The 7 Stages of Spiritual Development

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You are a spiritual being and have the potential to fully embrace your spirituality. However, like everything in life, embarking on your spiritual path is a choice. In life you are presented with several choices leading to new stages of development. Initially, most progress along the same path but, at certain points, you have choices—whether to stay immersed in the status quo world or to explore the splendors of your spiritual journey. These choices can appear at any time during your life; the key is to stay alert and listen to the wisdom of your heart.

Stage 1: Innocence 

You are born into a material world, where your life is dominated by your lower three chakras. You enter the world in a state of innocence and as long as you are healthy and have a loving family, you live in a world of joy and bliss. You still have a strong connection to the Divine and the field of the Absolute from which your consciousness just emerged. The spiritual being is still very much awake. However, for most this memory begins to fade as you are taught how to “fit in” and you become distracted by the world around you. A rare few manage to maintain their Divine connection and enjoy spiritual greatness.

Stage 2: Fear, Ego

As you grow, the ego emerges and soon you realize that you are completely at the mercy of all around you. The pure love you have experienced up until now begins to be overshadowed by fear and its corresponding emotions. You find that to get what you want, you have to please those in charge. You develop your personality and begin creating all the stories that will shape and define your life.

Stage 3: Power

In your desire to overcome fear, you create success in your life. You become educated, start your careers and family. You want to have control to eliminate fear. You accumulate things to give you a sense of security.

First Choice

For many people, further growth and spiritual development ends here. You choose to continue to be consumed with material desires, you seek more and more power and control. Your life becomes self-centered and you remain at Stage 3.

For others, a feeling that there is more to life begins to dawn. Rather than just accumulating possessions and power, you look for a deeper meaning to life. You start to awaken spiritually and continue to Stage 4.

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Stage 4: Giving

In this stage, you begin to realize that there is more to life than personal power and material gain. You ask yourself how you can help others, how can you serve the world around you. You become comfortable with giving as well as receiving.

However, giving can also create a sense of power. At this stage, giving can often still be ego driven. You give because you expect some form of recognition or because it makes you feel good about yourself.

Second Choice

You can continue to give from the level of ego, always expecting something in return for your giving. This obviously can have a lot of merit, and you can do many good things in the world. However, it leaves a constriction to your full spiritual growth.

The opportunity of your second choice is when you begin to give from the level of love and compassion without any concern for recognition or reward. Your giving becomes selfless and your true spiritual journey begins.

Stage 5: The Seeker

Now you begin your regular spiritual practices. The longing for Enlightenment grows within you. Your decisions now come mostly from the fourth chakra, the heart center.

You begin to look for the deeper meaning of things. You try to understand why you are here and how you can make your life more meaningful. You may study with teachers and gurus. You read books and practice techniques. You have glimpses of the goal that encourages you to remain on the path.

The throat chakra opens as you express the qualities of the heart in your life.

Stage 6: The Sage

Cosmic Consciousness dawns. Your mind fully awakens. You become the witness of your actions and realize that you are the role player in the multitude of roles you play. The fear of death dissolves as you realize that life is just another role. Simple yogic powers become available to us. However, there is still a separation between the giver and the recipient.

Third Choice

You have now reached another critical junction point in your journey. Your mind is fully awake but some ego is still present. The choice or mistake here is to believe that you are something special. You mistakenly think you have reached the goal and may promote yourself as such. The end is in sight but you have allowed the ego to hide it from view and you remain stuck in a false sense of spiritual attainment.

The alternative choice is to recognize the ego but not succumb to it, to allow it to find its place harmoniously within the whole. You continue your journey with humility and devotion. Giving is done purely for the sake of giving. “What’s in it for me” becomes “How can I serve?”

Insight and spiritual inspiration begin to grow, you hear the voice of the inner guru as the sixth chakra opens.

Stage 7: Spirit

Your heart now fully awakens. You experience Divine and Unity Consciousness. 

There is no longer any separation. No giver, given, or giving. No sense of “I” or “me,” just an awareness of Oneness. You still live “in the world,” but are no longer “of the world.”

Your spiritual practice is Pure Joy. All the chakras are open, spiritual energy flows freely.

Choicelessness

When you reach the seventh stage there are no longer choices. You function totally in harmony with nature. Everything is provided exactly as needed, at exactly the right moment. You are the Totality.

As you progress though these stages, the material world seems very attractive at first while the spiritual might seem empty and hard but, if followed, it eventually leads to the experience of the True Self and eternal bliss.

There is nothing lacking in the life of a great yogi. He or she doesn’t feel that anything has been given up. In fact, it’s the reverse—great yogis feel that by not following a spiritual path, eternal bliss has been renounced for the sake of a few passing moments of happiness. The material world is like a dry garden waiting for knowledge of the Divine to make it bloom. In the material world you only have the energy of the body, on the spiritual path you tap into Divine Consciousness, Cosmic Energy. The material world is a prison, the spiritual path leads to unbounded freedom. 

You are always at a junction in your path, Truth or illusion, material or eternal. The ego will constantly try to keep its limiting hold on you. Choose wisely. Everything you do is a spiritual act if you do it with awareness. Find your path and inner peace.

Be regular and disciplined with your spiritual practice. Don’t be disheartened if you wander off. Ultimately your spiritual journey becomes your way of life, like a lush oasis in the desert of mundane living.


Embark on the path to self-mastery with Deepak Chopra and Roger Gabriel in our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course. Learn More.


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About the Author

Roger Gabriel (Raghavanand)

Chopra Center Educator
Born in Liverpool, England, Roger Gabriel spent his formative years in the United Kingdom and first learned meditation there in the early 1970s. It instantly became his passion and he soon trained to be a meditation teacher under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. After moving to the U.S., Roger began studying Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health care. In 1985, while helping to establish centers for Ayurveda and meditation, he met and became friends with Deepak Chopra. Since then, Roger has assisted Deepak with numerous training programs, seminars, and workshops; taught thousands of people on all continents to meditate; and helped to train hundreds of people to become teachers of meditation, Ayurveda,...Read more