Spiritual intelligence

philosophical term

Spiritual intelligence is a term used by philosophers, psychologists, and developmental theorists to indicate parallels between general intelligence, emotional intelligence and spirituality.

Knowing is the spiritual intelligence of the mind.
- Kumazawa Banzan (1619–1691)

Quotes edit

The individual self is concerned, it may be divided into a physical body and a spiritual intelligence, the latter being primary.
- Yan Yuan (1635-1704)

Before 17th century edit

  • While a man of superior spiritual intelligence might penetrate quickly into the nature of mind-and- heart-in-itself... the less talented must learn how to do good and avoid evil in thought and intention, until his mind-and-heart-in-itself becomes clear and manifest.
  • In his later years Dōgen often severely criticized the Senika heresy (sennigedo), which is the erroneous view that the mind abides while the form perishes. According to this view, there is a bright spiritual intelligence contained in our body that is the source of self-understanding. When the body dies, the spiritual intelligence alone does not perish but abides immutably. This view, Dōgen argues, when "hearing of the doctrine of this very mind (itself is buddha), takes it to mean that the discriminating knowledge of sentient beings is itself the buddha"
    • Dōgen (c. 1230-50) as cited in Masao Abe, Steven Heine (1992) A Study of Dōgen: His Philosophy and Religion. p. 158
    • The Senika heresy here mentioned is a Buddhist believe in eternalism of the self.

17th century edit

  • It is God's delight to converse with Men. I was for many Years in the opinion that Men did sensibly hear the voice of God. I have since learned from experience that this is not true; for their actions in every way aim'd and directed to the Earth, to the honors, riches and Pleasures of this Life, which would be impossible for one that heard the voice of God to do. This Voice is not heard with the Ear of Flesh, but by the Spiritual intelligence, because God is Spirit and the Soul Spirit and they do more sensibly understand one another in Spirit, than by any Vocal words.
    • Antoinette Bourignon ( 1616–80) in: Chrétien de Cort (1703) The light risen in darkness: in four parts ; : in four parts ; being a collection of letters written to several persons, upon great and important subjects. p. 134
  • 'Being watchful over oneself while alone' is to have a mind which is watchful over its own knowing. It is the same whether one is with others or by oneself. Even when one is with others, one's private thoughts are not known by others. When pursuing the solitary knowledge of one's mind, there are no external restrictions. Having no depraved thoughts, allowing no self-deception, making the will sincere - this is the meaning of 'being watchful over oneself while alone.' When a thought arises in one's mind, one spontaneously knows if it is good or evil-this is knowing. Knowing is the spiritual intelligence of the mind. It is originally without good or evil. Thus it illumines good and evil. It is like the mouth not having the five flavors, yet being able to distinguish them; or like the ear not having the five sounds and yet able to distinguish them. To take solitary knowledge as one's ruler and to watch over it - this is the meaning of honoring the virtuous nature.
    • Kumazawa Banzan (1619–1691) cited in: Marleen Kassel (1996) Tokugawa Confucian Education: The Kangien Academy of Hirose Tansō (1782-1856). p. 67
This Voice (of God) is not heard with the Ear of Flesh, but by the Spiritual intelligence
Antoinette Bourignon (1616–80)
  • I often hear the women set out this intelligence as entirely spiritual, and disdain to put the interest the senses there have into consideration; everything there serves; but I can say that I have often seen that we have excused the weakness of their understandings in favour of their outward beauty, but have never seen that in favour of a mind, how mature and well-disposed soever, any one would lend a hand to a body that was never so little decayed. Why does not some one of them take it into her head to make that noble Socratical bargain between body and soul, purchasing a philosophical and spiritual intelligence and generation at the price of her thighs, which is the highest price she can get for them ? Plato ordains in his Laws that he who has performed any signal and advantageous exploit in war may not be refused during the whole expedition, whatever his age or deformity may be, a kiss or any other amorous favour from any woman whatever...
  • Widow, I have been a meer Stranger for these Parts that you live in, nor did I ever know the Husband of you, and Father of them, but I truly know by certain spiritual Intelligence, that he is in Purgatory.
    • William Shakespeare in: Nicholas Rowe (1709) The works of Mr. William Shakespeare: in six volumes. Vol. 6. p. 3097
  • According to the Taoists and Buddhists, as far as the individual self is concerned, it may be divided into a physical body and a spiritual intelligence, the latter being primary. Extending this idea upward, they regard this spiritual intelligence as the primary factor in Heaven and Earth, from which they go on to seek for whatever lacks shape and form, regarding it as genuine existence, whereas whatever possesses shape and form they look upon as illusory.
    As for the Sung Confucianists, they regard the physical body and spiritual intelligence as equally personal and private whereas Principle, for them, is derived from Heaven.
    • Yan Yuan (1635-1704) cited in: Youlan Feng, Yu-Lan Fung, Derk Bodde (1983) A History of Chinese Philosophy. Vol.2. p. 652

