We find ourselves actively working to achieve the First Object of the Theosophical Society: the oneness of all life. Again, Fowler contends that many adults never move out of this stage of faith development. Because of these parameters, children in the Mythic-Literal Stage are predisposed to believing the stories told to them by their faith communities in a very literal manner. As children develop into adolescents, they move into the Synthetic-Conventional stage. They are likely to perceive God as an external, transcendent being who is both loving and punitive. These individuals do not need the structure of an institution and thus feel free to question their beliefs. The end is in sight but you have allowed the ego to hide it from view and you remain stuck in a false sense of spiritual attainment. Insight and spiritual inspiration begin to grow, you hear the voice of the inner guru as the sixth chakra opens. They develop a faith based on beliefs and values, but they have not actively reflected on the meaning of this faith. In order to help us understand ourselves as human beings, a number of theories regarding growth and development have been formulated. The pure love you have experienced up until now begins to be overshadowed by fear and its corresponding emotions. In any event, this figure exists outside of the individual, and the individual looks to that figure for guidance. Everything you need to live a life in total balance from the authority in well-being. The alternative choice is to recognize the ego but not succumb to it, to allow it to find its place harmoniously within the whole. We must question our beliefs, looking at them analytically and reflectively. According to Peck, the majority of churchgoers and believers can be found in this stage. In 1981, James Fowler published Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. Does that response change if I think it may happen within my current lifetime? While they may espouse loving and caring for others, they are primarily concerned about themselves—their own wants and needs—and can be manipulative and self-serving in acquiring what they want. Over the past century, several notable minds have constructed theories that impact spiritual development. Before we get too far in the text, I want to say that these stages do not refer to the physical age or gender of a person. Unlike religion, which is essentially part of a social structure, faith, according to Fowler, is universal. Then we can move f… Your spiritual practice is Pure Joy. An individual may even proclaim a faith based on her beliefs and values as opposed to those of the family (even if her faith is essentially the same as that of the family), but has not really analyzed those beliefs. Using the theories of both Peck and Fowler, we can reflect upon our own spiritual development in light of the Ancient Wisdom as embodied by the Theosophical Society. The fourth and fifth stages as delineated by Fowler, and the third stage as described by Peck, may be termed the “Questioning” period. But as seekers on the Path, it is essential that we critically examine our beliefs without attachment or bias. You enter the world in a state of innocence and as long as you are healthy and have a loving family, you live in a world of joy and bliss. There is nothing lacking in the life of a great yogi. These five stages are crucial for our development as believers. Fowler’s work provides the basis upon which M. Scott Peck set forth his perspectives on spiritual development in The Different Drum. Peck’s stages of spiritual development thus move from a chaotic and egocentric stage through conformity, questioning, and into a focus on community and unity within the beauty of the universe. You give because you expect some form of recognition or because it makes you feel good about yourself. But as Theosophists, we are encouraged in the Second Object of the Theosophical Society to study and in the Third Object to explore. He describes it as a time of faith development based on trust in the environment and in the initial steps of separation from primary caregivers. The path we take is built into us, in our expanding minds, hearts, and energy system. Everything you do is a spiritual act if you do it with awareness. The material world is like a dry garden waiting for knowledge of the Divine to make it bloom. You choose to continue to be consumed with material desires, you seek more and more power and control. In life you are presented with several choices leading to new stages of development. The vehicle (or stationary bike for that matter): Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, loa, etc. The fear of death dissolves as you realize that life is just another role. Having the courage to free ourselves from these ties provides us with the momentum we need to make the ultimate paradigm shift. You accumulate things to give you a sense of security. These are stages of spiritual growth. With annoyance? Very young children are in Stage I. We must determine what is true for us at this particular point in our lives. Individuals at this stage “sacrifice the self to risk the partial justice of the present order for the sake of a more inclusive justice and the realization of love” (Fowler, 1981, 200). If our beliefs have not expanded, grown, matured, then perhaps it is time to study and explore. Now you begin your regular spiritual practices. The preliminary stage (pre-stage) of Fowler’s theory focuses on the earliest portion of life, including the time spent in utero and infancy (from before birth approximately through age two). You become educated, start your careers and family. Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. Fowler, J.W. Hierarchy of Spiritual development stages & spiritual experience. Using this information, we can actively reflect on our beliefs, our attachment to our beliefs, and our willingness to question them and the structure through they emanate. For more information about different developmental models of the human life cycle that include psycho-spiritual dimensions, see my book The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life.. For our purpose we see it in seven distinct stages. Here they become affiliated with some type of institution that provides security and stability. Why is this so? Spiritual evolution and development has many dimensions, and some important dimensions that can be readily recognized and assessed are Environment, Things, Actions, Beliefs, Values, Identity and Transcendence. The theologian James Fowler proposed a framework for spiritual development that he suggests parallels the frameworks for other aspects of human development.


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