Spiritual Intelligence

As the story goes, a successful businessman from New York is vacationing with his family at a coastal resort in Mexico.  While he is relaxing on the beach, he notices a local fisherman coming ashore with his meagre catch.  He hails the fisherman.

“Did you catch much?”

“Enough for today,” the fisherman says.

“And what will you do now?” the businessman asks.

“I will take a nap for the afternoon,” the fisherman replies, smiling. “Then I will wake up, have dinner with Maria and my children, and maybe go dancing this evening.”

“You’re not very ambitious,” the businessman says.  “You should work harder.

“First of all, you should get up earlier, and fish further into the evening,” the businessman continued.  “And then you would catch many more fish, much more than ‘Enough for today.'”

“Why would I want to do that?” asked the fisherman.

“Well,” continued the businessman.  “You could sell the extra fish, and with the money, buy a second boat, hire a crew, and then in the same day, catch twice as much! Eventually, you could own a whole fleet of fishing boats, set up your headquarters in New York, where I come from, and manage a global enterprise…

“Finally,” said the businessman, triumphantly, “In 30 years, you could retire.  You would have saved enough to buy a place in a nice resort town – like this one.  Then you could fish just for the day, take a nap in the afternoon, wake up, have dinner with Maria and your children, and maybe go dancing this evening.”

“I see,” said the fisherman, smiling.  And he did.


Adapted from Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall (2000), Spiritual Intelligence: The Ultimate Intelligence, London: Bloomsbury

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