Be it regarding your own endeavors, plans or ideas, there is something inexplicable about the first impression — it is often the voice of our intuition, our latent intelligence. I am not referring to forming first impressions about the people you meet. Such impressions are mostly stereotypes and often they are not even correct. It is mostly in our hands to bring the best or the worst out of the other person. Yes, there are numerous examples to the contrary too. My focus today is on the importance of first impressions on everything but people. Let me begin with a little story:

On the outskirts of a village, next to the woods, close to a well of clean water, was a tree laden with shining, inviting and luscious red berries. The berries were poisonous and dopey though and anyone who consumed them would go unconscious for hours. From a close proximity to the majestic tree, a notorious group of bandits kept a constant watch for the unsuspecting travelers. Most tourists would stop by, eat the berries and lose consciousness giving the plunderers the perfect opportunity.

One day, a group of young merchants headed by an old and wise leader had to pass through the village for the first time. They were returning home after a successful business trip across the seas. They were traveling in two groups, one following the other by a lag of a few hundred meters. Presently, the first group came close to the tree and at a distance they heard children playing. The group suggested to take a break and rest for a while. They were only too eager to pluck the berries and enjoy them. Their old chief, however, forbade them. He advised the place was not safe to rest either. He asked a young merchant to wait for the second group to convey the same. He insisted it was best to keep moving.

The second group came to the tree and their first reaction at seeing the berries was just as human. The appointed merchant, already waiting for them, passed on the message from the old man. The group deliberated and concluded the chief was being paranoid. They made a stop, eased themselves and rested there. Ignoring his advice, they vigorously shook the tree and a number of berries fell down. They began devouring them and before they knew, they were lying there unconscious. Meanwhile, the first group had found a place in the village and made a pit stop. The old leader was now worried for the second group had still not caught up with them. Fearing the worst, they quickly went back to the tree to see their fellow merchants stripped off their possessions. Their gold chains, rings, their money pouches, their horses, even their turbans and coats, everything was gone.

A physician was fetched from the village to revive them.

“How did you know,” a young merchant said to the chief, “that this was an unsafe spot?”
“There’s a well of fresh water. The children could be heard playing from here. A populous village is close by. It’s impossible for a tree to remain fruit-laden in a public place as this. These signs made it abundantly clear that the berries were not fit for consumption,” he said. “You see, when something seems too good to be true, it generally is. This is what life has taught me.”

Instinct has a short and soft voice. When you hear of a deal, proposal, idea, organization, offering that sounds too good to be true, learn to follow your instinct at that time. This is the inner voice. This is intuition. If you follow the trail it leaves behind, you are far more likely to come to an original conclusion. I’m not suggesting you become an eternal skeptic, but at the same time you must learn to trust your inner voice.

While you cogitate, others will tell you how you are being boring, pedantic, paranoid, overly cautious, closed and all that. It’s human nature that they want you to buy into the same idea they believe to be true, but that doesn’t mean they are right or even well-informed. When something sounds unreal, it may well be not only unreal but unrealistic too. Any path worth treading generally doesn’t have the luxury of shortcuts. Just like you learn any language or any new skill, you can learn to listen to your intuition as well. It only speaks once, does so softly and is spontaneous.

Learn to trust yourself. In fact, you are just about the only one you can trust. You are your greatest well-wisher, you never have a hidden agenda when you are dealing with yourself. You may as well capitalize on these traits and unlock yourself. Your intuition is your higher source within you.

Peace.
Swami
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