The Stages of Spiritual Growth

An Integral Christian View

By Eric Stetson — April 16, 2020

Throughout history, human beings have been entering this world, forming individual selves, and surrendering to the inevitable loss of at least part of the self through physical death. Likewise, we have formed societies at different phases of our evolution as a species, and no society or collective manifestation of selfhood lasts forever. Each individual human spirit, and humanity as a whole, is on a journey of growth or maturation of consciousness. This journey may be likened to the process of a child growing up to adulthood. In the end, after a long period of mature self-identity, we will return to complete Oneness with God.

For an individual, the goal of life should be to progress through as many stages of spiritual development as possible, while fully experiencing and appreciating each stage of the process for what it is. Every stage, or level of consciousness, is in its own way a beautiful and amazing experience, yet each has its own limitations. Realistically, most individuals do not feel comfortable progressing through many levels in one lifetime — and in fact, the prevailing spiritual level or “set point” of the society in which they live may severely hinder them from growing beyond that level during a particular life, unless they are willing to live a life of alienation and rejection, sometimes even martyrdom.

For these reasons — if we believe that some aspect of individual consciousness transcends the death of the body, and that our Creator lovingly intends for us to learn and grow to our maximum potential — it is reasonable to expect that human spirits will experience as many lifetimes in this world as they need to complete their spiritual growth process and attain maturity, as part of God’s plan for eternal progression of the spirit. Likewise, God is patient with the human species as a whole and allows our societies to progress gradually, over many centuries and millennia, with numerous collective births and deaths, or times of creation and destruction of tribes, nations and civilizations along the way.

The ideas in this article are a distillation and a somewhat unique fusion of Integral theories of Clare Graves, Ken Wilber, and others who have written about the developmental stages of human consciousness, and the color-coded levels of the spirit’s journey of learning and growth described in Michael Newton’s Destiny of Souls, as well as some of my own original interpretations, variations, and additions to this overall view of human psychosocial and spiritual development. My ideas on this subject were also influenced by Laura George of the Oracle Institute, whose version of the Spectrum of Consciousness is perhaps the closest to my own, and by my study of Christian Restorationist schools of thought as well as ancient Christian Universalist theologians such as Origen of Alexandria, who taught that all people originate from and return to God through multiple lives and ages of time.

I would like to emphasize that I believe the model of human spiritual progress presented here is compatible with a philosophically sophisticated understanding of diverse religions including Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. For more on the issue of reincarnation specifically, from a Christian perspective, see my article “Reincarnation and the Resurrection: A Biblical View.”

Level 1 (White): Instinctive / Archaic

When a human spirit is first created, it comes out from God as something like a holographic spark of the divine, containing all the potential of divinity but in a miniature and unrealized form. Essentially, it is a tiny and powerless godling, an infant offspring of our Heavenly Parents. As the spirit grows, it gains individuality through its interaction with other beings, and these experiences cause selfhood to form and the powers of the spirit to increase.

The spirit may incarnate on a planet such as Earth to form its individuality further, and to test its ability to maintain integrity as a divine being of perfect love and light despite living in a world of competition and suffering. All of us on this planet are immersed in this struggle, which is in fact a great school for our spiritual development into mature divinity, in the image of our Creator. The Judeo-Christian myth of humanity’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden represents, in a sense, our departure from the womb of the spiritual world and our entrance into the difficult school of physical life.

A human being who is extremely young, either in the physical body or in the spiritual growth process of incarnations, may tend to live in an instinctive way, focusing on mere survival of the self. The purpose of this phase is to learn how to be an individual in the most basic sense — literally to become comfortable with the existence of oneself as a separate entity, rather than in union with the mother’s womb or breast, or in a spiritual sense, departing from the security of oneness with our Heavenly Mother.

Human societies in prehistoric times were predominantly at this level. It is the archaic level of societal development, characterized by small family bands or kin groups battling the elements for survival. The entrance of divine spirits into the physical bodies of ape-men marked the beginning of this stage and the advent of what we think of as homo sapiens. Religion in this phase of development centered on reverence of the great fertility Goddess, the Earth Mother.

