There was always a debate raging around me. While my parents, neighbours and friends thought me intelligent, there were a few teachers, relatives and cousins who thought otherwise. Funnily enough, both sides could prove their point with conviction.
While I showed a great capacity to understand life
and human nature, could see the merit in value-based behaviour, could hold my own in any intellectual discussion, and was good at writing, singing, sketching, and speaking, I was pathetic at quantitative matters. My memory
was bad. I could barely add two and two together, and I found science insipid. It was hard for me to understand directions, repair broken instruments, or plan a timetable. Though I could discern the pain
of mute animals, opt for ethical rather than self-serving choices, and fight against injustice, I was made to believe that they had no value in today’s slick world.
Fortunately at the age of 26, I was initiated into a meditation
practice by a close friend. Suddenly the fog lifted. I felt a rush of light entering my third eye chakra and lifting my consciousness. After that – albeit for a brief time – my mind began to function like a dream. Smooth, sharp and efficient like a well-oiled machine. Discipline, order, mindfulness, precision, alertness, and attentiveness became my second name. If anyone misplaced an object, I could tell them where to find it. Whichever direction we were bound, I could always devise a shorter route. If a child had trouble in physics I could easily solve it. My other natural faculties too became honed. I could automatically understand a dog’s communication, and even that of crows! I could touch an aching body part and heal it in minutes and foresee approaching troubles as well as good times. I could write verses in Urdu (the words flowed naturally even though the script did not), read people’s minds and hearts as easily as a book, pray and get their desires fulfilled. My brilliance initially impressed, then spooked those around me.
Daniel Goleman credited emotional intelligence with
bedrock of achievement
But soon the phase got over and I was back to my old self. Only this time, I no longer felt inadequate. The experience had given me a new confidence and I was eager to operate from my own strengths and weaknesses instead of trying to be someone else.
We all have different paths but to proclaim one as superior to another comes from a need to feel superior. As it happens this view is endorsed by increasingly new definitions of what intelligence actually means.
Where IQ fails
The world’s first attempt to grade and evaluate intelligence was in 1905 by psychologists Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon in France. Called the Binet-Simon test, it was used to determine the rate of progress of mentally retarded children. In 1916, American psychologist Lewis Termanat of Stanford University revised the Binet-Simon scale, which resulted in the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales. During World War I a way was needed to evaluate and assign recruits. This led to the rapid development of several mental tests. In such tests intelligence was determined on the basis of parameters such as verbal, reasoning, associative memory, spatial and mathematical abilities. The Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test in many avatars was the paramount gauge of intelligence for many decades, even though many experts recognised its limitations, and no one could quite agree on what intelligence actually was.
The emotional intelligence factor
Although Howard Gardner’s model of multiple intelligence in 1983 (see box) broadened the traditional IQ definition of intelligence, the biggest jolt to its predominance occurred quite recently in 1995.
Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, rattled the world’s perception of intelligence. In a striking example of the limitations of IQ, he narrates the case of Jason H, a sophomore and straight A student at Coral Springs, Florida. “(He) was fixated on getting into medical school in Harvard. But Pologruto, his physics teacher, gave him 80 on a quiz. Believing the grade, a mere B, put his dream in jeopardy, Jason took a butcher knife to school and after confronting the teacher, stabbed him in the collarbone. Years later, even though Jason graduated with highest honours, his old physics teacher complained that Jason never apologised or took responsibility for the attack. The question is how could someone of such obvious intelligence do something so irrational – so outright dumb? The answer: Academic intelligence has little to do with emotional life. People with high IQs can be stunningly poor pilots of their private lives. Whereas there are many people with modest IQ who do surprisingly well...the difference quite often lies in the abilities called emotional intelligence which include self-control, zeal and persistence and the ability to motivate oneself.”
As a kid I may not have heard of Daniel Goleman, but I intuitively resisted undergoing an IQ test. For one I felt that I would not be able to score high, and secondly I felt that the test would not be able to measure my full capacities. Was the capacity to analyse logically or calculate numbers all that mattered? Why did kindness, forbearance, truthfulness, and uprightness not figure anywhere? Did it not require intelligence to understand the emotional turmoil of another and give solace? On the other hand, I saw many relationships fall apart because of one person’s need to impose his intellectual superiority on the other.
