The Science of Spiritual Awareness
Spiritual intelligence has always conjured feelings of religiousness for me. Indeed, during my first reading of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I clearly remember reading to the point at which Stephen Covey discusses reading the scriptures as part of his daily revitalization (sharpening the saw) and believing that the rest of the chapter probably didn’t apply to me, as I wasn’t really a religious person. As many of you most likely already know, and as I’ve come to understand through diverse readings and the Transformational Leadership course in particular, spirituality doesn’t have to involve religion or a specific higher power and, as I’ll describe here, shouldn’t involve any specific religion.
The Transformational Leadership lesson for spiritual intelligence was to work together to create kits containing hygiene products and a small amount of food to hand out to the homeless. A practice such as this helps to increase our sensitivity of the plight of those around us, and restoring our innate connection to all others. Although a practice that might involve helping others can build our spiritual intelligence, to achieve true spiritual intelligence we have to go beyond our experiences in life. Spiritual intelligence is innate in all of us, and therefore, I believe, something which we unlearn by our worldly experience.
It’s about releasing our ego, and allowing the source of everything to flow through us to understand our shared experience. Spiritual intelligence transcends values and experience in life to understand everyone as the same. As I’ve discussed on previous postings, we have value sets and beliefs that we use to create a map of our world. Despite the fact that we are creating our individual maps based on our experience, true spiritual intelligence is the understanding that all of our maps will be a part of the same atlas as we all share a similar experience.
Is Everything Really Connected?
The movie Avatar is a great example as to how pain and triumph can be shared by all living things and felt as one experience. Even though the characters in the movie looked unique and had unique talents, they also shared a similar experience and felt the pain of nature when part of their world was destroyed. This is the essence of spiritual intelligence— it transcends values and ethics, our ego, to allow us to feel the connection that exists between all of life. Today, more than ever in our human history, an increased awareness of spiritual intelligence is needed. Ironically, as the world has become closer and more accessible due to technology, we have become less connected and more distant from real human experience as we spend less time together. I think this explains the fascination with social media sites: we yearn to feel with others even if we don’t realize this is why we can’t stop opening Instagram to see what is happening.
Religion vs. Science
For centuries, religious explanations of life have given meaning to our existence. Gradually since the 17th century, faith based descriptions of life gave way to scientific enlightenments based on physical laws. The shift to a scientific explanation for life— the thought that we are just a collection of chemicals—gave way to disconnected melancholy that can be seen in literature and art over the previous hundred or so years. As much as science had played a role limiting our shared faith, it has also been used to restore it. In the past several decades, scientific study showed that a spiritual intelligence increases functions, benefiting our life. In class, we created kits to hand out to the homeless but there are many other practices which can increase our connection to others and improve our spiritual intelligence. It can be as simple as making a goal to say hi to one stranger a day, or it could be as involved as volunteering in an impoverished community. Some of the proven benefits of increased spiritual intelligence are listed below.
- Emotional Balance-Increased spiritual intelligence activates the capabilities of the non-ego centered response, which limits the emotional response.
- Fulfillment-increased spiritual intelligence brings greater meaning to life by giving purpose through a shared experience.
- Increased performance
- Increased happiness
To gain true spiritual intelligence, as Yoda said, “You must unlearn what you have learned.” We were born connected to all others. We have an innate ability to understand what others feel. We are innately spiritual. Despite this inborn ability, we can lose it as we begin to learn from others. The same as we must do to develop our other intelligence streams, so we must do to maintain or re-develop spiritual intelligence, and begin a routine practice to allow us to let go and know what is innate.
Are you ready to increase your spiritual awareness?
Take the next move and register for the Transformational Leadership course. The skills you’ll learn will improve and continue to enhance your leadership abilities in all aspects of your life. Find out more and register for the fall semester here.