There are some who are blessed with great intelligence. Einstein is one, Michelangelo also comes to mind with a different, but just as powerful intelligence. I have had professors with high intellectual intelligence whose book-learning is profound as is their ability to teach what they know kindly. I have known monks with great intellectual abilities as well.
Having emotional intelligence, however, is something so very different. The lack of intellectual intelligence is a hard thing, since it can limit professional climbing. But when one lacks emotional and/or spiritual intelligence, things can go very badly indeed. We have seen what happens in politics when a leader is well educated but not well-formed. And we have seen what happens when spiritual leaders are well-studied, but not well connected to their God and to themselves in their prayer-life.
“Spiritual intelligence” is simply the work of learning practices which contribute to the spiritual depth of a person. I admit, I have never heard the term before, but it makes sense to me and is the title of my next book through a German publisher (expected Spring,2015.) My father, a writer in the years of the Apollo space missions had to make up new words for dictionaries all the time as science was developing in a non-earth atmosphere new to humans. I remember how fond he was of his word “fluidics’ for some reason – perhaps because I was a baby and he was dealing with it at home a lot.
Emotional intelligence (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence ) is also a natural gift and, possibly a developed skill and in this way spiritual intelligence and emotional intelligence are different from intellectual intelligence.
Someone I love and trust sent me this small Zen saying this morning: “Everything changes. Everything is connected. Pay attention.”
I am holding this saying in my pocket today. Paying attention is advanced spiritual intelligence and is at the center of the work our cathedral is doing in The Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversation. Those who choose to engage in the March 2015 Art of Hosting Leadership training will become advanced practitioners in this work. By paying attention, we can see the hook for what it is. The hook may be a mean comment, a betrayal, a careless and harmful act or an act which we experience as simply annoying. To react to one of these is emotional and spiritual un-intelligence. To simply see it for what it is and let it pass gently without reacting to it – that is an act of great personal peace-making and is spiritually and emotionally intelligent. Jesus is so often seen as centered, non-reactive (most of the time)- powerfully awake and aware. Mary and Joseph may have passed some of these intelligences on to him. I think Mary did since she has been seen to have been able to see with spiritual intelligence before. Since Joseph did not have Mary stoned for her out-of-wedlock-pregancy, I expect he too was non-reactive and so, spiritually intelligent. And yet Jesus was human. Even Jesus reacts at times (Peter’s doubting, the money changers, the rich young ruer, etc.) which gives me comfort in my own humanity.
In order not to bit the hook (see http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Bite-Hook-Resentment-Destructive/dp/1590304349 ) we need to spend that time with God and with our spiritual mentors which increases our spiritual intelligence and that time with ourselves, in silence and self-observation, which can even increase emotional intelligence.