By Cindy Wigglesworth
Why do we need to understand Spiritual
The world’s religions generally advocate
loving behaviors, yet religious beliefs have often divided our
planet and caused war. We have been trapped in a world that
tends to confuse the doctrine with the destination. What we
need is a way to talk about the skills that religions are
trying to help us attain. I have three goals in trying to more
clearly define Spiritual Intelligence (SQ):
To create a language that enables us to
discuss these concepts without being limited to the
language of any one faith tradition. I hope to create an
SQ language - with clear definitions (showing synonyms
from many belief systems) -that helps to create
understanding among the peoples of our planet.
To create a competency-based language
that helps people assess where they are and where they
want to go in their own spiritual development. Based on
our beta pilot of 549 people it seems clear the CPI SQ
assessment instrument does in fact accomplish this second
That the faith-neutral language of
competencies will make Spiritual Intelligence acceptable
for discussion in the workplace…the place where most of
us spend most of our time. This will hopefully lead to
support for individual and group Spiritual Intelligence
growth – creating more meaningful work, improved
products and services, and ensuring responsible corporate
When I began to try to describe Spiritual
Intelligence the questions I asked myself were these:
What do people who are generally
considered "spiritually admirable" have in
What are the behaviors or skills that
these people demonstrate?
Can we list and explain these skills in
a way that is comprehensive and faith-neutral?
Can we describe each skill
developmentally from "novice" to
I begin many of my workshops by asking
people – typically working in teams – to complete two
1. Write down the spiritual
leaders/teachers you admire (can be alive, dead or
2. List the character traits that cause
you to admire these people
I have done this now with thousands of
people. What I find both reassuring and fascinating is that
the lists look so similar from group to group. The list of
spiritual leaders typically includes major religious figures
from many traditions, global peace activists, local religious
leaders, teachers, guidance counselors, family members and
spiritual writers. A sampling of typical well-known names
include: Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Thich
Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Lord Krishna, Nelson Mandela,
Jimmy Carter and Deepak Chopra.
The traits that caused these people to be
considered "spiritual leaders" typically includes
descriptors such as: loving, compassionate, kind, forgiving,
peaceful, courageous, honest, generous, persistent, faithful,
honest, seeing the potential in other people, wise, and
What the consistency of the responses tells
me is that we already have a general perception of what makes
someone "spiritually intelligent." What we do not
yet have is a way of describing Spiritual Intelligence that is
faith-neutral and specifically focused on the skills and
abilities we are trying to attain when we seek spiritual
growth. In my study of world religions, psychology and
philosophy, I have found recurring themes. They demonstrate
that spiritual growth occurs on the inner dimensions and the
outer behaviors. The failure to reflect inner growth in the
outer world demonstrates incompleteness. Fully non-dual
realization, by whatever language it is described
(Christ-consciousness, Buddha Nature, etc) seems to require
manifesting behaviors of love and service. A high SQ person
would therefore be functional IN the world while also not
being solely OF the world.
To explain where my model of Spiritual
Intelligence or "SQ" fits within Ken’s Integral
framework there are few points of Integral Theory to recall.
There are a minimum of four states of
consciousness to keep in mind as we talk about Spirituality:
awake (awareness of gross physical reality), dreaming (aware
of subtle reality but not gross), deep sleep (causal or
formless awareness) and non-dual awareness – the
Ever-present Witnessing consciousness. You can only be in one
state of consciousness at a time. For example: you cannot be
awake and dreaming simultaneously. The state of non-dual
awareness is the state of peak spiritual experiences.
There are multiple lines of human
development which include four to be addressed in this
article: cognitive, moral, emotional (here I include what Ken
calls the interpersonal and affective lines) and spiritual.
Stages of development unfold in waves. And
not every line develops at the same speed. The simplest
description is to use three stages: pre-rational;
rational and trans-rational. We do not want to confuse
the pre-rational with the trans-rational stages. Thus
pre-rational spirituality (young children) is not the same as
the trans-rational spirituality of experienced spiritual
practitioners. All stages of development are spiritual in that
they are capable of spiritual states. Stages are not equal in
their ability to access, hold, and translate states into
In the four-quadrant model the upper-left
("I" or interior consciousness) is often the focus
of spiritual development models. A four-quadrant approach is
necessary if we are to describe Spiritual Intelligence in an
Typologies like Myers Briggs are horizontal
descriptors of innate personal preferences which stay with a
person regardless of the state or stage that person is in.
