We are all spiritual beings and all have the potential to fully embrace our spirituality.  However, like everything in life, embarking on our spiritual path is a choice.  In life we are each presented with several choices, leading to new stages of development.  Initially, most of us progress along the same path but, at certain points, we have choices – whether to stay immersed in the status quo world or to explore the splendors of our our spiritual journey.  These choices can appear at any time during our life, the key is to stay alert and listen to the wisdom of your heart.

Stage 1.  Innocence We are born into a material world, where our lives are dominated by our lower three chakras.  We enter the world in a state of innocence and as long as we are healthy and have a loving family, we live in a world of joy and bliss.  We still have a strong connection to the Divine and the field of the Absolute from which our consciousness just emerged. The spiritual being is still very much awake.  However, for most of us this memory begins to fade as we are taught how to “fit in” and we become distracted by the world around us. A rare few manage to maintain their Divine connection and enjoy spiritual greatness.

Stage 2.  Fear, Ego  As we grow, the ego emerges and soon we realize that we are completely at the mercy of all around us.  The pure love we have experienced up until now begins to be overshadowed by fear and its corresponding emotions.  We find that to get what we want, we have to please those in charge. We develop our personality and begin creating all the stories that will shape and define our lives.

Stage 3.  Power In our desire to overcome fear we create success in our life.  We become educated, start our careers and family. We want to have control to eliminate fear.  We accumulate things to give us a sense of security.

First choice For many people, further growth and spiritual development ends here.  They choose to continue to be consumed with material desires, they seek more and more power and control.  Their lives become self-centered and they remain at stage 3.

For others, a feeling that there is more to life begins to dawn.  Rather than just accumulating possessions and power, we look for a deeper meaning to life.  We start to awaken spiritually and continue to stage 4.

Stage 4.  Giving In this stage we begin to realize that there is more to life than personal power and material gain.  We ask ourselves how we can help others, how can we serve the world around us. We become comfortable with giving as well as receiving.

However, giving can also create a sense of power.  At this stage, giving can often still be ego driven.  We give because we expect some form of recognition or because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

Second choice  We can continue to give from the level of ego, always expecting something in return for our giving.  This obviously can have a lot of merit and we can do many good things in the world. However, it leaves a constriction to our full spiritual growth.  

The opportunity of our second choice is when we begin to give from the level of love and compassion without any concern for recognition or reward.  Our giving becomes selfless and our true spiritual journey begins.

Stage 5.  The Seeker Now we begin our regular spiritual practices.  The longing for Enlightenment grows within us. Our decisions now come mostly from the fourth chakra, the heart center.

We begin to look for the deeper meaning of things.  We try to understand why we are here and how we can make our lives more meaningful.  We may study with teachers and gurus. We read books and practice techniques. We have glimpses of the goal which encourages us to remain on the path.  

The throat chakra opens as we express the qualities of the heart in our lives.

Stage 6. The Sage  Cosmic Consciousness dawns.  The mind fully awakens. We become the witness of our actions and realize that we are the role player in the multitude of roles we play.  The fear of death dissolves as we realize that life is just another role. Simple yogic powers become available to us.  However there is still separation between the giver and the recipient.

Third choice We have now reached another critical junction point in our journey.  The mind is fully awake but some ego is still present. The choice or mistake here is to believe that we are something special. We mistakenly think we have reached the goal and may promote ourselves as such.  The end is in sight but we have allowed the ego to hide it from view and we remain stuck in a false sense of spiritual attainment.

The alternative choice is to recognize the ego but not succumb to it, to allow it to find its place harmoniously within the whole.  We continue our journey with humility and devotion. Giving is done purely for the sake of giving. “What’s in it for me” becomes, “How can I serve”.  

Insight and spiritual inspiration begin to grow, we hear the voice of the inner guru as the sixth chakra opens.  

Stage 7. Spirit The heart now fully awakens.  We experience Divine and Unity Consciousness.

There is no longer any separation.  No giver, given or giving. No sense of “I” or “me”, just an awareness of Oneness.  We still live “in the world” but are no longer “of the world”.

Our spiritual practice is Pure Joy.  All the chakras are open, spiritual energy flows freely.

Choicelessness  When we reach the seventh stage this are no longer choices.  We function totally in harmony with nature. Everything is provided exactly as needed, at exactly the right moment.  We are the Totality.

As we progress though these stages, the material world seems very attractive at first while the spiritual might seem empty and hard but, if followed, it eventually leads to the experience of the True Self and eternal bliss.  

There is nothing lacking in the life of a great yogi.  He/she doesn’t feel that anything has been given up. In fact it’s the reverse, great yogis feel that by not following a spiritual path, eternal bliss has been renounced for the sake of a few passing moments of happiness. The material world is like a dry garden waiting for knowledge of the Divine to make it bloom.  In the material world we only have the energy of the body, on the spiritual path we tap into Divine Consciousness, Cosmic Energy. The material world is a prison, the spiritual path leads to unbounded freedom.

We are always at a junction in our path, Truth or illusion, material or eternal.  The ego will constantly try to keep its limiting hold on us. Choose wisely. Everything we do is a spiritual act if we do it with awareness.  Find your path and inner peace.

Be regular and disciplined with your spiritual practice. Don’t be disheartened if you wander off.  Ultimately our spiritual journey becomes our way of life, like a lush oasis in the desert of mundane living.