Introduction to a 12-Part Series: The 12 Steps of the Spiritual Journey: A Map for the Seeker Going in Circles
Spiritual awakening is becoming an increasingly common occurrence among ‘normal’ everyday people. Once the privilege of sages and saints, many are now seeking, and finding, enlightenment. But there is more to the spiritual journey than just awakening. Along the way to that ultimate goal, we have the chance, and the choice, to evolve both our souls and our human selves.Indeed, we must grow in addition to awakening if we want to know true wholeness. This is an integral approach to awakening that does not deny the inventiveness of our human minds, the desires of our human hearts, and the expression of our individual souls.
How do we grow? We can start by becoming more conscious wherever we are on the journey, right now. We don’t need to wait for awakening to transform us… What we do, and who we become, along the way to realization matters.
What is the spiritual journey?
The spiritual journey appears to be an evolutionary movement forward from ego, to soul, to spirit. In reality, it is the circular journey of re-membering and returning to who and what we already are. It is about awakening from the dream of separation and opening our eyes to both our multidimensional nature and our singular state of Oneness.
From our human perspective, it is about shifting our attention from darkness to light, from suffering to acceptance, from judgment to allowing, from success to significance, from disease to wholeness, from attachment to detachment, from powerlessness to empowerment…Ultimately, it is about shifting from a state of fear to a state of love.
How do you move forward on the spiritual journey instead of going in circles?
As with any journey, it helps to have a map. The map I’ve drawn is a practical breakdown, or synthesis, of the many “paths up the mountain” to awakening. It consists of 12 steps that can be found in many esoteric teachings. These 12 steps correspond to the 12 chakras, the 12 signs of the zodiac, and Jung’s 12 archetypes, for example. All spiritual paths are ultimately about this journey.
The 12 steps also fall into 3 stages. These correspond to the trinity of ego/soul/spirit, to the creation triangle of intention/action/manifestation, and to the Hero’s Journey of preparation/adventure/return.
The map marks the terrain that all of humanity traverses, but it is not the terrain itself. How you experience the universal journey is as unique as you are. You will walk it according to your soul’s purpose, discovering the nooks and crannies of the lessons you are here to learn, and the wide open vistas of the gifts you are here to master and share with the world.
Where have you been, where are you now, and where are you going next?
By exploring the 12 steps and the 3 stages of the journey, you can begin to find your place on this grand evolutionary adventure to awakening. This is a brief listing of the 12 steps and 3 stages to assist you in discovering what you’ve passed through, where you are now, and what you must do next in order to move forward…
Stage One – Preparation. Strengthening the Ego.
- SEPARATION – Just trying to survive and thrive. “I am alone.”
- BELONGING – Wanting to fit in and be loved. “I’m part of a tribe.”
- SELFHOOD – Rebelling and making personal changes. “I want to be free.”
- COMMUNION – Shifting beliefs and finding compassion. “I accept myself and others.”
Stage Two – The Adventure. Healing the Soul.
- SOVEREIGNTY – Enjoying authenticity and success. “I am secure.”
- SEARCHING – Lost, in crisis, seeking meaning. “There must be more than this.”
- SURRENDER – Cultivating faith, seeking aid. “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
- HEALING – Embracing the shadow, healing karmic wounds. “I am whole.”
Stage Three – The Return. Merging Soul with Spirit.
- GUIDANCE – Opening intuition, finding Soul purpose. “I know my soul contract.”
- CO-CREATION – On purpose, serving. “I use my gifts for the highest good.”
- TRANSMUTATION – Mastering Laws and Forces. “I create multiple realities.”
- UNITY – Awakening, Enlightenment. “All is one. I am THAT.”
Navigating your life
These 12 steps appear linear, but in reality the journey is never so. A map is a two-dimensional image, while the journey is not. You will inevitably encounter setbacks, retracing of steps, skipping over steps, traversing several steps at once, and many jumps back and forth. You may accomplish all 12 steps in one lifetime, or take several lifetimes to do so. Awakening, the wild card on this journey, may occur at any time.
Remember: the journey is happening now, and it’s important to fully embrace wherever you are on the path without resistance or judgment. All steps are vital. All steps are equal in importance. You are where you are, and the adventure of your life is unfolding beautifully, perfectly, and profoundly.