On Sunday, October 14, 2012, Rev. Peter Graham addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center’s downtown San Francisco facility. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that lecture.
Thanks to everyone for being here. It’s a great opportunity to give this talk. I feel excited about giving this talk. As I was thinking about what to do for this talk, this idea just popped up in my head. Maybe it came from the Holy Spirit. One thing I can say about spiritual intelligence – this is my feeling, and I don’t think it’s an arrogant feeling – all of you in here are probably in the top one percent of the spiritually intelligent, (laughter) especially in our culture. I think about what A Course In Miracles teaches and our traditional Western culture. Maybe in Eastern cultures, where they already have the idea that the world is an illusion and temporal, it is different, but in our Western culture, the idea of the world as an illusion is not accepted easily. So, welcome to the one percent.
I want to start my talk off by giving you a little history of intelligence testing and the identification of intelligence in the Western World. As some of you know, I’m a teacher in San Francisco in Special Education. I have had some training around intelligence testing, because the whole idea of testing abilities in education is important. There are some students, as you know, who have difficulty learning, or who have learning impairments. We try to identify these students so that we can support them in learning better. I want to give you a little history of intelligence measuring.
The first modern intelligence testing came about in the 1900s. This is what happened. In France, the government decided that they were going to educate all their children, ages five to fourteen. What they realized was that some children learned better than others. So the French government wanted to figure out, to identify, the kids that weren’t learning, so the government could try to support them better. At the time, there was a French psychologist named Alfred Binet. He was a good guy, a humanistic psychologist. He started going to schools and other areas where kids were, and tried to identify their behaviors. He was later joined by medical doctor Theodore Simon, another French man, who was interested in the same thing. They worked together and they came up with an intelligence test for children that became known as the “Binet-Simon.” That was the first scientific intelligence test we had.
This is what they did. They made a lot of observations of children. They said, “For a child that is five years old, this is typically what a five year old knows. This is what a five year old can read. This is what they can do mathematically. This is what they can do socially.” They came up with different criteria. When you were tested, using this new Binet-Simon test, if you could answer all the questions that an average five year old could answer, then you were considered typical for that age. If you were a five year old, but you could answer the seven year old questions, then you were considered above average. If you were a five year old, but could answer the ten year old questions then – “Wow!” You were off the charts. At the same time, if you were five years old but could only answer the questions that the average three year old knew, then you would be considered below the typical average intelligence. That’s how they established the standards of what intelligence was. Kind of cool – right? The whole idea was to help kids.
Now, leave it to the good old United States. There was a young student in Europe, at the time, named Henry H. Goodard. He was also in France, because he was studying in Europe. He heard about these intelligence tests. The only problem was that he was part of a movement called Eugenics at that time. The Eugenics movement was the one that postulated that white people were intellectually superior. Goodard brought the test to the United States. He hooked up with other Eugenics members in the United States, including a man by the name of Lewis Terman, who was a psychologist at Stanford University. They took the Binet-Simon test and they made a new test. It became – and modified versions are still used today – the first American intelligence test. It’s named the “Stanford-Binet.” Some of you may have actually taken this test. Many of you have probably heard of it.
The Stanford-Binet test’s first application was in World War I, because the government wanted to test people’s intelligence and put them in the best positions, so the U.S.A. could win the war. Intelligence tests in this country got off to a not so great start. The Holy Spirit, I’m sure, took the Stanford-Binet intelligence test and used it for good, in some instances. The Stanford-Binet test has been challenged, and it has been seen as culturally biased. There are many other intelligence tests that are used now.
Fortunately, for the good old U.S.A., we did have reform. In the late 70s and early 80s there was a Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner, and he had a profound effect. He broadened our understanding of intelligence. He said that most humans had nine areas of intelligence. These are areas where we have a capacity to solve different kinds of problems and apply the solutions practically in our mirs. Here are the nine area. The first two are the areas that are required in schools and in education:
• Logical Mathematical
• Musical Rhythmic
• Bodily Kinesthetic
• Visual Spatial
These are the nine areas of intelligence. What Gardner said was that we actually have all of them. Even if you just like to listen to music, you’ve got some musical intelligence. It doesn’t mean you have to be Beethoven. We have all of these things.
The Existentialist would be more like us, more the philosopher kind, the interested in the spiritual world kind.
The Interpersonal would be like the politician or the leader.
The Intrapersonal would be like the therapist, the counselor.
The Musical Rhythmic would be all the folks who are good at music and creating that in the world.
The Naturalist, think of the environmentalist, John Muir perhaps.
