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This book is based on my belief that each of us possesses spiritual intelligence, and that we have the capacity to think with our souls. The term spiritual intelligence may at first seem contradictory. The word spiritual evokes images of sacred experience, of the soul, of questions about the meaning and purpose of life, of subjective and personal reality. Intelligence, on the other hand, connotes the mind at work. Analytic problem-solving, computation, and scientific understanding of the workings of the external world are processes most often associated with contemporary views of intelligence.
Is it possible to fuse spirituality and intelligence into a new creation? I think it is. Spiritual intelligence is our human capacity to ask ultimate questions about the meaning of life; and to experience simultaneously the seamless connection between each of us and the world in which we live. The subjective world, with which spirituality deals, and the objective world, which intelligence seeks to comprehend, both reside within each of us. We need a language to describe sacred experience that can point to commonalities of encounters with the ineffable, but which is not burdened with religious or ideological overtones. We also need a methodology for studying, learning about, and understanding our spiritual selves and the intelligent ways in which we can live our spirituality.
In my opinion, spiritual intelligence is part of the normal--in the statistical and psycho-social sense--life of us all. Even those who voice unflattering views of anything they consider "spiritual" can, with a little prodding, begin to have insight into their ownspirituality. Once embarrassment and inhibition fade, we witness the owering of spiritual awareness in the most unlikely (by conventional distorted standards) individuals.
My research into the nature of spirituality forms the centerpiece of this book, built around the methodology of the PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory, or PSI. The PSI is an eighty-item inventory designed to help people assess the focus and pattern of their own spirituality. This research instrument has been used with more than six thousand men and women in an effort to objectively study spiritual practice and experience. In this book I will describe my creation of the inventory and the findings of the research. In particular, I discovered seven factors that together comprise the spectrum of spiritual experience and behavior. Those factors may be described briefly as follows:
1. Divinity: the sense of connection to a God figure or Divine Energy Source
2. Mindfulness: awareness of the interconnection of the mind and body, with an emphasis on practices that enhance that relationship
3. Intellectuality: a cognitive, inquiring approach to spirituality, with a focus on reading and discussing sacred texts
4. Community: the quality of spirituality enacting connection to the community at large, whether in charity or politics
5. Extrasensory perception: spiritual feelings and perceptions associated with nonrational ways of knowing, including prophetic dreams and near-death experiences
6. Childhood spirituality: a personal, historical association to spirituality through family tradition and activity
7. Trauma: a stimulus to spiritual awareness through experiencing physical or emotional illness or trauma to the self or loved ones
These factors encompass the range of spiritual experience reported by this large representative sampling of people.
When you take the PSI for yourself, you will get a picture of your personal pattern of the dimensions of spirituality represented by the seven factors. Like your fingerprints, this pattern is similar to, but unlike the configuration of any other person. Understanding your spiritual style, as well as your spiritual strengths and limitations, can help you see yourself more clearly and improve your interpersonal relationships. Insight into our own behavior or internal experience and empathy for the experiences of others is crucial for daily living and for psycho-spiritual development. As a psychotherapist, I encourage careful listening and self-reflection in my patients--and in myself--because I believe that understanding the context and meaning of our actions frees us to make conscious choices, rather than enslaving us to respond reflexively to life's demands.
What works in the psychological world can, I believe, also work in the world of spiritual experience. Developing spiritual intelligence and finding a language with which to articulate ineffable and deeply moving moments provides a release of spiritual energy for many people who take the PSI. Such personal spiritual discoveries also create the possibility of dialogue with others about difficult-to-discuss concerns and personal beliefs. Some people back away from such discussions, or from invitations to try the Inventory, with statements like, "Oh, no, thanks, I'm not really very spiritual; that's not really my thing." When such individuals do take the Inventory and receive their personal reports, however, they are drawn into spiritual conversations by the power of their deep and personal experiences. These conversations are eloquent reminders that we are all spiritual, and only need the proper stimulus to evoke relevant thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Memories long buried are sometimes re-evoked. Personal reflection on the value of human interrelationships and the connection to a larger life force emerge spontaneously, sometimes to the person's surprise and joy. People who begin to share their own spiritual histories are often surprised by the force of their feelings--both positive and negative. In some cases the process is one of opening old wounds about religious conflicts that have healed insufficiently and have lain dormant for years. In others, the conversation inspires a feeling of homecoming and renewed dedication to spiritual practices that used to bring pleasure but have been shunted aside by the rush of daily life.
