The Power of Spiritual Intelligence:
10 ways to tap into your spiritual genius
by Tony Buzan

Thorsons (2001), 152 pages, ISBN 0-7225-4047-7, 5.99

Review by Bill Gent

In a world where there is a surfeit of self-help, get-your-life-in-order-type books, it would be so easy to miss a small book like this one.

Tony Buzan, who has already made a reputation with books such as Head First and Use Your Head, and whose company has Mind-Maps as its registered trade mark, offers both the general reader and the professional educator a great deal in The Power of Spiritual Intelligence.

There are 11 sections to the book. The introduction includes a definition of spiritual intelligence:

'Spiritual Intelligence progresses naturally from your Personal Intelligence (knowledge, appreciation and understanding of yourself), through Social Intelligence (knowledge, appreciation and understanding of other people), to the appreciation and understanding of all other life forms and the Universe itself'. (pxix)

Ten chapters, each focusing on an aspect of spiritual intelligence, namely: getting the 'big picture'; exploring your values; your life vision and purpose; compassion; charity and gratitude; the power of laughter; being childlike; the power of ritual; peace; and love. Each of these chapters follows a common structure.

To begin with, there is an exploration of the key aspect. This includes tales or true-life stories which are meant to inspire. The chapter on being childlike, for instance, includes something about both Arthur Rubinstein and Tina Turner.

There then follows a 'spiritual workout', ideas or activities which are designed to make the aspect real in a person's life. In the chapter on laughter, this includes the advice to make a habit of going to see comedy films and plays.

Each chapter ends with a series of 'spirit boosters', phrases which can be repeated in order to encourage their growth within a person's outlook. The spirit boosters in the chapter focusing on values include 'I am reliable and dependable. My word is my bond' and 'I am a just person. I am increasingly fair in all my dealings'.

The book also provides a number of sample mind-maps - on 'love' and 'ritual', for example - together with a large number of spirited and often very telling quotations. Take, for example, Seneca's 'There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good deed as in doing it' and Peter Ustinov's 'Laughter is the most civilized music in the world'.

This is an extraordinary book which might not be to everyone's taste. I suspect, for example, that phrases like 'spirit boosters' will smack too much of management-speak for some people.

Nevertheless, the book itself is profoundly spiritual without ever demanding that the reader becomes 'religious' in any kind of confessional sense. It will certainly prove very helpful for those who are trying to make sense of what the term 'spiritual' means for everyday life and living. That is, if they have time to ponder over it. For, as Tony Buzan rightly says:

'The accelerating pace, the increasing chaos and the growing bombardment of information that now form the basic fabric of 'modern life' keep us away from spiritual thoughts and activities, while at the same time making us yearn for them even more.' (p111)

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