Richard Rohr – Levels of Spiritual Development 4

Stage Four: My deeper intuitions and felt knowledge in my body are who I am

If you can stay in the liminal space between Stage Three and Stage Four, if you can suffer the shock, humiliation, and necessary failure of your game falling apart without regressing to earlier, more dualistic thinking, you will ideally move to Stage Four.

I describe Stage Four as this: My deeper intuitions and the felt knowledge in my body are who I am. People who have been trained to keep the heart and head spaces open and to live grounded inside their own bodies and feel their real feelings are able to pass to Stage Four because they have the greatest capacity for presence, and presence to what actually is!

For some, this is such a breakthrough, so enriching, grounding, and self-validating after wallowing around in ego and confusion for so many years, that it feels like enlightenment itself. Thus, very many become stymied here and think it’s the whole spiritual journey. They have “depth” compared to all these hopeless others around them! This can lead to individualism, self-absorption, and inner work as a substitute for any honest encounter with otherness or with The Other. In such a place, there is little real social conscience (beyond verbal political correctness) and usually a lack of compassion or active concern for what is happening on this earth. This kind of spirituality is all about my enlightenment and my superiority.

But if you are authentically present at Stage Four, you will begin to see your shadow self in sometimes humiliating ways. Without humility, you will run back to Stage Three, and many do. You’ll see your phony motivation: that you are not as holy as you think you are; that you are largely doing this for your own self-image, to think of yourself as moral, aware, and enlightened. Politeness and political correctness pass for actual love. Ken Wilber calls it “Boomeritis” since it is so true of a certain age group in America and Europe.

Yet this struggle and humiliation is what is going to lead you to real non-dual thinking: when you face the enemy and the enemy is you, and you recognize that you can’t project evil onto other religions, races, classes, political parties, or genders. I’m the problem. I’m petty, needy, self-absorbed, or whatever it might be.

If you are unwilling to do some shadow work, to wrestle with the shadow and see it in all of its humiliating truthfulness, you will not go to Stage Five.

Adapted from Where You Are Is Where I Will Meet You, disc 1
(CD, MP3 download)

Gateway to Silence:
Open me to wholeness


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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