The Stages of Spiritual Development

The Old Yogis/Hindus/Buddhists
held there to be seven stages of spiritual development.

Stage 1 is Living Without Being Alive.

Jesus advised leaving the dead to bury the dead.
The people at this stage are dragons (Joseph Campbell),
Dragging themselves around.
They are just hanging out,
barely making it through each day,
breathing but with no zeal for life.

Stage 2 is Coming To Life Through Sexual Desire.

The Dirty Old Men we know
have been at Stage 2 all their lives long.
Stage 2 is the stage of clueless delight,
but with a faint-just-beyond-awareness-sense
of the godliness present within The Magical Other.
At this stage,
everything revolves around sex
and the sexual orientation.

Stage 3 is the Buy/Spend/Amass-and-Consume stage.

Money, privilege, power and control
are the driving forces here.
The will to dominate,
to have dominion,
to be the richest person in the world.
Money for the sheer joy of money
consumes people at this stage.

This is also the stage of churches,
and non-denominations.
High-steeple churches
and mega churches.
Debates about whose God is the Real God,
Bible studies
and doctrinal standards.
The flexing of spiritual muscles
and showing off for the flock.

Stage 4 is the Awakening of the Heart.

Carl Jung said, "There is within each of us,
another whom we do not know."
We tune into The Ten Million Year Old Self within
at Stage 4.
We become aware
of "The sound not heard
beyond the range of reason
and causality."
We sense there is more to us,
and to everything,
than meets the eye.

Stage 5 is Getting To The Bottom Of Things.

We take up the Quest to see what we look at,
to ask the questions that beg to be asked,
and to say the things that cry out to be said,
and seek the Source of our own nature and being.
We look past appearances to their origin,
and say, "Oh wow!" a lot.

Stage 6 is The Realization of the Inner Eye and Ear

We behold the ineffable radiance
of the divine in all things.
and are regularly being "arrested"
by the experience of oneness with
life and beauty on all levels,
take up the practice of hearing what is being said
beyond words,
and grasp the meaning of:
"The path that can be designated 'The Path,'
is not a reliable path."

Stage 7 is where we "Leave God for God" (Meister Eckhart).

Here we move beyond theology/doctrine/dogma/beliefs/creeds,
past ideas of God,
and into the realized presence of more than words can say.
We move beyond duality into oneness with
That Which Has Always Been Called God.
We live "transparent to transcendence" (Joseph Campbell),
in a "Thou Art That And Nothing More Needs To Be Said" kind of way.

As we consider these stages,
it becomes apparent that meaning changes
through each stage.
What is important varies from stage to stage.
How we think changes.
We become a different person.
The symbols that work on us are different
at each stage.
How we perceive God evolves through the stages.
Life becomes deeper, richer.
The adventure of being alive sweeps us up
and carries us along paths different
from the ones we thought we would be traveling.
And each day has its own joy
just as each stage has its own place in our life.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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