Thursday, February 4, 2010

Art and spiritual intelligence

Spirituality is the innate human need to connect with something larger than ourselves, something beyond our ego-self or constricted sense of self. It may be defined as having two components: the vertical and the horizontal. The vertical component is something sacred, divine, timeless and placeless a Higher Power, Source, Ultimate Consciousness or any other language the person prefers. Spirituality creates a desire to be connected to and guided by this Source. The horizontal component is being of service to our fellow humans and to the planet at large.

Cathedrals and temples are places where these two components of apiritual connectivity are made available to a thoughtful public.

Danah Zohar coined the term'spiritual intelligence' and introduced the idea in her 1997 book ReWiring the Corporate Brain: Using the New Science to Rethink How We Structure and Lead Organizations. Later, together with Ian Marshall she developed the concept, which was introduced in 1999 at The Masters Forum. In the year 2000, Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall published a book, SQ: Ultimate intelligence. In 2004 the authors upgraded the concept with notion of Spiritual Capital and demonstrated the crucial link between SQ, SC, and sustainability. By their definition Spiritual Intelligence is the intelligence with which we access our deepest meanings, purposes, and highest motivations. It is the intelligence that makes us whole, that gives us our integrity. It is the soul's intelligence, the intelligence of the deep self. It is the intelligence with which we ask fundamental questions and with which we reframe our answers.

The word "spiritual" in relation to the intelligence has no necessary connection with organized religion. A person may be high in SQ but have no religious faith or belief of any kind. Conversely a person may be very religious but low in SQ. The word spiritual in the Zohar/Marshal concept comes from the Latin word spiritus, which means, "that which gives life or vitality to a system.
Zohar and Marshall introduced 12 qualities of SQ. They derive these principles from the qualities that define complex adaptive systems. In biology, complex adaptive systems are living systems that create order out of chaos, they create order and information and defy the law of entropy. They enable us to adapt to a changing environment and in this sense they are central to the establishment of a sustainable global culture.

Those principles are:
  • Self-Awareness: Knowing what I believe in and value, and what deeply motivates me;
  • Spontaneity: Living in and being responsive to the moment;
  • Being Vision- and Value-Led: Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly;
  • Holism: Seeing larger patterns, relationships, and connections; having a sense of belonging;
  • Compassion: Having the quality of "feeling-with" and deep empathy;
  • Celebration of Diversity: Valuing other people for their differences, not despite them;
  • Field Independence: Standing against the crowd and having one's own convictions;
  • Humility: Having the sense of being a player in a larger drama and of one's true place in the world;
  • Tendency to Ask Fundamental "Why?" Questions: Needing to understand things and get to the bottom of them;
  • Ability to Reframe: Standing back from a situation or problem and seeing the bigger picture; seeing problems in a wider context;
  • Positive Use of Adversity: Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and suffering
    Sense of Vocation: Feeling called upon to serve, to give something back

Zohar and Marshall dealt with questions such as how we have SQ and how it functions in the human brain. Using some of the most recent scientific research available, their work draws on a body of new neurological, psychological and anthropological studies of human intelligence, as well as studies of human thinking and linguistic processes, to provide scientific evidence for SQ. First, they cite research carried out in the 1990s, by neuropsychologist Michael Persinger and neurologist V.S. Ramachandran at the University of California , on the existence of a 'God Spot' in the human brain. This built-in spiritual centre is located among neural connections in the temporal lobes of the brain. These neural areas light up on scans taken with positron emission tomography whenever research subjects are exposed to discussion of spiritual or religious topics, or when talking about what is deeply meaningful to them. Subjects report experiences of profound peace, unity, love and spirituality. Such temporal activity has been linked for years to people who suffer from temporal epilepsy, seizures, or people who take LSD. Ramachadran's work is the first to show it active in normal people.