18th century edit

  • Against the reasoning it would be in vain to argue, as the Protestants did in their confessions, and elsewhere. "that if the saints heard the prayers of "their votaries, they must be omnipotent." There was hardly a protestant among them, that in those days, would venture to deny the indubitable maxim of St Austin, and having once placed the saints in heaven, nothing would disparage them so much as to suppose they had not as much spiritual intelligence as the Devils.
    • Francis Blackburne (1772) 'An Historical View of the Controversy concerning an Intermediate State and the Separate Existence of the Soul between Death and the General Resurrection. p. 68-69
  • Intellectual, (Lat.) belonging to the Intellect, Spiritual.
    • Glossographia Anglicana nova; or, A dictionary interpreting such hard words of whatever language, as are at present used in the English tongue (1707)
    • This one line from a 1707 Glossary informs us that in that time spiritual could be considered synonym to intellectual.
Man can be raised therefore from natural knowledge into spiritual intelligence and on into celestial wisdom. From the two, intelligence and wisdom, he can look to the Lord, be conjoined with Him, and thereby live to eternity.
- Emanuel Swedenborg (1764)
  • Man can be raised therefore from natural knowledge into spiritual intelligence and on into celestial wisdom. From the two, intelligence and wisdom, he can look to the Lord, be conjoined with Him, and thereby live to eternity.
  • The diabolical kingdom consists of those who are in the love of dominion from love of self and thence in foolishness; for this love is opposite to celestial love, and its foolishness is opposite to celestial wisdom; but the satanic kingdom consists of those who are in the love of dominion from the pride of their own intelligence, and thence in insanity; for this love is opposite to spiritual love, and its insanity is opposite to spiritual intelligence.
  • From the worship paid to these mystic shrines, and symbolic representation, intelligible to few but their priests, it was natural for a new sect to form itself, fond of a real image, or rather a fancied likeness of the favorite planet. This they made of such metal as they imaged was most consonant to its nature; of gold, to the Sun, or silver, to the Moon, or iron to Mars; - and thereby fixed the tradition of the names given to the metals by the chemists, which is equally received over the world, as their doctrine of the days of the week. Then offering, at the proper hour and precise minute of the day consecrated to the planet, the most grateful perfumes and sacrifices, which they always burnt entire, they believed that the pure spiritual intelligence, descending from its Orb at their Prayer, alighted on its mystic Symbol, said the better fort ; on its real Image, said the more sensual, which it animated, and made sometimes to speak, and at other times appear in dreams and visions, to reveal the Will of the most High God, and direct its pious Votaries to their own Advantage.
  • If a spiritual intelligence discovers itself only to us by the economy of the material universe, then man's spiritual part is concerned only with the safety and happiness of his body. The truth of this is verified by observation ; for the most enlarged and successful exertions of his intelligence have been for the benefit of our duration here: All his fine talents are bemisted whenever he launches into the spiritual world, and he can do nothing but toss over incoherent material imagery which he knows not to apply how, where, or to what. When he can discover a Supreme Mind engaged in spiritual exercises, or in any thing above the care of the universe, then let him also turn his attention to spiritual life and exercises, over and above the attention due to his present existence.
    • Andrew Wilson (1758) Human nature surveyed by philosophy and revelation, in 2 essays. p. 16

