Monday, April 4, 2016

The Modes of Development (7)

We return now to bodily-kinisthetic intelligence.

With regards to this intelligence it is especially difficult to see how it might develop though all the major bands (and accompanying levels) of development.

There is a sense in which the overall perspective with which one views kinisthetic intelligence  can itself undergo change. However, as we all know special proficiency in this regard is not itself a necessary prerequisite for full development.

However directly and indirectly it is indeed very significant in our culture.

As we have seen sporting success in any field requires a special form of kinisthetic intelligence (that is in a sense unique to that sport).

This is probably the first intelligence to properly unfold in development, where it is tied to early infant sensori-motor ability. This then can later blossom into a special talent for particular sports.

Now it is certainly true that the existence of the mere raw ability for a particular sport does not guarantee success (especially at a highly competitive level)!

So, even for the most gifted, considerable discipline and dedication is required in order to properly nurture an inherent talent.

In this regard it is not dissimilar to the same demands that are placed on one with a special spiritual gift, which again may require many years of disciplined practice before it can be properly brought to fruition.

However there is also an important distinction. Whereas the motivation for sporting achievement can - and generally is - somewhat ego-based in nature, genuine spiritual training requires a considerable refinement with respect to such desire before it can be properly attained.

Thus the associated physical and mental training that is associated with the various sports rarely requires development beyond the first two bands on the spectrum.

Now indirectly - as exemplified by its super stars - great success can create enormous personal demands on character that may then indeed require much further psychic development.

However even here, appropriate integration would rarely require progress beyond the centaur.

Now it is indeed possible that in some cases, when sporting achievement - even at the highest level - fails to provide true fulfilment, this can lead to considerable disillusionment and the search for a truly spiritual path to life.

However, even when this occurs, the resulting growth that then later unfolds is unlikely to bear any direct relationship to kinisthetic ability, though indirectly it could do so (in for example dedicating oneself to helping others achieve their own sporting potential).


However sport, from so many perspectives, plays an increasing important role in modern culture.

In fact it would not be going too far to suggest that for its followers it operates in important ways as a secular form of religion.

Of course having a great interest in sport does not itself require kinisthetic type ability (though the most avid followers frequently will have also participated in the sports they follow at some level)!

However increasingly - largely facilitated through media involvement - it is acting as a substitute for religious experience.

I remember listening once to a radio programme which invited Irish fans of - often - obscure soccer clubs in Britain to come on air to speak about their interest. I found it very touching hearing then about the life-long commitment that so many had maintained to the club of their choosing, which was generally made at a young age.

In fact I would say that for the "true" fan, loyalty to the football club can come even before loyalty to a marriage partner or religious denomination!

And here I believe there are important lessons to be learnt. Unfortunately in modern society, the official churches are fast losing hold over their members. This reflects an unduly transcendent approach to spiritual truth, which no longer resonates with the modern generation.

What does truly resonate however are the intense emotional feelings that can be experienced through following ones chosen team, when surrounded by a community of like-minded believers.

So every weekend one can experience again - condensed into a very short period of time - the "highs" and lows" associated with a primitive battle for victory (that in many ways encapsulates the journey of life itself).

Sport therefore has this remarkable capacity to ground experience in this most basic search for emotional meaning. This is then directly related to kinisthetic intelligence displayed on the field of play which strictly operates at the most instinctive level of personality.

So in many ways, the following of team sports acts to provide that immanent dimension of experience - in the desire for immediate felt experience - that so often seems greatly missing from conventional spiritual life.

However for both participants and followers, kinisthetic intelligence does not properly represent merely a line of development. Rather like musical intelligence - which we dealt with in the last entry - it tends to keep switching one's experience as between prepersonal and transpersonal domains.

Thus in sport, "peak" moments are common e.g. when one's team scores an important goal. So then for a brief moment, one experiences an ecstasy of joy. However this can be very short- lived with a corresponding "valley" experienced, when the opposing team scores.

With genuine mature development, both "peaks" and "valleys" can be endured on a much more permanent fashion, where one's disposition is not unduly tied to phenomenal events. However, sporting achievement (both for participants and followers) generally links both domains in a less integrated fashion that can create an unhealthy form of dependence. So for example a footballer may feel utterly lost when the sporting career is over and seek to maintain the need for frequent temporary "highs" through some substitute form of addiction such as sex, alcohol or gambling.
This can likewise apply to followers, who often invest mere sporting success with an undue amount of emotional energy.

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