I find that many people have a willingness and need to discuss matters of life, death, and meaning with someone who is psychologically and spiritually open and lends a willing ear. For example, I met an old friend, Ron, at the tennis court. (All names used in the vignettes and examples throughout this book are fictitious, but refer, sometimes in composite form, to actual people.) I hadn't seen him for two years. He and I began to talk about the PSI and the work I was doing in this area of research. Before long, we were discussing his own concerns about spirituality and the fact that his thirty-five-year-old son was still having severe epileptic seizures, which would require yet another round of surgery. His concern for his son's welfare, the quality of the young man's life, and the overall meaning that the effects of the affliction were having on his child were palpable. We played for a short while, but spent most of our time together that afternoon focused on the role of spirituality and its relation to physical and emotional healing in his life and in his son's world.
The next day, as I was walking to the library, I unexpectedly met Sandra, a friend and former classmate of mine from the third grade, whom I see from time to time. She recognized me before I recognized her. Sandra's weight and appearance had changed dramatically because, as I learned, she was just recovering from surgery for a brain tumor. Once again, the issue of spirituality emerged as we discussed how close Sandra had come to death. "I feel grateful for every day," she told me. For us human beings, ultimate concerns are never far from consciousness. We don't have to look to the esoteric to find the spiritual. Everyday life supplies ample reminders of how fragile life is, and how thoroughly interrelated we all are.
I recount these stories because I want to be clear about the fact that spirituality and spiritual intelligence have their greatest application and most profound relevance in day-to-day activities, such as how we interact with friends or treat others in our families, or the ways in which we feel our work is meaningful. Sometimes we encounter a cynical, narrow view of spiritual intelligence. From this perspective, spirituality may be seen as a caricature of New Age "seekers" sitting in dreamlike meditation, or chanting and beating drums. Another view associates spirituality primarily with devout religious practice. The latter would be far removed from the experience of average people who go to school and to work, and try to live decent, moral, and caring lives with little fanfare, but take very seriously their responsibility for their own well-being and that of their families.
In the first part of the book, we will examine spirituality at the beginning of the new century, looking at how spirituality permeates every part of our culture and our national and international thinking. We will then go on to examine ways in which spirituality and questions of ultimate purpose and meaning currently infuse popular culture, politics, education, and the application of science and technology.
The relationship of spirituality to science and technology is particularly important because of the unprecedented moral choices created by the application of new knowledge. We live in an age in which the mysteries of the fundamental building blocks of life are being decoded, as we marvel at the completion of the Human Genome Project. We can shape the reproduction of our species through in vitro fertilization and selective reduction of pregnancies, or with genetic engineering. We can extend life with technological intervention, but cannot guarantee its quality. We live in an age of rampant epidemics in which more than 50 million people have been infected with HIVAIDS and at least 16 million have died. South Africa alone has 4.2 million people with HIV. A redistribution of resources could have substantially reduced these numbers. It is my contention that spiritual intelligence is the foundation on which these moral choices rest. Understanding spiritual intelligence and how to apply it to daily life can enable us to improve the quality of all our relationships, with one another and with the world we live in.
To gain a better understanding of the intelligence component of spiritual intelligence, we will examine the historical notions of intelligence and some current theories that guide intelligence research and its applications in education. Intelligence--and the tests that immediately spring to mind--is a concept that requires careful analysis. The theory of the existence of something called intelligence, research about this human capacity, and the application of intelligence testing have been raisons d'etre of psychology for decades. This pivotal concept relates to traditional notions of mental function. Some psychologists, including Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, expanded the original idea of a singular intelligence into the theory that we each possess a variety of intelligences. I will explain how intelligence can be understood in relation to spirituality. Once the cultural, political, and philosophical background of spirituality has been described, and the concept of intelligence has been clarified, we will proceed to the research itself.