Level 2 (Pink): Magical / Indigenous

The second stage of human development is the magical phase, which for an individual human being tends to be associated with early childhood. Once a baby has been weaned and is walking and talking, the young child seeks to make sense of its place as an individual in the expanding world beyond the mother’s arms. At this level of consciousness, a person tends to interpret the world in something of a waking dream state, in which fantasy and reality are to a large degree merged rather than differentiated. The minds of young children are wide open to the possibilities of all sorts of gods, angels, demons, ghosts, imaginary friends, and supernatural beings such as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

When human beings began to form tribes in ancient times, their social set point was at the magical level of consciousness, and today we would refer to such societies as indigenous peoples. They believed themselves to be living in a universe populated by all manner of invisible spiritual entities and personified thought forms. Everything they did was in some sense a religious ritual, and there was relatively little independence of the individual from the collective identity of the group. Although most people today would consider such a worldview “primitive,” it may contain more truth and value than we realize.

Most indigenous societies have passed away with the advent of modernity in recent centuries, with only a few exceptions still lingering in remote parts of the world. But for thousands of years this was the primary way of thinking and living as human beings on Earth. The clash between indigenous peoples and more advanced levels of societal development was a feature of the human experience throughout much of recorded history.

The First Loss of Faith

In much the same way that a child at some point grows to realize that Santa Claus isn’t literally real, and begins assessing reality through a more critical lens, so too do human spirits and societies evolve beyond the magical level of consciousness. When this happens, it may come as a shock, a loss of faith in the picture of the world that has been formed beforehand.

The transition from Level 2 to 3 is therefore the first major experience of existential doubt for a human being or culture. Although it is an evolutionary step forward, it may in some ways feel like a loss — a loss of innocence perhaps similar to the feeling of entering this world for the first time.

The falling away from magical or indigenous mythologies is marked by a much stronger emphasis on individualism, power, and freedom. For a child, it is the entrance into the middle years of childhood, with a growing sense of autonomy and personal ability, and the desire to distinguish between “real” and “make believe” as adults do. For human beings evolving out of an indigenous culture, it is a tremendous rise of the individual ego, seeking to break free from the collective identity of the group and fully embrace the competitive impulse.

A native tribe encountering people who have passed beyond the magical level of consciousness, discussing their very different beliefs and priorities.

Level 3 (Red): Impulsive / Feudal

The soul at this stage of development is concerned primarily with desire, power, and competition. This is the first stage where an aggressively male-dominated culture tends to emerge in society, and where religions tend to become fiercely patriarchal. God may be envisioned at this stage as a feudal lord or king, or as a pantheon of deities with a powerful male being at the top of the hierarchy. Humans must pay obeisance and serve God or the gods with strict observance of laws and rituals, lest the Divine be angered and strike us down with terrible punishments.

In terms of an individual child, this would be the phase where a traditional stay-at-home mother might say to her disobedient offspring, “Just wait till your father comes home!” — whereupon the child might receive a severe spanking or other tough forms of discipline. At this phase, power-based authority takes center stage in the human consciousness.

Level 3 consciousness is characterized by the inner conflict between the desire for individual liberty and the need for order, whether on the scale of the individual mind, the family, or society. In society, it is characterized by the formation of feudal principalities and small-scale kingdoms, the reign of brutal dictators, and tribal warfare.

At any time in history, including in the present day, individuals whose lives are marked by a constant battle between the base impulses of the ego (e.g. lust, greed, or prideful grasping for power) and the possibility of submission to a higher power, whether earthly or heavenly, are likely at this impulsive stage of development. The man who gets drunk, gambles away his paycheck, and screws some woman he met at the bar on Friday night, then feels a terrible fear of God (or really a fear of going to hell), and tearfully goes down to the altar call at a fundamentalist church on Sunday morning, begging his Heavenly Father to wash away his sins — at least until his next round of impulsive behavior — would be a classic example of Level 3 consciousness. Similarly, someone who lives only for hedonistic pleasure or the quest for individual power, not thinking about consequences to the self or others and not fearing any divine justice, would likely also be at Level 3.

This level of spiritual development is the lowest that is commonly found among human beings in advanced civilizations today. It is also the lowest level of civilization that is found on any large scale in the modern era, being most notably found in underdeveloped countries with dictatorships.

A famous rock song about the rebellious pursuit of the pleasures of the flesh — a classic Level 3 lifestyle.

Buck Strickland, a thoroughly Level 3 character in the cartoon series King of the Hill, is a small businessman whose life is impulsively driven by various urges — chasing younger women, getting drunk, gambling, fighting, and sometimes dramatically asking God for forgiveness with only momentary sincerity.

