Construct of Religion and Spirituality and its Influence on an Individual’s Decision Making Iftekhar Alam

March 8, 2019 Critical Thinking

Construct of Religion and Spirituality and its Influence on an Individual’s Decision Making
Iftekhar Alam; Shalini Upadhyay; Nitin Upadhyay
Introduction
Conventionally, we tend to use words like, “faith”, “belief” and “spirituality” interchangeably. But these words have different meanings.  More than just an academic distinction, these differences can actually be quite enlightening and help in understanding the idea of Spirituality.  
Most of us think of “faith” in supernatural terms, as in “faith in God.” This is actually more of what psychologists of religion would call “belief”. Faith, from a more naturalistic, psychological perspective, is merely the innate drive to search for meaning, purpose and significance. From infancy, every human person has an innate sense that “there is something more than just me” and a drive to discover what that might be.  People, whether they are believers or not, seek the deeper meaning, purpose, and significance that exists in life, relationships and the things that happen to us.  We recognize this basic striving as “faith” and it is a universal part of being human.  Even atheists have this kind of faith. Everyone has the gift of faith–that innate drive to seek meaning, purpose and significance–but some people have exercised this innate gift more than others, allowing their faith to be better defined than others.

Belief represents the truths claims that a person makes as a result of his spiritual journey.  When, as a result of a spiritual striving, a person decides that “this is true” and “this is not” he is articulating various “beliefs” that he holds because of experiences he’s had while trying to satisfy the innate sense of faith (i.e., that innate human longing for meaning, purpose, and significance) by engaging in various spiritual practices and pursuits. Beliefs about religious or spiritual phenomena have important effects on human behavior and functioning. They can provide one with a cognitive map of the world that makes it meaningful. Such worldview beliefs can ?ll many functions. They provide a paradigm for, among other things, what is the purpose of life, they may provide a buffer against anxiety, enhancing a sense of safety and security, and they may satisfy needs for a purpose in life, anchoring a sense of what is right and wrong. Moreover, such beliefs connect people, enabling the sharing of a system of values and rules for a social group, values and rules that may be a prime guiding force for actual behavior.
Spirituality
The term “spirituality” represents both the things on which a person focuses his or her faith (e.g, God, place of worship, nature, etc) and the things he or she does to try to make a connection with those things (prayer, sacraments, hiking). In other words, spirituality represents the paths a person’s faith travels  CITATION Gri88 l 1033 (Griffin, 1988) as it seeks meaning, purpose, and significance.  In these terms, faith is an internal feeling, a sense that there is “something more.”  By contrast, spirituality represents the effort to find out what that “something more” might be.  Spirituality results when one’s faith has been activated.

Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimensionCITATION Sau06 l 1033 (Saucier & Skrzypinska, 2006) and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” CITATION She98 l 1033 (Sheldrake, 1998) often in a context separate from organized religious institutions. Modern systems of spirituality may include a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm,  CITATION Sch14 l 1033 (Schuurmans-Stekhoven, 2014) personal growth, a quest for an ultimate or sacred meaning, CITATION Sny07 l 1033 (Snyder & Lopez, 2007) religious experience, CITATION Sha00 l 1033 (Sharf, 2000) or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.” (Waaijmann, Kees, 2002).

The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other CITATION Koe12 l 1033 (Koenig, King, ; Carson, 2012). The term “spirituality” originally developed within early Christianity, referring to a life oriented toward the God Almighty. CITATION Won09 l 1033 (Wong ; Vinsky, 2009) During late medieval times the meaning broadened to include mental aspects of life, while in modern times the term broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions.

The emerging focus on spirituality shows its relevance for furthering understanding of various aspects of human functioning and how it effects his environment. The results of several studies indicate that though spirituality is related to traits comprising aspects of traditional theories of personality, (Hills, Francis, Argyle, ; Jackson, 2004; Saroglou, 2002; Wink, Ciciolla, Dillon, ; Tracy, 2007), it represents an aspect of personality that is not fully accounted for by these model).

Spirituality and Religion: Two Independent Dispositions
Religion and spirituality play an important role in the lives of many individuals. While religion often looks outward with its tradition-centered beliefs and practices; spirituality looks inward – a search for a transcendental sensation of a connection to God, or a unity of life that can be largely independent of institutionalized religious authority or can be heavily informed and guided by institutional religion. This inward approach, which recognizes that there is something sacred at the core of all existence, is being adopted by many people in the Western countries. For example, a growing proportion of Americans express no religious denominational preference (Hout and Fischer, 2002), report pursuing a ‘personal religion’ (Smith, 2002), and de?ne themselves as spiritual but not religious (Fuller, 2001). In this changing cultural landscape that is characterized by di?erences in belief and practices between the spiritually versus religiously committed, the question remains that if there is an e?ect of spiritual or religious orientation on a person’s attitude and decision making.

