The five stages of spiritual development, as proposed by the Arthur Ford Academy, are: spiritual curiosity and interest; spiritual recognition; spiritual experiences; spiritual knowing; spiritual responsibility. The first two stages are the beginning phases of spiritual exploration, but spirituality remains mostly external to the seeker. The following two stages, however, blossom into deeper understanding and internalization of beliefs.
The phase of spiritual experiences is an exciting time! Perhaps, the journeyer feels the presence of a spirit guide or an angel around them – and the being appeared when the person needed guidance or protection. Or, the seeker sees a medium and connects with a deceased relative or friend. The messages are clear and specific, and there is no doubt the loved one is speaking through the medium. The journeyer reads about synchronicities and signs, and suddenly he is blessed with several amazing occurrences. As a person’s awareness grows and gratitude is expressed, more signs come into his life. He is led to seminars where it seems the presenters are talking to him individually. He finds books with just the right messages for him.
More spiritual exploration follows, with more questions and more revealing answers. The person’s consciousness is rising, with a growing awareness of other realms. Thoughts become less materialistic and more focused on spiritual realities. The person is living in a world of unlimited possibilities and marvels at the many blessings showered upon him. The veil between the spirit world and his earthly existence thins.
Spiritual knowing is the next stage, when experiences and thoughts integrate fully, and belief evolves into an inner knowing. The place of tranquil wisdom has been rediscovered. This place always existed within ourselves, but all of us were born with the assignment of finding the divinity within, yet again. When a truth is heard, there is a feeling of resonance that one cannot fabricate. It is simply and strongly felt – in the heart and soul. When this level of spiritual development is reached, a feeling of joyful serenity fills the person’s being.
This spiritual knowing is the goal for each and every one of us. There have been many people who have lived in the stage of spiritual knowing. Their words and lives are full of grace, becoming inspirations for us. Think of the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, or a person in your life who has quietly demonstrated this wise knowing. Close your eyes and think of this person. What emotions arise for you? Do you feel peace and love? Do you feel the divinity within this person – and within yourself? You too can know this peaceful wisdom.
Each of us is challenged to grow spiritually and to reach this beautiful, enriching spiritual-knowing stage. Once experienced, a person never wants to live any other way! It is the truth of who we really are.
In the next article, we will examine the fifth stage, spiritual responsibility. When we find our Truth, we must do more than bask in the wonderful sensation of it, we must act in accordance with it.
(This article first appeared in the April issues of New Age News ezine.)