Spirituality can mean so many things for different people. There is no concrete method or exacting formula that directs how we should approach spiritual growth, but what remains clear is that as humans, we naturally seek meaning by exploring spiritual endeavors. It is often in this exploration that we form spiritual praxis and build communities dedicated to personal growth and healing. According to Michael Beckwith, the founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, there are four quintessential stages of spiritual growth that we constantly move through, and need to recognize in order to achieve meaningful fulfillment in our lives. Read on to discover what they are, and how you might benefit from using these stages as a barometer for your own personal development!
Stage one: ‘TO ME’
The first stage of spiritual growth is defined using the word victimhood, it is the stage in which the world as it exists seems stacked against our growth and progress. Whether it may be rooted in challenges we experience in our careers, education, or personal relationships, we feel as though we are the subject of unfair barriers that prevent us from thriving. In this stage, Michael Beckwith states, “life is happening to us”. In order to move past this stage of childlike defeat, we must eliminate blame. The resentment we pose towards the specific structures that prevent us from achieving our goals must be transformed into action and accountability. It is only when we become the primary driving force of our life that we can graduate from this stage of contempt and complicit inaction.
Stage two: ‘BY ME’
The second stage of spiritual growth is about understanding and channeling our potential to create a path for ourselves that we deeply admire. Despite however many obstacles we may encounter, our refusal to let blame swallow our drive will eventually prove to be wonderfully rewarding. In this stage, we are the sole architects of our happiness, and we take immense pride in our personal achievements. At this point, we have moved past the stationary progress of the first stage, and have a newfound grasp over our life and its outcomes. According to Beckwith, this is the stage of, “I did it! I can do it!”.
Stage three: ‘THROUGH ME’
The third stage of spiritual growth is marked by surrendering ourselves to the infinite, bountiful nature of the universe. Once we have satisfied our need to feel fulfilled through personal achievement, we are capable of entering a stage in which we are humbled by the vast, complexity of the world. In order to reach this level of consciousness, it is necessary that we give up control. We must relinquish the pencil we used to write our stories, to appreciate the narrative arc. In other words, by giving up control we allow ourselves to see the multidimensional aspects of life and living.
Stage four: ‘AS ME’
The fourth and final stage of spiritual growth is the realization that the grander forces that move through you in stage 3, also make up your being. In this stage, we not only seek refuge in the sparkling rays of the sun, and the haunting light of the moon, we understand that the energies that comprise these phenomena also exist within us. We achieve a point of actualization, in which we are not only connected but one with the boundless universe. It is only through erasing our sense of separation from ambiguous forces such as; nature, divine spirits, or art, that we can achieve this final transcendent stage.
Michael Beckwith makes a strong case for gradual spiritual growth that takes time and conscious effort
It is important to note that spirituality does not have to come from organized religion, and can be found in every aspect of life. Whether it’s Sunday church, morning meditation, or playing your favorite song, these activities all have the potential to inspire spiritual growth and learning.
Where do you see yourself according to these stages, and what do you need to let go of to move forward?