The most common misconception about spirituality is that there are many forms of spirituality, and all are equally valid. Meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, seeking conversation with the spirit world, etc., may seem to be “spiritual,” but they are in fact false spirituality. Religion tends to substitute the observance of rituals for a genuine relationship with God. Spirituality tends to substitute connection with the spirit world for a genuine relationship with God. At the same time, religion can be valuable in the sense that it points to the fact that there is a God and that we are somehow accountable to Him. The true value of religion is its ability to point out that we have fallen short and provides us a spiritual compass. Spirituality can be valuable in that it points out that the physical world is not all there is. Human beings are not only material, but also possess a soul-spirit. There is a spiritual world around us of which we should be aware. The true value of spirituality is that it points to the fact that there is something and someone beyond this physical world to which we need to connect. There are certain differences between Religion and Spirituality which will help understand what Spirituality actually is. Some of these are as follows: –
Religion Makes You Bow – Spirituality Sets You Free. Religion tells you to follow an ideology and obey certain rules or you’ll be punished otherwise. Spirituality lets you Follow Your Heart and What You Feel It’s Right. It sets you free to be what you truly are without bowing to anything that doesn’t resonate as right with you, nor to anyone because we are all one. It is all up to you to choose what you’ll honor enough to make it divine
Religion Shows You Fear – Spirituality Shows You How to Be Brave.Religion tells you what to fear and tells you consequences. Spirituality makes you aware of the consequences but doesn’t want you to focus on the fear. It shows you how to stand despite being afraid, how to move on doing what you feel it’s right despite the consequences that may come. It shows you how to act on love and not on fear, it shows you how to control fear and use the best of it.

Religion Tells You the Truth – Spirituality Lets You Discover It.Religion tells you what to believe and what is right. Spirituality lets you discover it by yourself and understand it in your own unique way. It lets you connect with your higher self and see with your own mind what truth is because the truth as a whole is same for each one of us. It lets you believe in your own truth through your own perception of your heart.

Religion Separates from Other Religions – Spirituality Unites Them.Through our world there are many religions and they all preach that their story is the right story. Spirituality sees the truth in all of them and unites them because the truth is same for all of us despite our differences and uniqueness. It focuses on the quality of the divine message they share and not on the differences in details of the story they speak.

Religion Makes You Dependent – Spirituality Makes You Independent.If you attend religious events only then you are seen as a religious person and someone who is worthy of happiness. Spirituality shows you that you don’t need or depend on anything to be happy. Happiness is always found deep in ourselves and only we are responsible for it. We are always where we need to be and not just while attending at some events or buildings. Divinity is in us and that is why we are always worthy.

Religion Applies Punishment – Spirituality Applies Karma. Religion says that if we don’t obey certain rules there is punishment that awaits us which relies on our belief. Spirituality lets us understand that every action has its reaction and realize that the punishment of our actions will be the reaction coming from the actions we set in motion. It relies solely on the fundamental forces of The Universe and it doesn’t need you to believe in that force to be true.

Religion Makes You Follow Other Journey – Spirituality Lets You Create Your Own.The foundation of one religion is the story it tells about God, journey to enlightenment and the truth. Spirituality lets you walk your own journey to enlightenment and discover the truth in your own way following what your heart tells it’s right because the truth is always the same no matter how you get to it.

Every religion came by spirituality, with an aim to discover the One and only Truth i.e Almighty God, who is the creator and who has created the entire Universe for some ‘Purpose’. It is the search of this higher ‘Purpose’ that resonates with the Human Heart and through each of us. That is why every religion has this common thread of aligning the human soul to the Truth. Interestingly, a common thread weaves through the construct of various major religions, which connects the spiritual construct between them. Accordingly, an analysis has been undertaken to understand this, based on two core philosophies i.e. ‘Dominant values’ and ‘Concept of Evil/ Wrong’, in Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Judaism. An interesting commonality of pattern emerges between the core philosophies, and the minor deviations, if observed are more due to socio-cultural aspects, depending on the place of origin of these religions. A comparative assessment is represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Comparative Assessment of Inter-Religion Spiritual Attributes
Conceptualization of Spirituality
Though many factors contribute to the confusion surrounding measurement of spirituality, two related and complex issues are preeminent: 1) disagreement regarding the relationship of religion to spirituality; and even more basic, 2) dif?culty de?ning spirituality (kapuscinski,2010). The assumption that religion and spirituality constitute essentially non-separable entities supplies the historical foundation for study in this area and dates to the work of William James (James, 1902/1985). The study of religion and spirituality as discrete entities, however, emerged concurrent with increasing secularization in Western culture (Zinnbauer, Pargament, & Scott, 1999). Overall, it appears that there is signi?cant, but not complete, overlap in the common understanding of religiousness and spirituality, with belief in a higher power constituting a core aspect of both, but with religiousness alone necessitating involvement with institutionalized practices, groups, and beliefs.