Typologies are not important for this discussion of the 21
skills of Spiritual Intelligence. They do merit discussion in
terms of helping people to develop their skills – but that
is not the focus for this article.
ASCENDING AND DESCENDING APPROACHES TO THE
There are 3 basic ideas about what is
What is "descended" or
material is Divine. God is Nature or pantheism. This is
the phase of early nature-based religions frequently
associated with the "purple" stage in Spiral
What is "ascended" is Divine.
The material world is "not-God" and the goal of
spiritual work is to "get out of here!" These
approaches are afterlife (heaven) or emptiness (nirvana)
focused. This is most conventional religion or
"blue" in Spiral Dynamics.
The Divine is above and below.
In ascending we are released from our contracted ego-self
and then, from compassion and wisdom, we feel compelled
like a force of nature to re-engage with the
"descended" world in a life of service. This is
the approach of the CPI SQ model. Thus high SQ demands an
orientation of service to others.
With this reminder of the basics of
Integral Theory we can now move into getting clear operational
definitions of 2 terms: Intelligence and Spirituality.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines
intelligence as “the ability to learn or understand or to
deal with new or trying situations.”
Our “Intelligence Quotient” or “IQ”
is generally thought of as our analytical or mathematical
intelligence and our linguistic intelligence (think of college
entrance exams – verbal and math components).
Initially it was expected that IQ would be a strong
predictor of success in careers.
In fact it has turned out to be a weak predictor of
appears to be related to minimum
standards to enter a given a profession.
Once you have chosen your career, what actually leads
to success is far more complicated.
Howard Gardner opened the door to
discussion of “multiple intelligences” with his book Frames
of Mind in 1983. He
listed seven different types of intelligences in that book:
Gardner’s 6th and 7th
intelligences would later be combined into the study of
“emotional intelligence” by Daniel Goleman and others.
Reframed, 1999, Gardner offers that one might add a
“philosophical intelligence” which would combine
spiritual, moral, emotional, transcendental, cosmic and
religious intelligences. Gardner lists eight criteria for an
criterion is particularly relevant for this discussion is that
“an intelligence should show a developmental history with a
definable set of expert ‘end-state’ performances”
One way of substantiating the developmental
history is to show that an intelligence (or a skill related to
it) has a high correlation between increasing competency and
increasing age. As will be explained, “SQ” can be shown to have a
developmental history and definable “end-state”
performances with a strong positive correlation to age.
Simplified View of “Multiple Intelligences”
While this model is over-simplified from a
scientific standpoint, I find it very useful when introducing
multiple intelligences in a short time.
This model describes only four intelligences (see
Figure 1). I show
them as a pyramid to demonstrate the simplest sequence of
always acknowledge that this is too simple
a model. Yet
it is a helpful visual aide.
The idea of this model is that as babies we
first focus on controlling our bodies.
Then our linguistic and conceptual skills develop
(“IQ”)…and are a key focus of our school work.
We do some early development of relationship skills,
but for many of us “EQ” or emotional intelligence becomes
a focus area only later when we realize we need to improve –
usually based on feedback in romantic and work relationships.
Brain studies also show that we are not fully
“wired” to do more complex “EQ” work until we are
approximately 22 years of age.
“SQ” or spiritual intelligence typically becomes a
significant focus of energy and effort later – as we begin
to search for meaning and ask “is this all there is?”
The arrows show that SQ and EQ development
are related to each other.
We need some basics of EQ to even successfully start
our spiritual growth. Some degree of emotional self-awareness and empathy is an
important foundation. Then,
as our spiritual growth unfolds, there would be a
strengthening of EQ skills – which would further reinforce
and assist the growth of SQ skills.
Daniel Goleman popularized the phrase
“Emotional Intelligence” with the publication of his book
by the same title in 1995.
In his book, Goleman cites research at Bell Labs that
examined star performers, and tried to determine what
distinguished them from more average performers.
It appeared that star performers had significantly
stronger relationship skills and personal networks than
average performers. Harvard
Business Review published the results of the Bell Labs study
in 1993. Business
interest in the study of “Emotional Intelligence” or
“EQ” began in earnest.
