Conscious Living Jewel

On Stages of Development in Consciousness​

On Stages of Development in Consciousness

aka higher states of consciousness or stages thereof

One of the most popular articles on this blog over the years has been on states of consciousness. First as an outline of the 7 states of consciousness model, then a newer version, consolidating the many updates to the prior article.

This article reframes that model a little further to better reflect how people are experiencing the process. I’ve begun making references to this model, so I thought it time for a new Key Post. I’m also working on a book that goes into this in much more detail.

Psychology has begun studying these Transpersonal (post-personal) stages of development. Dr. Cook-Greuter proposed Construct-Aware and Unitive stages. (pdf link) Dr. Skip Alexander observed that eastern models of development of consciousness could be integrated with western models (pdf link) from psychology at this juncture.

In other words, what is called Enlightenment or spiritual awakening is actually a normal part of human growth and development. However, in the cycles of time, those habits of life and understanding that culture higher development become lost in the struggle to survive. But in a rising cycle, as now, the opportunity for such growth is revived and increasing numbers of people become living examples.

However, what is currently understood about enlightenment has largely been divided into various religious and philosophical camps arguing over concepts.

If we can instead find a consistent framework that understands the underlying process and accounts for much of the variety of experience, we will find that the truths of the worlds traditions all have a place within these stages of development.

Keep in mind that this is an experiential process. It is not about building concepts. However much you may think you understand this or that, until it is your lived experience, it will not be known. And in fact our concepts about it must be shed to live it.

Today, there are millions of people in the world who have had very clear tastes of these stages, although they may well not realize it. And some have begun to actually live them. Works like this are designed to support this growing community.

Higher Stages of Development
The post-personal Stages are essentially stages of the development of clarity of consciousness. Our physiology and psychology have matured. The next front is our being. While we might say “stages of development of consciousness”, consciousness itself doesn’t develop. What is shifting is our clarity and depth and relationship to consciousness.

These stages are not altered states and are also unlike the states of consciousness like waking, dreaming, and sleeping. These shifts change the platform in which those states are experienced.

As may thus be apparent, the consciousness I refer to is boundless, universal consciousness, the ground of all our being. This is what we recognize ourselves to be in the first awakening.

It’s also important to understand these are post-personal stages. It is not the individual person who becomes enlightened. It is Consciousness, your true Self, that is experiencing these higher perspectives and greater fullness of Itself. The sense of individual takes a progressively smaller role.

It’s also worth noting that this is a subjective process we’re describing. Reality itself does not change, just our perspective of it.

While the experience of these stages varies widely for a number of reasons, there are common distinct shifts that happen as Consciousness becomes more awake to its own totality. Each stage also has levels of clarity and some have common sub-steps. Thus, there is an apparent process that occurs as Consciousness unfolds to Itself. This is much like puberty. Puberty is experienced a wide range of ways but there is a common underlying process.

This reframing is courtesy of Lorne Hoff and is derived from the Yog Vasishtha. This text is the core teaching from the sage Vasishtha, given to Rama in the royal court during the epic Ramayana. Estimates place these events at least 8,000 years ago.

The post-personal Stages in summary:
1 – Cosmic Consciousness (CC) or Self Realization
1a – Refined CC or God Consciousness (GC)
2 – Unity Consciousness (UC), Oneness or non-duality
2a – Refined Unity and God Realization
3 – Brahman or Beyond Consciousness
3a – Refined Brahman
3b – Parabrahman or Wholeness

By the numbering, you’ll notice there are 3 primary Stages of Consciousness awakening to or from Itself and each has their own Refined aspect. The refined stages are not each separate but are rather a continuous process of refinement. But when the primary stage changes, the context of the refined stage changes as well. Thus, we can describe stages in that process also.

The primary stages begin with what can be described as a realization or becoming or change in sense of being whereas the refined stages are a continuum that can begin well before or after the first realization. The refined stages have climactic realizations instead.

One key detail can help understand the variation in how this unfolds for people. In the 6 bhavas modelfrom Ayurveda, two of them are Atman and Sattva. The development of Atman (cosmic Self) takes us through the primary stages. The Development of sattva (purity or clarity) is what develops the refined stages. (via soma)

With sattva well-developed, you see people who may not be spiritually awakened but have amazing perceptions or gifts. With Atman well-developed but less sattva, you see clear awakening but little of the divine and a drier, flatter unfoldment. The ideal is of course a balanced development of both.

The 7 States of Consciousness model from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi includes only the first 3 to Unity, although he spoke of all of them.

I review the approach to the first shift here. And the Styles and Gradations here.

1 – Cosmic Consciousness (CC) or Self Realization
The cosmic Self wakes up to Itself through this apparent person. We shift from being identified with an ego “me” to being Atman, the cosmic Self. I am That. This shift is permanent though it may take a little time to be clear. We are a witness or observer to an apparently illusory world. Only the inner wakefulness is real. It’s completion is sat chit ananda, absolute bliss consciousness.

1a – Refined CC or God Consciousness
aka Celestial or Divine Con.: the refinement of perception and the awakening heart uncover very fine feelings and perceptions. The direct perception of finer values of creation and the divine unfold. The Refined stages are more a process than a state. The inner remains real and the outer world comes to be seen as a Lila or divine play. This stage climaxes in God Realization post-Unity. Refinement continues through all stages and can take hundreds of years to complete. Thus in the current age we do what we can.

2 – Unity Consciousness (UC), Oneness or non-duality:
when the intellect recognizes the outer experience of the world and the celestial plus the inner experience of silence are of the same thing, the division between them falls. The inner and outer worlds are rejoined as the same reality. Then, through a series of recognitions, all layers of experience, memory, and all space and time are united in one wholeness. It’s completion is in Brahman.

2a – Refined Unity and God Realization
The Refinement of GC continues through Unity in a series of recognitions. It’s completion is God Realization where we choose to unite with or remain close to God. The uniting is the doorway into Brahman.

Beyond Unity, there are no longer stages of consciousness. We transcend consciousness, existence, and Atman into Brahman.

3 – Brahman or Beyond Consciousness
I describe the unfoldment of Brahman here. See also the Brahman section of Key Posts. It’s completion is in Parabrahman.

3a – Refined Brahman
The refinement of Unity continues but now not in a relationship. There is only That. More on Refined Brahman here.

3b – Parabrahman or pure Divinity  (Updated)
This is the wholeness of all of it. As Lorne describes it, pure holiness even in non-self nothingness. It is prior to Purusha and Mother Divine (Shiva and Shakti). It is Divine Mother, pure Divinity, the wholeness of all, the source of the source. This unfolds in stages, summarized here.

An early article on Pure Divinity. On the second step of the first stage. Summarizing, and the second stage. Waking the Body. The fourth stage, Krishna Consciousness.

Hopefully, this model offers a more complete and consistent perceptive of the process of enlightenment.

Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Davidya