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Friday, November 20, 2015

SLMA Foundation Sessions 2015 - EM Wjerama Endowment Oration by Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa

I am pleased to publish the 2015 EM Wijerama Endowment Oration which was delivered by Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa at the recently held Foundation Sessions of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) in Anuradhapura. This posting is mainly for the benefit of members of our batch who are based overseas.

Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa is a Consultant Physician who owns the Matara Nursing Home which is a leading private hospital in Matara in Southern Sri Lanka. Most of you may not know him as he had been a few years junior to us in the Colombo Medical Faculty. He had however served the Colombo Medical Faculty as a Lecturer before he set up his own practice in Matara. Dr. Seneviratne Epa has a special interest in this subject. He believes in the Medico Spiritual Health model which has now been accepted by the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka. This means that doctors would now accept that religious activities such as pirith chanting will have an effect on healing. Hospitals would now recognise the spiritual needs of the patients and provide appropriate facilities. Dr. Seneviratne Epa is a Past President of the SLMA.

I have "cut and pasted" the full oration from the Sunday Times of 15 November 2015.

Sunday Times 2

Emotional and spiritual intelligence and its relevance to medicine

By Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa


People with spiritual intelligence are calm, peaceful and compassionate. Such people have less stress and conflict both at work and at home. They have better health and better output of work at work places
Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant, and forgotten the gift”. My speech today is on this intuitive mind. Purpose of my lecture is to show you the vast potential of this intuitive mind and how best we can put it to good use. Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence is a function of this intuitive mind. Some people refer to this intuitive mind, as subconscious mind. According to some classifications, as much as 88 percent of our mind is subconscious. What is Intelligence? A simple way to understand this abstract term is to think of it as an ability to apply skills. We now have a definition of Intelligence which is as follows.
“Intelligence is the ability to apply appropriate skills at right time for right purpose.” We have four types of intelligence: Physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual. If we are to place them in a pyramid, Physical intelligence is at the bottom and is the most basic level. Next is the Cognitive and above that is Emotional, and Spiritual intelligence is at the peak and is the highest form.
Traditionally, the Cognitive intelligence or Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is what we have been referring to as intelligence, at least up to few decades ago. However, this trend is now fast changing. Over the years, we have realised that after reaching a certain level of IQ, there is no direct correlation between IQ level and the actual achievements or success in life. The concept of Emotional intelligence or EQ emerged as an explanation to this observation. Emotional Intelligence basically means how skilled you are, in handling emotions, your own or other peoples’ emotions. EQ is defined as follows.

Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa
“Ability to make healthy choices based on the ability to recognise, understand and manage your own feelings and feelings of the others”. Daniel Goleman described EQ as a combination of four different skills under two groups. a) Ability to recognise your own emotions (Recognition) and control them (Impulse control). b) Ability to recognise other peoples’ emotions (Empathy) and ability to manage them (soft skills or social skills). One may be good at one skill but may be poor in another. So, if we are to improve our EQ we need to know in which respect we are weaker. EQ can be enhanced by training and as a result it is now a big industry in the US. Studies have shown EQ level is directly related to success in business. Being a good doctor too means having good EQ. Empathy or the ability to understand another person’s emotions is a valued trait for success in medical profession too. We are dealing with a special category of people with emotional needs. Leadership training essentially means developing good EQ. You may have heard of gut feeling. This is the feeling based on perception rather than on rational thinking. This is a function of EQ. A surgeon may use his gut feeling whether to operate or not, on a bad patient.
Conventional thinking has been, that emotions are produced by what are called emotional peptides in the brain. So it was a chemistry that we talked of. There is, however, now newer evidence that these peptides, once get attached to the cells, cause a vibration in the cell membranes, producing energy waves with different frequencies. So we are now talking of physics of emotions, producing measurable energy waves with different frequencies. This brings us to a totally new topic — Cell vibrations. In fact the body is a bundle of energy in constant vibration producing measurable energy frequencies. Nikola Tesla, who is considered to be the father of electromagnetic engineering, said: “Everything is vibration and everything is energy”. Different emotions have different vibration frequencies ranging from 20 to 700 plus Hertz. Negative emotions such as fear and anger have lower frequencies while positive emotions such as peace and joy have the highest frequency.
Empathy is the ability to perceive another person’s emotions. The secret of empathy may lie in the energy waves of emotions. So it looks, we now have a scientific basis for explaining empathy – the ability to perceive another person’s emotions. How strange? You may have heard of people who can read other peoples’ minds. This may be the secret of that, too. These emotional vibrations producing energy waves may explain the mechanism of transfer of merit or blessings on to another person by us performing spiritual activities. This is totally a new dimension connecting spirituality with science. Isn’t that strange again?
Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) is a kind of extension of EQ and is the highest form of human intelligence. We have a definition of Spiritual Intelligence too. “It is the ability or the skill to behave with compassion and wisdom while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of circumstances”.
When people were asked to name a person with these qualities utmost, majority of them thought of their respective religious leaders. I think this is how, the term “spiritual” came to be coined with this highest form of intelligence. This inner peace component is what distinguishes SQ from EQ. In EQ we are not talking so much about inner peace. A sales man with high EQ may recognise an angry customer and may respond appropriately to calm him down and may succeed in maintaining outer peace. But he may not feel inner peace in himself during this process.
As one progresses from EQ to SQ , the person becomes skilled in maintaining inner peace too. How do you recognise people with high SQ? Essentially, they are calm, peaceful, compassionate people. Such people have less stress and conflict both at work and at home. They have better health and better output of work at work places. SQ too can be enhanced by way of training.
We can learn compassion by following the teachings of our religious leaders. Wisdom is a state of heightened inner awareness or tranquility of mind. It is something you need to develop and acquire on your own. Meditation is one way of doing that. There is now enough scientific evidence to suggest that meditation calms down the conscious brain and reduces ego. It is the ego that makes us lose our inner peace in conflict situations. Functional MRI Scan of brain during meditation has shown that activity of the conscious brain and of the limbic system is reduced during meditation. Wisdom dawns as ego becomes thinner.
The ultimate aim of any human being should be to reach the peak of intelligence pyramid or to acquire SQ before death. How do we do that? All we need to do is to change the way we think of our own minds. Let me conclude by repeating what Einstein said,
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and forgotten the gift”.
I leave you pondering how apt it is, what Einstein said over 100 years ago, in our present context today.


15 comments:

  1. I was privileged to be there at the sessions as part of the Sri Lankan Medical and Dental Association in the UK Delegation which recently toured Teaching Hospitals in Sri Lanka (not all- Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Jaffna and Galle) on a fact finding mission seeking ways to provide assistance and build collaborative projects. This lecture was well received and the sessions in general were of a high standard. True to Sri Lankan tradition, everything ran late! Lama and I chaired a Symposium on Neurology, a wonderful experience.

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  2. Lucky, Thanks for sharing this - Good content -plenty to think about and practice.

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    1. I agree with you Rohini, this is definitely stuff worth thinking about. I am aiming for a better SQ. Some psychiatrists are using magnetic waves to treat depression and possibly other conditions in the future. Also, many hospitals in the U.S. are establishing departments of Integrative Medicine. Stay tuned... Bunter

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  3. It was like reading Gray's anatomy for the 2nd MB
    ND

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  4. Don't you think that we should have had some insight to 'physiology' of normal MIND before we were sent to 'Angoda' ------ & that was to study infectious diseases????.

    Razaque

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    1. EQ and SQ is way above my head for a rustic like me. I can just about manage a BBQ.
      ND

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  5. Reading Samson Wright's Applied physiology nearly sent me to Angoda
    ND

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  6. Anybody knows the derivation of the word Angoda? Surely cannot be a reference to a place with a lot of (godak) horns (ang). Pissugoda or Manasikagoda would have been more appropriate, is my considered view

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  7. During the reign of Vijayabahu VI in Kotte circa 1521 the abattoir was in the place we currently call Angoda. All the horns of those animals were piled high and came to be called Angoda.
    Is it a damned good lie or an honest truth?
    ND

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  8. What an invention ND! You should be a politician. Sounds substantially true.

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    1. That's why he is HANDY-ND!!!
      RAZ

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. The Portuguese arrived in Ceylon in 1505 just by a quirk of nature, adverse weather. When the Captain of the Portuguese ship, Lourenço de Almeida, wanted to see the King he was taken in a circuitous route "Parangiya Kotte Giya" . That Captain's horns were placed on top of the pile at Angoda.
    ND

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  11. Good story ND, about the origin of the name Angoda! Srianee

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  12. Srianee
    Welcome to back to the Blog. We missed you.
    ND

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