Spiritual Giftedness
What is Spiritual Giftedness? Well, this is the concept that someone can be gifted in a spiritual way, for instance to be able to quickly learn how to do meditation, to have a knowledge of one's higher spirit, to have experiences that confirm an afterlife, perhaps to have very strong intuition and/or psychic skills.

At the 1999 National Association on Gifted Children convention, Michael Piechowski presented a class on Spiritual Giftedness. It was a very popular topic, with over sixy people present, a full twenty more than the room could seat. Piechowski is a well known researcher in the field of gifted education and particularly educational psychology. He was a student of Dabrowski's, the developer of the theory of Overexcitabilites. Piechowski explained that he came to the study of spiritual giftedness through his work with Dabrowski's theory as well as the work of Anna Marie Roeper's work on emotional giftedness, as well as his research and study in the field of transpersonal psychology.

Piechowski told us about William James's study of religious experience and James's discoveries about the concept of spiritual giftedness. From his book, "The Varieties of Religious Experience", published in 1902 (Can you believe that?! Almost a hundred years ago!!), James described similarities in the belief systems of spiritually gifted persons as follows:

  1. That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from which it draws its chief significance

  2. That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our true end;

  3. That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof - be that spirit "God" or "law" - is a process wherein work is really done, and spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, psychological or material, within the phenomenal world;

  4. A new zest which adds itself like a gift to life;

  5. An assurance of safety and a temper of peace, and in relation to others, a preponderance of loving affections.

    [James, W. (1902/1936). "The varieties of religous experience". New York: Modern Library, pp. 476-477.]

Piechowski also offered evidence from Edward Hoffman's book, "Visions of Innocence" (1992) of spiritual giftedness. Hoffman interviewed many persons about spiritual experiences recalled from childhood from 20-70 years later and was able to put them all into the following major categories:

  • Spontaneous moments of ecstasy, boundless joy, timelessness, oneness with nature, connectedness with all people, a sense of well-being, mastery, and confidence (ie. peak experiences)

  • Experience with God, eternal Presence, God in everything

  • Experiences of the life force and pulsating energy (the chi)

  • Inner conviction, contrary to the dictates of adults(Indigo trait)

  • Identity: a new sense of self

  • Children's techniques of entering nonordinary consciousness

Piechowski also told us that young children have no fear of death and in early childhood they are very spiritually connected. As they age, they (usually) lose this connection. He said we need to offer respect and acceptance when they do share spiritual insights and experiences. I would add that the connection is probably lost because it is not reinforced, supported, or educated, much like a muscle that atrophies from lack of use.