Spiritual Intelligence and Anxiety

I was privileged to see Dorothy Sisk present at a gifted conference in Louisville, Kentucky on Spiritual Giftedness. She had begun studying spiritual intelligence many decades ago. I had kept one of her articles and found it after I got back from the conference. My notes from that conference can be found here.

Kathleen D. Noble (1) defines spiritual intelligence as containing “the capacity to think, to plan, to create, to translate ideas into reality, to adapt to changing circumstances, to find and solve problems, to reflect upon and communicate well with self and others, and to grow from mistakes.” She goes on to cite Emmons’ five characteristics and added two more of her own. To my friends and relatives who are atheists, this is hogwash. What you see is what you get (wysiwyg) in their worlds. Even those people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious have a hard time accepting the concept of God, Allah, Nirvana, or divine guidance.

Personal experience, however, has led me to believe that there is a spiritual world beyond the physical, however ill-defined. Some individuals are more keenly attuned to it. My first experiences came from the church, the First United Church of Palatine, to be exact. As a youth, I sang in the choir and attended youth activities. The lofty ideals I learned there have led me to have a better life, free of the negative emotions that eat up so much of our time and energy. I then proceeded to reject the church and all things religious for fifteen years. I learned that God will let me do whatever I want and suffer the consequences for it.

My second experience was hearing a lecture by J. Krishnamurti in Saanen, Switzerland. My younger brother had given me one of his books and I was staying in a dormitory. Up walked a friend from college and told me of Krishnamurti’s visit to a nearby town. He had been raised to be a famous guru, and rejected it all to tell people not to be followers, to follow their own path. He talked about experiencing life without mental filters. At the time, I couldn’t even imagine such a thing. Now I struggle to be aware of my filters.

Fortunately, circumstances led me back to church and to twelve-step groups. They provided the support I needed to get to know myself and extricate myself from all the trouble I was in.

That’s where my anxiety comes in. I know there is a loving power that wants good things for me, but that power will allow people to be selfish and cruel, hateful and crazy. It also allows nature to act according to natural laws. Young gifted children can be overwhelmed by the horrors they see on television, from floods and fires to refugees and war. Parents can and must reassure them that they are safe, but many people are at a loss to explain something as simple and profound as death. I have heard it said many times that we are spiritual beings in a material world. The spiritual dimension helps me accept reality as it is and do good things with my life. It doesn’t prevent difficulties from happening, but it helps me get through life.

This post is part of the bloghop hosted by Hoagies Gifted Education Page.

hoagies philosophical and spiritual anxietywww.HoagiesGifted.org/blog_hop_philosophical_anxiety.htm

(1) Noble, Kathleen, Spiritual Intelligence: A New Frame of Mind (Advanced Development: Journal on Adult Giftedness, page 1, The Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, Inc., Volume 9, 2000)

2 thoughts on “Spiritual Intelligence and Anxiety

  1. This is a wonderful post, and a great contribution to this month’s blog hop which is showing so many great perspectives on this complex and worthwhile topic. Your post made me think of my close friend from college, who is Catholic, went to Catholic school from K-12, and went on after college to get a Master of Divinity degree and is now working on her Doctorate of Theology, all while working for the Catholic Church. One of her brothers has a PhD and teaches chemistry at a Catholic university, and has three sons who have all been diagnosed with ADHD — but I wonder if they really have it. I obviously am not qualified to do more than speculate, but I think that their family, never having had gifted programs in their school, don’t know the G-word and are among those who aren’t comfortable with it. Instead they tease each other for being “nerds” and feel defensive about it sometimes. So I wonder if reading about the traits of highly gifted children would be useful to my friend’s nephews….

    I also think that it’s too bad that so many people associate giftedness with the single flavor of it that manifests in very highly scientific minds — people who love the concrete, measurable, and testable. There is another way that a high intelligence can manifest, and it results in just what you’ve described here — a spiritual intelligence. Which does indeed also correspond with a high IQ, despite what some of the more militant atheists would have you believe. I say this as an agnostic myself, who does tend to want those concrete answers, but who also sees very real and very profound wisdom in stories like the one above. There is, after all, so much that truly is beyond our ability to comprehend, no matter how gifted we may be, but that does not mean it can’t be real.


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