The Bodily Kinesthetic would be like an athlete or the dancer.
The Visual Spatial would be the artist, the fashion designer, the architect.
Those are different kinds of intelligence. It’s really interesting. I thought to myself, what about Spiritual Intelligence?
A couple of years back there was a big movement about Social Intelligence. Daniel Goldman wrote a book on that in 2007. What about Spiritual Intelligence? Maybe I could write a book on Spiritual Intelligence. I looked it up on the internet and, loo and behold guess what, people have already thought of this. (laughter) Actually quite a lot of people! There are many references to Spiritual Intelligence on the internet – the first ones that come up in my search were about the Kabbalah. I’m sure some of you know the Kabbalah is the Judaism mystical teaching. Some people say Jesus studied under these teachings. There’s a lot in the Kabbalah about getting in touch with spirit through the use of different practices. There was one web site on Spiritual Intelligence, that is Kabbalah related, and the term “Spiritual Intelligence” is legally registered. They have a trademark on it. We have to be careful about how we use it.
The web site had this to say about Spiritual Intelligence, “Spiritual Intelligence refers to the ability to practice and integrate the spiritual polarities of intuitive wisdom and practical knowledge, love and responsibility, and energetic action ...” I like that. “... and humility. The goals of practice include the development of mindfulness, awareness of the divine, choosing an ethical path and acting in accordance with one’s chosen values for the benefit of self, others, community and the world.” (Center for Spiritual Intelligence / http://spiritualintelligence.com/)
That sounds a lot like our A Course In Miracles related mission statement for the Community Miracles Center. It has a lot of the same ideas – taking the principles of ACIM and applying them to our mirs and bringing them to those who are interested in them.
That sounds like a pretty cool definition. This is my definition of Spiritual Intelligence as an A Course In Miracles student. I just came up with this, so I’m still working on it. Here’s my definition: “The willingness to accept the Atonement for myself as the overarching purpose of my life and the context in which I view all human perceptual experiences. The practice of which includes study, daily lessons, prayer, and the desire to see my brother/sister as myself through the practice of forgiveness.” The Course has inspired me to look at my life this way. I feel like when we say this word “intelligence,” all of us in this room do have this inclination. I think we need to recognize that and validate it. As we go through our life experiences, our healing experiences, we really are atypical. There truly are not many of us out there. The Holy Spirit wants everyone, but we here have a high sense of awareness of how spirituality plays in our mirs. I really think we have to validate that for ourselves, because a lot of us may not have the traditional success in the world or what the world would say is a success. Some of us might, but some of us may not. However, Spiritual Intelligence is really needed for ourselves and for the world at this point in time, and we all have high Spiritual Intelligence.
Here’s what A Course In Miracles said in that reading we heard earlier, “You made the effort to learn, and the Holy Spirit has a unified goal for all effort. He adapts the ego’s potentials for excelling to potentials for equalizing. This makes them useless for the ego’s purpose but very useful for His. If different abilities are applied long enough to one goal, the abilities themselves become unified.” (OrEd.Tx.7.23)
All of us in this room have different talents, different gifts. The ego has different potentialities. The ego may use our gifts for the ego world, but if you are committed to A Course In Miracles – if you are committed to that curriculum as I think we all are – eventually it all becomes unified. We are healing our minds and healing the world. This is something that is certainly required. The Course is teaching us about that.
I’ve come up with my own idea here. What about our own Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. There’s the Intelligence Quotient, the “I.Q.” How about “S.I.Q,.” Spiritual Intelligence Quotient. How does A Course in Miracles increase our S.I.Q. I was thinking about that and thinking about my own practice.
One thing I know in my own life is this, I know when I get up in the morning, if I take the time to do the daily Workbook lesson and spend a few minutes – sometimes it only has to be five minutes – to set my mind, to set my inner clock to Holy Spirit, my day tends to be much better. I tend to be more centered; I tend to be kinder. I tend to not be as attached to my problems. I tend to be a better problem solver, a better decision maker. In that way, I’m approaching life with my Spiritual I.Q.
Some of you may know that this first eight weeks of the school year have been very challenging for me. Actually I’ve been really in my ego a lot. I have been attached to the problems in my work place. My Spiritual I.Q. has been down a little bit. It needed a little bit of inspiration. I think that is why Holy Spirit gave me this talk. Holy Spirit is telling me that I need to re-prioritize, step back for a minute, remember what this whole thing is all about.