A couple I know are highly qualified, and enviably placed. Both have high IQs, but that fact has not helped them forge a happy relationship. Convinced of their own superiority, not a day passed without a quarrel on who was more right or more bright. Life
was a game of one-upmanship. Love, patience, forgiveness, compassion, humility, and forbearance were either considered virtues of the weak or buried deep under the hubris of colossal intellectual pride.
Marita Nazareth, workshop facilitator and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) expert says, “The ability to use the faculty of IQ at the right time and with the right person depends largely on how developed your emotional quotient is. There are people who will score very high in an IQ test but fail miserably in life. There is a higher probability of a person succeeding in life
with a low IQ but higher EQ. Even if one is not a whiz kid at work, but can handle one’s as well as other people’s emotions
intelligently, one can succeed wonderfully. Such people are more grounded, more stable, have better command over themselves and situations and can think and act from a space outside of themselves.”
According to Goleman there are five basic parameters of a person blessed with strong emotional intelligence.
1. Knowing one’s emotions. Self-awareness; recognising a feeling as it happens.
2. Managing emotions: controlling or redirecting one's disruptive emotions
and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Motivating oneself: being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.
4. Empathy: considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions.
5. Handling relationships: Managing relationships to move people in the desired direction.
Summing up the importance of EQ, Goleman writes, “These are times when the fabric of society seems to unravel at greater speed, when selfishness, violence and meanness of spirit seem to be rotting the goodness of our communal lives. The ability to control impulse is the base of will and character. The root of altruism lies in empathy, ability to read emotions
in others. If there are any two moral stances that our times call for, they are self-restraint and compassion.”
Thanks to Goleman’s timely intervention, the importance of our emotional lives is now widely acknowledged, particularly in the corporate field. Soft skills such as the capacity to get along with others, to take people along, to manage one’s emotions, are considered almost on par with professional competence.
Even so, the riddle of intelligence still remained half solved. For EQ failed to answer some of life’s fundamental questions. What is the source of EQ? If it is linked with morality then where does this sense of morality come from? Who or what tells us to act for the larger good rather than from narrow self-interest? What sustains people when calamities like death
of a loved one, financial insolvency, and natural disasters occur? What is wisdom? Where does it come from? What is that premise on which if a person is grounded he can judge what skill or ability to use at what time and place? And where does intuition come from? Even Albert Einstein, considered to be a towering intellectual, had to admit, “The only real valuable thing is intuition."
Spiritual Intelligence: the source
While we can recognise that all of us have different skills and talents or intelligences if you will, neither IQ nor EQ can offer us an explanation of the limitless variety of human capability. Sister BK Shivani of Brahma Kumari fame says, “Such diversity can be explained only through Spiritual Intelligence. Whatever strong inclination a person displays is basically because of his efforts in his past birth(s) to develop that skill. This is the cause of child prodigies. Rajesh Khanna passed away recently. Now if that soul is reborn, he is most likely to have a talent for acting, observing, copying mannerisms, and diction. To move in another direction, i.e. to develop a set of skills different from the current ones possessed by him, he will need to deliberately employ his will power.”
Ankur Gupta, author of the book, Seed of Genius, says, “People are like seeds and each seed is different from another. Even the DNA of an individual sperm is different. No matter how hard you try a mango tree can never grow into a neem tree or bear any other fruit other than a mango. Each person is a product of his own zygot. Therefore it is essential that each of us develops the natural inclinations and talents that we possess instead of being influenced by societal pressures.”
He himself is a product of his own philosophy. Committed to exploring his capacities and potential he has reinvented himself seven to eight times in this lifetime. Starting his career as a pharmacist, he enrolled in a Management course in IIM, Ahmedabad. After a few years of dabbling in the corporate world, he took a leap and became a developer and an author. Today, as Director at the Academy of Mind Management he has authored a book called Seed of Genius which enables the reader to discover his natural genius through a comprehensive questionnaire. He is also credited with creating the world’s first talking e-book. “I feel we should not limit ourselves with our works,” he says. His life
is a clear example of the multiple possibilities which are aroused when a person functions from the seat of spiritual intelligence.