EQ is actually a large collection of
and Richard Boyatzis
have recently grouped these skills into 4 quadrants as shown
in Figure 2. If
you reverse the Other Awareness and Self Management quadrants
then the model lines up with the Integral model.
There is a sequence to these skills.
The research done by Goleman and Boyatzis shows that Self-Awareness
skills must be
developed before the skills in the other three
quadrants can develop. This makes sense if you consider Emotional Self-Awareness.
If I don’t know when I am angry how can I have
Emotional Self Control? How
can I have Empathy for your anger?
How can I handle conflict appropriately?
The last quadrant to develop is Relationship Skills –
it is dependent upon at least a minimum number of skills being
developed in the other three quadrants.
The abundant research on EQ has left no
doubt that these skills are vital for personal and business
Teamwork & Collaboration
Generally use of the word
“Spirituality” is poorly defined.
In Integral Psychology Ken Wilber outlines five definitions people
frequently use for the word “Spirituality” (pages
Spirituality involves the highest
levels of any of the developmental lines
Spirituality is the sum total of the
highest levels of the developmental lines
Spirituality is itself a separate
Spirituality is an attitude (such as
openness or love) that you have at whatever stage you are
Spirituality basically involves peak
Beginning with definition number five - Ken
has said, a “peak experience” gives us a “peek” into
the non-dual realm. It
can leave “stretch marks on our minds” but it does not
translate into character traits unless we have the overall stage
development to hold that consciousness.
Peak experiences can increase our appetite for growth
and perhaps accelerate it.
Yet people can be skillful at obtaining peak
experiences and NOT be able to consistently translate those
moments into what we might call spiritually admirable
moments cannot in and of themselves create loving, peaceful,
ethical people. So
if the line of development called “spiritual” is deemed to be
how skillful are you in achieving meditative and transcendent
states (moments of non-dual awareness, moments outside of
contracted ego self) – then some level of development of
that “line” (I prefer to think of it as a list of skills)
is a critical piece of becoming spiritually intelligent –
but it is not sufficient.
I define Spirituality as a modified
combination of definitions 2 and 3.
Spirituality is a separate line AND it represents
interdependency of multiple lines – specifically what I will
call the emotional, cognitive and moral.
Furthermore, Spirituality must be developed and
demonstrated in all four quadrants and in both ascending and
For simplification, my definition of
Spirituality is distinct from Spiritual Intelligence.
Spirituality as “an innate human need to be in relationship
with the sacred.” I believe the need to transcend the limited self is just part
of who we are as a species – it is “innate.”
Not everyone “wakes up” to this facet of human
nature and acts on it. But
we tend to be miserably unhappy when we do not address this
need. We need an
active process – a relationship – with whatever we call
My embedded assumption, which is made
explicit in the Spiritual Intelligence model, is that the goal
is to be both ascending
and descending in the experience of our Spirituality.
That is – to be in the world while also not being
limited to this three dimensional dualistic experience.
What is “sacred” is what is above, below, beside
and all around us. Thus relationships with the sacred have a focus of service to
the separated individuals we encounter (still in contracted
consciousness – including ourselves) and to the planet and
to the transcended whole.
associated with successfully managing relationships among
humans have been defined by Daniel Goleman as the skills
(competencies) of “Emotional Intelligence.”
In exactly the same way as relationships with humans, a
well-developed relationship with the sacred requires skills -
the skills of “Spiritual Intelligence.”
I define Spiritual Intelligence as “The ability to behave with Wisdom
and Compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace
(equanimity) regardless of the circumstances.” The
word “behave” is important because it reflects the outer
demonstration of inner development.
Wisdom and Compassion are capitalized to emphasize the
connection with the Divine.
In the east, love is often defined as a bird with two
wings: wisdom and
either wing the “bird” cannot fly.
So SQ is the ability to behave with divinely inspired
Love. Peace is
demonstrated both by the inner state (upper left quadrant) of
the person and their outer behaviors and presence (right
quadrants). “Regardless of the circumstances” reflects what we most
admire in our spiritual exemplars – they stayed true to
their highest selves even in trying times.
