Data-driven vs intuition-based decision making

For everyone, especially practitioners of yoga, this is such an important topic that I added a comments section below to hear your opinion on data-driven vs intuition-based decision making. In the modern era we prize data driven decision making. Yet not everyone is comfortable making decision based on data. The "gut-feel" component significantly sways decisions. One the one hand, people are told not to make decisions based on emotions since emotions can cloud reality; yet on the other hand people use phrases like, "Paralysis by analysis" (of too much data), "missing the forest for the trees" etc. to dissuade too much data analysis. So what is the yogic perspective on this topic ?

People are wired differently

One thing we have to acknowledge is that people are wired differently and this drives how they make decisions. In modern day psychology, people use indicators like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to classify people into several categories (sixteen for MBTI) based on their mental makeup. The ancient science of Ayurveda uses the concept of doshas to categorize people based on not just their mind but also the body constitution. The Ayurvedic system uses 3 doshas to classify people into 7 types. While the Ayurvedic system does not, the MBTI specifically has a category that distinguishes people based on how they make decisions - thinking vs feeling.

The 16 MBTI types

The doshas

Even in the ancient text on yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that, "Your actions are born of and bound by your true nature (Swabhava). That which out of delusion you choose not to do you will end up doing helplessly, propelled by your nature".

So does this all mean that the best decision making process is just based on one's nature ? Is this what the Yogic system also says ? The answer is "no". The yogic system talks about something much more profound, borne from a meditative state, that will help us make the right decision.

The Yogic system on decision making

In my home page I have quoted sutra 4.6 from Patanjali's yoga sutra which says "Tatra Dhyanajam Anashayam (Yoga sutra 4.6)"

तत्र ध्यानजम् अनाशयम्

An action done or a decision taken from a meditative state of mind leaves no residues of attachment (and is thus, of high quality)

Patanjali repeatedly talks about a process called "Pratibha" which means a spontaneous, intuitive flash of insight, that arises when the mind is in a meditative state. I have previous touched upon this in a article titled, "Patanjali on "What comes from long term practice of Yoga" ". This transcends both the thinking and the feeling based decision making types of MBTI. In fact many people go to week-long or months-long meditation retreats to settle their mind down so that at the end of the retreat, the mind is in such a meditative state that it makes good decisions. This is also the reason why people use the phrase "Sleep over a decision", the idea here being that when you give the decision making process some space, then the brain relaxes and makes the correct decision.

A silent meditation retreat which is often used by people to settle the mind before making big decisions in life, like embarking on a new career.

Knowledge of everything is obtained through Pratibha - a spontaneous intuitive flash of insight.

Your thoughts

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please leave them below.

Comments for data-driven vs intuition-based decision making (Responses)