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Unlocking Spiritual Intelligence

Father Seelan speaks in the President's Lounge about the significance of SQ (Photo by Luke Malanga '20).
Written by Natalie Drum

Lecture explores important facet of St. Joe’s Jesuit identity


Robin S. Seelan, S.J., the 2017 Donald I. MacLean Chair, led a lecture titled Igniting Spiritual Intelligence, or “SQ”, on Nov. 30 to a packed audience in the Campion Student Center Presidents’ Lounge.

Honoring the university’s 24th president, the Donald I. MacLean Chair lecture was established in 1987 by donors Michael J. Morris ’56, Joseph McKinney ’52 as well as the Jesuit community at St. Joe’s. Accomplished scholars and members of the arts and sciences who are also members of the Society of Jesus helped bring this lecture to fruition.

Welcomed by the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Shaily Menon, Ph.D., Seelan led a presentation into the understanding and exploration of SQ.

One topic of this lecture was seeking to bring awareness to spiritual intelligence in daily living. Additionally, Seelan spoke on the need for exploration of SQ characteristics to bring about a deeper meaning, value and true happiness to living life.

“Father Seelan presented information from various scientific disciplines as well as concepts from Ignatian teachings and Asian texts,” said Menon. “To help us understand the importance of spiritual intelligence in our lives to help us find meaning, value, and true happiness.”

SQ comes into fruition through reflection in hopes of discovering the true value of life.

“All of us have SQ but it is not always activated,” said Seelan.

Seelan continued to illustrate the many different in-depth facets of SQ, touching upon the key elements of transcendence, depth, basics and purpose. The first topic he discussed dealt primarily with psychology and spirituality. Seelan explained that universality is the level in which we are all the same, whereas connectedness is part of a broader reality across different groups. This statement resonated with Natalie Mariotti ’20.

“I was able to learn about our spiritual intelligence and how everyone has it, it’s just that not everyone uses it,” said Mariotti.

Seelan incorporated key questions such as ‘what have I done,’ ‘what am I doing’ and ‘what should I be doing’ into his lecture. Awareness was another key aspect.

According to Seelan, yogic awareness, which relies heavily on training the mind and body, also increases the SQ, while also balancing personal awareness in what is going on at the exact moment, according to Seelan. “Even if [someone has] no IQ and EQ [emotional quotient], life becomes happy and content with an increase of SQ awareness,” said Seelan. “SQ is the dance holding the hands of IQ and EQ; my last word is it is still a work in progress.”

To conclude the lecture, Seelan focused on the engagement of SQ, primarily how one can bring it into their own life. According to Seelan, relating to a deeper inner self will bring SQ.

“The MacLean Chair emphasizes that the university’s Jesuit identity is inseparable from the nest teaching, scholarship, and collegial discourse,” said Menon. “Having university members assemble to discuss concepts such as the one that Seelan presented helps strengthen that identity and connection.”

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Natalie Drum

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