The First Conversion

At some point toward the end of one’s sojourn in Level 3 consciousness, a soul will come to understand that there is truly a Higher Power in the universe who deserves one’s allegiance — not only because of the threat of hell or the promise of heaven, but also because following God is the right thing to do, in and of itself. When a person comes to this realization, they make a sincere commitment to subordinate their individual desires to a greater calling to be found in adherence to a path of religious orthodoxy. This may come as a sudden and overwhelming conversion experience or as a more gradual process with false starts and relapses back into Level 3 impulsiveness.

A person may therefore still be in Level 3 consciousness while professing to believe and attempting to adhere to an orthodox religion. However, when the conversion is complete and the soul becomes deeply committed to following the “straight path” of whatever religious tradition they belong to, they transition to a higher level of spiritual development.

The shift from Level 3 to 4 is marked by a more serious and consistently devoted attitude toward one’s faith. Although a person in Level 4 consciousness may still deviate from the straight path from time to time, sinning against their God, their overall demeanor and mentality is oriented toward pursuing righteousness, however their religion defines it.

The transition to Level 4 is a soul’s first experience of “coming to believe” in a spiritual worldview and lifestyle that they choose to accept and practice by their own free will, not merely because it is the religion enforced upon the people by a prevailing cultural power structure. This personal transition may be especially powerful in modern times, in societies that are less uniformly religious than in the past.

Level 4 (Orange): Orthodox / Traditional

The Level 4 soul burns with the fire of the love and knowledge of God. A person at this level believes they have found the keys to truth and salvation — and typically they believe their own religion is the only way to authentic and eternal happiness. In their view, a person who fails to see and follow the way they have discovered is, tragically, lost in the wilderness of error and most likely damnation. The soul at this level is therefore a “fundamentalist.” They believe they have reached the mountaintop of Zion, so to speak, and from that lofty perch can see all things that human beings are meant to know.

Because the First Conversion begins at the end of Level 3, the conceptual imagery of that level is prominently featured in Level 4 religions. However, as the soul — or a society — grows more fully into Level 4, they interpret the Level 3 metaphors of Divinity in ways that are somewhat more sophisticated. For example, the stern Lord of the Old Testament becomes the loving Father of the New. He still disciplines his children, but now they are seen more as potential heirs of the Kingdom rather than mere servants of His will.

In the life of an individual child, this stage would be the last years of childhood before adolescence. It is the phase when a child may be more likely to look up to his or her father or mother and is able to relate to them on a level beyond mere obedience, before the rebellious teenage years to come.

Despite this degree of progress, obedience is still very important at this phase, and religion is therefore orthodox in nature, placing a high importance on “correct” doctrine and practices. A society in which Level 4 consciousness is predominant tends to be traditional and conformist, rather than free-spirited and individualistic. Organized religion and its leaders tend to be very powerful at this stage of human consciousness, and individual liberty for the average person takes a back seat. One of the most notable examples of a Level 4 society was Europe in the Late Middle Ages, during the theocratic reign of the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Level 4 souls are still found in great numbers around the world, usually as adherents of conservative churches and denominations of any religion.

A parody of two Level 4’s from different religions who discover how similar they really are.

The fanatical intensity of Level 4 belief can turn people into monsters. For example, this woman might have been torturing and burning heretics at the stake if her spirit had been incarnated as a leader of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.

A much friendlier — but no less zealous — version of Level 4 religiosity comes to South Park, and to a neighborhood near you.

The Second Loss of Faith

There comes a time in the spiritual journey of many people during their lifetime when they lose faith in the orthodox worldview of fundamentalist religious tradition. This will happen to every human spirit eventually as they progress through their series of lives, whenever they are ready for the next stage of spiritual development.

Like the First Loss of Faith and the transition from Level 2 to 3, the exit from Level 4 and into Level 5 is marked by a falling away from belief in magical, supernatural, or non-rationally based concepts and ideas, and a corresponding increase in critical analytic thinking and an individualistic desire for freedom. For some people, especially those who were not as devout in their Level 4 religiosity, the Second Loss of Faith may be perceived as more of a liberation from the strictures of orthodoxy. For others, however, it can be a devastating blow to the psyche, if the soul had enthusiastically embraced a zealous faith in an ideology they believed to be absolutely correct and the “only way” to salvation.