De?nitions of spirituality range from “a search for the sacred” (Pargament, 1997) to “the human response to God’s gracious call to relationship with himself” (Benner, 1989). Scott (as cited by Zinnbauer et al., 1999) conducted a content analysis of de?nitions of religion and spirituality appearing in scienti?c literature during the preceding century, which yielded nine categories. Common themes included connectedness or relationship, behaviors re?ecting sacred or secular beliefs, belief in something transcendent, existential questions, and references to institutional structures. Despite the diversity in conceptualizations, there are important trends in the literature. For instance, religion is often narrowly de?ned as associated with institutions whereas spirituality is not. Religion is also considered external, whereas spirituality is associated with personal experience. Additionally, spirituality is now de?ned by its function, but religion by its substance (e.g., spirituality may be de?ned as a force that allows individuals to ?nd meaning and purpose, and religion as involvement in institutional practices). Finally, there seems to be an inclination to view religion as the “bad,” and spirituality as the “good” approach to the transcendent. Spirituality has acquired the connotation of a healthy, freeing path toward growth, whereas religion is viewed as a potentially restrictive barrier.
Empirical Research on Spirituality
Spirituality has found a reference ?eld of its own in theoretical research. This complex multidimensional phenomenon has fostered empirical research on a variety of topics. Scholars have studied the e?ects of spirituality across various dimensions of life such as quality of life and relief from loneliness (Paloutzian and Ellison, 1982), health, well-being, mood, and recovery from illness (Idler (1987) and Marcoen (1994)), environmentalism (Bloch, 1998), moral development and purpose in life (Wuthnow, 1998), and charitable giving (Regnerus et al., 1998). But, when it comes to exploring the impact of spiritual intelligence on an individual’s decision-making ability, the research has received limited perspective. There is little theoretical connection between studies of religion and spirituality and its effect on strategic decision making ability.
Spirituality integrates our personal values and needs with professional environment in a more meaningful context. Tombaugh, Mayfield and Durand (2011) labelled this dynamic aspect of spirituality as “spiritual expression at work” (SEW) referring to the impact or influence of personal spirituality on workplace thoughts, behaviors and interactions. In addition, personal spirituality of the worker leads to “a motivational organizational culture” resulting in improved overall performance and organizational excellence (Marques, 2005, pp. 283). Spiritual intelligence is “more than individual mental ability” and it “connects the personal to the transpersonal and the self to spirit” (Vaughan, 2002, pp. 19). In contrast to rational intelligence which is about “thinking and solving logical problems” and emotional intelligence which “deals with feeling and allows us to judge the situation”, spiritual intelligence “allows us to ask whether we want to be in present situation”, enabling connection “between mind and body as well as between reason and emotion” (Kadkhoda et al., 2012). Probably one of the most comprehensive definitions of spiritual intelligence is proposed by White (2006), in which SQ is designated as “a set of seven cognitive characteristics: SQ is a rational higher level of consciousness; SQ is the capacity for affective intellectual development; SQ implies that an individual has the unique ability to construct a vision that is infused with a notion of ultimate purpose; SQ is the ability of intuitively seeing connections between existential ideas and varied lifeworld experiences; SQ provides a grounding for authentic self-efficacy coupled with an empathetic understanding of others; SQ is a predisposition to see inherent connections that may not be tangible and to seek existential answers that support a rational theoretical orientation, and Scientific research suggests that the brain’s actual “physiological organization” is designed to produce spiritual thoughts. Precisely, these multiple dimensions make SQ inevitable factor in decision-making process. Particularly, because it involves a capacity for a deep understanding of questions but also set of skills and resources that facilitate problem solving and goal attainment.
Spiritual Quotient (SQ)
“SQ is an ability, as old as humanity”. There are three type of intelligence that determines our inner and outer success in life. An assemblage of general intellectual ability (IQ), emotional quotient (EQ) and spiritual quotient (SQ) is of vital significance for any endeavour to succeed. The transformative power of SQ distinguishes it from IQ and EQ. IQ primarily solves logical problems. EQ allows us to judge the situation we are in and behave appropriately. SQ allows us to ask if we want to be in that situation in the first place. It might motivate us to create a new one. SQ makes us the fully intellectual, emotional and spiritual creatures that we are (Zohar & Marshall, 2000:6). Danah, Zohar & Ian Marshall (2000:6) concluded that “Ideally, our three basic intelligences work together and support one another. Our brains are designed so that they can do this. But each of them -IQ, EQ and SQ -has its own area of strength, and they can function separately. That is, we are not necessarily high or low in all three simultaneously. One needn’t be high in IQ or SQ to be high in EQ. One could be high in IQ but low in both EQ and SQ, and so on.
For centuries, attempts have been made to distinguish people who are intelligent from those who are less intelligent. Major efforts have been aimed at developing theories and measures that efficiently reflect and sample a variety of abilities believed to contribute to making a person smart and successful. It has been rightly speculated by Zohar, Danah ; Marshall, Ian (2000) that people someday may feel the need of SQ tests. According to these authors ‘Not only is the concept of SQ not yet established, but, they point out, it is also not quantifiable’. However, it is to be noted that SQ does exist and as has been rightly asserted by Thorndike ‘everything that exists, exists in some quantity and can therefore be measured’.