In other words their stage development is advanced and
So what are the
21 skills of Spiritual Intelligence? The 21 skills fall into 4
quadrants which parallel both Daniel Goleman’s and Ken
Wilber’s work. Here I display the quadrants in the sequence which
parallel’s the Integral model.
Quadrant 1 is Individual Interior and focuses on
awareness and complexity of inner thought (showing
interdependency with the cognitive line).
Quadrant 2 is a combination of Collective Interior and
Universal “interior” or “nonmaterial” reality.
Quadrant 3 is demonstrated individual behaviors
relating to managing self (exterior).
Quadrant 4 is demonstrated effectiveness in group
1. Higher Self / Ego self
Awareness of own worldview
Awareness of Life Purpose (Mission)
Awareness of Values Hierarchy
Complexity of inner thought
Awareness of Ego self/Higher Self
3. Higher Self/ Ego self Mastery
Commitment to spiritual growth
Keeping Spirit Self in charge
Living your purpose and values
Seeking guidance from Spirit
2. Universal Awareness
Awareness of interconnectedness of life
Awareness of worldviews of others
Breadth of time/space perception
Awareness of limitations / power of human
Awareness of spiritual principles
of transcendent oneness
4. Social Mastery/Spiritual
Wise and effective teacher of
Wise and effective leader /
Makes Compassionate AND Wise
A calming, healing presence
Being aligned with the ebb and
flow of life
As with the
Goleman/Boyatzis model of EQ skills, our hypothesis is that
Quadrant 1 will be critical for the development of Quadrants 3
and 4. However,
it is possible that some people, especially those in eastern
traditions, may first develop some of the skills of Quadrant 2
and then move into Quadrant 1 before moving on to Quadrants 3
and 4. Thus
Quadrants 1 and 2 are both needed but where you start is not
Each of the 21
skills is scaled from “zero” (meaning no skill development
is measurable yet) to five which is the highest level we
taking the Conscious Pursuits, Inc. SQ self- assessment
receive a report for all 21 skills which gives both a numeric
score and description of what that skill attainment looks
like. An optional
“next step” is then provided for every skill – including
for skills where the client scores a “five.”
This is based on the belief that we are never
Here is an
overview of the five levels of skill development for Quadrant
1, Skill 5: Awareness of Ego self/Higher self.
Skill 5: Awareness of
Higher Self/ Ego self
communicate understanding of the nature of Ego self-
including its origin and the purpose it serves in
spiritual development. (Cognitive theoretical awareness)
ability to observe personal Ego in operation and comment
on what seems to trigger Ego eruptions. (personal
awareness of own Ego)
awareness of and ability to periodically "listen
to" Spirit or Higher Self as a separate voice from
Ego self (personal awareness of voice of Higher Self)
the voice of Spirit or Higher Self clearly and
understands the "multiple voices" that Ego
self can have. Gives
authority to voice of Higher Self in important
decisions. (Ego voice less strident, Higher Self voice
or Higher Self voice is clear and consistent.
Ego self is present and is a joyful advisor to
Higher Self. There
is no longer a struggle between the two voices. Rather
there is a sense of only “one voice” …the Higher
Self (Authentic Self, Spirit) voice and the Ego in
service to that.
Here is a sample of the feedback you would
receive if you scored a “3” on this skill:
You are aware of
the influences of your childhood on the development of your
personality and beliefs.
You understand that there is a difference between the
desires of your Ego and the desires of your Higher Self.
You can observe the Ego part of your nature and can
usually recognize what has caused your Ego to get agitated.
You are aware of how your body feels when Ego is
agitated. This is
great...your body can be your ally in alerting you to when
your Ego is upset. Next step: Learn
to have a conversation with yourself when your Ego is upset
(or better yet in a quiet moment later on).
Ask your Ego self "What are you afraid of?"
"What are you angry about?"
"What would you like me to do about this
dialogue helps you to create a little bit of distance through
awareness so that you are OBSERVING your Ego self rather than
just automatically acting based on its prompting.
Write down the answers you get from Ego.
Then ask yourself "What might be a more Wise and
Compassionate response to this situation?" (or more
simply, "What would Love do?")
Breathe deeply to calm your body and then ask the
question again. Listen
for the inner wisdom that arises from Higher Self.