Meditation is one way. A second thing is what I just talked about – context. I think A Course In Miracles gives us a context for our mirs. “How does this increase my Spiritual Intelligence Quotient?” It increases it because it gives us that context. We go out in our mirs as ACIM students and we have these Course ideas. The world is temporary. The world is my classroom. I’m learning a lesson here. The end of my body’s life span is not the end of me. We know these as ACIM students. We know that healing is a part of our mirs. We know that our struggles with work, relationships, with money, with health, with our bodies – whatever it might be – should be seen within that context. If we can look at it, when we can remember – I certainly get caught up in the world. However when we do, we can remember, in that context, “Oh this is the purpose. I’m trying to see this in another way. I can learn a lesson.” Then it doesn’t have all the trappings of the ego.
When I get caught up in my job my ego says, “Oh, Oh! If I don’t do this I’m going to lose my job. If I don’t do this, people are going to think ‘X, Y & Z’” whatever the fear thoughts are. We get caught up in judgement. The judgement gives us the fear thoughts.
The other area that A Course In Miracles helps me in is this idea of purpose. The Course gives me confidence, but it also gives me purpose.” It answers the question, “What is my life for?” I think about it as a counter example. Think of the person who doesn’t have the A Course In Miracles context. A person who comes to my mind is a guy like Donald Trump. Not to pick on a brother, but I had to use somebody as an example. Here’s a guy who seemingly has it all – right? He has billions of dollars, even though a lot of his companies have failed, he still has lots of money. He’s famous. A lot of people like him.
I was watching this show a few weeks ago. He was in Scotland trying to build a golf course on a beach. There were property owners around who didn’t want him to build this golf course. He’s in a car and they are video recording him for the show. He’s yelling and screaming at the property owners who didn’t want their views blocked. He had bulldozers push the ground up so that it blocked their views of the ocean. Here’s this guy who is totally invested in the world, has all the gifts of the world, and he clearly was not being a very nice guy. He was being a jerk. I think about that.
On a personal level, I know friends of mine who are great people but they have a real block. They don’t have any spiritual connection. It’s really, really difficult for them. This purpose that we A Course In Miracles students have is a gift. We have a spiritual connection. I don’t think it’s ours to tightly hold on to, it is ours to give and to provide as an example to others. Sometimes our example can be given by just listening. Sometimes we are guided to share our experience with others, and that sometimes gives them hope. That’s up to you and the Holy Spirit in the moment.
Another thing I think is really important is prayer and this is something I forget a lot. The Song of Prayer tells us this, “Prayer is the greatest gift which God blessed His Son at his creation … Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love.” (Song.1.In.1) I really like this one from The Song of Prayer too, “The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need.” (Song.1.I.4) A Course In Miracles enriches our mirs because it is telling us, “Hello everyone. Wake up a little bit. You can pray anytime.” It tells us that our prayers don’t have to be perfect. We can bring anything to the Holy Spirit. We’ll get answered in the way we need to get answered. We do have problems that appear to be specific, and we’ll get specific answers. We do have the power of prayer. We do have the ability – what is the Course about – to change our thinking about things when we are in the ego. Prayer is a great way to increase our own awareness and to increase our own spiritual experience.
My last point about Spiritual Intelligence is this – inspiration. A Course In Miracles, for me, is inspiring. I don’t know if you have even had this experience. Sometimes I often have the experience when I go to teach my ACIM-1 class, and it’s right after work, my mind is frequently focused on the worries of the world. Then I open up the Course and I get this whole other perspective. That perspective shifts me. “Oh gee. That’s right. I remember. This is temporary. That’s right, there’s the Holy Spirit. That’s right, I’m loving. I can forgive this. There’s another way to look at this. This is not all there is.” For me, the Course is inspiring. This inspiration helps me to be a better example in the world and heal my own mind.
A Course In Miracles says, “There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also and believe that you are like them as you were before.” (OrEd.Tx.155.1)
In closing I’d like to say we all, as students of A Course In Miracles, have many ways in which we can take our spirituality and heal ourselves and heal those who we encounter in the world. Sometimes we heal ourselves quietly. Sometimes it’s in communion with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s in a way that we do not know or understand, but that the Holy Spirit is working out for us in His own way and in a way perfect for our own mirs. Today I think we need to validate and accept the gifts that we have. We do have high spiritual intelligence, and the world and ourselves are in need of it.
That’s my talk for today. (applause)
(Rev. Peter Graham is the Community Miracles Center’s 40th minister ordained by the CMC on February 23, 2002. He teaches our *ACIM-1* telephone conference call class on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time. He works as a Special Education teacher and administrator for the San Francisco Unified School District.) ♥
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2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the November 2012 (Vol. 26 No.9) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.