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  • 1. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 1 Spiritual Intelligence: A Philosophical and Psychological Introduction Introduction In the past three years, Spiritual Intelligence has emerged as a controversial subject and a popular buzzword. Several PhD dissertations, books and articles have been written by educators, psychologists and neurologists and a few dozen Internet sites have been launched. Coming on the heels of popular excitement about Multiple Intelligences (MI) and Emotional Intelligence (EI), the burgeoning research in Spiritual Intelligence (SI) is sparking educational innovations. What is SI? How did it come to be used? What is the rationale for proponents who label it the most important form of intelligence, vital to life and crucial to finding meaning and satisfaction? What different types of SI can be distinguished? Can one identify a neurological basis? This chapter begins to answer these questions. It is subdivided into the following five sections: A) Synopsis of the literature on MI and EI. B) Current Definitions and Usage of SI. C) Humanistic Psychology as a Precursor of SI D) Psychological and Neurological Explanations E) Redefining and Categorizing SI
  • 2. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 2 A) Synopsis of the literature on MI and EI MI (Multiple Intelligences) The history of the term SI begins with the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) that was put forth in 1983 by Howard Gardner 1, professor of cognition and education at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Gardner was trained as a developmental psychologist in the tradition of Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruno. In 1979, he took part in a research project initiated by the Van Leer Foundation of the Hague at Harvard on the nature and realization of human potential. Gardner worked with children at Harvard’s Project Zero, a lab designed to study the cognitive development of children and its educational implications. He was also involved in neurological research at Boston University School of Medicine. There he studied stroke victims suffering from aphasia and observed how despite serious damage to cognitive skills such as speech, other mental abilities remained intact. Gardner tried to devise a map of the impaired cognitive functions based on postmortem examinations of the damaged brain. Was he looking at separate mental skills or perhaps there were actually different forms of intelligence each operating autonomously? When the stroke victim lost the ability to speak but still was proficient in music was this an indication of a separate intelligence? If after an impairment of linguistic intelligence would it still be correct to speak about retaining a musical intelligence as reflected in processing abilities such as harmony, pitch and rhythm? If so, said Gardner, this would have a profound implication for educational psychology. In 1993, Gardner collected articles by himself and his colleagues to explain MI and implement and educational direction according to the different intelligences2. Gardner’s decision to use the term “intelligences” rather than abilities, talents or skills was momentous. Not only did it stir publicity and create interest in his writings, but it also placed Gardner in confrontation with established concepts of how to define intelligence. Actually, Gardner was countering the accepted position that there is but one general intelligence, the “g factor”, and that this was best evaluated by IQ tests. A score under 70 indicated mental retardation while above 130 showed exceptional giftedness. Gardner was influenced by the alternative propounded by psychologists such as L.L. Thurstone who contended that intelligence is composed of several primary mental abilities. Rather than assessing a single IQ score, Thurstone’s multiple factors theory promoted testing performance in separate mental faculties. Gardner in turn proceeded to formulate what he called a MI theory - that individuals perceive the world in eight different and equally important ways - linguistic, logical- mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Each is an intelligence of its own, each resting on a separate neurological substrate and a hereditary physiological base. Each can and should be “nurtured and channeled in specific ways”3. By critiquing standard intelligence 1 Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences, New York, .1983, Tenth Anniversary Edition with new introduction, New York, 1993 Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences – The Theory in Practice – A Reader, New 2 York, 1993. For a full listing of articles and books see the Harvard University project zero .website .Howard Gardner, Intelligence Reframed, New York, 1999, ch. 12, p. 203 3
  • 3. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 3 theories, Gardner stimulated the development of versatile, pluralistic and individually oriented forms of educational thinking and programming. People may be highly intelligent in linguistic, logical and mathematical thinking and problem solving, but not be equally “intelligent” in emotional development. And what is their wisdom in other areas such as kinesthetic, spatial and musical intelligences? Gardner detailed multiple ways of measuring intelligence and predicting success. EI (Emotional Intelligence) One of the major contributions of Gardner was to identify and elaborate upon what he termed interpersonal and intra-personal intelligences. In 1990, Peter Salovey and John Mayer combined these two intelligences under a felicitous new term – emotional intelligence or EI4. In 1993 they published their definition of EI as an intelligence that could be measured empirically. In 1999 they set forth a standardized 12 sub-scale test to measure EI mental capacities and delineated four ways of working with emotions – identifying, accessing, comprehending and managing5. Meanwhile, psychologist/journalist Daniel Goleman wrote a runaway best seller in 1995 entitled Emotional Intelligence6. An entire industry sprung up almost overnight with EI consultants and testing materials being implemented in educational institutions, business organizations and popular workshops. But, now back to our story of SI. 4 Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, “Emotional Intelligence,” Imagination, Cognition and Personality 9 (1990), pp. 185-211. For an updated bibliographical listing of 20 articles see the site of Salovey and Mayer - 5 http:/ Salovey coauthored a book - P. Salovey and D.J. Sluyter, Emotional .Development and Emotional Intelligence, New York, 1997 .Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, New York, 1995 6
