Ever since Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983, a small but growing cottage industry of books on “multiple intelligences” has found an eagerly waiting reading audience. Gardner’s original list of multiple intelligences included the linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic and personal intelligences. He later added natural or environmental intelligence, and most recently has added existential intelligence – that is, asking the questions of existence.
Probably no one has done more to creatively extend Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences than Daniel Goleman, writing ground-breaking books on emotional intelligence, social intelligence, leadership intelligence, and ecological intelligence. I have no hesitation in recommending all of these fine and insightful books to thoughtful readers.
Still I am hardly alone in wondering if there might be yet be “Something More” that Howard Gardner’s and Daniel Goleman’s excellent summations of multiple intelligences overlook. Recently in reading SQ: Connecting with Our Spiritual Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall, it occurred to me that SQ or Spiritual Intelligence may be that Something More. Simply put, the authors envision Spiritual Intelligence as the process of unifying, integrating, and transforming material arising from the rational and emotional, mental and bodily processing, including left brain hemisphere and right brain hemisphere, providing a fulcrum for self-actualizing and self-transcending values and meaning.
They develop a six-sided lotus model of spiritual intelligence. It integrates J.F. Holland’s work on career guidance and six personality types; Jung’s six types as used in Meyers-Briggs (introversion, extraversion, thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition; and Cattell’s work on motivation. They also make connections with the seven chakras described by Hinduism’s Kundalini yoga, and to many other mystical and mythological structures found within Buddhism, Taoism, ancient Greece, Jewish cabalistic thought and the Christian sacraments. They could have further embellished their model by drawing the Nine Personality Points of the Enneagram; or the archaic, magical, mythic, mental and integral structures of consciousness expounded upon by Jean Gebser in his book The Ever-Present Origin. The could have also expanded their model by drawing upon the “All Quadrants, All Levels” integral paradigm of Ken Wilber, and by incorporating the Spiral Dynamics of evolving consciousness and culture as delineated by Clare Graves, and, following him, by Don Beck and Chris Cowen.
Using the symbolic model of the lotus flower with its six petals/personality types, Zohar and Marshall discuss six ways to be spiritually stunted and six ways to be spiritually intelligence. This gives the reader a map on which to find their own personality, their own strengths and weaknesses and their own best path to growth and transformation.
The six paths to greater spiritual intelligence include: 1. The Path of Duty, 2. The Path of Nurturing, 3. The Path of Knowledge, 4. The Path of Personal Transformation, 5. The Path of Brotherhood, and 6. The Path of Servant Leadership.
What are the general characteristics of spiritual intelligence. Zohar and Marshall suggest that the indications of a highly developed SQ include the following:
The capacity to be flexible (actively and spontaneously adaptive); a high degree of self-awareness; a capacity to face and use suffering; a capacity to face and transcend pain; the quality of being inspired by vision and values; a reluctance to cause unnecessary harm; a tendency to see the connections between diverse things (being ‘holistic’); a marked tendency to ask “Why?” or “What if?” questions and to seek “fundamental answers; being what psychologists call “field-independent — possessing a faculty for working against convention (including the convention of restricting thinking to a single intellectual discipline or domain of life). They go on to say that a persona with high SQ is also likely to be a servant leader — someone who is responsible for bringing higher vision and values to others and showing them how to use it, in other words, a person who inspires others.
I would like to take Zohar’s and Marshal’s idea of SQ a step further. Today those who have abandoned the explanatory and existential adequacy of “reductive materialism” have begun to adopt a more organismic, holistic, integral and emergent worldview or conceptions of reality. They think both scientifically and spiritually in terms of such rubrics as sacred secularity, non-local quantum entanglement, morphic resonance fields, formative causation, habits of nature, the presence of the past, emergent structures, creative ontogenesis, nested holons, the self-actualizing cosmos, irreducible mind, the hunger for ecstasy, a quantum shift to the global brain, networked relationships of inter-cultural and planetary consciousness, and the unbearable wholeness of being.
The point is that both “science and spirituality” today are undergoing an unprecedented sea-change! Traditional literalistic theists and modern literalistic atheists will still carry on their tired and antiquated debates, but the real action has moved elsewhere. Spiritual intelligence and scientific intelligence will begin to converge once more after three centuries of divergence under the oppression of the conflict model. An organismic and integral model of cosmology, life, consciousness and culture will not only reconcile the modernist conflict between science and spirituality but also the ancient conflict between philosophy and poetry, along with the conflict between history and literature as ways of knowing.
An organismic and integral spirituality for the 21st Century will encompass all our ways of being and knowing into a greater whole. It will awaken and connect the full spectrum of multiple intelligences. It will recognize in history’s great sages, saints, mystics, poets and polymaths a precursor to the New Humanity of the future in which all the potential and actualized human intelligences are connected to a Universal and Emergent Information Field where wisdom and compassion dwell.
Spiritual intelligence in the quantum entangled global age will be sensitive to and aware of the radiant and diaphanous presence of Being-in-itself and in all-its-relations. It will enable us to experience the wonder and beauty of life in all its vivid and poignant immediacy. It will invite us to become social artists and servant leaders who inspire others to realize the fullness of their humanity through expanding the ecological complexity and diversity of what Emerson and the Transcendentalists called the World Soul. A quantum-entangled and globally-connected spirituality will unify, integrate and transform all the other intelligences into a self-actualizing and self-transcending center of meaning, purpose, imagination and love.
[One friend’s response to this blog was that while he appreciates the positive gest of what I’m saying that he hopes there is more to life than such jargon as “quantum entanglement” and “morphogenesis.” Well, OK. What I was getting at is that there are physicists, biologists and philosophers alike that are setting aside reductive materialism which is ultimately nihilistic for a worldview in which science and spirituality can be more rather than less compatible with each other.
In his book Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation, Rupert Sheldrake says there are three competing interpretations of morphogenesis. They are are mechanism, vitalism and organicism. Toward the end of his book, Sheldrake sets forth the idea that there are four possible worldview interpretations of the implications of morphic resonance. Perhaps the same would hold true for quantum entanglement. They are modified materialism; the irreducibility of the conscious self along with the material world; a hierarchy of creative selves in a creative emergent universe; and finally, a transcendent reality that affirms the causal efficacy of the conscious self, and the existence of a hierarchy of creative agencies immanent within nature, and the reality of a transcendent source of the universe. In a book entitled “Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga argues that where the conflict really lies is in competing worldview commitments, not in scientific knowledge as such.]