Three stages of spiritual development

Image: Jean-Pierre Brungs

There’s many models that have been drawn about societal/spiritual development and levels of consciousness.

As for the one I’m geeking out on right now, I’ve heard explained a few different ways, but most eloquently from my personal Yoda, Richard Rohr, and it goes like this…

Stage One: Order
It’s here that we have fundamentalist religion/tribal thinking. Conservatism tends to get stuck here. Everything must fit into a neat and tidy box. The ego can handle neat and tidy.

Stage Two: Disorder
This is where liberals/progressives live. It’s where doubt starts to take hold and Stage One starts to fall apart, kicking and screaming. It’s all about taking things apart. The ego hates this, and so it tries to twist reality and make this stage of disorder into the new order of the day.

Stage Three: Reorder 
Those who break through the disorder either make it out to this stage or they fall back onto Stage One. This is the place of enlightenment or salvation and it can only be entered through Stage Two.

This applies, not only spiritually, but in many other things as well. When I was training in Aikido, Stage One was static (kata). Stage Two was taking that kata into movement (ki no nagare). Stage Three was ultimate creativity (takemusu aiki).

In music, we have Stage One where we learn the notes and read music. In Stage Two, we memorize the notes and start playing with the frustration of improvisation. And in Stage Three, we’re going Miles Davis on the world and can just flow, baby.

Here’s the catch…

There is no direct flight from Stage One to Stage Three.

Spiritually speaking, this is the role of extreme suffering and Love. They bring us smack dab into the middle of Stage Two. They shake up our world. Paradigms shift and buildings burn.

Both suffering and love are vehicles to growth.

If you happen to be in the middle of Stage Two in your life, hold fast. Know you’re just where you need to be.

This is the role of our spiritual practice... To make it through Stage Two of the journey (which, societally speaking, we’re entering now) instead of falling back into Stage One and having to start over.

Here’s a match. 
See you on the other side.


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