Descending from the Holy Mountain, the formerly devout spirit is crushed by doubts emerging from the growing power of the rational mind. Closely analyzing the scriptures, history and teachings of their religion, they see more and more contradictions and seeming absurdities, until finally the whole structure crumbles and their previous worldview is reduced to rubble. A person in the throes of this deconversion experience may be filled with inner torment and see nothing but a barren wasteland stretching on and on forever on the other side of Zion. On the downslope of doubt, there may be lingering fears about going to hell or not having sufficient meaning in one’s earthly life without the doctrines and rituals of orthodox religion.

Whether it is difficult or easy for any particular human spirit, the Second Loss of Faith results in a new perspective on reality in which individual freedom of conscience and the importance of logic and reason reign supreme — and for some people, where opposing religion can feel just as important as religious belief itself.

Level 4’s may interpret this transition as “backsliding” to the impulsive liberty associated with Level 3, but that is because they have not yet experienced higher levels and see Level 4 as the pinnacle of spiritual growth. In fact, the transition from Level 4 to 5 is like a child entering adolescence, a major leap forward in development. It can, indeed, have an aspect of rebelliousness and rejection of previously respected authority, much like the teenage years of an individual human being’s life. This may be one of the key reasons why so many people lose their belief in religion as teenagers.

Atheist celebrity Penn Jillette recounts how Bible study caused him to reject religious faith and get kicked out of his church youth group.

A psychologist describes the process of leaving religion and becoming a confident nonbeliever.

Level 5 (Yellow): Rational / Modern

The Level 5 soul glows with the sunny optimism of belief in the power of the rational mind. Gone are the old doctrines and mindless traditions that have held humanity back from progress toward a purely logical and scientifically correct understanding of the world — such things must be swept away and replaced by the more elevated knowledge of “real” truth, reasons the human being at this stage of conscious evolution. Only through science and “reasonable” philosophical discourse can we discover the truth; never, or perhaps only very rarely and reluctantly, through anything like revelation, intuition, or faith in forces and beings that exist beyond the reach of human machinery, scientific instruments, and testable hypotheses.

People at this level might still attend a church or religious congregation, but if so, they are more likely doing so for utilitarian reasons, such as supporting public morality, keeping up appearances, and making connections for business and social life, rather than because of belief in a traditional creed. Level 5 churchgoing was undoubtedly more common in the past, when the average member of society was expected to attend religious services, compared to today, when it is perceived as much less of a social obligation. This societal shift is the main cause of the decline of the “mainline” churches since the 1960s, because those kind of churches were filled with Level 5’s who believed in wholesome morality and social respectability but were not interested in Level 4 religious zealotry.

Many Level 5’s in the past were probably secretly atheist or agnostic. Today, they are more likely to be openly so. Level 5’s who believe in God have always tended to be more attracted toward less supernatural and more humanistic versions of religious faith, such as Deism and Unitarianism. From roughly the late 1700s through the mid 1900s, many rationalistic and progressive thinkers participated avidly in liberal-leaning churches, which played an important role in society as advocates and models for social reform.

Human beings at the rational level of consciousness tend to have great confidence in the ability of people to discover knowledge through observation, experimentation, and analysis, and to create a modern society that uses materialistic powers and inventions to overcome the problems of the past and create continuous improvement of human welfare. Level 5 souls and societies may tend to be overconfident, even prideful, however, in their ideological emphasis on science, material progress, individual striving, competition as a virtue, and domination or destruction of anything they perceive to be “primitive,” such as wild nature and indigenous or pre-scientific groups of people.

Western civilization after the Renaissance and Enlightenment grew increasingly influenced by Level 5 consciousness, as the power of Level 4 began to diminish. The United States of America — especially during the period from the late 1800s through the mid 1900s — was the epitome of a Level 5 civilization. In some cases, a modernist scientific atheist ideology can become so fanatical as to become antithetical to some other Level 5 values such as individual liberty and freedom of conscience, as was the case in the Soviet Union. Conversely, in America, extreme individualism and libertarianism became almost like a religious cult rather than a truly rational philosophy.

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most classic Level 5 personalities who ever lived, and he was president of the United States during the heyday of this level of consciousness in American society and the world as a whole.

The rationalization of capitalist greed as an enlightened philosophy is a prominent feature of some Level 5 souls and societies.