19th century edit

  • "In the absence of any proof that man ever did arrive at the conviction of one supreme spiritual intelligence from the book of Nature," continues the Atheist, "tis vain for you to attempt to demonstrate than man can, by the use of his reason, or by all the suggestions of the book of Nature, possess himself of any one of the ideas which are essential to your creed. That he has never done it, is the best proof that he never can do it..."
    The Christian philosopher, listening to this triumphant Atheist, at this crisis most serenely interposes his dilemma — "You affirm," Mr. Atheist, says the Christian, "that the idea or the name of a supreme spiritual intelligence, called God, did not enter the human mind by supernatural revelation, and that it could not enter the human mind by reason: but the idea and the name are now in the human mind, entertained by millions of the wisest and the best men in the world. idea which it represents, first took possession of the human understanding?"
    • Alexander Campbell. William Kimbrough Pendleton, Charles Louis Loos (1835) The millennial harbinger. Vol.6. p. 199
  • What is it which is shadowed in the human? What spiritual intelligence still superior looks down into the soul of man in admiration of those qualities which are most assimilated to its own? Might not such possibly, in comparison while contemplating some finer specimen of humanity, a Milton or a Newton - prefer in a Byronic vein.
    • James Anthony Froude (1833) "Critical Illustrations of Lord Byron's Poetry". In: Fraser's Magazine. Vol. 7. p. 315
Leave the postulating of spiritual intelligences to those who had a greater talent than he for building in the region of the unverifiable
- Noah Porter, 1886.
  • We read - in the second chapter of the book of Genesis, "that the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now this expression, being used with reference to man only, and to no other living animal, implies the divine afflation of a spiritual intelligence, — superinduced upon that principle of vitality, which is common to man, and to the whole animal
  • Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, and Tyndall, have not advanced a step nearer to the construction of the universe without the aid of a spiritual intelligence than Lucretius did in poems.
    • Robert Reid Howison (1883) God and Creation cited in: Popular Science. Dec 1883, p. 273
  • The new must be seen as urgent and useful. Inapplicable abstractions have no place. We are weary of air castles... Such mastery as, for example, over a piece of ice or over the chemical heat of the sun, must enter the consciousness, as must also mastery of the minutest products of matter. The retardation of spiritual realization is caused by a lack of attention to the manifestations of nature. Losing the power of observation, man loses the ability to synthesize. The abolishment of the use of money will free humanity from the blinders that impair its vision. There are moments of evolution when the walls we erect to contain conventional knowledge become obstacles. The time has come for the emancipation of knowledge, and the assumption of personal responsibility for its use. A free mind has the privilege of searching out new designs based upon unusual combinations. These hitherto undetected threads will lead it to more exalted layers of matter. Beholding play that is timid and limited, the free mind is right to point out new and better combinations. 20.
  • I agree with Herbert Spencer in believing that thought derives its laws from that universe of things whereof the Mind is a part ; and from this I further infer that our spontaneous conceptions agree with the reality of things, and that our knowledge has a rational basis. This escape from Agnosticism seems perfectly satisfactory ; so that the philosophy of Evolution, though it is despised as being materialistic, affords a basis for belief ; while those idealistic systems whereof Kant's is the type, which are constructed out of the mind itself, notwithstanding their vast pretensions to spirituality, lead by a direct and logical path to absolute theoretical scepticism. And if the intuitions of our Intelligence in relation to the external and visible world are true, we may consistently trust the intuitions of our moral and spiritual intelligence, which testify to the absolute difference between moral good and evil, and to the imperative character of the moral sense.
    • Joseph John Murphy (1893) Natural selection and spiritual freedom. Ch xi: Moral and Spiritual Intelligence. p. 233
  • That there is one living and true God, the Father almighty, who is unoriginated, independent, and eternal, the creator and supporter of all worlds ; and that this God is one spiritual intelligence, one infinite mind, ever the same, never varying.
    • John Gorham Palfrey, Francis Jenks (1827) "Articles of Belief" in: The Christian examiner. Vol 4, p. 189
  • Spencer "was incapable", our critic haughtily re marks, "of discerning the difference between a homogeneity in matter, necessarily and blindly tending toward a heterogeneity, , and such a law of organism [sic], progress, and growth as requires a spiritual intelligence to originate and maintain it." Perheps he was a poor man! or perhaps he thought he had better discern and formulate progress where he could do it to the best advantage, and leave the postulating of spiritual intelligences to those who had a greater talent than he for building in the region of the unverifiable.
    • Noah Porter "Ex-president Porter on Evolution" in: Popular Science. Sept 1886. Vol. 29, nr. 37. p. 589
  • History must be so revised that while the Ultimate spiritual Intelligence is not yet denied, yet any definite knowledge of it in historical terms must be carefully eliminated. They will admit that all religions have a basal truth — viz., the existence of the spiritual.
    • Quote in The Churchman (1883). Vol 47. p. 395

