In my last column I wrote about the importance of having a balanced intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ) and spiritual intelligence (SQ) to help navigate our way through life. I elaborated on the first two and promised to discuss more the meaning of SQ and why it’s important to have it in our lives, in my next column. So here it is.
If you ask someone who they are, they will most likely identify themselves by their sex and gender, their nationality/ethnicity, religion, profession, their political party/organization or ideology, and even a sensation or emotion. You would say, “I am angry” or “I am hungry”. I think the Latin languages make more sense as in Italian, for example, they say “Ho fame” (I have hunger) but for “I am angry” they still say “Sono arrabbiato” for a man, or “sono arrabbiata”, if you are a woman. Very gender conscious those Latins!
You also say, “I am rich/poor” or “this is my mother/son/husband/wife, etc”—as if you could own people.
This indicates that people mainly identify with their bodies, their physical sensations, and their material world conditions and possessions. The Brahma Kumaris (BK), a global spiritual organization which has its headquarters in India, and 8,500 centers in 130 countries, calls this “body consciousness”.
No, no, it has nothing to do with body image or fat-shaming, but how your thinking, feeling, attitude, action and behaviors are connected to the awareness of being a body in a physical and material world.
Also read: Smart But Stupid? Time to Develop Your EQ
The truth, according to the BKs—and I agree with them—is that we are not bodies with a soul but souls who reside in a body. So the physical and material world are the interface that enables us to interact as souls with each other, on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
Why don’t souls just interact directly? Well, apparently souls don’t experience pain—physical or emotional—so no motivation to learn and develop yourself right? Hence the need for the body.
People differ in what they feel to be the purpose of life, in particular, their own lives. Most want happiness—whatever their definition of happiness may be. But whether they realize it or not, the ultimate purpose of life is to learn. I mean, you wouldn’t dream of staying in elementary school even though going to the next levels pose more challenges and difficulties right? And guess what? Pain, problems, obstacles, crises—they are all opportunities to learn.
Okay, so what is spiritual intelligence?
Physicist and philosopher Danah Zohar, writes that “Spiritual intelligence is an ability to access higher meanings, values, abiding purposes, and unconscious aspects of the self and to embed these meanings, values, and purposes in living richer and more creative lives. Signs of high SQ include an ability to think out of the box, humility, and an access to energies that come from something beyond the ego, beyond just me and my day-to-day concerns.”
Also read: The Magic of Saying Sorry
Zohar identifies 12 principles underlying spiritual intelligence::
- Self-awareness: Knowing what I believe in and value, and what deeply motivates me;
- Spontaneity: Living in and being responsive to the moment;
- Being vision- and value-led: Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly;
- Holism: Seeing larger patterns, relationships, and connections; having a sense of belonging;
- Compassion: Having the quality of "feeling-with" and deep empathy;
- Celebration of diversity: Valuing other people for their differences, not despite them;
- Field independence: Standing against the crowd and having one's own convictions;
- Humility: Having the sense of being a player in a larger drama, of one's true place in the world;
- Tendency to ask fundamental "Why?" questions: Needing to understand things and get to the bottom of them;
- Ability to reframe: Standing back from a situation or problem and seeing the bigger picture or wider context;
- Positive use of adversity: Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and suffering;
- Sense of vocation: Feeling called upon to serve, to give something back.
If all these sound daunting, let’s make it simpler. The first step to being “soul conscious”–which is another word for being spiritually intelligent (your SQ), is just simply to be aware of the fact that you are a soul. The nature of the soul is peaceful and powerful, and if you focus daily (for me it’s through meditation), you can increase your soul power to resist and deal with the negative energies which surround you. Of course, you also need to seek and imbibe spiritual knowledge, which is not always easy, given all the fake gurus out there.
The trouble is, the world we live in now is full of empty souls—body conscious people who due to their total identification with their external identities, create all the problems and even evil in the world. Just think about it, religion which is meant to bring you closer to God and teaches you to love thy neighbor, give service to others, even turn the other cheek, etc., has given rise to religious fundamentalism, extremism and even terrorism. Hello? How did that happen? Much of religion has lost any trace of soul consciousness it ever had, and has become totally body conscious and divisive.
Ditto with governments, political and political leaders and corporations, they all act out of narrow self-interest, greed, power-grabbing, causing suffering, pain and destruction, not just to the other humans, but also to the environment.
So along comes the coronavirus, or COVID-19. I and many others saw this is more than a rap on the knuckles to all humans and how we have “evolved” to become the most rapacious and ruinous creatures on earth.
Zach Bush MD, physician, also expert on the human genome and the environment, gave one the best monologues on the current situation. Basically, it’s a reminder that this unprecedented crisis is an opportunity to return to nature and the soul-conscious humans we are meant to be, rather than the body conscious, destructive animals we have become.