judging them correctly. Today, opinions come into the eyes of working adults through the newspapers and magazines. Opinions also come into their ears through the radio and people. So, their sticks are getting thick and stiff. People cannot accept the fact obediently even if they see the miracle of Johrei, which cures the disease that medicine couldn’t cure. Because of the stick, they first raise doubts about the fact. The idea that medicine should heal the disease lies at the centre of their sticks. Therefore, they think that it would be just the time to be cured of the disease even if it were cured. In this way, the stick finds an excuse and prevents the truth. We always have this sort of experience.

Such human mistakes are corrected by the idea of Intuitionism. In a word, people don’t be disturbed by their sticks when looking at things. They become open-minded and in a clean state. How can you achieve such a condition? You just put yourself in the moment. In other words, at the moment when you see something, you can grasp what exactly it is by the intuitive impression. It never fails. Therefore, when seeing that an incurable disease was healed, you should believe in what you see with your eyes. That is the right way to see things. Nevertheless, if you think that it cannot be true or think that the disease, which was not healed with medical equipment nor medicine, is never healed in such an almost invisible way, your stick disturbs you from grasping the truth. In addition, someone might say to you, “That is superstitious. I have never heard such a strange story before.” In that case, another person’s stick takes a part in your stick and disturbs you more. You have to be careful about that. As above, I introduced the only part of the concept of Intuitionism.

Then I introduce the idea of Duration. Everything flows without any break. For example, you are somehow different from the day before, nay even five minutes ago. Likewise, the world of today is not the same as that of yesterday. So are societies, culture and international relations. Therefore, when we see things, we should see their changes themselves, too. Otherwise, we cannot grasp them. This is the right way to see things. In this sense, people should change their views and way of thinking about both religions and culture. However, they see new religions through the view used hundreds of thousands of years ago and criticise them. Therefore, they can never get the correct understanding. This condition is well explained by the idea of Duration.

Translated by N.H.