It can be rightly said that whereas the twentieth century was the century of the ‘brain’, the twenty-first century has to be a century of ‘mind’. Concerted efforts are required to understand ‘intellect’, ’emotions’ and ‘consciousness’ with a scientific bent of mind. Most of the scholars are in agreement that ‘mind’ (as a psychological entity) is the seat of ‘intellect’, ’emotions’ and ‘consciousness’. As a matter of fact, recent assertions and ideas are trying to emphasise that mind is not a thing but a process- the process of cognition which is identified with the process of life. The brain is a specific structure through which this process operates. Thus, attempts to understand the journey from IQ to EQ to SQ is of paramount importance at the dawn of the new millennium.

Notion of Spiritual Quotient. The notion of Spiritual Quotient is comparatively new in the arena of intelligences, which include Cognitive Intelligence (IQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Creative Intelligence (CQ). Spiritual Intelligence is an essential ingredient to intimate relationships as it is the dimension that lifts the union out of the methodical plod of life and endows it with depth and spiritual growth. Danah Zohar coined the phrase and has presented convincing scientific evidence on the existence of Spiritual Intelligence: a spiritual centre in the human brain that integrates IQ and EQ. The following ten qualities/ dimensions are essential for SQ: –
Self-awareness.

Being vision and value led.

Thriving on adversity.

Being holistic and making connections between things.

Celebrating diversity.

Being independent and having the courage to risk being unpopular.

A tendency to ask fundamental why questions.

Ability to see the bigger picture and stand back.

Spontaneity – responding to a situation.

Compassion.

Thorsons (2001) defines Spiritual Intelligence (SI) as; “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”.

According to Robert Emmons (The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns, 1999), Spiritual Intelligence helps one to: –
Transcend the physical and material.

Experience heightened states of consciousness.

Sanctify everyday experience.

Utilize spiritual resources to solve problems.

Be virtuous, showing such traits as humility, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion.

Therefore, Spiritual Intelligence is the ultimate intelligence which we address and solve problems of meaning and value, the intelligence with which we can place our actions and our lives in a wider, richer, meaning-giving context, the intelligence with which we can assess that one course of action or one life path is more meaningful than another (Zohar ; Marshall,2000:3-4).

SQ from the Perspective of appreciating the environment and enabling Decision Making.

The natural progression toward higher SQ leads from reflection, through understanding, to wisdom. The way to solve any problem, practical or intellectual, in a spiritually intelligent way is to place it in a wider perspective from which it can be seen more clearly. The deepest perspective of all comes from the Centre, from the ultimate meaning and value that drives the situation and problem. Gaining this perspective being with a process of simple reflection-going over the day or the project, focusing on where there are difficulties, and thinking how these difficulties have arisen. Such reflection is a daily necessity of the spiritually intelligent life. Therefore, out of a range of factors, aspects of Spiritual Quotient, which facilitates effective decision making, in a technology oriented industry, are as follows: –
Spiritual Quotient Influencers Decision Making Perspective/ Attributes
Awareness of who I am Induces Humility
What I want to change Giving a direction/ solution to a problem.

Reflect on what are my motivations corresponds to courage of conviction
Discover and dissolve obstacles development of problem solving skills
Explore many possibilities to go forward positive outlook and constructive approach
Commit to a path commitment to a cause/ purpose
Remain aware there are many paths awareness and search for alternatives
Re-examining beliefs and assumptions about reality and deepening our inquiry to include subjective as well as objective perspectives Absence of defensiveness and hostility as well as inclination to kindness and generosity
Some personal characteristics that could be associated with SQ are the traditional virtues of veracity, humility and charity, which could also be described as authenticity, respect for differences and the willingness to engage in service to others. Spiritual Quotient can be observed through some telling criteria such as: truthfulness, compassion, respect for all levels of consciousness, constructive empathy, a sense of being a player in a large whole, generosity of spirit and action, a seeking of being ‘in tune’ with or ‘in synch’ with nature of the universe and being comfortable with being alone without being lonely.