  • 4. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 4 B) Current Definitions and Usage of SI Identifying SI (Spiritual Intelligence) In 1998, Gardner in pondering the correctness of identifying additional intelligences, distinguished naturalistic intelligence as an eighth intelligence. Hesitatingly, he also described “existential intelligence” as "the capacity to locate oneself with respect to the furthest reaches of the cosmos--the infinite and the infinitesimal--and the related capacity to locate oneself with respect to such existential features of the human condition as the significance of life, the meaning of death, the ultimate fate of the physical and the psychological worlds." But, wondered Gardner, perhaps such existential and spiritual questions are merely values added to EI skills and not independent intelligences?7. Psychologist Robert A. Emmons from the University of California at Davis was a bit bolder. In 1999 he promoted SI to colleagues at the American Psychology Association (APA) and at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (SSSR). Emmons, who had been studying personality traits and examining virtues such as gratitude and spiritual motivation8 applied Gardner’s criteria of identifying intelligences and marshaled neurological, developmental, evolutionary and psychological evidence. He reviewed the empirical literature in the psychology of religion and concluded that SI is a distinct intelligence. Emmons listed five core characteristics of SI: 1. The capacity to transcend the physical and material. 2. The ability to experience heightened states of consciousness. 3. The ability to sanctify everyday experiences. 4. The ability to utilize spiritual resources to solve problems. 5. The capacity to be virtuous. For Emmons, thinking of spirituality as an intelligence helps refute those who view religion as inherently irrational and emphasizes the relevance of spirituality and its importance for mental health and subjective well-being. 7 Howard Gardner, “Are there additional intelligences? The case for naturalist, spiritual, and existential intelligences”, posted on the Internet website of Gardner’s Project Zero team. 8 Robert A. Emmons, The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns: Motivation and Spirituality in Personality, Guilford Publications, June 1999. Emmons has authored 70 original publications and recently completed two books - Words of Gratitude for the Body, Mind, and Soul, Radnor Pa., Templeton Foundation Press, 2001 and The Psychology of Gratitude, Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • 5. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 5 To present the flavor and gist of recent literature, I summarize the discussion from three different sources - published best sellers, Internet sites by clinical psychologists and PhD dissertations. I will summarize two examples from each of the three types. In the past three years many books were published using the titles SI, EQ (Emotional Quota) and SQ (Spiritual Quota). Danah Zohar coauthored with Ian Marshall, SQ: Connecting with our Spiritual Intelligence, Bloomsbury, 2000. Zohar did postgraduate work at Harvard University in philosophy, religion and psychology and currently resides in Oxford where she teaches at the Oxford Strategic Leadership Program at Templeton College. Her husband, Ian Marshall, is a practicing psychiatrist. At times both insightful and bold, their book is a potpourri of neuro- theological assumptions blending with semi New Age assertions. Thus, for example, IQ is defined as linear rational thought with one neuron linking to another, EQ as a network of neurons interacting continuously in an exchange of electrical impulses and SQ as neurons oscillating at 40 megahertz across the entire brain. Zohar calls this “unitive thinking” and a triggering of the “God spot” in the brain. Richard Wolman, a clinical psychologist who has taught at Harvard University Medical School for over 25 years, published Thinking With Your Soul: Spiritual Intelligence and Why It Matters, New York 2001. He defined SI as: "the human capacity to ask questions about the meaning of life, and to experience simultaneously the seamless connection between each of us and the world in which we live". He designed a PSI (PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory) test containing 80 measures of spiritual experience and behavior and concluded that SI can be analyzed into seven categories: Divinity, Mindfulness, Intellectuality, Community, Extrasensory Perception, Childhood Spirituality, and Trauma. Dr. Cynthia Davis, Australian clinical and corporate psychologist, completed her training in the department of psychiatry at the faculty of medicine at the University of Melbourne and at Austin Hospital. In her private practice and on her Internet site,, she teaches clients “to live as spiritually intelligent people”. After surveying various definitions of SI such as that of Emmons and Zohar, Davis concludes with her own: Spiritual Intelligence is the ultimate way of knowing. We use it to envision unrealized possibilities and to transcend the methodical plod of life. We use it also to understand pain, to answer the basic philosophical questions about life and to find meaning both temporally and existentially….
