Understanding three different levels of spiritual intelligence and wisdom

In general you could say that our spiritual intelligence is a line of development in ourselves like any other (such as cognitive or emotional) that starts at zero (no spiritual intelligence) and matures as we grow as a person. In this context you could say that spiritual intelligence is that part of our self that addresses the question “What is of ultimate importance or meaning in my life?”

You can also define spiritual intelligence as a is a high level of intelligence or wisdom that we are trying to bring all of our other intelligences up to as we grow. If you define it this way you can measure the growth of spiritual intelligence in three stages as follows:

Pre-individuation – This is a stage of life and education where the focus is on receiving wisdom, knowledge and understanding that from our ancestors and elders, from both conventional and non-conventional sources. At this stage we have not really distinguished ourselves as a fully developed individual, we are very much at the stage of absorbing and assimilating information.

Individuation – This second stage of growth is where we sift through th information and knowledge that we have received from stage one, choosing to accept some of it and reject other aspects of it. This process of consciously deciding that which we accept and that which we reject and articulating it in our life and personal philosophy makes us into an individual, hopefully a considered and well rounded one (!)

Trans-individuation – When we reach this stage our intelligence and wisdom have matured to a spiritual level. At this level we no longer experience ourself as the owner of a personal wisdom and intelligence, rather the wisdom and intelligence of the Universe or God moves through us. at this stage we transcend ourself as an individual. Our mind and body become a vehicle for the wisdom and transcendent loving intelligence of the divine, which manifests on the Earthly plane through us.

So, in summary the journey to true spiritual intelligence involves:

1. Digesting the wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors

2. Fully articulating ourself as an individual

3. Going beyond our individual ego and becoming a vehicle through which transcendent wisdom and intelligence can function in as uninhibited a manner as possible.

A final point here which is worth reflecting on; when we get to level three, trans-individuation, this does not mean that we loose our uniqueness or individuality (which is a common mis-conception), rather that our individuality is transcended and then subsequently included within a much larger and more expansive sense of self. Indeed, as we continue to go beyond our individuality, ideally our individuality will continue to grow, expand and develop in a holistic and healthy way. What I am saying here is a little bit different from the traditional view of enlightenment, where often the individuality is viewed as “obsolete” or meaningless once enlightenment has been attained.

If you found this article interesting, you might consider attending the upcoming series “Meditation techniques for developing your spiritual wisdom and intelligence” that I will be starting this coming Tuesday 24th August, available as recordings for those not able to attend in person.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first.

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The three stages of meditation practice as an art-form

The first stage is using meditation as an art-form to learn to calm the mind, overcome distractions and develop inner peace.

The second stage is using the inner peace and focus you get from the first stage in order to deepen your experience of concentration, awareness and insight.

The third stage is accessing and stabilizing the subtle inner abilities/gifts that you become aware of through stages one and two; understanding what they and learning how to apply them practically/creatively as a way of being of service to the world.

The first stage you could call the art of peace, the second stage you could call the art of concentration and insight, the third stage you could call the art of creative or spiritual service.

Let’s say you start meditating tomorrow, for twenty minutes a day for the next fifteen years. By the end of the first five years you will have probably become competent at stage one. By the end of ten years you will probably have become competent at stage two. By the end of fifteen years you will have a working knowledge of stage three. This will give you a foundation. 

Fifteen years may seem like a long time, but if you are persistent for the first two or three years, it may well be that you will have ceased being all that goal oriented and learned to simply enjoy the journey that the art of meditation offers to the human traveller.

As the practitioner of any genuine art form will tell you, there are no short cuts to genuine mastery! 

PS: Brief plug for the new series of meditation classes on “How to develop our spiritual intelligence and inner wisdom” starting this Tuesday 24th August, I guarantee it will be of interest to any meditator or aspiring meditator. For those not in Singapore it is available as a series of three recordings. 

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first.

Related article: Is your meditation a form of therapy, and art-form or a spiritual practice?

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How the balance between doing and being evolves as you evolve your consciousness

For many people interest in meditation comes from the stress of the prevalence of doing and achieving in contemporary society. Because there is so much busy-ness and activity, we feel a need to retreat into a state of pure being-ness where we can rest and recuperate our energies before returning to the fray of our daily life. Meditation provides us with regular contact with such a being-state.

For such a person the balance of doing and being is found by oscillating between the activity of their daily life and tasks, and their daily meditation practice when they emphasize relaxation, beingness, non-doing and non-thinking.

However, if such a person persists in their meditation, there will come a point where they will start to observe that the state of being-ness that they experience in meditation starts to bleed into their active states; they are able to maintain a sense of centre and balance even when under stress or in conditions of relatively frenetic activity.

