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Stages of Growth in The Awakening Process

©Copyright 1996, by Phil Servedio

Several months ago Lawrence Cook gave a wonderful talk delineating the details of the spiritual process relative to how Consciousness, in the context of an individual body-mind, comes to recognize its own nature and proceeds thereafter in a continual process of growth. It spoke to the profundity of this process and demonstrated the uniqueness of each stage. Remembering his talk, I came to look at the process based upon my experience, as well as others, and outlined various stages, expressed in a simplicity that hopefully does honor to the famous Zen "Ox Herding" Wood Block diagrams that outlined the steps of the process in that tradition.

While this in no way is a hard and fast rule that is necessary for all to go through, it hopefully does point to the grace like quality of one's own inherent force of Consciousness/Naked Awareness to recognize its own nature and the nature of all existence. The steps:

1. Total Delusion

The ordinary human life as experienced by billions. Belief in separativeness and the solidity of subject and object, and their apparent "difference". Truly a hell-realm, full of threat, fear and sorrow.

2. Separation From Objects

Beginning of the spiritual process - consciousness begins to stand and notice the arising of objects, but both object and subject are seen as solid. Separation is extant. No understanding relative to nature of subject. Spiritual state driven motivations. May be of long duration.

3. Breakthrough in the Stream of Being

Spontaneous silence in the various bodies allows natural insight into the nature of self. The initiation of the unwinding of the impulse of the "search", and the movement into the "rot" of both object and subject. Hridaya shakti appears, allowing the noticing of the limits of kundalini shakti.

4. Void Stage

The bottom drops out of the "self" and of all existence. The experience of the void-like essential quality of existence appears. But the illusion of the "I" has yet to be penetrated. The "rest" in emptiness is accompanied by the an increase of spiritual heat throughout one's life. The spiritual process begins to take on a life of its own. Consciousness reveals its naked form.

5. Doubt and Enquiry

Natural investigative impulse to pierce the veils of illusion blossoms. Intuition deepens, investigatory impulse may take over one's life. Consciousness begins to turn in on itself, searching for its own face, its own root.

6. Self-Recognition and Resolution

Summary insight arises in a single grand moment. The illusion of a "separate self " is finally penetrated. The bubble of self pops in the back, and one falls back into the groundless ground of one's inherent nature, never to be fooled again. The search to find one's nature dropss like a rock. The reference points of "I" is replaced by the reality of non-locality. Bell's theorem is now truly blessed.

7. Rest Time

The illusion of "I" penetrated, the void now becomes the Void, no longer seen as an object, but the characteristic of one's own nature. The rest in the vastness of empty clarity results in a quantum leap of insight and bliss.

8. Rebound of "dharmas" and Transparency of the "I"

The explosion of self-recognition dies down, only to result in the return of a sense of I. The lesson of clinging to even one's essential Void like quality is won the hard way. One then realizes that even the "I" sense is transparent and not an obstruction to one's clarity.

9. Movie Time

As self-recognition stabilizes, and doubts subside, a movie-like, 2 dimensional perception of existence appears. The investigatory process moves into the apparent relationship of subject and object. A thin veil is extant that obscures a full summary insight into the nature of existence. Dawning of the penetration of the nature of objects.

10. Completion Stage

In a single moment, the whole drama of self and other, subject and object is penetrated. One finally comes to a complete rest! All dilemmas dissolve! Subject-object separation disappears. One becomes the world, all of existence. The search truly comes to an end, as the non-dual nature of existence becomes Obvious and "louder" than the relative condition of things. Space-time collapses. Non-dual realization is complete. How can this most wonderful thing be?

11. Integration and Intensification of the Heart

Process rounds around back to step one, moves into the absolute "penetration" and "purification" of the relative. All areas of life must bow to this most senior process and context, without a choice. Spontaneous blessing to all arise. Movement into real help for all begins.