Level 6 (Green): Pluralist / Postmodern

Level 5 and 6 together might be called the Valley of Search — and through the center of this valley runs a great river called the River of Progress. On one side of the river dwell the Level 5’s in rationalistic certitude. On the other side dwell the Level 6’s in relativistic open-mindedness. These two levels constitute what most people today would think of as “advanced society,” whether they like it or not.

There is always much traffic going back and forth across the river, and many people transition gradually from one side to the other. But when a soul has clearly become Level 6, the difference is noticeable. Mainly, the Level 6 soul is uncomfortable with what they may perceive as a certain rigidity of mind and a naïve modernism associated with Level 5. People who have attained to Level 6 are more willing to consider a wide range of ideas and refuse to commit to any of them, except for the absolute truth of pluralism itself. The hallmark of this level, therefore, is the belief that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and that no one should ever judge anyone else’s beliefs as “true” or “false” — except perhaps the Level 4’s of one’s own cultural background, who may be openly reviled in Level 5 and 6 alike. Level 5’s, however, may also revile Level 4’s from other cultural backgrounds, whereas in Level 6 this would be viewed as insufficiently pluralistic and therefore intolerant — intolerance being the cardinal sin of this stage of conscious development.

People at the pluralistic level may not be able to see the contradictions, hypocrisies, and even absurdities of this way of thinking, just as people at any stage of consciousness usually have difficulty perceiving or fully appreciating the weaknesses associated with the stage they are in. Nevertheless, Level 6 has considerable strengths and advantages compared to previous stages, such as a much more open-minded willingness to explore all kinds of different ways of thinking and living, including various religions, philosophies, cultures, scientific theories, and radical ideas and practices that may be currently considered pseudoscience but which might later prove to be true. Level 6’s tend to love diversity, hate hatred, and disapprove of inequality. They are usually “liberal” or “progressive” and may have an almost religious zeal for activism on issues of social justice, human rights, peace, environmentalism, and other worthy causes of forward-thinking and compassionate people.

In the life of an individual human being in advanced countries today, this level of consciousness is often associated with late adolescence and early adulthood, such as the college years. In society, the postmodern, relativistic, ultra-liberal cultures of Scandinavia and some other Western European countries have progressed to Level 6 as their predominant set point, leading the way of human cultural evolution. The United States of America, by contrast, is currently in the midst of a tremendous culture war between Level 4, Level 5, and Level 6, with most Level 4’s in the Republican Party, most Level 6’s in the Democratic Party, and the Level 5’s split between the two parties. [Update December 2020: The 2020 election and its aftermath revealed an expansion of the Republican coalition among previously nonvoting Level 3’s attracted to macho displays of power and feudalistic loyalty, and growing support for the Democrats among rationalistic conservative Level 5’s, shifting both parties’ and the country’s median set point downward.]

Level 6 religion tends to be “spiritual but not religious,” often at least somewhat interfaith, and reluctant to commit to any truth claims other than the evil of intolerance and the righteousness of liberal politics and culture (though they probably wouldn’t use the words “evil” and “righteousness,” seeing such words as too religious). Unitarian Universalist churches are perhaps the most obvious example of predominantly Level 6 congregations. Many people at this level of consciousness avoid organized religion entirely, or they may participate in alternative spiritual and quasi-spiritual activities such as yoga classes and meditation circles. The New Age movement and earth-centered spirituality are distinctly Level 6 religious phenomena. Level 6 Christians tend to take an expansive view of God’s grace and emphasize Jesus’s rejection of the conservative Pharisees and his embrace of sinners and outcasts.

A good example of a Level 6 Christian sermon.

A parody of an ultra-liberal, pluralistic church, making fun of some of the tendencies of spirituality at this phase of conscious evolution.

The existential angst of extreme relativism and uncertainty that can emerge in Level 6, presented in the form of a parody — although some Level 6’s might not get the joke, because it is too similar to how they are really thinking and feeling.

Level 6-7 Transition (Teal): Post-Postmodern

The longer that a person spends in Level 6, exploring various ideas from a multitude of diverse sources, the more likely that they will start to see overlapping or similar themes emerging from the pluralistic smorgasbord. The dawning realization that there might be a considerable amount of transcendent truth after all — things that are not only “true” within a particular cultural context, but which are true in a somewhat more absolute sense — may come with a mixture of excitement and discomfort. What if there are actual theological and metaphysical realities that human beings collectively should affirm, beyond merely the universal ethical principles such as the Golden Rule? Would this greater degree of spiritual certitude be too much like a Level 4 way of thinking?