At this point the meditator has evolved their sense of doing and being. What they have started to see is that doing is really a sub-set or sub-category of being. Now in their life they have two types of being-ness; in meditation they practice pure-being, and in their daily life they practice doing-being. Doing-being is a far less stressful way of doing things than a state of doing that is disconnected to our sense of being.

If the person persists in their practice then increasingly they will find that their actions become a vehicle for their being-ness, that is to say that the actions of the person are always accompanied by a certain quality and depth which makes the actions themselves causes of happiness and balance.

In summary, three stages of the evolution of the balance between doing and being:

  • Meditation as a way of cultivating our being-ness so as to balance all the busy-ness, stress  and action in our life
  • Doing becomes a sub-set or sub-category of being; In meditation we practice pure being-ness, in daily life we practice doing-being
  • Doing becomes an expression of our being

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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From paranoia to pronoia and transnoia – The journey to perceptual enlightenment in three steps

Three concepts that describe three states of perception:

  • Paranoia – When we see a world that is attacking us and out to get us. This perception arises from a mind that is seeing the world from the perspective of its own fear, anger, jealousy and other negative mindsets
  • Pronoia – When we see a world filled with love and with people, places and things that are worthy of that love. This perception arises within us when our own hearts and minds are filled with love, kindness and care
  • Transnoia – When we see a world where everything is a manifestation of the divine or transcendent, and everything that happens to us is helping us to awaken and grow in the light of this truth. This perception arises from a condition of faith in a higher power than us that is good, but also from wisdom, the ability to see that the challenges we have to face in our life conform to a meaningful pattern that, if we have the presence of mind to face up to will help us grow, evolve and eventually reach our enlightenment.  

One way of viewing the path to enlightenment could be a journey from the nightmare world of paranoia to the “heavenly” states of mind of pronoia and transnoia.

Meditation for introducing pronoia and transnoia into the heart of our paranoia.

Using your breathing as an anchor for your awareness. Recall times or conditions in your life when you have felt deeply surrounded by your own paranoia. Feel into those times and states as realistically as you can without losing your sense of centre.

Having done this, now introduce the perspective of pronoia into the meditation. See the circumstance and yourself though the eyes of love, kindness and compassion. Observe how this perspective starts to alter your view and perception of the situation.

Finally introduce the perspective of transnoia – See what is happening as a part of a larger plan created by a benevolent higher power (call it God, Buddha, the Tao or word of your choice) that is helping you to develop and refine your character, and move toward your own eventual enlightenment and fully awakened state. Observe how this perspective changes your experience of the situation. 

This is a simple exercise that you can do either in a formal sitting meditation or in a more casual, contemplative way when you have a few moments. The main thing is to start seeing how you can work with them in a practical way to alter your experience of your life. 

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Why worry when you can pray: A five minute active meditation for overcoming worry and anxiety

How often do you spend time feeling worried and anxious about things in your life that you care about but cannot control? It can often be much more beneficial, rather than struggling with the worry to simply acknowledge it and then pass it over to a higher power through a simple, improvised, on the spot prayer. In the exercise below I address all the prayers to “God”, but when you are doing this yourself you can fill in whatever expression of a higher power feels comfortable to you:

 Sit comfortably; spend a short while centring yourself by focusing on the breathing or other appropriate method. Then just let your mind wander onto the things that it feels anxious about. Each time you are able to identify a cause of worry and anxiety, offer up a short prayer and then release the worry to a higher power.

For example:

1)  I notice that I am anxious about an argument with my partner or family member.

So I offer a prayer: “Dear God please help me resolve the conflict between myself and X, I am not sure what to do about it, but I pray for your grace and intervention”.

I then release the prayer and let go of the worry and relax for a few breaths.

 2) Then a worry comes up about a talk that I have to do tomorrow to a large group.

So I pray: “Dear God please help me to find appropriate material for tomorrows talk, and to be able to present it in a way that the audience will connect with.”

I then release the prayer and let go of the worry.

So, the entire five or so minutes is simply spent oscillating between these three activities; noting a worry, praying about it, and releasing it to a higher power. At the end of the meditation I recommend you spend a little while just resting in and enjoying the release/letting-go stage of the exercise.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Tackling a-void-ance: Meditation for healing and transforming loneliness and emptiness

Unless we are careful, a lot of the things that we do in our life are simply activities that we engage in to avoid the underlying sense of loneliness, emptiness, incompleteness, feeling or separation, or quite simply the VOID that we sense inside. The motivation for getting in a relationship for example can primarily be driven by a feeling that we lack something within ourself, and we need someone else to make up for that lack. Thus much of what we do is simply a-void-ance, a way of dancing around the big hole that we sense in the centre of our life, and trying to do everything in our power to avoid acknowledging or confronting it. The following meditation/contemplation is designed to help us look honestly at the void in our life and see that there may be something in it that we did not suspect.

