Stages of Consciousness
“In the first form of contemplation, self has been striving to know better its own natural plane of existence. It has stretched out the feelers of its intuitive love into the general stream of duration of which it is a part. Breaking down the fences of personality, merging itself in a larger consciousness, it has learned to know the world of becoming from within—as a citizen, a member of the great society of life, not merely as a spectator. But the more deeply and completely you become immersed in and aware of this life, the greater the extension of your consciousness; the more insistent will rumors and intimations of a higher plane … begin to besiege you. … Now you reach out towards the ultimate sentence and melody. Which exists independent of your own constructive efforts.” ~Evelyn Underhill
I’m not sure everyone goes through these two stages of contemplation, or seeking enlightenment, but many do. The first stage, if it isn’t clear from the quote, is becoming fully aware of the physical world around you. The second, which many are led to simply through the first, is the discovery and study of higher realms beyond matter, higher levels of consciousness than our earthbound level.
The first stage begins when one stops seeing himself as the center of a private universe and everything else as circling around him: the way babies see things. When we start to realize that the rose exists not just to appeal to our eyes and our sense of smell, but for its own purpose that has nothing to do with us, we have started achieving this level of awareness. When we start to recognize that other living beings, even those of completely different species, have just as much right to be here and just as much right to live as we do, we have achieve this first level of contemplative consciousness. But as we get deeper into this, we start to see, or at least sense in some way, that there is something else, something beyond the physical, beyond the material. That is when we start on the second form.
In the second stage, we recognize that physical life and the material world is the tip of the iceberg of creation and consciousness. Beyond it, we find the intuitive and the psychic. As we continue toward higher levels, we then come to the spiritual planes (or dimensions). The spiritual worlds are so much different, that many cannot understand them, but that doesn’t make them false or hallucinations. As one delves into it more deeply, and awakens his consciousness more completely, he finds that not only does the spiritual exist, but it is the only thing that really exists, that permanently exists. He sees that the physical cannot exist without the unseen spiritual worlds behind it and he sees that the physical is just distorted or mutated spirit.
Not all people, as I mentioned before, go through those two separate stages. Some go through them both at the same time, awakening to both worlds simultaneously. The real question is how to do it. The answer is to awaken the spirit and soul with the light of the spiritual sun. Only the spirit and soul can truly understand the spiritual worlds and the higher levels of consciousness associated with them. And gaining some understanding of the spiritual makes one more understanding and more aware of the physical world and its limitations. So while one can certainly start by opening his eyes to the physical world around him, awakening the spiritual faculties will allow you to accomplish both the physical and spiritual levels of consciousness simultaneously.