Notice the differences in how each part of us
interprets a situation. When
you have reflected on these different interpretations, look
closely at the Ego's interpretation.
Fear is the underlying feeling beyond anger.
Ask it "What are you afraid of?" and then
"why are you afraid of that?"
When it answers, ask again, "and why are you
afraid of that?" and
again "Why are you afraid of that?"
Keep going as long as you can until you get to the
deepest fear you can reach. Notice what beliefs and thoughts are behind the fear your Ego
these beliefs and thoughts down.
Then write their antidotes - the truth as Higher Self
This model defines the “expert” level
of skill attainment and 4 preceding levels for all 21 skills.
the beta pilot of this instrument showed
In the 2003 to 2004 beta pilot of 549
people from around the world we found only one strong
demographic predictor of performance and that was age.
A strong positive correlation between age and skill
attainment was found for all 21 skills.
This does not mean that aging automatically brings
skill development. Anyone
can choose not to grow. It
does show that it seems to take time – reflected in years of
age – to increase skills levels on these 21 skills.
This means there is a high probability that the CPI SQ
model depicts a legitimate “intelligence.”
The beta pilot showed that women seemed to
score higher on 3 of the 21 skills.
Protestant Christians tended to score higher than
Catholics and all others on 2 skills.
Caucasians scored better on 3 skills when compared to
all other races. Only
one skill showed any significant variation based on region of
Since the beta pilot we have revised the
questions and the pop-up glossary to make everything easier to
understand for people of all faith backgrounds and cultures.
We are hopeful that over time we will see even less
difference in SQ results based on any demographic other than
between “Lines” of Development
You can see from looking at the simplified
model of four intelligences (Figure 1) that EQ and SQ are
believed to be mutually reinforcing.
However our assumption (not yet tested) is that an
individual with no emotional self-awareness and/or no empathy
skills will have a very difficult time beginning to develop SQ
Skills in Quadrant 1 and Skill 7 in Quadrant 2.
Exclusively “spiritual” skills would
include Skills 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and most of
Quadrant 4. Skills
linked to Moral Development would include Skills 3 and 14.
Skills linked to Cognitive development would include
(depending on how finely you break down the lines) Skills 1,
4, 7, 8 and 9. The
SQ skills in Quadrant 4 are developed last and are dependent
on those in the preceding 3 quadrants (our beta pilot results
seem to substantiate this assumption).
Body awareness (Physical Intelligence or PQ) is
connected to these lines as well since body awareness enhances
self-awareness in EQ and SQ skills.
– which can enhance self-awareness in SQ and EQ), and
moral development (one of the skills of EQ is
“transparency” which means authenticity, trustworthiness
and honesty). SQ
assumes a link with moral development since as SQ grows the
sense of “self” expands to include other people and
inflicted on others becomes pain inflicted on the self.
A high attunement to others leads naturally to higher
morality. In this
model of SQ is not possible to have low moral behavior and
high overall SQ.
It is possible to create clear operational
definitions of Spirituality and Spiritual Intelligence.
Furthermore we can define and assess the specific
skills and the levels of skill development for the 21 skills
of SQ. This
should lead to wonderful opportunities to use the SQ
Assessment for research in several areas:
impact of SQ skills development on people’s sense of
meaning, peace and happiness
impact of team SQ development on workplace
productivity, employee loyalty, customer satisfaction
impact of the use of SQ language in bridging interfaith
In the end, we are alike in our suffering,
our hopes and our joys. We
are all striving to reach the same goals:
peace and love. Perhaps
with a clear, concrete and faith-neutral language for SQ we
can see our commonality and work together towards getting
further information on the CPI SQ Assessment please go to the
website at www.consciouspursuits.com
or email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Graves Wigglesworth
President, Conscious Pursuits, Inc. www.consciouspursuits.com
"Bringing Spiritual Intelligence to Life"
Creator: the first faith-neutral skills-based
Spiritual Intelligence Assessment Instrument
Co-Author: Grown-Up Children Who Won't Grow Up
(with Dr. Larry Stockman) - as seen on Oprah.
Board Member: Association for Spirit at Work
Home/Office: 713-667-9824 Fax: 713-218-6069
Daniel Goleman and Richard
Boyatzis, with Hay-McBrer, 2002