In the next section of the book, because of the intensely personal nature of an investigation of spirituality, I will trace some relevant steps on my own path. As a psychologist, I know that there is usually some conscious or unconscious "flight plan" that brings us to any destination where we find ourselves. Each of us can look back on his or her life to see the direction of that path. Perhaps you wonder about your own life and its meaning, direction, and purpose. This investigation into the nature of spirituality has helped me become more aware of the spiritual needs that guide our thoughts and activities. I hope it can help you, too.
In the middle of the book, I invite you to take the PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory, score it, and find the ways in which you can apply it to your life on a daily basis. You may find that much of what you know and believe about your own spirituality is confirmed; but I hope that you will also find new ways in which you can enhance and improve your own experience and your personal expression of spirituality.
The last part of the book examines each of the seven spiritual factors and describes some of the possibilities of meaning for various outcomes. Each of these chapters is presented with a different emphasis, some focusing on the application of the spiritual profile at work, some on personal relationships, some on individual growth and experience. I have tried to enhance this explanation with the use of examples of real people who have taken the PSI, and with whom I have been fortunate enough to establish a spiritual dialogue.
Many books on spiritual topics have appeared in the last few years. Why another book on spirituality? What new perspective can my approach offer? I believe that an empirically based investigation of spirituality can help overcome the major rift between science and spirituality by demonstrating that subjective experience of the sacred can be objectively and reliably measured. Creationism and natural science, for example, may best be understood as existing in two separate realms of existence, but personal experience--as opposed to theory--is universal.
With or without a scientific theory, every one of us is conscious, and therefore constitutes a complete subjective reality. Each of us has his or her own personal knowledge and way of being in the world. The words scientific and spiritual are linguistic descriptors, artifacts with which we communicate our thoughts, ideas, and concepts. Eating breakfast, going to a wedding or a funeral, or changing a baby's diaper are simply acts of living. It is theory that divides the world into separate categories for purposes of analysis. This book seeks to describe the individual spiritual world that forms the subjective and experiential underpinnings of these constructed conceptualizations and theories.
In an increasingly complex and materialistic world, understanding spirituality can also provide us with a new kind of tool for coping better with the challenges of our practical lives. Psychological insight enriches our appreciation of the unique dimensions of individual differences with respect to personality. Similarly, spiritual insight can illuminate unique dimensions of sacred and ineffable experience and thereby enhance opportunities for personal growth.
I also believe the findings of this research can help people develop a language that will foster dialogue about humankind's most compelling quandaries. With an objective measure of spirituality, we can describe individual spiritual expression and help create dialogue between people. Without a methodology of understanding the spirituality of someone else, people might otherwise pass each other by, thinking that their private spiritual selves are too personal and idiosyncratic to share without opening themselves to ridicule or embarrassment.
The approach I take in this book uses a different perspective from other recent works on the subject. Rather than create a lecture or sermon format in which I tell you what spirituality is, how you should understand it, how you should use it, and what role it should play in your life, you tell me about your experience of the spiritual realm. Your stories inform the process of understanding spirituality from your own perspective. You can then use your stories to provide the point of view most relevant to your individual experience. The intent with which I offer this research and speculation is not to advise on such personal and private matters, but to join with you in the search for meaning, and to share the pleasure of new discovery. My research provides the basis for guiding our investigation; our collaboration is the basis for a spiritual dialogue. A longtime friend and colleague once told me, "Love is shared work."
Research on spirituality brings the objective to the subjective, the world of science to the realm of sacred knowledge. I approach the investigation of the spiritual world of another with respect and trepidation. Each of us has a unique way of using spiritual intelligence. In looking for commonalities among people through scientific inquiry, it is important that we do no violence to the delicate privacy with which we guard this spiritual part of ourselves. At the same time, it is equally important to Wnd the sacred threads that bind us and may join us to a transcendent reality.
|2.||A Personal View||39|
|5.||Creating the PSI||121|
|6.||Taking the PSI||143|
Posted February 28, 2001
I loved this book with its new and refreshing look at spirituality without religious ideology. With the basic assumption that each of us is spiritual, the PSI inventory gave me a chance to learn about how I experience sprituality in my own life. Reading about the author's personal journey developing the PSI and reading about his patients and the thousands of people who have taken the questionnaire was sufficient evidence for me to beleive in spiritual intelligence and to reflect upon how it matters in my life. I recommend the book highly and encourage readers to take the questionnaire in the book. Bravo!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.