Models of Development

Over the years, I’ve seen many models of spiritual development. Most of them follow a subjective process that one or a few people experienced that doesn’t reflect how it will unfold for many others. Fundamentally it is shifts in being – in who we recognize ourselves to be – that reflect the underlying process. This is why I’ve focused on that.

Yet it can be instructive to see some of the other things that can shift that are reflected in other models. Categories like this can give you a sense of where they’re coming from. But there can be a lot of overlap in categories.

Concept-based
While a specific model will probably sit in one of the other categories, some models you’ll run into will be compiled from what someone has read and heard. They’ll gather together ideas into a personal interpretation of “reality” that has little basis in experience. This usually leads to distortion, even if some aspects are valid. Being mind-based, the author may strongly defend their personal creation.

Perception-based
Here, a person charts their progress through a sequence of experiences, such as layers of refinement or of creation. For example, Kristin Kirk has described unfolding in terms of the layers of creation that were revealed to her. As she acknowledged, these don’t always unfold consistently. She’s also described her process more like I have.

Our dominant sense will cause major differences in this approach. But as it’s experiential, it will be personal and unique.

Energy-based
These models typically use either the rising of kundalini Shakti and the opening chakras or that energy as markers. While this is related to the process, it is an effect that widely varies.

Kundalini traditions, for example, don’t agree on this process and some people experience shifts in non-standard locations. I had mapped the later descent to stages thinking that was standard, but it also turns out to vary.

I’ve seen variations like alignment of the chakras or their brilliance. But some of that has included conceptual distortions, like expected colours. If it’s all about energy without source, it may only be astral.

Clarity-based
This is closely related to energy systems but leans more on the refinement and clarity of the physiology and tends to include deeper koshas. Rose Rosetree, for example, reads enlightenment as marked by the chakras being free of “Stuff”, balanced, and permeated with the Divine.

The last feature is key to me – unless there is some embodiment of source going on, it’s still just variable experiences. But as I’ve mentioned, if there hasn’t been the shifts in consciousness, it can still revolve around an identified ego.

We can also see other systems based on refinement of perception, like perception of subtle beings or realms. Some of these will be based on clarity, some on perception.

And finally, the parallel sattva side of the process I describe is based here. God consciousness, Refined Unity, and so forth. We may also map sub-stages to being clarity-based, like the stages of Unity. However, this process without stages in consciousness is still personal.

Consciousness-based
This is the approach I use as consciousness is our base, the foundation of our sense of being. Shifts in our relationship with consciousness determine our sense of being and how we experience the world.

Some systems relate to this but describe stages to Self Realization, such as the 10 Bulls of Buddhism. Many neo-advaitans and Buddhists describe only Self Realization while also including very advanced qualities. Because they consider this one stage to be complete, they may mistakenly apply Vedanta to a dualist state.

Some systems are based on the experiences of a smaller group of people. Waking Down (Trillium) would be an example of the later.

Many consciousness-based systems are incomplete or leave out the parallel refinement process, perhaps even calling it illusory.

There are a huge number of influences that can affect our subjective experience of this unfolding process. My point is simply: which are the key markers of permanent shifts in the actual underlying process?
Davidya

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8 Responses to Models of Development

  1. Amaryllis says:

    Fascinating topic! It’s interesting that you should mention the stages of insight in Buddhism, as I was just listening to Daniel Ingram talking about that very topic.

    I had not come across him before this morning, when I was doing research for an essay and I got sidetracked and ended up listening to him describe the stages one goes through to achieve something called ‘stream entry’ (which I think is early stage ‘enlightenment’?. He sounded very sure, of both the order of the stages, and the path to get there. I have always thought that nothing could tear away the attachment to self, and that when clear seeing happened, it was an act of grace…

    {Hey, you fixed the ‘notify me’ button… thanks 🙂 }

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Amaryllis
      This would be a good example of people who practice a specific set of techniques having a shared experience of the process. However, I’ve found that even that is not entirely consistent. So the model will fail some.

      Buddhism, as it’s commonly taught, has not interested me much because it has not described how it was experienced here. Self was long apparent, so there wasn’t a “no-self” or emptiness. Also, because of my approach, I did not need to tame the bull. Instead, I went straight for the transcending and largely bypassed that.

      And yes, even for Buddhists, control of the mind does not result in awakening. Enlightenment is post-personal and not about what we do. Mind control may have other benefits but awakening is not one of them.