20th century, first half edit

  • For the transformation of the Ignorance into the integral Knowledge the growth in us of a spiritual intelligence ready to receive a higher light and canalise it for all the parts of our nature is an intermediate necessity of great importance.
Without love and trust and worship the spiritual nature cannot awake, cannot develop; it is not the object of worship but the attitude of the worshipper that rouses the emotions which stimulate spiritual growth.
- Annie Besant, 1923
  • When the spiritual intelligence, which stands alone and freed from objects, reflects itself in the mind stuff, then comes awareness of the self.
  • He regards man as a spiritual intelligence, and he regards matter and force as of one nature, into which that spiritual intelligence comes, in order to study and know it. He does not confuse matter and spirit. Man is the living spirit, and his three great attributes are will, activity, and the power to know. And these three attributes of the spiritual intelligence are used in relation to matter and force, which are essentially one. Then our Eastern Scientist says that this spiritual intelligence takes on matter, and makes out of it what we call bodies, in order that he may come into touch with the various worlds of the material universe.
  • To such a one, or to any spiritual intelligence, those of all grades of head and heart can turn in worship, in love, in trust. From all such beings, we humans can ask for aid, counsel or guidance. The untrained brain cannot grasp the vast idea of an intracosmic God, all-pervasive, all-sustaining; the concept bewilders the intellect and chills the heart. Yet without love and trust and worship the spiritual nature cannot awake, cannot develop; it is not the object of worship but the attitude of the worshipper that rouses the emotions which stimulate spiritual growth.
  • I may cheer you up by saying that, although the path of preparatory discipleship is long and there are many obstacles and trials on this path, the mastering of these difficulties bring its own joy, achievement and revelation. Also, you must know that these tests are not artificially created but deal with the inner attitude and presence of mind of the disciple, giving him a chance to show how he will act in cases of sudden difficulty and amid general trying circumstances. In Theosophical literature seven years is usually mentioned as the first period of trial, followed by the next period of seven years. But these periods can be shortened or prolonged indefinitely. All depends upon the karma of the disciple and on his inner development and aspiration. For one must achieve the gradual opening of the higher centers; otherwise it is impossible to become an accepted disciple. But remember that until the age of thirty years is reached, not all the centers can be awakened without terrible harm to the organism. To force their opening is equal to suicide.
  • He sent such signs from the spiritual Sun realm to the Earth as were able to inspire the actions of Alexander on the one hand and the philosophy of Aristotle on the other and were able to bring about, so to speak, the last phase of inspired, spiritual intelligence on the Earth.
    • Rudolf Steiner (1910) cited in: Sergei O. Prokofieff (1994) Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of the New Mysteries. p. 166
  • Whole sections of our Protestantism have lost the virtue of humanity or understanding of it. It means for them no more modesty or diffidence. It is humility of weakness, not of power. To many useful, and even strong, people no experience seems to bring this subtle, spiritual intelligence, this finer discipline of the moral man. No rebukes, no rebuffs, no humiliations, no sorrows, seem to bring it to them. They have no spiritual history.

