The other day, while talking with Frank, my friend in Franconia (yes, it’s true!), I mentioned the term “spiritual fitness”. I realised immediately that I had never used this phrase before. As it happens, it has helped me rewrite the chapter on spiritual intelligence in the new edition of full Spectrum Intelligence.
It is a comprehensive rewrite. I decided to redefine spiritual intelligence, and base the new definition on the “intelligence process”. As you will know, if you have read the original edition of the book, this is the process through which all our actions seem to go through. It has three stages – awareness, understanding, response. First, we become aware of something, then we understand what it is (or we don’t), and then we respond appropriately. The higher the quality of our awareness, our understanding, and our response, the more intelligent we are likely to be. If we want to be more intelligent, we should work on the quality of these three stages.
In any event, I redefined spiritual intelligence as “the ability to go beyond normal awareness, normal understanding, and normal responses”. Much of the chapter is devoted to explaining what this means, and how to do it.
I have also added short sections on spiritual health, spiritual fitness, spiritual nutrition, and spiritual wealth. What follows here is simply a concise summary of these concepts.
I have long thought of “health” as our natural state. It is how we are, naturally, before anything interferes with, or damages that state. We call the negative consequences of any deviation from our natural state “illness” and “disease”. As you can imagine, there are many ways we can deviate. They include poor diet, pollution, lack of exercise, excess (e.g. alcohol), accident, stress in all its many forms, as well as all the psychosomatic illnesses caused by damaging emotional patterns and behaviours. The list is very long, and the modern world knows all of them only too well.
This suggests that spiritual health is our natural state, spiritually. This is a complex topic, and I do not want to say much about it here (read the new book for details), except to suggest that we all recognise spiritually healthy people when we meet them. They are outstanding in some significant ways. And we can be reasonably sure that they have been getting good, regular spiritual nutrition. This comes in many forms. In my own case, it takes the form of a regular intake of beauty, kindness, silence, good music, good poetry, as well the physical components of spiritual nutrition, such as Qigong.
There is more. Spiritual health is not the same as spiritual fitness, but the two do go well together. Just as physical fitness means that your body is in good shape, especially your heart, lungs and muscles, spiritual fitness is its equivalent. It means that your “spiritual organs” and your “spiritual muscles” are in good shape, and fit for purpose – the purpose no doubt being that you will express your fully and well in the world. I will leave you to think about what all this means.
I cannot end this without saying a few words about spiritual wealth. If material wealth is having your basic material needs met (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), then spiritual wealth is having your basic spiritual needs met. I count myself lucky. Living here in the Pyrenees with Ana, I am wealthy in all senses. However, I do need to attend to both my spiritual fitness and my physical fitness!