Meditation on a-void-ance

Sit down and spend a short while just relaxing and centring yourself.

Bring to mind times in your day when you feel a sense of loneliness, incompleteness, emptiness, a negative void. Instead of avoiding these feelings, move into them, accept them without comment and allow yourself to feel them deeply. Use the breathing to breathe with them if you like.

Now gently let go of the manifest feelings of loneliness/emptiness that you feel, and just focus instead on the sense of space that accompanies these feelings. Try to experience just the space, just the void in your being. Breathe, relax, allow yourself to sink into that inner space that so often you try and avoid. It is almost like when you have been fighting going to sleep, and then you just decide to give in, and allow yourself to fall asleep.

Now within that empty void sense a light, like the sun gradually dawning over the horizon. What was once a dark empty space now becomes a void filled with light and radiance. The space is still there, the void is still there but it is filled with life, brightness and luminosity, like a sun shining from within the depths of space. Remain with this experience for as long as you like.

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Is your meditation a type of therapy, an art-form or a spiritual practice?

Your meditation is a therapy if you are doing it to fix something inside you that is broken. Meditating to cope with stress, heal an emotional wound, to pacify/heal our addictions and demons is a form of therapy.

Your meditation is an art-form if you are using it to push the boundaries of your inner skill, power and capability. It is where you take risks, push the limits of what you thought possible, and experience new ways of seeing, feeling creating.

Your meditation is a spiritual practice when you rest in a state of no boundaries, where the barriers between yourself and the universe dissolve into light and there is just pure being-ness, one-ness, opulence and radiance.

The chances are that your meditation oscillates between these three types in an organic way, but it is extremely useful to be able to differentiate them in these three ways because:

–          There are times when you need to stop trying to fix that which is broken in you and start taking some risks

–          There are times when pushing your boundaries is doing more harm than good, and you need to create a healing space for yourself

–          There are times when you need to get off your butt and stop getting absorbed in the timeless wonder of it all

–          There are times when you need to take a holiday from the bounds of time and space and rest in the regenerative-radiance of your original being

–          There are times when you’re universal, original being explodes into action and demands that you start expressing your inner and outer art-forms. If so, you’d better act on this or watch out!

© Toby Ouvry 2010, please do not reproduce without permission. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Concentrating from the Heart – Both meditation and life are much easier when your head and your heart are in the same place!

One of the perennial questions that I get asked, and that meditators across the world struggle with on a daily basis is “How can I keep my mind focused in meditation? It seems so difficult!” Here is one technique that I practice and sometimes teach to people that I describe as ‘learning to concentrate from the heart’.

It is based around the observation that, if you are engaged with an object of meditation emotionally and from your heart, then your mind will tend to find it easy to keep its focus. However, if you are trying to focus your mind in meditation but your heart is somewhere else, then you it will be a constant struggle as your mind strives to be in one place, and the heart seeks to be in another. Below is a basic technique that is quite easy to understand, and once you have practised it a few times, you will be able to adjust it according to your point of balance and creatively make it your own. 

Learning to concentrate from the heart:

1.  Bring to mind something that moves your heart and body to a state of love and engaged emotionality. The potential object is very varied here; someone you love, the most significant kiss of your life, sitting by your favourite river, stamp collecting, a past heightened mystical experience, a project that excites you… The main thing is that it moves YOUR heart, engages YOUR emotions, awakens a certain sense of rapture within YOUR heart and body that you can feel tangibly and deeply.

2. Once the feeling is there, use the breathing to breathe the energy of the experience in and out of your heart space (center of your chest). As time goes by, keep the feeling, but allow its intensity to reduce slightly, and gradually increase your focus on the breathing so that the heartfelt emotion is being combined with a single-pointedness of concentration on the breathing.

Practice being able to combine the arousal and engagement of your heart with the single-pointedness of your concentration in this way.

3. When you are familiar with the basic process described in points 1&2, you can then practice shifting your point of focus away from the original object that engaged your heart to a new meditation object. For example you can shift the rapture of your remembrance of your first love (or your first stamp collection) onto a feeling of love for living beings as a whole, Or the feeling of compassion that you had as a nine year old for a kitten to a love for all the animal kingdom.

The main thing I want to flag up with this article is that meditative concentration without engaging the heart is hard work. Meditation with the heart engaged makes it relatively easy to keep focus, and induces the levels of bliss and rapture that we can experience through meditative concentration much more readily and rapidly! 

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first. Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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Developing your inner vision: The darkness that you encounter in meditation may not be what you think!

