Building Spiritual Intelligence

There is enough talk about Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) in academic and corporate circles today with several ways of measuring, analysing and building one’s intelligence in problem-solving and emotional management. The two play an important role in a person’s pursuit of security, happiness and values. Are these enough to describe our ability to successfully sail through life? Can we reach the apex of Maslow’s pyramid, self-actualisation and self-transcendence armed with these two?

I have wondered what kind of a person takes to a spiritual path? And if one does take to a spiritual path, what kind of a person really flourishes spiritually- progresses, grows?

All of us at some point in our lives have spiritual rendezvous where we ask questions we never asked before – about life’s meaning, purpose or a higher self. For most of us, these are just events that last a while and then pass like any other experience. But for some of us, this becomes a lifelong quest. People call this pursuit many names – Nirvana, Tawhid, Moksha, Perfection, Beatification and so on. I simply like to refer to it as the fourth pursuit and I have written about it a few times on this blog.

Here I am exploring the intelligence that such a person has or needs to successfully embark on the journey. Many questions came to mind. That’s when Lady Luck arranged my encounter with the work of Dabah Zohar, a physicist, philosopher and management thought leader who has co-authored Spiritual Capital: Wealth we can live by.

She calls this the third intelligence – spiritual intelligence, which is built on the foundation of IQ and EQ. She defines spiritual intelligence as the power that an individual or organisation can manifest based on their deepest meanings, values and purposes. She then goes on to enumerates the twelve principles that make it up:

12 Principles of Spiritual Intelligence. Source

Turning to spirituality means seeing beyond our motivations to seek pleasure, security and values in the external world and rather choosing to dive within ourselves, withdrawing from external noise and finding that life’s ultimate goal within.

These 12 principles also can also serve us as a measure of our own spiritual development or progress.   Give each of these principles a thought and see how you can relate to them.

Another SQ expert and coach, Cindy Wogglesworth expanded on Danah’s work and derived from these 12 principles, the 21 skills of spiritual intelligence. She describes them in her book SQ21: twenty-one skills of spiritual intelligence. Based on whether the skill at play is between Self – Other, she divides them into four quadrants:

21 Skills of Spiritual Intelligence Source

The best word for spirituality in the Indian wisdom tradition of Vedanta is yogaḥ meaning joining or simply absolute knowledge (wisdom). These 21 skills can be seen as the equivalent of Karma Yoga: practised deliberately to develop them as skills. When one understands the 12 principles that stand behind them, it is similar to Jnana yogah- the pursuit of wisdom, a way of developing the skill of higher understanding. When we look at the 12 principles, we can see that each of these principles can be acquired – by learning about them, asking clarifying questions, immersing ourselves in their meaning and finally spontaneously living by that understanding.

I can’t help but see these parallels and see how these ideas are universal- whether arrived at by empirical research or from time-tested traditions.

Living by these principles doesn’t mean we stop pursuing pleasure, security and values. It means we see these pursuits in a new light, as something that sets the stage for spirituality, an environment of the harmonious and healthy functioning of our minds, bodies, society and ecology, which allows those few among us who ate ready, to start their spiritual hike, to climb to heights of higher taste, higher meaning and higher purpose.

The most important question to ask ourselves is: Am I ready to start on this journey of discovery or not?

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