In this transitional phase of rediscovery of the existence of non-relativistic truth, a person may feel that they are on the cusp of a new phase of spiritual development — and indeed they are. This is the beginning of a more integral and holistic way of thinking which transcends the tolerant open-mindedness of pluralism. It is a post-postmodern worldview in which a soul becomes willing again to consider the possibility of a grand meta-narrative of higher truth, rather than saying that “everyone has their own truth” and that is the end of the story.

In Integral theory, the beginning phase of integral consciousness is sometimes associated with the color teal. In my view, this is really more of a transitional zone between Level 6 and 7, rather than a level unto itself. During this transition, a person will typically begin to see that there is a lot of absolute truth which is interpreted or expressed differently in different religions and cultures, but may remain unaware or uncomfortable with the full implications of this discovery — namely, the need to become committed again to a set of truth claims and perhaps even a more organized, less individualistic expression of spiritual reality, through which such truth may be promoted to a relatively unconscious world and acted upon with the dedication it deserves.

The Second Conversion and Level 7 (Blue): Integral / Holistic

People often dither back and forth between Level 6 and 7 until they finally have some kind of conversion experience that propels them solidly into Level 7 consciousness. Many people who think they are “integral” have not yet had such an experience and are therefore really in the transitional zone between Level 6 relativistic pluralism and Level 7 holistic assertion of truth.

Typically, the way to know that you’re fully Level 7 is that Level 6 pluralists may start to perceive you as “regressing” to a Level 4 or 5 mentality of certitude, absolutism, triumphalism, or (in their view) excessive appreciation for conservative ideals and modernist philosophies. They interpret integral consciousness this way because they don’t yet know what Level 7 looks and feels like, so their only concept of believing in all-encompassing truth claims is Level 4 orthodoxy or Level 5 rationalism — both of which they see as illiberal and arrogant.

A relatively small number of human spirits come into their current incarnation at Level 7, and many of them tend to get pulled down the spectrum of consciousness into Level 6, or sometimes even to a relatively progressive and open-minded Level 4, because there are very few places in society at the current level of collective human development for Level 7’s to feel that they fit in as part of a social group. If they maintain their integrity, however, they will be “in the world but not of it.” They may adopt somewhat more relativistic framing of ideas when among Level 6’s, and a more rationalistic tone among Level 5’s, and they may even be able to speak the language of orthodoxy among Level 4’s, but in each case they will be attempting to nudge the people they encounter at these stages to a higher level of consciousness.

The confirmed Level 7 soul is capable of working alone to promote spiritual growth, but would be more powerful and effective when working with others who have reached this stage of development. Souls who have passed through the Second Conversion and into a robust and consistent integral consciousness will be willing to join together in new religious and societal institutions to collectively embody and promote this worldview. Like souls in Level 4, they will be willing to sacrifice some of their individual liberty and desires for the cause of truth and righteousness, but will do so with the benefit of a higher and broader understanding.

Like souls in Level 4, they will be willing to sacrifice … for the cause of truth and righteousness, but will do so with the benefit of a higher and broader understanding.

As far as we know, there has never yet been a large-scale civilization on planet Earth with a Level 7 set point. This is what humanity is now called to create, and it represents the collective coming of age of the human race. Such a spiritually mature global society has been described in Level 4 prophecies as the “Kingdom of God on Earth” and the “Millennium.” People who rise into a committed Level 7 consciousness and strive to build this new world of peace, justice, beauty, and enlightened virtue are those who, in Christian visionary language, shall be as “kings and priests” with Christ (Rev. 1:6), working for the restoration and transformation of this world from the Adamic condition of immaturity towards an Edenic state of perfection in the millennial age. As Jesus taught his followers to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat. 6:10). Level 7 souls must not only pray for this, but diligently and holistically labor in all fields of human endeavor to manifest it.

From the mountainside upon which they build the Second Zion — the city upon a hill that shines with a universal light — the human spirits at this level look out upon the Valley of Search through which they have come, either in this life or in previous incarnations, and in the distance they see the lesser hills upon which the First Zion stands, where they once praised God with an orthodox fervor. Looking compassionately and wistfully upon these vistas of the past, seeing the beauty in all parts of the journey, they build the new City of God with a love that is boundless and a passion to co-create our greatest human potential. And in so doing, they also look upward toward even higher peaks that are shrouded in the clouds of transcendent mystery.

