“To become human – that is what we are created for” according to the great Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber. Becoming fully human is the great adventure of life. One of the goals of human life is spiritual transformation, self-transcendence. There are many paths to realising it. We all have our heroes who inspire us. Figures like, Abraham, Gandhi, Jesus, Dalai Lama, Mohammed, Mother Teresa, the Pope, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – spiritual and cultural leaders whose lives we admire. We describe these people as authentic human beings filled with integrity, calm, peaceful and centred. They have a clear vision and mission, are most compassionate, caring and kind, courageous, generous, forgiving and faith-filled. They are great teachers and leaders, humble and inspirational. They are non–violent, open–minded and committed. We would like to emulate them.
Spirituality is our need to be connected to something larger than ourselves, something we consider to be divine which exists in all of us. We have a number of intelligences – including spiritual intelligence. Spiritual Intelligence is a set of skills we develop over time. It is our ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of our situations. Wisdom and compassion are the two pillars of spiritual attainment.
Spiritual Intelligence must show up in our actions and behaviours. This is our ideal. Emotional intelligence involves the growth and development of our feelings and emotions. Spiritual Intelligence is the growth and development of our spiritual natures. Know that though you are perfect as you are right now, the unfolding of your higher self is still ahead of you. You never stop becoming all you can be. The human person is a process of becoming, changing, expanding and contracting.
We are affected by life’s external conditions – our culture and environment as we struggle to survive and thrive. We are also affected by internal conditions – instinctive habits, emotional and psychological conditioning and an interior drive to become ‘more’ and be more compassionate, wise and peaceful. This is our Spiritual Intelligence at work. We are dynamic, flowing and fascinating. Being human is a miraculous gift. We have an immature self and a higher self. We have different drives. Some are noble, selfless and inspired. Others are petty, selfish and limited. “Make it your business to know yourself – which is the most difficult lesson in the world.” (Cervantes)
Who or what is driving your life? Spiritual Intelligence teaches you to move from being driven to operating from your higher self, from ego to true self. Self–knowledge is the foundation for becoming the wise, compassionate, peaceful person you have the capacity to become. The first skill we need to develop our Spiritual Intelligence is Self-Awareness – awareness of our world view, of life’s purpose, of our value, of our inner thought, and our ego self and higher self. It is a bringing forth of all that is within you. Spiritual Intelligence helps us to handle the complexities of life, to understand right and wrong, to embrace and enjoy mystery.
Spiritual Intelligence helps us focus on the Higher Self. The Higher Self is your inner wisdom, spirit, soul and essence. It is concerned with the Ego Self too – our personality. The Higher Self is the better part of you. Compassion is the goal of Spiritual Intelligence. It is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things. Spiritual Intelligence helps you to navigate the world with wisdom. It teaches us respect for human life, for our planet. It teaches us empathy for others and helps us make positive and profound choices. We come to know there are higher goals in life. We come to believe in the divine. We begin to value intuition as a source of knowledge and we gain spiritual insight that leads us to believe in a higher power, in a God. Spiritual guidelines and a moral code become important. Spiritual Intelligence opens us to God. You engage with faith and with prayer.
To be Spiritually Intelligent is to be self–mastered, to be committed to spiritual growth, our higher self, to live with deeper purpose and values. We sustain faith and seek wisdom from God, other people, from Scripture, from Church, from reading and from the arts. It is to have a belief system. We develop conscious behaviour and learn to live selflessly. Our faith sustains us and we have a sense of gratitude and make wise and compassionate decisions. We become beacons of light for our world. We develop a strong connection with God through prayer and ritual. We develop a religious support system – love for creation, spiritual reading, days of quiet, celebration of rituals and community involvement. All these are skills which nourish our Spiritual Intelligence.
Working on these skills makes a vast difference to our lives and we become compassionate, ready to take our place in our world. It is what St Paul calls growing up into Christ. We will be mutually connected to God, to each other and to our wonderful planet.
Sr. Ann Crowley
Convent of Mercy, Kilkee
Clare Champion Article 17th of September 2021