“The following is a 9-stage journey of spiritual development as taught by Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr. As Richard Rohr says, ‘This isn’t something that you work on, it’s something that works on you.’
1. My Body Is Who I am:
Focus is on security and safety; power and control; acceptance and esteem; and defense needs. You are with me or against me. “Us and them” thinking. Dualistic thinking.
2. My Behavior Is Who I am:
Preoccupation with your idealized self with an avoidance of perceived “bad” or unacceptable parts of yourself. Over concern with what others think and focus on conformity or what is normal. Organized religion and conservatives tend to glorify stage 2.
3. My Thoughts and Feelings Are Who I am:
Focus is on gaining insight and awareness through inner work. Temptation to substitute education for transformation. Religious progressives can get stuck here because there is an intellectual satisfaction and it makes rational sense.
4. My Deep Intuitive Knowledge Is Who I am:
Deeper discovery of the soul and focus on intuitive knowledge that can’t be proven or validated. Aligning with flow and felt knowing. Temptation to get stuck here in self-absorption or sense of being alone.
5. Meeting the Shadow Self:
This is a period of disillusionment and you encounter a sense of personal deficiency as your type is dismantled. You are both your lightness and darkness and everything in between. Support here is of great value. (The Enneagram tends to pinpoint shadow issues, but family of origin work can do the same).
6. Who I am Is Empty and Powerless:
Sitting in what some call the divine waiting room. Realization of your own powerlessness. You are at the edge of your own resources and begin to wait in trust. Surrender. Let go. There’s a shift from seeing God through the lens of doctrine to that of inner companion and Beloved friend.
7. Who I am is More Than I Thought I Was:
Recognition that you are being led. You give up attempts at doing it “right” or idealizing others, the spiritual path, the way things should be. You trust in guidance. You grant others the grace that was given you. There’s a sense of light in the dark.
8. Who I am Is One With God:
God is no longer out there. God is a living experience. You are able to witness passing ego phenomena and begin to unify with God.
Nondual experiencing of the Oneness of all things created and uncreated. A sense of timelessness and freedom. All is well.
As you can see from these stages, spiritual unfoldment results in less and less enchantment with external criteria and liberates us to be our authentic selves. Keep in mind that the path is not linear and ultimately we spiral around these levels of consciousness on our path to unity with God. Each person’s path is unique to them.
“We see from where we stand.” Haitian Proverb
With gratitude to Jamie Clear as I adapted this from her synopsis of Richard Rohr’s teaching on spiritual transformation.