During our history, mystics shared about their evolution and awareness of Reality. Their accounts use different imagery and emphasize different lessons learned, but there seem to be common milestones that they have reached along the way. While the length of time spent in each transition and the interpretations may be colored by each unique perspective, there do appear to be common reference points during transformation.
Life is going on all the time, and we can see the various possibilities in all directions. Astronomers point their telescopes toward the surrounding stretches of space and see the stars at all phases of life through death. Similarly, if you look around, you can see that human beings are at their various stages of evolution of awareness. Some appear often self-absorbed. Others appear alive, engaged, and curious. Still others appear to be imbued with a quiet and strong peace that transcends the ups and downs of the world and move in service.
I’ll share my experience of the phases of transformation. While the first true exit from self-absorption came in 2009, my evolution continued rather rapidly beyond this point. It’s as if I had to catch up to some unseen rhythm be able to live my Life fully, and it does not feel like I am done.
My picture of evolution only goes through the milestones I have reached, but every day I go deeper in my exploration, surrender more to Life, and learn new ways to relate to Reality.
I described each phase in terms of my availability to the infinite. The dot in my sketches below represents the Ego, which has been described in many ways through the ages – mostly negative. In its distorted form, the Ego confines us to build and maintain the sense of being real (most of us do not believe we are real). This Ego effort manifests as fear, defensiveness, aggression, manipulation, and self-absorption. However, if one no longer identifies with the Ego, it eventually becomes a harmless mechanism of grounding us into our physical lives. You know then that you are not that.
Here are the 6 phases of my evolution of awareness, which I have described in my own words and based on my experience. There are other descriptions, but it seems like the milestones long the path generally agree. For example, the first account of transformation stages I encountered came from Adi Da. I have a feeling that – as we go through our own changes – we will use slightly different words and images, while sharing common milestones that are alive as us and no longer theoretical.
In this phase, human awareness is completely closed off to the infinite. The curved line represents the solid boundary of the finite, physical body, focused on self-preservation. Although the infinite is always present (downward arrows), the awareness of the infinite is largely ignored.
Beings at this stage of evolution block the truth about their potential and operate from a general place of fear and defensiveness. The sense of “I” and “mine” based on the physical world prevails, creating crystallized and impacted walls and motes and resulting in turmoiled relationships.
Here, the shield blocking the infinite of the isolated individual has thinned. At this point, I experienced occasional moments of true happiness that appear to have had no apparent cause or clear origin – unconditional happiness. Awareness of others and their welfare became more pronounced in my life. Although, there was still a strong drive for fortifying a position or life agenda – and for building a strong identity.
Also, a yearning for the infinite had intensified for me to the point where I ached and burned for union (upward arrow). However, this yearning was also sporadic and, most of the time, I spent reacting to daily activities and routines. Spiritual life was largely separate my “real” life.
I noticed that other people at this stage are intensely searching for answers and asking questions. They may even experience “existential crises” and wonder about the meaning of life. General fear of life and self-doubt can also operate during this phase, interspersed with times of insight and surrender.
Here, awareness has literally opened up to the reality of the infinite. There is no doubt of the possibility of being infused with the infinite in a physical body, although it is still only sensed as a possibility.
A human being awakens his or her heartfelt devotion, and feels beyond him- or herself through prayer and meditation. This awareness of the reality of the infinite may have one’s attention more of the time than the unconsciously regimented daily activities, and this awareness begins to change the structure of the nervous system in noticeable ways. Yes, the changes are physiological.
This person is perceived by others as kind and generous of heart. Although the person’s awareness is still very much rooted in the finite and is reaching for the infinite from the Ego base, it is an important shift toward changing the polarity of identifying with the infinite. There is less fear-based action, and more action and thought from the loving nature of the heart. The heart vortex itself begins to widen and become more active.
Some may like this state so much that they wish to remain here, and may even think that they are fully enlightened. Many may already be pillars of a community in many ways. However, the transformation is not complete. Such beings still perceive the infinite as something outside of themselves to love, adore, and worship.
This stage was very volatile for me, where I knew I could reach the infinite as if it were something “other,” but was shaky in my commitment to meditation. I also had a lot of old karma to clear up, which added to some turmoil. I kept pressing forward.
In this phase, human awareness has permanently opened up to the infinite and there are increasing moments of feeling that you are the infinite in a finite, physical body. In other words, you no longer identify with the Ego. Whereas the previous phases are kind of muddy, this milestone is fairly clear and unmistakable.
It is not an experience. It is a complete shift in awareness, where the world is turned inside out and upside down. I remember wondering how I had lived until that point without knowing that reality could be This. On the surface, very little appeared to change, but the shift in awareness changed how I related to everything – even the most familiar things looked new.
During this phase, love pours through your being and is sensed by others as very real. You get feedback from others about that – you are not imagining it. I am not talking about the emotional love based on attachment. The love mentioned here goes beyond emotion and is more of an emanating life force.
This phase happened for me pretty unexpectedly, when I noticed a physical sensation in the crown on my head that “took hold” of me and everything was still. At the time, I was in a car, driving to a family Thanksgiving dinner. I remember watching the trees on the road and the bliss….
After a period of time being this stillness – a newfound treasure, much old karma loosened and almost subsumed me in a storm. It was quite a fight for several years to restore myself enough to continue to evolve.
