On the path of self-discovery, are there insights from which we could all benefit? Could we take advantage of a basic roadmap? Fellow travelers often enjoy sharing the many points of interest along the way. Who wouldn’t wish for such guidance? Our favorite teachers and mentors can certainly help illuminate the path, yet often we aren’t starting with an interpretive framework that recognizes the level of consciousness they are promoting. It can be confusing and potentially misleading.
We all have wisdom to share. With a basic framework from which to discuss our journey, along with a greater appreciation of the particular phases of perception, we can better understand ourselves and one another. This article is an abbreviated version of an essay I call, “The Four Phases of Spiritual Growth.” This brief snippet will hopefully whet your appetite.
To understand the framework, please consider that some phases:
- may occur simultaneously,
- may drag out for years or just minutes,
- can revert back to previous phases.
Please use this as a basic map that reflects the arc of human consciousness. It isn’t meant to be absolute. I welcome your input, as this is a shared human process—I intend only to offer a tool, framework, and language with which to share our experiences.
Finally, rather than judge and criticize our progress or lack there of, I prefer to celebrate and honor each phase as a crucial building block of our self discovery. Let’s learn all there is to learn about where we currently dwell. The greater the investment we make in understanding our experience, the greater will be the freedom of conscious awareness. Let’s have fun exploring…
Four Phases :
1. The Ducklings:
Becoming assimilated into a family and culture; trying to fit in; judging others and ourselves based on the standards taught to us; thus allowing ourselves to be heavily influenced by the judgments of others. This fear of not being loved, of inadequacy and disapproval has us walking in step with the ducklings, following the authority. (This phase is pre-conscious)
2. The Lion:
Rescuing oneself from the grips of familial and cultural norms. Gaining the courage to live in alignment with one’s own deeper desires. In this phase, we let go of concern for being judged. At this level of letting go, we are claiming the basic freedom to pursue happiness and our deepest curiosities. We become the lion, able to exercise our courage and independence in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. We are no longer ruled by the same fears. (This phase is semi-conscious)
3. The Lamb:
When chasing passion becomes a source of hopelessness instead of inspiration; when our possessions and the relationships we’ve chosen become too heavy a burden; when we find fear and disappointment at every turn of our proud pursuits, we are then ready to hit bottom. Hitting bottom becomes a requirement. With this, exhaustion manifests a new insight. It is here we recognize that true freedom is born of “letting go.” We become free when we understand that our suffering arises only in our resistance to life’s circumstances. We suffer due to our clinging to the story of what we believe our life “should be.” When this paradigm collapses, we are suddenly able to fall in love with “what is.” Acceptance and stillness then open a portal of peace and awe. The sensual experience of life awakens when we make peace with life, when life’s romantic notions of gratification shatter. If we feel that we have nothing left to lose, we can afford to transform our thoughts of resistance into thoughts of celebration. Our story of “fear and desire” dissolves into the bigger story of “what is.” The lamb sees no need to fight its fate, it is swallowed whole by the universe. (This phase is an awakening to consciousness)
4. The Sun:
This phase is built on the practice of letting go, nurturing what we’ve discovered as the lamb in phase 3. The deeper our realization and practice of welcoming life’s circumstances, the greater the freedom and love in our hearts. This love is expressed effortlessly and shines like the sun. (The effortless radiance is the fruition, is consciousness)
Throughout each phase, our worldview is limited by specific beliefs, fears, and expectations. Understanding these limitations may help us move through the phases more gracefully while aiding communication in our relationships. All too often expectations are not clearly communicated between loved ones. Each phase of the four phases comes with certain basic expectations. As an example: expecting our happiness to come from seeking another’s validation (Phases 1 and 2) is vastly different that expecting our happiness to be a product of “letting go,” compassion, and a deep sense of self worth (Phases 3 and 4). Each of these two notions lends themselves to two entirely different worlds of intimacy. Having a common language in which to discuss our expectations, beliefs, and values may foster greater understanding, respect, and support.
Do these phases resonate with you? If so, download the longer essay at vigilant-eats.com and see whether this basic framework speaks to your experience of self discovery. If you find it valuable, join us and share your story while learning from others on the path.