  • 6. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 6 Dr. Frances Vaughan, a clinical psychologist practicing in Mill Valley, California, was on the clinical faculty at the University of California Medical School at Irvine and served as President of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology and the Association for Humanistic Psychology. She authored several books integrating psychology and spiritual growth. Her website,, includes an article on SI that was published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, vol. 42, no. 2, Spring 2002, pp 16-23. Basing herself on the work of Gardner and Goleman, Vaughan utilized transpersonal psychology to define SI as distinct from both religion and psychology: 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. Working as a psychotherapist, my impression is that spiritual intelligence opens the heart, illuminates the mind, and inspires the soul, connecting the individual human psyche to the underlying ground of being. Spiritual intelligence can be developed with practice and can help a person distinguish reality from illusion. It may be expressed in any culture as love, wisdom, and service…. spiritual intelligence can also help a person discover hidden wellsprings of love and joy beneath the stress and turmoil of everyday life…. Mary Katherine Delaney, in her PhD dissertation at Arizona State University on “The Emergent Construct of Spiritual Intelligence – The Synergy of Science and Spirit,” 2002, documents the growing popularity of SI in the helping and counseling professions. Delaney surveys several definitions of spirituality and explains how SI is being used as a tool for improving mental health and contributing to personal growth. Isabella Kates wrote her doctoral thesis in educational philosophy and curriculum at the University of Toronto, 2002. Kates described how SI was used by three educators to actualize “transpersonal and spiritual consciousness”. Cultivating SI in creative arts such as creative writing, encouraged learners “to animate deeper connections within the self/Self and discover creativity, wholeness, purpose, insight, self-awareness, harmony and love as integral aspects of learning and living”.
  • 7. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 7 C) Humanistic Psychology As A Precursor of SI Upon reading SI literature it seems that there is much in it that is really an outgrowth of the Humanistic Movement in psychology as propounded by psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Gordon Allport and Erich Fromm as well as by existentialist thinkers such as Rollo May and Viktor Frankl9. Humanistic psychology emphasizes distinctively human qualities such as creativity, valuation, self-realization and meaningfulness. To concretize how it is a precursor of a humanistic version of SI that does not require religiousity, at least not in the sense of a theistic religion, I shall summarize the innovative approach of Maslow. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1908 to Jewish parents, Maslow was a militant atheist from his early years and disparaged theism as a “childish looking for a big Daddy in the sky”. Yet, from youth he harbored a mystic inclination and was deeply moved by music, art and nature. This combination reveals how Maslow, as professor of psychology, was to develop a humanistic spirituality independent yet coexistent with religious experience. Maslow coined several new terms that gained wide acceptance. He used the expression peak experience to describe a moment of extreme joy, serenity, beauty or wonder. Maslow identified “human peak-experiences” as being at the core essence “of every known high religion”. But he quickly added that “the paraphernalia of organized religion” is secondary and peripheral in relation to the intrinsic transcendent experience10. Therefore, you can be an atheist and still partake in a peak experience no less than do theists who claim religious revelation. Maslow was head of the psychology department at Brandeis University where he taught from 1951 until a year before his death in 1970. He conducted extensive research on motivation theory with the avowed intention of “actualizing” human potential. Maslow postulated a pyramid of five hierarchically ordered human needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem and growth motivation. The growth needs are the highest form of needs and include the cognitive impulse, i.e. the desire to know and understand, aesthetic needs such as harmony in life and self actualization such as in the self-fulfillment of realizing one’s potentialities. For a succinct and comprehensive review of American Humanistic Psychology as related to 9 the study of religion, see chapter 13 in the book by Wheaton Professor of psychology, David .M. Wulff, Psychology of Religion – Classic and Contemporary, New York, 1997 10 See Chapter 3 in Malsow’s concise little booklet, Religions, Values and Peak- .Experiences, New York, 1970
