Modern Stages of Spiritual Development / by Sam Abelow

Oftentimes people begin to recognize the aggression, violence, greed and overall mayhem in the world as something “not right”. They may look into this and discover that there are a conspiracy of bankers, corporations, governments, and overall members of the “elite” that manipulate the world through education, television, movies, music, food and much more. After this is understood there is an experience of fear, separation, helplessness, and the desire to “awaken” others. This often leads to the notion that the general pubic are “sheep”, and the struggle to reveal others this “truth”  often creates dissonance within oneself and with the relationships with others. I like to refer to this with the phrase: “conspiracies are the greatest conspiracy themselves” (in that they distort one’s ability to enjoy the present moment).

At some point the individual may begin to take responsibility for their own life and being. This often begins with external changes such as striving to eat organic and vegetarian food, to have a “positive” outlook on life and so forth. At this sort of transitionary stage people often get sucked into the New Age mishmash. This is often indicated by experimenting in Raw Foods, hypnosis, guided meditation, a combination of watered down versions of various spiritual traditions (including Buddhism, Yogas, Shamanism, Wicca). People often experiment with LSD, mushrooms, and especially Ayahuasca in a sort of non-serious manner. This usually leads to people being dissociated and confused. I often experience individuals at this stage being fragmented. They, somewhere inside, are searching for Truth, but are not sure how to get there, and how to realize it fully, and integrate it all in a balanced way. Usually this is characterized by a Spiritual Ego, where someone talks about how “Enlightened” they are. Also, you often find people cannot talk about anything besides “Awakening” and “Energy”. Other people, situations and external events in general seem to “throw off their vibe”, etc.

Finally people begin to be unsatisfied with transitory and limited “spiritual” things such as hypnosis, crystals, one-sided “positive” thinking, oracle cards, and other watered down practices. They begin to engage in serious spiritual practices, read bonafide spiritual texts, meet and learn from true masters and other things along those lines. Their practice begins to integrate into daily life and a sense of true spaciousness, openness, freedom and, most of all, balance begins to emerge. The wisdom of the knowledge of Truth being all that is in the world, without separation begins to emerge. It is rare to come across, but people at this final stage radiate a very sober, embracing presence and sense of subtle wisdom. They usually are not converting others, telling others how to be, trying to “awaken” others, or talking about the negative forces in the world. They are searchers within; they are searching for the One. They radiate this outwards as well and have love and compassion for all beings on the Path, wherever they may be.