The beautiful idea that we are “spiritual beings having human experiences” has been permeating the personal lives of some of us for a while. This inner permeation diffuses out to our families, our communities, and eventually to society at large. This permeation is perhaps how it becomes possible for the truly awakened and enlightened Ones, few as they may be in number, to eventually influence and affect the lives of many, nay thousands and eventually, millions.
The idea that our ‘spiritual being’, the one that has this human experience, acts with intelligence, with inputs from our ego, our mind, our emotions and our intellect, is worth exploring. We are all familiar with mental and even emotional intelligence, as measured by IQ and EQ respectively. Perhaps we are less familiar with Spiritual Intelligence, as denoted by Spiritual Quotient or SQ. But before we delve into the idea of SQ, it is perhaps worthwhile to examine the idea of intelligence itself. What is it anyway? Beyond the dictionary definition, Wikipedia defines intelligence as:
Intelligence has been defined in many different ways such as in terms of one’s capacity for logic, abstract thought, understanding, self-awareness, communication, learning, emotional knowledge, memory, planning, creativity and problem solving.
For the purpose of this brief reflection, I have chosen to extract a narrower definition of “spiritual intelligence” (SQ) from the above as “the capacity for self-awareness”. I like to include the word ‘capacity’ in my definition because it connotes the warm idea of potential, and the fact that regardless of how much SQ we started with (at birth) or how much SQ we may have now – we have the ability to change it if we so desire. I picked the word “self-awareness” from the broader definition, as it closely denotes the journey of those on the spiritual path, using their spiritual tools, within their spiritual practices.
Having defined spiritual intelligence, we can now ask some questions of it. What are some traits or characteristics that separate those with ‘higher’ SQ from those with ‘lower’ SQ? Some key traits may be the degree of expressed empathy, the extent of action(s) taken when inspired by kindness, the amount of inner-peace that one may carry with them, the comfort level that we may have with being in active stillness and silence, and so on.
Along similar lines, one may further inquire ~ how do mental (IQ) and emotion intelligence (EQ) contribute to spiritual intelligence (SQ)? Or do they? Mental intelligence is often measured by capacity for learning, memory and problem solving. Do these skills necessarily equate or relate to development of SQ? Emotional intelligence (EQ) is often indicated by capacity for emotional knowledge, sensitivity and discernment. It would seem that EQ is a better indicator of capacity for higher SQ, as compared to the correlation between IQ and SQ. What are your thoughts?
Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk from the late 1800s, had mentioned the concept of involution in one of his essays. My interpretation of the same is that he connected spiritual intelligence to involution to propose that we are born with a certain amount of SQ. We receive this SQ as we do our genetics, and then combine it with our family life, our society and our environment, our education and our experiences, to either grow it or diminish it. In addition, another luminous light that has inspired me, had this to say about the role and importance of SQ in our lives:
• For the transformation of Ignorance into integral Knowledge, the growth in us of a spiritual intelligence ready to receive a higher light and canalise it for all the parts of our nature is an intermediate necessity of great importance.
Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) in: The Life Divine (1985)
I hope I have given you some seeds that you can plant in your spirit-garden, to water and nourish, so that they can grow into strong plants with beautiful flowers that reflect the involved spiritual intelligence of each seed…
P.S. Please join me and the #SpiritChat community, Sunday February 22nd at 9amET/2pmUK/7:30pmIndia for a conversation about Spiritual Intelligence. Thank you for reading, your support, and your contributions. Much #gratitude!