Several years back it was IQ that was thought to be the only valid form of intelligence. Then late in the 1990s came the introduction of the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) — the way in which people manage their emotions, and a type of intelligence that might potentially be even more important than IQ. Then at the start of the 21st century our understanding of the facets of intelligence was further expanded when the idea of spiritual intelligence, or SQ, emerged.
Spiritual Intelligence Joins IQ and EQ
At the beginning of the twentieth century, as psychologists discovered ways and means to measure intelligence, Aristotle’s definition of a man as a rational animal developed into an obsession with IQ. In the mid-1990s, Daniel Goleman popularized research into emotional intelligence, EQ, pointing out that EQ is a basic requirement for the appropriate use of IQ. Now, there is enough collective evidence from neurology, psychology, anthropology and cognitive science to show us that there is a third ‘Q’, ‘SQ’, or Spiritual Intelligence.
We all know of intellectual intelligence (IQ) and more latterly, the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) in health, happiness and work success but what about spiritual intelligence (SQ)? While interest in IQ is nearly a century old, EQ’s place in business has emerged only in the last decade.
EQ or EI was first popularized by Daniel Goleman in the mid 90’s in the Time Magazine article, Is EQ more important than IQ? Since then much has been written and researched on this important subject, which includes the dimensions of self and other awareness as well as social awareness and relationship management.
Emotional intelligence is recognized as an additional quality needed in a person’s makeup. It gives the person the ability to work effectively as part of a team and to form satisfactory relationships with others. We could even move a step further and consider spiritual intelligence as another important capacity to develop. Our spiritual nature includes our capacity for love and compassion and the awareness of being part of a greater whole. Without some form of spiritual sensibility we can have an outwardly successful life but feel an inner emptiness and a lack of meaning and fulfillment.
Spiritual intelligence provides us with a context for our actions, the way that we tackle and solve problems of greater meaning and value and a way for us to determine a life path that is meaningful and right.
To be spiritual is to think, act and interact from an awareness of self as spirit not form, soul not body. Most of us are taught to believe we are our physical forms, and so we identify with our body or the labels we give to our bodies such as nationality, race, gender, profession etc. This wrong sense of self is what creates all fear, anger and sadness in life. From a spiritual point of view these emotions are always the result of ego (misidentification), which then blocks access to your true spiritual nature which is peaceful, loving and joyful.
Spiritual intelligence gives us spirtual growth, and a unique way in which to view the challenges and mysteries of life and death. It empowers people to challenge the status quo and think outside the box. With SQ, a person may be more able to face some of life’s suffering, pain and adversities, and also be able to help others to overcome their own challenges.
To live with greater attunement to your SQ, you should be aware and follow these principles:
- Live from your values base
- Be open to learning, growing and developing
- Know and use your signature strengths for good
- Understand the unity in diversity
- Have a superordinate goal which is about service
- Take time out for reflection
- Connect with nature regularly
- Honor the intuitive as well as the analytical
Spiritual intelligence enhances our awareness that we are a part of a greater whole and that through our interconnectedness with all beings and the planet our words, deeds and actions have an impact.
Spiritual Intelligence vs Spirituality
Spirituality is to know who you are and spiritual intelligence is to realize who you are and to live life in that awareness. You have always been who you are and, in truth, you can never be other than who you are, but it requires realization — that moment when you ‘see it’, when you ‘get it’ and then you ‘be it’.
Spiritual is derived from the Latin Spiritus that means breathing. It is the nature of relating to the spirit, the mind (enter mindfulness) and higher faculties i.e. highly refined in thought and feelings.
Spirituality is the knowledge of yourself as spirit/soul, and the understanding of your highest spiritual qualities and attributes, which are bliss, peace, purity and love. Spiritual intelligence is the expression of these innate spiritual qualities through your attitudes, thoughts and behaviors. Being spiritual means the ego has dissolved, virtue has been restored to character and spiritual values connect your inner and outer worlds (thought to action). It is the ability to see every other human being as soul/spirit, and thereby transcend all the false identities of profession, gender, race, nationality, color and religion.
Spiritual is pertaining to the incorporeal or immaterial, non-physical nature of human beings and not specifically aligned with religion or anything religious.
When you realize who you really are you will be at peace with yourself not only because peace is your true and original nature but there is no longer any inner division and therefore conflict between the many identities that you had previously created (profession, gender, possessions, nationality and so forth). You no longer have to defend or protect any false image of your self, so you no longer perceive anyone else as a threat to those images. When you realize who you truly are you are at peace with the world because you will contain the world instead of it containing you.
Spirituality is a value and exists both as a belief and as a way of life with practical implications. Spirituality goes beyond the societal labels of race, gender, or profession and asks of you to no longer think of yourself only as a musician, yoga teacher, Buddhist, Jew, mother, Christian, accountant and so forth. Spirituality compels you to go within to look deeper inside to your essence or core of your being.
Religion is different from spirituality. Religion puts a set of codes, rules and dogma around central spiritual truths. Spirituality, on the other hand, refers simply to the fact that there is another aspect to existence apart from the physical/material realm. Spirituality affirms it is important to take account of this other aspect of reality.
This spiritual realm is, in a sense, hidden because it cannot be detected by the intellect or by scientific instruments. You need to develop other capacities in order to sense spiritual reality. Without it, however, life will always seem to be lacking something. You end up with a constant and endless drive for substitute fulfillment, which is what we see going on in our present materialistic, hedonistic culture.