Working on the Stages book, I added a section on people who seem to skip stages. Here is part of that, edited for context.
Sometimes people can seem to skip past some of the stages. For one, there has to be enough clarity for the refinement process to be noticed between the major stages.
Sometimes, the shifts can happen quickly, one after the other. Like the witness coming on-line then awakening. If there is little separation, they may not be experienced as distinct. But usually there is some time between the major stages. Simply from the needs of integration, this is useful.
It’s also technically possible to wake straight into consciousness in the world (Unity) without a distinct Self Realization stage. Even to awaken straight into the process of experience (later Unity). However, such shifts are very rare as they would need exceptional clarity.
One variation that may encourage very rapid unfolding is that possibility of having an awakening but not finishing the process in this lifetime, then choosing to come back again to finish it. Such a person would then tend to fly though the process already met or even seem to be “born awake”, although the physiology would usually need to mature and stabilize before it fills out.
Much more common is someone using higher language to describe their experience, like mistaking inner oneness for non-duality. Or in a recent example, confusing jiva awakening with Self Realization. People also often use “Brahman” interchangeably with presence or consciousness.
Or they may frame their experience quite differently, in a way that is incompatible with a stages in consciousness approach.
We also may run into examples of someone with a deflected kundalini rising with lots of flashy experiences and charisma but no actual awakening. (a complex subject not covered on the blog) The language may seem to match but the shift isn’t stable. This is energy driven rather than a shift in being so will fail at some point.
And someone without a spiritual history who awakens is more likely to have a shift into spacious emptiness, perhaps with a sense of illusory world. Without a momentum of spiritual practice, they can mature in place without further stages. Nothing is skipped but nor do further stages unfold.
This will be explored in much more detail in the book when it’s ready. But it is useful to understand the variations out there in how people are presenting their experience.