4 Levels Of The Spiritual Growth
by Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D.
When we, spiritual seekers, look around in the world, we find an infinite multitude of human forms and shapes. If we attempt to perceive this human space as ”the School of Consciousness,” the purpose of which is to direct us back to our original nature, we may try to categorize the multitude of people (this is, naturally, not necessary, the image that we present here is false, it should be treated as a game).
The first class in the School of Consciousness (first level of spiritual Growth) is the most populous. People are still forms, living in the spell of ”this is mine,” trying to obtain and accumulate possession, to buy ”even more beautiful clothes.” There are, naturally, differences within this group, as some are impressed by crudely material wealth (things money can buy), others want power, whereas others long for fine material things (a sunnier plot in Heaven). A person may spend an extremely long time in this class. They may only go on to the next stage when they have realized that they are unable to find happiness in external forms and shapes.
Those in the second class (second level of the spiritual Growth) are more quiet and calm, they tend to turn their attention inward. They are much less impressed by material shapes and forms, they would like to elevate the Ego to a throne as high as possible. They would like to achieve eternity through refining the Ego and there is a wide range of means in their disposal for that. Some choose a ”sacred life,” helping others, while others develop their Ego and mind (e. g. Mind Control). Some of them select magic methods. They will only be able to leave this class and move on when they have realized that, similarly to external shapes and forms, the internal ones, including the Ego, are transitory, so no happiness is to be found there.
The students in the third class (third level of the spiritual Growth) have learnt a lot about the dance of the shapes and forms and have realized that happiness is to be looked for outside the forms. The recognize the power of Now, and make efforts to live in the present moment. They also recognize Presence, and try to bring in into their lives. They are also aware, however, that Presence is a transient thing, only stays with us for a while, it slips away from our grip. They cannot move on from this class only when they realize that they cannot practise Presence, as any practise only binds them to one specific form. They must realize that freedom is there, they do not need to chase it any more.
Graduates (fourth level of the spiritual Growth) have given up all effort. They seek answer to questions like ”Who am I?” and ”Where is the source of the Self?” They are overcome by a powerful desire for the original state of existence, the Pure Consciousness. They realize that they need to devote all their moments that they spend awake to it, that is the only way they are able to achieve their goal. They do not need to make any effort, by simply ”abandoning themselves” into the silence. They know that they are free, nothing has even been created, only the Self.
When we ask ourselves the question: “What do I want from life?” and answer honestly, then we know which class we are actually in. Then we need complete that class behind as soon as possible in order to enter the next one, because in this course it is not possible to skip any class.
The Role of the Theories Regarding Spiritual Growth
Eckhart Tolle and other awakened teachers argue that all theories rergarding spiritual progress (including the one described above) are only signposts on our spiritual Journey, showing us what direction to follow in order to leave behind the power of the mind behind.
But in most cases the mind catches hold of the signposts, and fabricates nice theories of them, drafting monumental images of spiritual progress. The mind explains and interprets the signposts, accumulates knowledge and information, so it simply puts up a camp next to the signpost, and very often it does not feel like going the way indicated by the signpost.
On our spiritual journey, we should not pay much attention to the images created by the mind, let them to be what they are: mere images that do not have much to do with reality. What is more, they are often an obstacle in our way leading to recognizing reality. A big clean-up is indispensable in the life of every spiritual Seeker.
The Big Clean-Up
When a spiritual Seeker begins doing that clean-up in earnest, he/she will soon face the vast multitude of his/her thoughts, opinions, ideas and the emotions attached to all these.
After a while, the spiritual Seeker will realize that he/she has to dump all these things out of the room, because a more thorough scrutiny reveals that these items are all false. The spiritual Seeker then stays alone in the empty room (himself/herself) and realizes that the work is still not over. He/she must dump the shadow that he/she believed to be himself/herself; what is more, the room and the house are not real either.
In the end nothing is left but the apparently empty space. But if we examine that space closer, we find that it is full of Consciousness, which is the inner peace, quiet and tranquility. You then realize that you are at home. Whatever now happens in that internal space, you must experience that. You must experience whatever life has to offer, there and then in that specific moment. The next moment does not need to bear the burden of the experience of the previous moment.