      {And yes – I don’t see quite what end users see, so thanks for mentioning it. That was a bug I’d fixed before but came back. A little fiddling got it worked again. One of those getting the parts to work together thing.}

  2. Share says:

    It seems to me that the minute a “system” arises, it becomes conceptual. Because systems are always described, etc. via words. Therefore what I think is essential, is using words that can point to more and more fullness. Also essential, to find a system wherein one can rest more and more, resonate more and more. This will usually have something to do with the words/concepts that are used. Different souls resonate/rest with different wordings.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Share
      We can’t avoid the mind making concepts. That’s what it does. Even if someone refuses to talk about stages, their students will still make concepts. I find it more useful to point and remind people it’s a map, not the road.

      Talking about variations, for example, helps. And yes, some will relate to one teaching better than another, as I mentioned to the prior comment. So it’s very good to have many voices and for those many voices to each acknowledge it is one way of seeing.

      For deeper fullness and rest, this doesn’t come out of careful use of words so much as it comes out of the speaker settling deeper and speaking from a more subtle level of speech, and the student being ready to hear.

      Then it lands more deeply.

  3. Bob Hiller says:

    Hi, Davidya. RE: the Energy based model, you say “But some of that has included conceptual distortions, like expected colours.”

    You might enjoy this little snippet from Tom Campbell:
    https://youtu.be/EN2eF8Q-_zA?t=20m10s

    He was interviewed by Rick a few years ago.

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Bob
      The specific reference was to things like the chakras being a tidy rainbow of colours – the heart green, etc.

      Thanks for the video. I’ve seen a few talks by Tom Campbell before, featuring one with Bruce Lipton on my other blog.

      The first bit is what I call personalization. The mind and emotions are essentially made of mind-stuff whose appearance arises based on our expectations and their intentions. Without that, they’re basically clouds of intelligence.

      I agree with much of what he said but he’s missing what is beyond that. This distorts it a little, like suggesting group consciousness is the sum of individual consciousnesses. While the second contributes, causally it’s the other way around. Individuality is like a wave in the ocean of the whole.

      Also, when the intellect shifts from being associated with the mind to associating with being, it gains a deeper stability and can unfold the intelligence with much less of the personalization. We can distinguish appearance from the “data”.

      But it’s certainly interesting to see someone explore these kinds of experiences with logic.

  4. Wayne kernodle says:

    Hi, can you write something about the process from CC to GC?

    As it is a big process few really understand! Starting with the realization that Cc is a shallow pond, which upon realization was a large ocean.

    It is my experience that the separation experienced in CC, dissolved once I started my devotion practice. Though without gaining a connection in Gc. Now that that connection is growing, at times the separation and connection are there. This seems like an important point! Is it an individual experience, can we talk about it and make sense of it I wonder? As GC is taking the individual and expanding it to a universal experience.

    Also, I wonder what gives, as I do not hear Tm people talking about opening the crown Chakra. I am not sure how anyone can move higher into the Gc experience unless it is done. I had a Guru help me open it, but for Tm people, I wonder how they are doing it, as at this point it really was like a shallow pond.

    Any thoughts on this, maybe you can write an article about this topic? Thanks Way

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Wayne
      If you check out the Key Posts tab above, you’ll see a section on GC articles. Also the Process section has related articles. Not everyone goes through a noticeable GC process until later.

      I see there being 2 parallel processes – the awakening of consciousness to itself in CC-Unity-Brahman, and the sattva side of refinement that leads to the fuller versions of each, GC, refined UC, Refined BC, then ParaBrahman.

      If there is enough of a sattva process taking place, GC unfolds after CC. If not, it’s CC, then Unity and GC comes later.

      Essentially though, GC is about 2 things – refinement of perception so we recognize divinity, and the awakening higher-octave heart.

      Devotion does indeed often arise during that phase as a result of both.

      Each persons experience will be different – indeed personalization makes this more true for the refinement part. However, the underlying process is the same leading to some similar types of experience – like the opening heart.

      Maharishi spoke of the chakras only a few times early on. It seems the approach is that the process will take care of that and lead to the smoothest ride. Even within kundalini traditions, they indicate mantra meditators often don’t notice much until later on.

      The crown opens naturally with awakening/CC. Like the brain, it doesn’t have sensors so we’re only aware of its activity from it’s effects when it drives shifts in the lower centers.

      The perception here is that post-awakening, Shiva then descends with Shakti and opens higher octaves of the same chakras. GC at the heart, UC at the gut. But there are variations and exceptions – its a complex field. Just keep in mind the chakra process isn’t causal – it helps embody the process but doesn’t create it.

      I’ve written articles about the majority of these subjects over time. If a term is unclear, use the search box for related articles.

      Thanks for commenting.

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