What Are the Stages Of Spiritual Development?

Previously, we have covered a lot of ground going from the amorphous to form and structure, from Self-realization to God- or Origin-realization. Now it’s time to bring it all together with these questions: What is enlightenment? Can you be realized but unwholesome as a person? When are we transformed and liberated? What are the stages of spiritual development?

What are the stages of spiritual development?

There are many ways to define spiritual development. Different wisdom teachings describe different steps or stages on the path to enlightenment or karma-free existence or liberation.

Some people understand human evolution through these four stages of identity:

  1. Life happens To Me (with me as a victim of circumstances, reacting to circumstances).
  2. Life happens By Me (with me directing my intentions and thoughts to manifest things).
  3. Life happens Through Me (letting Spirit move through me, an instrument/vessel of God).
  4. Life happens As Me (realizing We are One with God and all of creation, it’s Spirit as me).

Gina Lake (“In the World but Not Of It”) also described four stages of spiritual development:

  • Stage One: This is the fully immersed soul, who identifies with the character they play that has a body-mind and personality with drives, preferences, and programmed reactions to life. The ego is mostly in charge, so the personality becomes a vehicle for the ego/false self, not the divine self. They don’t question this. There is no awareness of anything else.
  • Stage Two: This is the person who through meditation, spiritual practices, psychoactive drugs or grace has an experience of their divine self or Presence. But they don’t know themselves as Presence, so they go back and forth believing they are the character. This is the case with most spiritual seekers, who get a glimpse of Presence, and then “lose it.”
  • Stage Three: This is the awakened person, who is self-realized and knows themselves as Presence. They have one foot in the play and another foot in Presence/awareness. They are aware that they’re watching the play of life, and participate as the character they play as well. Their personality becomes a vehicle for the divine self, but has remnants of the ego.
  • Stage Four: This is quite rare, because the journey from self-realization to full enlighten-ment is often not achieved in one lifetime. Some spiritual masters may spend most of their time absorbed in meditation, while others may work with disciples or behind the scenes. This person is both completely at home in their humanity and in the world, but not of it.

What is meant by awakening vs. enlightenment?

In her brilliant book, Gina Lake wrote about how to tell when you’re ego identified, how to transcend dualities, how to move into and stay in Presence, how to overcome habits and addictions, spiritual pitfalls, how to purify your personality, and more. She explained:

She said spiritual seekers often mistakenly believe that self-realization or enlightenment is like a nonstop spiritual experience, when it’s actually a very ordinary and functional state. Staying in Presence is our natural state, not an altered state of consciousness.

Can a person be self-realized but not wholesome?

“To be in the world, the divine self needs a costume. It needs a body-mind, a personality, drives, talents, tendencies, preferences, and some ego in order to play a role in the world and to function. All this is accomplished through programming. That programming is destined to go eventually, which is what the process of enlightenment is all about.”

Lake wrote that someone can be self-realized, but they may still have a lot of healing to do. Their behavior will not appear all that enlightened, especially when stressed or challenged.

  • Yet the same unhealed person may be a magnetic spiritual teacher, who can activate Presence in others (e.g. Chögyam Trungpa, an alcoholic Buddhist master).
  • How much suffering the person experiences and/or causes to others depends on how much of their personality has been purified of the ego and the wounds caused by it, such as fear, anger, blame, self-doubt, jealousy, revenge, greed, fault-finding, confusion, etc. (see How To Dissolve Your Victim Patterns? – Big Picture Questions.com).
  • But we will never be 100% free of the ego, because we need some ego programming to function in human form. The ego can re-emerge even in the most spiritually advanced people. These ego remnants can get triggered by others, so we won’t always be patient, kind, sensitive, etc. Forgive yourself. You are meant to be both human and divine.

She said once you realize your true nature, you’ll wear your costume more lightly, and your relationship to that programming changes. You’ll evolve from expressing the ego to that of your divine nature. You’ll still be human with the same personality and some imperfections.

“When Christ consciousness shines through the human, the human self doesn’t become perfect, but it can become a vehicle for good.” – Gina Lake

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, I love and really recommend this particular book by Gina Lake, because it consolidates many of the topics that I’ve been blogging about for almost three years now.

The same core teachings seem to appear in different guises described from different angles by different authors. Her book validated Richard Rudd’s “Gene Keys” describing the 64 Gates, each with its own spectrum of frequencies (from shadow to gift to siddhi levels) that correspond to unpurified vs. purified versions of human personality traits.

Her book also validated what Guy Needler has told us about the ego vs. soul personality, form/formlessness, self-realization, pure awareness, and many other topics in more detail.

The main message of her book is this: “The ego needs to take a backseat now for humanity to evolve more quickly.” The ego is not a mistake. But “being in the world but not of it” means being NOT of the ego. For us that means working on our victim patterns, which in turn means embracing our shadows, releasing our gifts, and embodying the siddhis as much as we can.

That is what purification is about – transcending the ego to become the best possible self (given your personality) in this lifetime. Quoting Gina Lake:

“Life is like a play. It is your play. You are doing it all. No one is doing anything to you. You are the divine scriptwriter and the human actor. The difference between a play and life is that, over the course of hundreds of lifetimes, the Divine succeeds in infusing its magnificence into each human character it plays. You evolve and become glorious by the end of all your lifetimes. You become Christ-like, a master…in the end, the divine self shines.”


“Stay Light, Be Light, Light the way for others.” – Guy Needler

For more information, please see:

Gina Lake: In the World but Not of It: New Teachings from Jesus on Embodying the Divine, 2016 & Radical Happiness – Gina Lake – Living in the Now – Awakening & Newsletter Signup

Richard Rudd: Gene Keys, 2009 & Gene Keys Network | Living Library (website)

Guy Needler: Home – Guy Steven Needler | The Dawn of a New Age of Science (new website) & 6 books: The History of GodBeyond the Source – Book 1Beyond the Source – Book 2Avoiding Karma, The Origin Speaks, 2015, The Anne Dialogues, 2016

What Is Your Spiritual Type? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Is Basic Awakening? – Big Picture Questions.com

Gina Lake 4-13-16…”In the World But Not Of It” – Big Picture Questions.com

What Is the Big Picture? – Big Picture Questions.com

How To Bridge Science and Spirituality? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Are Source Entity Level Ascended Masters? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Are Human Root Races? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Is Your Life’s Work vs. Soul Purpose? – Big Picture Questions.com

How To Dissolve Your Victim Patterns? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Are Siddhis Or Divine Gifts? – Big Picture Questions.com

How To Reframe Your Life? – Big Picture Questions.com

How Does Event Space Change Your Perspective On Life? – Big Picture Questions.com

How Detailed Is the Soul’s Life Review? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Is Spiritual Bypassing? – Big Picture Questions.com

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How To Amplify Your Connectivity With Source? – Big Picture Questions.com

What Is Meant By Self-Realization vs. God-Realization? – Big Picture Questions.com

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What Is the Amorphous? – Big Picture Questions.com

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