The following will be just my own observation on what could be experienced as “stages of spiritual development.”
The first stage is the acknowledgement of duality. Good exists. Good is Godly. Evil exists. Evil is Satanic. It is Maya, (illusion) it is against that which is good.
Therefore, the need to “do” good and destroy evil. The fight is against evil.
From this recognition, the “outer” experience will be about “changing the world.” The need to moralize the world out of evil.
Politics, philosophies, social structures, economic policies thrive in the recognition of that which is evil, bad, negative and their whole idea is to change that into Godly, positive, pure, etc.
The means to reach to this “goal” of change will vary. That is, through force, through fear, through discipline, through laws. It is about “doing,” that is, making things happen. The means could justify the end.
The above is ingrained and exploited by our society. We have the heroes and the villains. We have the workers of light and the ones from darkness. Laws are “black or white,” commandments are in place and the intellect has material to learn and understand how to live life “by the book.” Spirituality turns into an intellectual endeavor. Nevertheless, this way of seeing the world will create will power in the individual to adhere to laws and commandments.
The above understanding is useful to create religions and fanaticism as well.
Typically, this first stage of awareness of change deals with the outside world, “others.” However, it could be used for the “inner” experience as well.
I am a sinner. I am guilty. I must destroy the vices in me. Here the personality is divided into the “good” tendencies and the “bad” tendencies. Fanaticism in this search for “inner” evil, could lead into mental issues such as complexes. Many “saints,” are in this category of development.
In the second stage, there is a realization that any belief system about “good” or “evil” does not reflect the reality of good needing evil to exist. There wouldn’t be “good” unless there was evil. The mother of those 2 kids, is the same. Duality is recognized as a source of separation. Therefore, the outer world, will be just a reflection of the inner world; for whatever I perceive is nothing but a reflection of what I hold inside. This is the stage when beliefs are no longer needed, for the reality of being is for the first time experienced. As “I am” so I will “do.” Here the mental game of the duality of good and evil is acknowledged by experiencing the craziness of fragmenting the personality into “good and bad.”
This stage will deal with mental issues. It will deal with discovering the mind and its intricacies. Beliefs are no longer needed when the truth of the self is realized. The intellectual mind, thirsty for information, is left aside. Gains happen through “losing things,” by getting rid of things such as complexes, ideas, beliefs and previous learned behaviors. The heart and the expression of it through communication (Throat chakra) will develop at this stage.
In the third stage, all dualities are left aside. The method of using duality, which was used in the first stage, is completely gone. Acceptance to all, without labeling becomes the practice. Being “good” happens automatically by being wholesome, by seeing unity rather than division, by discovering the manifestations of the inner source of happiness; by being acquainted with silence, stability, serenity, calmness, elegance, and harmony through personal experience.
The third eye and the 7th chakra will play an important role here. Wisdom could emerge.
The above is not a “recipe,” it is just a description of something which does not have stages nor limits and that could be experienced in a totally different way by someone walking the path of the spiritual walker.
This world is like a huge school. We are learning to live life, but at the same time; we are remembering who we are, what it is inside us, in other words; unfolding our unique capacity through life experiences. This is explained in some religions with the label of “numberwise.”
In fact, in this huge school, we have different levels of students: We have the ones from pre-school, we have 1st graders, 4th graders, 5th graders, high school and college students; the interesting thing to realize is that there is no “graduation,” no “6 figure job waiting for us at the end of the road;” this life of learning in itself and experiencing the experience is what makes life so precious and unparalleled. To appreciate life for just being in it, is the fuel that we need to learn to smile from the heart.
Different experiences and different expressions.
Therefore, the concept of “arriving,” or “achieving,” or “mastering,” all of that… are just concepts learned in our educational system. We have been “brainwashed” with those concepts so there is a path for us to follow to become part of the “economical growth of our nation.” Part of the statistics, the GDP per capita 🙂
In life, there is no such a thing as “a final destination.” It is a continuous, a flow. There is an “intelligence” which assures a re-cycle of our experiences just as the cycle of water in Nature.
Therefore, when someone feels that their ideas, their dogma, their religion is the “best;” the only “one,” the “truth,” that person is obviously not seeing the different kind of students of life. When a person merely rejects other ideas without appreciation, to blindly defend his own perspectives, that person is repressing himself for there is no openness in his vision.
Without that openness, there could only be fanaticism left. A fanatic has never “arrived” to anything “spiritual.” A “4th grader” cannot understand the things learned at College level. Nevertheless, life is the best teacher; and that person will either “open up” or “die,” that is the choice for those who are unable to see other things beside the wall in front of them and the closed-door of that room which is their own made up “golden” jail.
Spirituality is one. It is our understanding which differs. According to those understandings, you have different teachers for the different grade levels of the students. Thus, there cannot be such a thing as the “best teaching,” but rather everything goes around our understanding, which is not intellectual understanding by any means, but the understanding brought to us through insight; or through something known as “catharsis.”
That understanding happens when the right environment is around us; that is when there is silence, tranquility, harmony and love in our beings.