I believe some children have an innate spiritual intelligence. Call it a subset of spirituality, but you’ll know it when you come across it. I decided to write on this subject because I was speaking with one of my students the other day — a boy of 13 who is classified as emotionally disturbed, and with whom I was having a tense conversation (at least on my part). I overheard him speaking about having stolen a bicycle. When I asked him if he felt guilty for taking someone’s bike, who may not be able to replace it, he shrugged his shoulders and dismissed it with an “Are you kidding?” He looked at me as if I had a squirrel dangling from my ear to have asked him such a ridiculous question. And, to add insult to injury, he then proudly admitted to me that he had stolen at least a dozen bikes in the last year and sold them for profit. That part, he said proudly. I knew I was not going to win that battle by proceeding to take the moral high ground, because it would have fallen on deaf ears. My only recourse was to tell him about the consequences of stealing, from a legal prospective. He laughed that off too, as he said he was only 13, and knew the ins and outs of the law.
“Is this kid beyond help?”, I mused. Maybe! But, because I do believe in miracles, and I do think that spirituality is a skill set we can teach and learn, I am not giving up. Spiritual behaviors all children might benefit from include how to pray and meditate, consider ethics or morals (a conversation I wasn’t about to have just yet with the boy offender), and build empathy through some type of service.
Frances Vaughn, an author and transpersonal therapist described the traits associated with spiritual intelligence in children. He said this type of child has deeper insights into levels of consciousness, and the relationship to others, the earth, and all beings. Children with spiritual intelligence seem never to turn compassion for others on and off. Their compassion is ingrained. Their connection to animals, nature, and to the hearts of people is authentic. Spiritual intelligence is a gift, but it can be cultivated, and it is so important because it provides the faith to deal with adversity, and a sense of optimism all children will need in life.
I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season – I’ll write again after the New Year.