  • 8. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 8 In contrast to deficiency needs that subside when satisfied, growth needs are amplified by gratification. Maslow found “self actualizers”, paradigms of what he called GHB’s (= Good Human Beings) who attained Being-Values such as truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness, aliveness and uniqueness. Transcendence is listed as a vital B-Value, “most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness”11. Maslow described the transcending of time, space, culture, weakness, dependency, ego, pain and even death. He viewed transcendence as a kind of “cosmic consciousness” in which the person “perceives the whole cosmos or at least the unity and integration of it and of everything in it, including his Self”12. According to Maslow, self-actualizing people are morally highly principled, possess sympathy and affection for others, experience vividly with full concentration and absorption, have a zest for living and maximize their potentialities. Viewed from the SI perspective one might say that self-actualizing people have developed a high quota of spiritual intelligence. Maslow’s influence on SI theories is exemplified in Zohar’s book. Zohar builds part of her argument on Maslow’s pyramid of human needs. But Zohar emphasizes, self- actualization is the bedrock of true needs. Zohar defines transcendence as the most important spiritual experience and states that it is reflected in a brain wave pattern measured around 40 herz (Zohar and Marshall, ch. 4). This turn towards brain studies is part of an attempt to fathom spiritual experiences by investigating neurological correlates. See ch. 21 in Maslow’s posthumous book, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 11 .Middlesex, England, 1971 .Maslow, ibid, p. 289 12
  • 9. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 9 D) Psychology, Neurology and Spirituality The Psychology of the Spiritual and Mystical Experiences SI theorists are seeking neurological correlates of spiritual and mystical experience. This search is not totally new. In 1901-1902 for example, “Religion and Neurology” was the title of the first chapter in The Varieties of Religious Experience – A Study in Human Nature by William James, America’s foremost psychologist and one of its leading philosophers at the turn of the 20th century. James, who had studied medicine between 1863 and 1869 before his appointment in 1872 as instructor in physiology at Harvard University, sought after explanations for mystical altered states of mind. He described pathological states of religious spirituality such as “the sick soul” and “the divided self” but also emphasized “the religion of healthy- mindedness”. He described forms of mysticism, “union with the Absolute” and expressions of “Saintliness”. James’ description of “cosmic consciousness” was to become an influential definition in the quest to define mystical experiences. James quoted a Canadian psychiatrist R.M. Bucke who had written Cosmic Consciousness: a Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, Philadelphia 1901: The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is a consciousness of the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe… To this is added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral sense... With these come what may be called a sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life…13. This explanation of James is an early illustration of a psychologist’s attempt to describe mystical, ecstatic and spiritual experiences. A clearer neurological direction of research began with the discovery in the 1970’s of the influence of endorphins (endogenous morphine-like substances). Although euphoria inducing properties of opiates have been long known, only recently have specific opiate receptors been identified in the brain. Researchers speculate that endorphins may be responsible for the analgesia produced by acupuncture and might play a major role in trance states. The natural body production of endorphins has been suggested as causing “runner’s high”, the peak experience reported by long distance runners and in similar aerobic activities. Prolonged physical exertion as in Sufi ritual or rhythmic music and practices such as extended fasting, sleep deprivation or hyperventilation are also thought likely to facilitate the production of endorphins and thus naturally enhance euphoric altered states of consciousness14. What does all this mean for SI research? Perhaps there is a possibility to use neurology for measuring spiritual experiences and a potential to even naturally induce these experiences. 13 William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, New York, Collier Books Edition, 1961, p. 313. 14 This summary is partially based on ch. 3, The Biological Foundations of Religion, in David M. Wulff, Psychology of Religon – Classic and Contemporary, New York, 1997. See especially pg. 88.