If you meditate consistently over a period of time, at some point you are going to awaken one or other of your faculties of inner vision (see tomorrows class on “How do we awaken our spiritual vision and what will we see?”). This whole area is a big one, but I want to share just one short story now.

When I first started meditating, I had inadvertently, through some basic hatha yoga, activated my kundalini. As a result I started to have visions, and the visions that I saw were quite varied, but as often as not they were very dark, dense and apparently malevolent in nature. It seemed to happen in waves, for days at a time, then going away, only to come back at a later time. I seemed to encounter dark beings within the dark energy, with hooked noses, long hands and so forth, very Harry Potter.

I found this a bit disconcerting, and tried to force these evil visions away with prayers of protection, power mantras and all this type of thing, but the visions persisted causing a certain degree of fear and anxiety. I thought that I must be doing something wrong in my meditation, or I had some form of evil in me that must be magnetizing these funny beings to me.

I was able to clarify the situation as a result of starting to make my own compost. I noticed that when I lay down to bed at night, if I had been doing any work in the garden, and in particular doing composting work, then I would almost always see these same dark beings in my inner vision as I went to sleep. It was at this time also that I started to read a little bit on the idea of nature elementals, the spiritual beings who over-light the fundamental life and death processes of nature. Putting two and two together I realized that what I was seeing in my inner vision was not the forces of darkness in an evil sense, but rather the natural elemental forces of death, decay and breaking down as they exist in the natural world.

These natural forces of death and decay in the natural world are just as important as the life giving forces, and are in no way malevolent. However, for a human such as me encountering them for the first time, they often produce a reaction of confusion and aversion. Once I had clearly understood who and what they were, my fear for them dissolved and I learned to welcome them into my awareness in the same way that I welcomed light, blissful and radiant experiences.

When we start to develop our inner vision we may have some experiences that we do not understand, but it is important not to jump to conclusions too quickly, as what we see may not be what we think it is!

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you MUST seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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What is it that is keeping me from relaxing in the present moment?

If meditation is understood as being able to keep our mind in the present moment (which is one major foundational understanding of it), then a useful question to ask ourselves each day is “What is it within my experience of the present moment right now that I am resisting entering into?” On one level it seems as if the present moment should be the simplest and most natural space to enter into, and yet we resist.

Rather than giving you the answer to this question in an abstract or philosophical manner, I’ll just outline my experience of this over the last weekend, and then offer some conclusions based around this.

Last weekend (it is now Monday) I noticed an uneasy feeling that was preventing me from feeling at comfortable with myself and with my circumstances. It seemed as if my mind was on a hair trigger, as soon as I sat down to try and relax, all sorts of reasons to  feel dissatisfied or uneasy would start forming in my mind. So, recognizing that I had something of a challenge on my hands, I asked myself the question “What is it that is causing me to feel uneasy in the present moment and unable to relax?” I just sat and breathed with this question for a while, looking into my body and mind for an answer. Rationally I discovered no real reason for the unease, life is going quite well, no big crisis, nothing REALLY to feel bad about. However, when I looked in my body, on the energy level I found that there was what I would describe as a nervous “tick” in the centre of my chest. This is to say that there was a very uncomfortable energy in the centre of my chest that was creating a natural feeling of discomfort and dis-ease within my mind and body.

It seemed like it was something that I could not shift straight away, and so I made a decision “If I cannot shift this uncomfortable feeling, then I am just going to have to ‘be’ with it, and make sure that I don’t allow it to affect my thinking, feeling and behaviour in any kind of negative way”.

So, having made this decision, my main task over the next 36 or so hours that it took for this heart energy to clear was simply to “be” with this uncomfortable energy and mindfully exercise my willpower in such a way that the energy was not able to manifest in any way beyond just being an uncomfortable feeling.

The act of choosing to be with the uncomfortable feeling, and use my willpower to not allow it to cause a problem is an example of when we need to make an extra effort to be present, even if there is a certain amount of willpower and effort involved.

Key points:

  • Asking yourself the question “What is it that is keeping me from entering into the present moment” is a very useful way of bringing yourself back to the present moment, even if you can feel resistance to it.
  • Asking the question regularly enables you to get to know the reasons you personally avoid being in the present moment much more intimately.
  • Sometimes being in the present moment means exerting your willpower and courage, and being compassionately honest with yourself.
  • Learning to be aware and take care of your mind and body when they are unhappy and uncomfortable is just as important, maybe more so than being present when things are going well.

 Read related article on Toby’s Mentalfitnessnow blog: “Why you need to commit to what is happening in your life now, whether it is what you want or not, and the trap of wishing you were somewhere else.”

©Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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