Author Danah Zohar, in her path-breaking work
called SQ, Spiritual intelligence – the ultimate intelligence, says that IQ, EQ, Multiple Intelligences (MI) can all be linked to one of the three neural systems in the brain. “On a neurological basis, SQ operates from the brain’s centre – from the brain’s neurological unifying functions – it integrates all our intelligences. SQ makes us the fully intellectual, emotional and spiritual creatures that we are.” Danah argues, “Computers have high IQ, they know what the rules are and can follow them without making mistakes. Animals often have high EQ. They have a sense of the situation they are in and know how to respond appropriately. But neither computers nor animals ask why we have these rules or this situation...SQ allows human beings to be creative, to change the rules and to alter the situation. We use SQ to wrestle with questions of good and evil and to envision unrealised possibilities – to dream to aspire to raise ourselves out of the mud...
|| "SQ allows human beings to be creative,
to change the rules and to alter the situation.
We use SQ to wrestle with questions
of good and evil and to envision
Human beings are essentially spiritual creatures because we are driven by a need to ask fundamental or ultimate questions, “Why are we born? What is the meaning of life? Why should I go on when I am tired, depressed or feel beaten?”
Taking Mahatma Gandhi as an example, could his vision, ideals and unconventional acts be only a product of heightened IQ, evolved EQ and the deft application of his multiple intelligences? Or was something far bigger at play? His core principals were based not on self-preservation, but on the loftier ideal of service to humanity, for which he sacrificed his entire life, but emerged a world icon. Though both Christ and Adolf Hitler met with a bloody end, why is one worshipped, while the other hated? Hitler used his IQ and EQ to galvanize a kind of mass frenzy to realise his ambitious but sordid aims. But his success
was short-lived and his legacy now bites the dust. Christ’s message on the other hand is eternal and his legacy immortal, even though on the parameters of IQ and EQ, his life
trajectory will appear self-destructive. This discrepancy can be understood through the prism of Spiritual Intelligence.
How to activate SI
Khurshed Batliwala, an Art of Living (AOL) teacher, says, “There are four states of consciousness. First is the conscious layer, second is the unconscious, third is the subconscious and fourth is the spiritual layer. The conscious layer is our normal state of wakefulness. The second is the sleep state –where you are not aware of what is going on. The third is the dream state – where one is partly aware and partly rested. The fourth state of consciousness, the spiritual state, is where you have awareness and rest together. The first three states are experienced by everybody. Though the spiritual layer too is natural, it needs to be learnt.”
Many people have suddenly accessed this fourth layer and have reported experiences much beyond the capacities of the conscious or subconscious brain. In his book, The Varierties of Religious Experiences, William James reports a fellow psychologist’s account of a deep spiritual insight.
“We parted at midnight...I was in a state of quiet, even passive enjoyment, not actually thinking, but letting ideas, images and emotions
flow through my mind. All at once without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped in a flame-coloured cloud. The next instant I knew the fire was in me. Directly afterwards there came upon me a sense of exaltation, of immense joyousness, accompanied by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe...I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is on the contrary a living presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life.”
It is observed that mostly a seeker’s journey begins after having such an otherworldly experience. The desire to go beyond the obvious requires stirring of a particular area of brain which is hardwired to store and facilitate movement in this direction of human consciousness.
In the early 1990s Canadian Neuro-scientist Michael Persinger tested and recorded the presence of the God
Spot in the brain. He saw that when a devise was set to stimulate tissues in his temporal lobes, he underwent a mystical experience. Furthermore, he observed that intensive meditation, chanting and other spiritual practices activated that part of the brain. Although the existence of the God
spot is hotly debated, the mystical experience Persinger described correlates closely with the state of ecstacy that many spiritual adepts have reported experiencing.
We in the East, have practised and advocated several methods to access this deepest layer of the brain. Says Khurshed, “Everybody has a spiritual side, which can be awakened through pranayama, meditation, and yoga. The intellect, with awareness, can take you towards becoming Buddha, the enlightened, but the same buddhi without awareness will make you stupid.”
Professor Dr. Madhu Khanna, founder and chairperson of Tantra
Foundation, says, “Spiritual intelligence or the state of super consciousness is there for everybody to access and enjoy.
|| "The intellect, with awareness, can take you towards
becoming Buddha, the enlightened, but the same buddhi
without awareness will make you stupid."
Even though the active mind through which we perform our daily functions is also sourced from this super consciousness, we have not attained our full potential as intelligent beings unless the ‘sahasrara chakra’ (crown chakra – the final chakra located at the top of the head) is opened.” She adds, “The crown chakra is the body's primary coordination centre. It ensures a connection to universal sources of energy and with the world as a whole. A balanced crown chakra allows for expanded awareness on an emotional level. Such a state is reached either with the help of a guru
who transmits the energy required to open the blocked chakras or through direct divine grace.”