Level 8 (Indigo): Mystical / Transcendent

In many cases, it may be that a powerful “peak experience” of Level 8 consciousness is what propels the soul upward through the Second Conversion and into a strong and confident Level 7 mindset and way of life. Indeed, souls in Level 7 can be most effective if they are tune with the higher realms of the Spirit and experiencing connection with these realms at least some of the time.

As a human being lives life at Level 7, if they are continuing to progress spiritually they will increasingly get glimpses of mystical union with the spiritual world and its inhabitants. Prayer will feel less like a ritual and more like a two-way conversation with one’s higher self or with other beings who manifest Divinity. Life will become filled with higher meaning, synchronicities, and symbolic beauty and power.

When a soul transitions into Level 8 as their baseline stage of consciousness, these experiences presumably become the norm, rather than periodic glimpses. Although it is difficult for me to speak of Level 8 consciousness as a regular state of being, because I only experience it intermittently in occasional peak experiences or bursts of inspiration, I can say with some degree of certainty that it is the state in which authentic prophets, saints, gurus and bodhisattvas operate. It is difficult to imagine a society led by such beings as anything other than the society of heaven itself — a transcendent community filled with love, beauty, divine knowledge and purpose, and perfect justice and compassion for all beings.

Based on what I have read about near-death experiences, it may be the case that many human beings of whatever spiritual level get a powerful taste of Level 8 consciousness as they are transitioning into the spirit world, and that this is the closest we get to God until we actually become gods ourselves.

Level 9 (Violet): Divine Oneness

The Latter-day Saints have a teaching that “As man now is, God once was. As God now is, man may be.” Joseph Smith taught that the Being we relate to as our God “was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” Although most denominations of Christianity today would reject this idea as heresy — especially because of the controversial nature of the source — I believe it is correct and fully in accord with the teachings of the ancient church. I say this despite strongly disagreeing with some aspects of LDS doctrine and the sordid behavior of Joseph Smith. Truth is truth, no matter the source.

The Apostle Paul preached to the people of Athens that “we are [God’s] offspring” (Acts 17:28), and he wrote to the Ephesian church that we are supposed to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13). Jesus responded to criticism of his claim to be the Son of God by asserting that all of us are divine beings: “Ye are gods,” he said, quoting Psalm 82, and to emphasize the point, he noted that “Scripture cannot be set aside.” (John 10:34-35).

One of the words used for “God” in the Old Testament is Elohim, which is a plural word literally meaning “the gods.” In English it is normally translated in the singular, to conform to a more traditional monotheistic interpretation. But what if the Godhead is actually a corporate Being, composed of numerous souls that have ascended to the highest level of individual spiritual development? What if the true nature of God is more like a family tree, branching out onward forever into an infinite multiverse, rather than a simple and self-contained entity?

If we really are the “children of God” (1 John 3:1-2), whom the Gods created “in Our image, in Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26), as the Bible teaches, then the implication is that we will one day grow up to fully manifest divine qualities and powers. Children do not remain immature forever.

Perhaps this is what Jesus realized when he went on a spirit quest into the desert and fasted for forty days, and was tempted by the power of evil but emerged in the full power of enlightenment to begin his earthly mission (Matt. 4:1-11). Perhaps it is what he meant when he said “It is finished” — also translated as “It is accomplished” — while hanging on the cross, just before he died (John 19:30). He later walked out of the tomb in the resurrection. He had become fully divine.

In a sense, Jesus was already fully divine from the very beginning — as all of us are. In the same way that a baby who is the offspring of human beings is fully human from the moment it is formed in the womb, every human spirit created in the image and likeness of God is fully god from the moment of origin. But in another sense, we become progressively divinized or exalted in our divinity as we grow spiritually, advancing through the levels of consciousness toward spiritual maturity.

Will we create and populate worlds, as our Heavenly Parents did, after we grow into the full stature of Christ? Is Jesus doing this today? What do we need to do to attain this state of exaltation? No matter what stage we are at in our journey, we must take up our cross and let our deeds transform our character. We must do our life assignments in the Earth school to the best of our ability. We must do battle with our demons and seek enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, or in the wilderness of temptation — or in everyday life.

And someday, after lifetimes and ages of time, we will all be able to say “It is accomplished” — and then, in full glory, we will take our place in the Divine Council, and with Their blessing, in Oneness with Christ, we may “fill the whole universe.” (Eph. 4:10).

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