  • 10. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 10 SI and Neurological Correlates The fundamental problem in defining SI as a measurable intelligence is that spiritual experiences, and in particular the mystical variety, are colored by subjective perspectives and mediated through individual first person reports. The methodological problem is that while one can administer a test of math or verbal skills, spiritual abilities and achievements defy such easy evaluations. Proponents of SI have therefore directed their sights to neurological research with the anticipation that electro-physiology, brain wave patterns, neural correlates and imaging can somehow map out a picture of what is happening and may eventually provide some sort of objective yardsticks. Much SI literature has recruited neurological evidence from two areas – split brain research and neurotheology. Split brain research from the 60’s provided the impetus for associating the right hemisphere of the brain to spirituality. Research in neurotheology of the past five years has facilitated bold assertions of how spiritual or mystical experiences can be produced. Is Spirituality Primarily in the Right Brain? A widespread popular assumption is that intuitive spiritual thought can be found in the right hemisphere of the brain while the left hemisphere is the center for rational and logical processing15. It has even been suggested that thinking using the right hemisphere developed more in the culture, religion and mysticism of the non- Western world, particularly in the Asian Indian mind, than it did in rational and technological Western countries. This claim was succinctly put forward by Robert Ornstein16, professor of medical psychology at the Langley Roste Neuro-psychiatric Institute of the University of California San Francisco. Ornstein distinguished two modes of consciousness – analytic on the left, holistic on the right side of the brain. He described “analytic” as analogous to viewing the individual parts of an elephant in sequence and “holistic” to a view of the entire animal at once. The left hemisphere in the cerebral cortex is predominantly involved with analytic, logical thinking, especially in verbal and mathematical functions. Its mode of operation is primarily linear and information is processed sequentially. The right hemisphere is primarily responsible for artistic endeavor, intuitive creativity and the recognition of faces - its mode of operation is holistic, synthetic and relational 17. Armed with the results of split brain research, Ornstein proposed a justification and legitimacy for mystical, intuitive and esoteric traditions from this right hemispheric mode of functioning18. 15 For a good summary of the research, the speculations and the educational implications of the differences between the two hemispheres in the brain see Sally P. Springer and Georg Deutsch, Left Brain, Right Brain, New York, 1993 4th edition. 16 Robert Ornstein, The Psychology of Consciousness, New York, 1977. 17 Ornstein, ibid, pp. 12, 20-21. 18 Ornstein, ibid, ch. 6, pp. 116-117.
  • 11. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 11 Neurological studies during almost two centuries have consistently shown that the left brain is predominantly a logical linguistic thought processing center. Thus for example, John Eccles, 1963 Nobel laureate in physiology, claimed that the left hemisphere, where the speech center resides, is what is uniquely human for it provides the world of language, thought and culture. Roger Sperry, who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering work with split-brain patients, suggested that surgical division of the brain divides the mind into two distinct realms of consciousness. In a landmark article “The Great Cerebral Commissure” (Scientific American, January 1964, pp. 142-152), Sperry described the performance and cognitive processing of these split brain patients. An important collection of essays entitled The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, San Francisco 1973, was compiled by Robert Ornstein. These essays brought some of the technical neurological research to popular attention. Michael S. Gazzaniga, “The Split Brain in Man”19 provides a readable summary of the implications of dividing the human cerebral cortex in two. Gazzaniga researched the implications of the split brain at the California Institute of Technology together with Roger W. Sperry. After the corpus callosum was cut and the connection between the two halves of the cerebrum severed, the left and right hemisphere were found to function independently, each as if it were a complete brain. Neurosurgeon, Joseph Bogen, “The Other Side of the Brain: An Appositional Mind,”20 summarizes a century of neurological research to explain differences between the right and left hemispheres. Bogen recalled how already in 1864, neurologist Hughlings Jackson adopted the word prepositional to describe the left hemisphere’s dominance for speaking, writing, calculation and related tasks. Bogen coined the term appositional thinking to describe the right-hemisphere mode of processing. Bogen concluded that while the left hemisphere is responsible for logical processing in ordered sequence the right is used for music, art, crafts, orientation in space and mystical phenomena. Neurotheology Assuming that spiritual experiences are