To be emotionally intelligent is to have an intelligent approach to managing our emotions. It’s the ability to use a range of skills that enable such management to be effective. It involves a determination to ensure that destructive emotions do not create havoc and create unhappiness for oneself and others. It’s a determination and an ability to avoid becoming a slave to one’s ego and its excessive desires. “Crimes of passion”, for example, are unacceptable in any civilised society.
Destructive emotions are the antithesis of our finest and our most spiritual qualities, such as humility, generosity and kindness. Destructive emotions invariably inflict pain on others, and ultimately on ourselves. They provide energy for the dark, driving force that exists in all creatures that evolved throughout millenia as hunters and killers. They originate in a primitive survival mechanism that seeks to devour prey and to attack perceived enemies and rivals. Destructive emotions have no useful function in any being that wishes to consider itself civilised, non-violent, spiritual and enlightened.
Non-violence and a spiritual code of behaviour motivate and inspire, for example, practitioners of the martial arts. Such individuals abide by strict codes of conduct. The whole ethos of Aikido, for example, is simply self-defence, and to that end its exponents use the aggressive intent and energy of an attacker to disable and disarm him.
It’s obvious that “spiritual intelligence”, which includes adherence to ethical codes, positive values and virtuous conduct, is one of the keys to “emotional intelligence” – the successful management of human emotions.
The Dalai Lama is one spiritual leader who has said and written many interesting things on the subject of emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence. The following paragraphs are from a book we can highly recommend:
Where ethical restraint is lacking, there can be no hope of overcoming problems like those of rising crime. What then is the relationship between spirituality and ethical practice? Since love, compassion, etc, by definition presume some level of concern for others’ well-being, they also presume ethical restraint. We cannot be loving and compassionate unless at the same time we curb our own harmful impulses and desires.
In calling for a spiritual revolution am I advocating a religious solution to our problems? No.
I have realised that there are other faiths and other cultures that are no less capable than mine of enabling people to lead constructive and satisfying lives. What is more I have come to the conclusion that whether or not a person is a religious believer does not matter much. Far more important is that they be a good human being.
The influence of religion on people’s lives is generally marginal, especially in the developed world. No single religion satisfies all humanity. We may also conclude that we humans can live quite well without recourse to religious faith.
As a human being I have a responsibility towards the whole human family, which indeed we all have. Since the majority do not practice religion I am concerned to try to find a way to serve all humanity without appealing to religious faith.
Religions are all directed towards helping human beings achieve lasting happiness. And each of them is, in my opinion, capable of facilitating this. Under such circumstances a variety of religions (each of which promotes the same basic values) is both desirable and useful.
My concern . . . is to try to reach beyond the formal boundaries of my faith. I want to show that there are some universal ethical principles which could help everyone achieve the happiness we all aspire to.
Religion versus spirituality.
I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality.
Religion I take to be concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another, an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of metaphysical or supernatural reality, including perhaps the idea of some form of heaven or nirvana. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, rituals, prayer and so on.
Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit – such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony – which bring happiness to both self and others.
While ritual and prayer, along with the questions of nirvana and salvation, are directly connected with religious faith, these inner qualities need not be, however. There is no reason why an individual should not develop them, even to a high degree, without recourse to any religious or metaphysical belief system. This is why I sometimes say that religion is perhaps something we can do without. What we cannot do without are these basic spiritual qualities.
Ancient Wisdom, Modern World – Ethics for the New Millenium.
The Dalai Lama
When we talk about how we develop emotional intelligence in our children and young people, and indeed in adults, we can’t do it without reference to developing spiritual intelligence. More of this in future posts.
- Emotional Literacy (3diassociates.wordpress.com)
- Stirring the Emotions (3diassociates.wordpress.com)
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