20th century, second half edit

  • With regard to intelligence: a really intelligent person is a person who is not deceived, that is, who does not deceive himself. We use the words "spiritual intelligence". The great Cosmic Forces which constitute the link, let us say, between the Logos and the Cosmos as it exists at present, are never described as Cosmic Intellects or Spiritual Intellects, they are always described as Spiritual Intelligences... Physical intelligence is the masked expression of the spiritual intelligence. We may imagine the spiritual intelligence as shining with a certain fight, but when the fight is fading so that it hides the Truth, some kind of a film, which is not altogether translucent, intervenes, and in that light you see only certain things.
    • Helena Blavatsky Henry Steel Olcott, Annie Besant (1974) The Theosophist. vol 95. p. 89
With regard to intelligence: a really intelligent person is a person who is not deceived, that is, who does not deceive himself.
-Helena Blavatsky et al, 1974.
  • How subtle and how wonderful does spirit act on things! There is nothing without electricity, and there is nothing without spirit. Spirit is the power of consciousness, the consciousness of the soul, spiritual intelligence, clear intelligence, and clear character. These are different in name but the same in actuality. As there is consciousness, there is attraction. This is true of the lodestone. How much more is it with man! Not being able to bear to see the suffering of others is an instance of this power of attraction. Therefore both humanity and wisdom are exercised (in action) but humanity is nobler...
    • Wing-tsit Chan (1956) Ta-túng shu or Book of Great Unity, cited in A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. (1963) p. 730
  • At the minimum, spiritually intelligent individuals are characterized by:
    1. The capacity for transcendence.
    2. The ability to enter into heightened spiritual states of consciousness.
    3. The ability to invest everyday activities, events, and relationships with a sense of the sacred.
    4. The ability to utilize spiritual resources to solve problems in living, and
    5. The capacity to engage in virtuous behavior or to be virtuous (to show forgiveness, to express gratitude, to be humble, to display compassion).
    • Robert A. Emmons (1999/2003) The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns: Motivation and Spirituality in Personality. p. 164
  • An a priori decision to eliminate spiritual intelligence from consideration is no more justifiable than a decision to admit it by fiat or on faith. After all, once one includes the understanding of the personal realm within a study of intelligence, such human proclivities as the spiritual must legitimately be considered. There certainly are no easy grounds for a decision, but several other intelligences deal with phenomena other than sheer physical matter. If the abstract realm of mathematics constitutes a reasonable area of intelligence (and few would challenge that judgment), why not the abstract realm of the spiritual?
    • Howard Gardner (1999) Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 51
  • It is inconceivable that a piece of sculpture or a piece of music which gives us an emotion that we feel to be more exalted, more pure, more true, does not correspond to some definite spiritual reality, or life would be meaningless.
    • Marcel Proust (1982) Remembrance of Things Past: The captive. The fugitive. Time regained. p. 381
  • Why is moral or spiritual intelligence not considered? Moral or spiritual intelligence serves as a reasonable candidate, although there is good reason to consider it as an amalgam of interpersonal intelligence and intrapersonal intelligence with a value component added. What is moral or spiritual depends greatly on cultural values; in describing intelligence's we are dealing with abilities that can be mobilized by the values of a culture rather than the behaviours that are themselves valued in one way or another.
    • Robert Jeffrey Sternberg, Richard K. Wagner (1986) Practical Intelligence: Nature and Origins of Competence in the Everyday World. p. 180
  • I use "spiritual intelligence" in this sense, to refer to the capacity of the mind that is the basis of intelligence, the essence of consciousness, the knowing faculty. The consciousness of unconditioned being makes possible the perceptual or conceptual consciousness of phenomena. Spiritual intelligence can be seen as a uniting mode of thought which underlies and energizes the various forms that specific intelligences take in the world. The capacity to solve problems and create new knowledge. Imagination can be seen as a bridge between spiritual intelligence and the rational mind because it both allows the rational mind to connect to the spirit through image and translate spiritual knowing into specific intelligences or frames.
  • Just as vision is inseparable from our spiritual intelligence, our capacity to handle ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity is bound up with our emotional intelligence.
    • Danah Zohar (1997) Using the New Science to Rethink How We Structure and Lead Organizations. p. 14