The 'God Spot' does not prove the existence of God, but it produces spiritual behaviour necessary for people to be nice to each other. In other words, it is the generation of electrical impulses in this region that provides a biochemical basis for spiritual intelligence. It is by means of this region of the brain that we function mentally as animals suspended in webs of significance held by thoughts about the making or contemplation of particular objects. Each object functions as a spiritual anchor or centre of focus for creating personal imaginative universes such as temples and cathedrals. Spaces and vistas are organised by design for the propagation of ideas of morality in the building through allegory. Allegory is a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning, other than the literal teaching of a lesson, using symbolism. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation. An allegory does not have to be expressed in language: it may be addressed to the eye, and is often found in realistic painting, sculpture or some other form of mimetic, or representative art. Simply put, an allegory is a device that can be presented in literary form, such as a poem or novel, or in visual form, such as in painting or sculpture. A practical application of spiritual intelligence within the corporate cathedrals also involved the creation of bishop saints as icons of authority and the provision of guidance towards conduct that will lead us to the good. It also lead to spiritual guidance through church law, the art of the sacraments, pastoral texts and music. From this perspective, the periodic rebuildings, refurbishments, and extensions of cathedrals were motivated by the desire to increase and update the 'theatre of allegory' of the living church. However, we can say that in their everyday lives most people perceive spiritual intelligence through the placement of cultural products or signs within a multiplicity of complex religious, social, ethical, aesthetic and mythological structures.

West Front Wells Cathedral J Crook

Paul Binsky in his book 'Becket's Crown' argues that no commentary on the Living Church can match for spiritual exhilaration the extraordinary, and widely read, sermons on Canticles by St Bernard. A canticle is a hymn taken from the Bible.

"One of these (no. 62) catches the mystical sense of Wells's realization of the Living Church in its medieval West Front as a work of art. In this respect, it serves to demonstrate the astonishing sympathy of Cistercian poetics with Gothic imagery. The sermon in question is on Canticles 2: 14: my dove in the clefts of the rock, in the nooks of the wall (columba mea in foraminibus petrae in caverna maceriae).

The dove is the 'bride', i.e. the Church. Thus the wall, maceria, is not a mass of mere stones but the communion of saints; the nooks or clefts in the wall have been left behind by the fallen angels, and these imperfections are to be filled spiritually by the vivi lapides (the just) of I Peter 2: 4-5; indeed the guardianship of the angels is like the wall in the Lord's vineyard. The Church's desire for union with God is consoled by the memory of the Passion of Christ in the past, and the contemplation of her welcome among the saints.

Through the clefts in the wall flowed Christ's ransoming blood. The Church joyously explores the crannies, the many and varied resting-places and mansions (mansiones multae) which are in her Father's house (John 14: 2), in which God lodges his children according to their just deserts.
The clefts are a sign of the Church's desire for completeness, but they are made too by thought and desire, because the holy heavens, living and rational, will look on mortals lovingly and hear their prayers: everyone may hollow out a place in this heavenly wall.

Now one can see the patriarchs; now the prophets; now one can mingle with the assembly of the apostles, now join the chorus of martyrs. With the quickness of devotion we can run up and down the dwelling-places and ranks of the blessed orders of the angels, as far as the cherubim and seraphim. God takes delight in these nooks, from which ring out the voices of thanksgiving, the voices of wonder and praise.

The hollows in the rock are the means of self-incorporation into God, for while one divine happiness consists in the contemplation of the heavenly city with its multitude of heavenly citizens, the other is concerned with the divinity of God himself, the rock, into which by contemplation worshippers penetrate: the task is difficult, but the rewards sweet.

The sermon uses several familiar ideas: the communion of saints as the living stones of the Church; the act of contemplation, of spiritual penetration and ascent; the Church as the penetrable body of the wounded Christ and so on.

The language of the nooks vacated by the rebel angels which are to be filled by the just elucidates the terms foramen and caverna (foramina being a contemporary term for the holes in shrines by which access was gained to the relics of the saints). It offers a commentary on the spiritual potential of the Wells Front as a cliff face and a punctured and inhabited wall. It is into these foramina that one delves to disclose to oneself their secrets, for they are a means to union with God. Wells's sonic quatrefoils are literally those holes from which ring out the sounds of thanksgiving, wonder and praise.

Contemplation, visualization and interpretation become one, for Bernard's extraordinarily vivid powers of ideation are founded upon an exhilarating scanning process, the dove hovering and swooping across the wall surface to see the company of heaven lodged within it, in a sort of flight of the mind.

The depth and specificity of this Cistercian discourse on the wall and nook should not delude one into supposing that it represents anything like a positive source for the Wells accomplishment. Too little is known about the readership of Bernard's sermons in the West Country or about its Cistercian culture in general. Wells Cathedral, having history but no cult, had no obvious hagiographical context within which such ideas might have been the basis of its design".

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