The sign of genius
There have been many such divinely intelligent souls who have walked this planet. And when such intelligence is roused, it enables man not only to function intelligently in society but also to work
from a space much greater than his limited physical self. All the phenomena of life, nature, existence which baffle human race and to unravel which, scientists spend lifetimes in laboratories, become transparent and accessible. For sidhhas and yogis like Satya Sai Baba, Sri Aurobindo, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Yogananda
and many other exalted gurus, life
was like wet clay in their hands. No law of physics or nature
could contain them. It is said that though Yogananda
never studied medical science, he could converse with the best doctors in medical terminology. Ramkrishna was a very feeble-bodied person, but a muscular disciple was humbled when he could not bend his hand. Satya Sai Baba could tell bewildered engineers the technical method to hang a chandelier in his Puttaparthi Ashram when they could find no way to fit it in a place which had not been designed for it. Many seekers have found that their hold over the arts, particularly, begin to blossom on entering spirituality. Santosh Sachdeva, a spiritual adept living in Mumbai, discovered a capacity to flawlessly execute on paper the many visions that unfolded before her, despite having had no former skill in drawing. Khurshed too admits, “Quantitatively my grades and health
improved. I started winning competitions in piano playing. I saw a noticeable difference in the way I studied, handled my profession and relationships after I learnt the Sudarshan Kriya.”
According to Danah Zohar the indication of a highly developed SQ include:
1. The capacity to be flexible (actively and spontaneously adaptive)
2. A high degree of self-awareness.
3. A capacity to face and use suffering.
4 The quality of being inspired by visions and values.
5. A reluctance to cause unnecessary harm.
6. A tendency to see connections between diverse things (being holistic).
7. A marked tendency to ask ‘Why’ or ‘What if’ questions and to seek fundamental answers.
8. Possessing a facility for working against convention.
Thanks to these skills, we transcend not only our own base nature
but the circumstances and situations in which we are placed. We can attain complete mastery over our life. Sister B.K Shivani says, “Spiritual intelligence is to have knowledge of the soul. We cannot allay our troubles unless we have an understanding of God, soul or karma. Spiritual Intelligence changes your consciousness. A person with good IQ or even with very good EQ too generally identifies with his body. Whereas a person working from the knowledge that he is a soul who is on a spiritual journey on earth is grounded. We identify with labels we give to our bodies such as nationality, race, gender, or profession. This wrong sense of self creates fear, anger and sadness. From a spiritual point of view these emotions
are the result of ego, which block your true spiritual nature.”
She adds, “If you know yourself as a spiritual being you will also know that you do not own or possess anything. When something in your life
is damaged or lost, you are able to use your spiritual power to accept it and move on. Whether someone praises you, or insults you, you are not affected. In that moment you draw on the inner knowledge and use it to remain stable in the face of negativity or praise. In effect you are drawing on your spiritual strength when you know who and what you are, and use it in the right way, in the right place at the right time.”
As Anand Tendulkar, corporate trainer and facilitator puts it, “Spiritual Quotient is the fundamental on which IQ and EQ are built. Spiritual Intelligence gives meaning to life. Without Spiritual Intelligence you may achieve success, but not gain happiness. The corporate world is increasingly shifting from profit-orientation to contribution-orientation because it has realised the spiritual laws that are at force when huge companies become insolvent. And it is this realisation and observation of such divine but simple laws which are the hallmark of intelligence.”
Sri Aurobindo profoundly observed, “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of nature's process.” Though the human race may still be far from realising this vision of Sri Aurobindo, we can take baby steps in that direction by operating from the knowledge that we are souls encased in a body and not bodies possessing a soul. So much in our complex lives shall become simpler, happier and wholesome.
For if intelligence cannot make us happy then what is the use of having it? We bear testimony to the fact that sharper minds with inferior motives have inflicted huge damage on the soul of this planet as well as of human beings. If multinationals could see that covetousness rebounds, they would not go about ravenously gobbling lands and resources for selfish ends.
Rivers would not be polluted. Funds meant for the underprivileged would not be devoured by politicians.
Women, children and the elderly would not be abused, exploited and tortured. Nature
would be preserved. For the basic intelligence is to know that even though different we are part of one big whole and any misuse of any natural gift or talent shall rebound on the possessor ifit is used to dominate and subdue others, instead of helping them.
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