actual mental events that are located in the brain, how does that help SI contentions? Enter neurotheology. This is the new, and rather controversial term, for a field of neurology that purports to explain where mystical and religious experience are located and possibly stimulated. The popular excitement of such venturous speculation is reflected in a Newsweek front cover article (July 5, 2001) entitled “God and the Brain - How We’re Wired for Spirituality”. The concept of neurotheology first appeared in a book in 1994 by Laurence O. McKinney, director of the American Institute for Mindfulness in Arlington, Mass. In 1997 neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran told the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience that he has found “a neural basis for religious experience” in the electrical activity of the temporal lobes. Michael Thalbourne of the University of Adelaide in Australia speculated in 1999 that people who report mystical and spiritual experiences have easier access to subliminal consciousness. 19 Initially published in Scientific American 217, no. 2, August 1967, pp. 24-29. 20 (Bulletin of the Los Angeles Neurological Societies, 34, no. 3, July 1969, pp. 135-162, reprinted in Robert Ornstein (editor), The Nature of Human Consciousness: A Book of Readings, San Francisco 1973, pp. 101-126)
  • 12. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 12 The real excitement and ensuing critical debate was engendered by the lab research of Persinger and Newberg. Psychology professor Michael Persinger21 of Laurentian University in Canada hypothesized that mystical experiences are correlated with concurrent micro-seizures, momentary foci of electrical activity, in the temporal lobes. Epileptics supposedly are prone to such seizures. Persinger fitted helmets with electromagnets onto volunteers’ heads in the lab to create a magnetic field triggering bursts of electrical activity in the temporal lobes. He reported how spiritual type sensations were elicited. These were described both in religious terms (e.g. a sense of the Divine) and in radical changes of perception (e.g. OBE’s - out of body experiences). Lo and behold, Persinger could boldly conclude, that “the God Experience is an artifact of transient changes in the temporal lobe”22. According to Persinger, a sense of self is maintained in the left temporal lobe. When the right lobe stays quiescent and the left is stimulated, this is interpreted as a sensed presence. How the spectral presence is interpreted depends on people’s beliefs. The more religiously inclined subjects were prone to interpreting this as a Divine God experience. 21 Michael A. Persinger, Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs, New York, 1987. 22 Persinger, Ibid,, p. 137. Compare Wolff, Psychology of Religion, ch. 3, pp. 101-102.
  • 13. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 13 Andrew Newberg23 is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in radiology. He teamed up with Eugene d’Aquili to use imaging techniques to detect which regions of the brain are active during spiritual experiences. Newberg studied the brain activity of 8 Tibetan Buddhists in the throes of a peak meditative experience. Using SPECT (= single photon emission computed tomography) they tracked blood flow in the brain correlating it with neuronal activity. Their discovery – a bundle of neurons in the superior parietal lobe toward the top and back of the brain went dark during meditative deep focusing. This region processes information about space and time and the orientation of the body. Their theory – blocking sensory inputs to this region during meditative concentration softens or even erases the mind’s distinction between the self and non-self. The self is then perceived as endless and intimately interwoven with everything. Religious spiritual experiences were tracked as reflecting real changes in the brain patterns SI proponents assume that if spirituality is to be spoken about as an intelligence, it should have a neurological basis and a measurable yardstick. They search for objective coordinates. But, for some writers on SI, the goals and stakes are far- reaching. They wish to enhance and implement spiritual awareness to enrich life. Zohar and Marshall’s writings are an example of that direction. Zohar hypothesizes that in SI gamma waves oscillate at around 40 mega-herz as opposed to beta (13-30) waking state active consciousness, alpha (7-13) and theta (3.5-7) brain waves. Her practical conclusion is to meditate to achieve this altered state of consciousness. Using meditative techniques for spiritual and mystical experience has been the subject of heated debate for the past three decades. In a later chapter I will deal extensively with the practical implications of this debate. My goal now is more modest. It is to define SI in a convenient way that will make it easier to talk concretely of what it means to become spiritually intelligent. 23 Andrew B. Newberg, Eugene G. d’Aquili and Vince Rause, Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, Ballantine Books 2001. Andrew B. Newberg and Eugene G. d’Aquili, “The Neuropsychology of Religious and Spiritual Experience,” in Robert Forman and Jensine Andresen (ed.), Cognitive Models and Spiritual Maps: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Religious Experience, 2003.