21th century edit

  • Spiritual Intelligence is becoming more mainstream in scientific inquiry and philosophical/psychological discussion. It is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences because it becomes the source of guidance of the other three. Spiritual intelligence represents our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite.
    Spiritual intelligence also helps us discern true principles that are part of our conscience, and are symbolized by the compass. The compass is an excellent physical metaphor for principles, because it always points north.
Spiritual Intelligence represents our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite.
- Stephen Covey (2004).
  • Zohar and Marshall (2001) describe three aspects of intelligence. The first intelligence is the intellectual or rational intelligence (IQ), which would be the intelligence used "to solve logical or strategic problems". The second intelligence is emotional intelligence (EQ), a "basic requirement for the effective use of IQ". The third intelligence is spiritual intelligence (SQ), which is the "necessary foundation for the effective functioning of both IQ and EQ". Spiritual intelligence can be described as conscience.
    • Charles E. Bonner (2009) From Coercive to Spiritual: What Style of Leadership is Prevalent in K--12 Public Schools? Drexel University. p. 65-66
  • Gardner (1999) notes three distinct senses of spiritual intelligence: (1) Spiritual as concerns with cosmic or existential issues; (2) Spiritual as achievement of a state of being; (3) Spiritual as effect on others. Gardner goes on to make an argument that spiritual intelligence would be best served by being called existential intelligence.
    • Charles E. Bonner (2009) From Coercive to Spiritual: What Style of Leadership is Prevalent in K--12 Public Schools? Drexel University. p. 66-67
  • To me, the term intelligence refers to a capacity or ability that primarily concerns performing valid abstract reasoning with coherent symbol systems. This abstract reasoning criterion overlaps only partly with the eight criteria of an intelligence, originally developed by Gardner, and used by Emmons to assess spiritual intelligence. The “abstract reasoning” criterion represents a more classical approach to intelligence...
    Emmons’s spiritual intelligence and its five aspects seem to cover a variety of parts of mental life: from structured aspects of consciousness to nonintellective personality traits. To me, Emmons’s proposed spiritual intelligence does not yet meet the criterion of primarily involving abstract reasoning. This does not preclude some future version of the concept from meeting such a conceptual criterion. Then, one could determine whether the intelligence also satisfies necessary empirical criteria.
  • The theory of spiritual intelligence is in the early stages of development and understandably controversial. Two psychologists, John Mayer (2000) and Howard Gardner (2000), disagree with the concept albeit for different reasons. Mayer proposes that spirituality is heightened consciousness rather than an intelligence, and that the paradigm of intelligence is too limiting because spirituality is more than abstract reasoning, a core feature of intelligence. Further, he does not distinguish spiritual intelligence from spirituality itself. Gardner, on the other hand, disputes the concept of spiritual intelligence in part because it cannot be supported by experimental psychological investigations or psychometric findings, two of his criteria for distinguishing an independent intelligence.
  • Spiritual intelligence is concerned with the inner life of mind and spirit and its relationship to being in the world. Spiritual intelligence implies a capacity for a deep understanding of existential questions and insight into multiple levels of consciousness. Spiritual intelligence also implies awareness of spirit as the ground of being or as the creative life force of evolution. If the evolution of life from stardust to mineral, vegetable, animal, and human existence implies some form of intelligence rather than being a purely random process, it might be called spiritual.
    Spiritual intelligence emerges as consciousness evolves into an ever-deepening awareness of matter, life, body, mind, soul, and spirit. Spiritual intelligence, then, is more than individual mental ability. It appears to connect the personal to the transpersonal and the self to spirit. Spiritual intelligence goes beyond conventional psychological development. In addition to self-awareness, it implies awareness of our relationship to the transcendent, to each other, to the earth and all beings.
    • Francis Vaughan (2002) "What is Spiritual Intelligence?" in: Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol 42, No. 2. Spring 2002, p. 18

See also edit

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