I remember beginning to pay closer attention to the impact of my thoughts, words, and actions – before acting. I began to be aware of much dysfunction in the world – how people related to each other, how companies and organizations related to their missions and employees, and the value others placed on Life. And this raised many questions for me about what I was going to do now. I knew that I could no longer just flow with the status quo for situations that felt wrong. Service naturally became a priority, and I was completely and utterly immersed in doing “what was needed.”
People at this phase rely primarily on heartfelt intuition and start to develop their intuition more fully, have little to no reactivity to the minutia of existence, and use their thinking minds as tools of higher consciousness. They no longer experience a barrage of uncontrolled thoughts and know Dynamic Silence. This stage is very much the beginning of spiritual unfolding. I knew clearly what I was not, but I did not yet know fully what I was – and the possibilities were just beginning to open before me. It was the beginning of a Spiritual path, and prior steps were only preparation.
This transition surprised me because I began to be aware of a consciousness watching “me.” Later, I learned that this consciousness was really my soul body, looking through the eyes of a finite body. I learned that my soul was a body forged by the marriage of Spirit and Matter, and then I identified with That.
There was no wavering, and the attention was steady. There was no doubt that “I am That.” The yearning transformed to Being the soul.
At this point, the infinite and the body began a more accelerated dance to merge and intertwine, learning from each other and producing a truly unique expression of Spirit in the World. Who one becomes when the infinite starts to intensely fuse with their lower-level bodies will vary from soul to soul, I imagine – the gift of such true uniqueness is magical expression for all.
The Ego still remained. However, the Ego was no longer the driving force behind thoughts and actions. Instead, it was only an instrument that grounds the conscious soul into physical reality.
People at this stage are noticeably different from others. They appear more forthright, paradoxical, unorthodox, direct, confident, and full of humor. They remain calm in the face of seeming crisis, or they may create crises to bring attention to dysfunction for healing, and they are unmistakably humble when helping others. These characteristics will vary from person to person – depending on how much they reveal about themselves in their day-to-day lives.
Since I started writing this article in January, I have undergone additional changes that have now stabilized. These changes were unexpected, to say the least, but undeniable. I do not have an adequate sketch to illustrate the relationships here – yet….
In Phase 5, I felt the Soul eyes looking through the physical eyes – an awareness behind the body. The soul became the seat of my consciousness, and the body its expression. The experience of emotions changed completely – they were observed, but did not “stick.” I did not get angry or sad in the ways I had before. I felt things, but these feelings were clearly not me.
Now, I began to “see” reality arising from moment to moment – objects, people, situations. I observed creation as continuous work in progress and nothing appeared solid. In fact, all was truly Life and alive. That perception was overlayed on the world of solidity, but it is difficult to describe because the dynamic manifestation feels more real than the “solid world.” I now “see” a fine web that ties everything together – thus now living the fact that everything is interconnected and undeniable interacts at all scales. Everything.
Then, one morning I woke up and noticed that my lower chakras have merged into the heart, which had become a large white vortex. Although I was aware of these energy centers before, I never meditated on them or paid much attention to them. Now, there was a cord directly from the soul body to this heart, passing right through the miasm of the Astral world. I had become a “ray” of sorts, although I do not have language to describe it. I could construct an Astral body, or subsume it in the cord at will.
The physical brain continues to be important to receiving information in the physical realm, and the cord is quite dynamic and has intricate connections to various levels of existence. However, but what were the charkas in the head and throat centers formed new connections to the heart, so they were hardly recognizable.
I am now more aware of the subtle dynamics and have gained passage to various levels of consciousness. Now I understand somewhat better the phrase “multidimensional being” and can move among dimensions at will, but there is no desire to do so for selfish motives. There is no longer danger of being subsumed by the vastness of Reality and no flinching away from the Whole.
I am still a student, now learning how to participate as my unique service and being. I observe and participate as a conduit stretching from the Infinite to its expression in the finite.
Then, another change… I realized the watcher looking through the soul’s eyes, which was also looking through the physical eyes. I then knew that I am Spirit – “behind” the soul and “behind” the physical body – and started the journey of exploring the vast consciousness and energy available from that vantage point. What is most apparent is that the idea of “alone” and Spirit are completely incompatible.
I know there is more…each change after phase 5 is a dramatic shift, and not a minor building onto the previous phase. These transformations are stable and there is no vascillation of any kind.
Transformation is typically a demanding and painful process because we are learning to see through our own games of self-absorption until we are free of this perspective. It is difficult to give up entrenched ways of perceiving reality, and these don’t go without a fight…. In my case it didn’t necessarily get easier because change occurred very rapidly, but each time I felt less resistance and discomfort – it was very different.
An awakened teacher can help you see what is unconscious, explore it, and surrender it to the Light. I had the fortune of such a teacher. Accepting feedback is never easy because it will usually feel like it cuts to the bone and all you want to do is run, but there is always free will and your own yearning – if strong – will propel you forward. On the other side of the feedback, there is always greater freedom and less illusion. Ultimately, you will be tested without support from anyone, and that requires more courage and surrender than you may be able to imagine.
Life does not hesitate to provide us with the support to grow into our birthright of unwavering happiness as Infinite Radiance. Good preparation for spiritual practice is essential to help stabilize your body and mind, and prepare you for the powerful energies of Grace – once the process begins, it will just take its course and take you as far as you are willing to go. Only you make that choice, and the contract is between you and the Infinite you.