  • 14. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 14 E) Redefining and Categorizing SI Redefining Spiritual Intelligence Often, the term intelligence denotes mental abilities such as understanding specific ideas, solving problems and learning from experience. In a more sweeping definition, intelligence reflects a capability for comprehending life, making sense of things and figuring out what to do. It is by using this definition of intelligence that we can refer to Spiritual Intelligence as mental capabilities, sensations and intuition to transcend material concerns, deal with moral dilemmas, intuit “Being values” and grapple with existentialist issues. This definition can be amplified by distinguishing the various “intelligences” based on where they are primarily located - body, mind, emotion and spiritsoul24 as follows: 1. BI Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence. 2. CI Cognitive Intelligence - mental processes mostly logical, used in linguistic, mathematical, spatial and naturalistic intelligences. 3. EI Emotional Intelligence, including personal intelligences, often centered in the limbic system. 4. SI Spiritual Intelligence as the holistic, intuitive and integrative intelligence, also expressed in humanistic, mystical or religious experiential modes. Based on these four “locations” of intelligence, SI could then be described as abilities, thoughts, feelings, sensations or intuitions that do not unfold solely on the levels of physical, cognitive or emotive intelligences. In most cases, SI plays itself out in a continuum of intelligences all interacting with each other. The complexity of SI entails functioning both in processing sensory and cognitive input and in elaborating emotions and autonomic responses. To provide a bit more clarity, I will proceed to define four different semantic levels of spirituality each determined by a set of a-priori assumptions. Although the four levels can overlap, distinguishing them helps clarify the way that different groups of people conceive of spirituality. 24 Cynthia (Graves) Wigglesworth uses a similar four part model of intelligence in her Internet site where she describes how she promoted EI and SI in human resources management at Exxon Mobil Corporation. The Elbaum Center founded in 1987 by Moshe Elbaum has six branches in Israel and also bases its philosophy and treatment on combining these four intelligences although the parallel to SI is defined as Energetic Intelligence.
  • 15. Natan Ophir (Offenbacher), SI intro version 9, Aug. 29, 2004 p. 15 Four Levels of SI As we saw above, recent research in neurotheology is groping towards defining different areas of the brain for the different types of spiritual, mystical and religious to attempt to identify distinctive neurological coordinates. But, for now, the description that I suggest is a functional dividing of SI into four types: humanistic, mystical, religious and the G factor. HSI Humanistic Spiritual Intelligence, as in the humanistic secular psychology noted above, HSI is a continuation of EI with an addition of values. These could include any number of values such as goodness, love, awe, humility, truth and aesthetics. This definition can also account for peak experiences such as transcendence and cosmic consciousness as mentioned above. MSI Mystical Experiential Spiritual Intelligence includes noetic experiences, ineffable feelings and trans-sensate phenomena. This definition allows for a plethora of mystical phenomena and altered states of awareness such as ego loss, expansive unity with the Infinite and “inner space” travel. This type of reading of SI is geared to dealing with various kinds of quests from psychedelic to New Age meditative expanding of the mind to the stabilizing of “higher” states of consciousness. RSI - Religious Spiritual Intelligence is usually accompanied by theology and ritual. It is shaped by beliefs about Divinity and how to interact with the spiritual realm. The relating to a transcendental God or to an immanent pervading Presence entails a striving to connect, respond and even influence the spheres associated with the Divine. It can include such traditional religious spirituality such as prayer, devotion, revelation and prophecy. G Factor Spirituality – General, unitive and integrative spirituality. Literally defined, “spirit” is the animating force in life, represented by images as breath and wind. As such, I use this term to include all that animates life. This animating spirit includes an innate human capacity to unify experiences, ideas and sensations into a holistic perception. It can transcend temporal and spatial modalities to meld cognitive ideas and noetic experiences. This G factor enables a self identity vis a vis both the external world and the internal realm of existence. It unites and processes other intelligences, correlating messages from the body, mind and emotion. This form of SI can be imagined as functioning like holistic glue blending and balancing the three other intelligences. It could be nicknamed Captain Intelligence, an intuitive force directing the whole person. Well, to admit the truth, I probably have chosen the romantic term “Captain” from my Star trek days – so here is the scene: Earthdate, October 6, 1966, Stardate 1672. As a 13 year old Star Trek fan I am glued to Star Trek episode # 5 entitled “The Enemy Within”. Captain James T. Kirk has just beamed up from planet Alpha 177 but magnetic anomalies caused a transporter malfunction splitting Kirk into two beings. Kirk I is rational and deliberate, a paradigm of logical thinking. Kirk II is impulsive and full of empathy and caring even if irrational. Can Captain Kirk be put together again as one whole functioning synthesis of intellect and emotion? Will his ship be saved? Our model would say that the rational and irrational parts are reunited and integrated using the G factor. Using these new definitions of SI, we now proceed to the next chapter to see how to use and improve SI.