anatomy and the seven stages of life:
inherently comprehensive framework
In terms of human evolution, there is a natural progression to, and unfolding
of, the various Realizations within the multi-dimensional Greater Reality
described in the last section, based on the esoteric anatomy
of human beings, of which the physical (or “gross”) body is just the tip
of the iceburg. The full anatomy of a human being includes other bodies
as well, each of which, when fully activated, grants awareness to a different
dimension of the Greater Reality, even as activation of the physical body
grants awareness of the material dimensions of Reality. (Moreover, just
as the physical body is comprised not only of “sensors” – the five physical
senses – but also “affectors” such as hands and legs, so too the higher
bodies have affectors that allow one to “move about” and “manipulate”
the associated dimension of the Greater Reality.)
Avatar Adi Da Samraj,
describes this progression in terms of seven stages of life. There
is a natural correspondence between these stages and the four different
Realizations or views described in the last section:
- The animistic
view and awareness of the psycho-physical dimensions stems naturally
from mastery of the first three stages of life, and, consequently, mastery
of the “bodies” associated with those stages of development. In the
first stage (individuation), a child adapts to his physical body
and its use:
the stage that basically occupies us from conception to seven
years of age (or the beginning of true socialization and complex
relatedness). It is the period in which we must adapt to our
physical individuality and basic physical capacity. Thus it
is not only a period of physical adaptation, but of physical
individuation. That is, we must gradually adapt to fully functional
physical existence, but we must achieve physical individuation,
or physical (and thus mental, emotional, psychic, and psychological)
independence from the mother and all others. When this stage
is complete, we will not exist in isolation but in a state of
conscious relatedness to all others and the world of Nature.
Thus, the fulfillment of the first stage of life is marked by
the beginnings of the movement toward more complex socialization,
cooperation with others, and sensitivity to the total world
Avatar Adi Da Samraj
pp. 26-27, Look At The Sunlight On The Water 
The second stage of life involves adaptation to one’s etheric
body (Chapter 2), which is responsible for feeling-sensitivity to
the etheric dimension (or energy dimension), and to oneself and others
as fields of energy. We are familiar with this body’s expression of
emotion, but this is only a small piece (and a typically dysfunctional
piece at that, to one or another degree) of the etheric body’s capabilities
and responsibilities, most of which remain undeveloped in those of us
raised in Western civilization.
stage of life involves adaptation to one’s lower astral body
(Chapter 3). The faculties associated with this body include the will,
the thinking mind, and the mind of the psyche. It is through activation
of the lower astral body that we begin to become aware of the psychic
dimension of the Greater Reality, that includes subtle or astral phenomena
and worlds, Jungian archetypes, Jung’s “collective unconscious”, extrasensory
perception, premonitions, and the like.
- The Emanationist
view and awareness of the Spiritual dimensions (Book 10) naturally
arises out of the fourth and fifth stages of life:
The fourth stage of life is a transitional phase between the
material dimensions and the Spiritual dimensions of the Greater Reality.
The purpose of this stage is to free up energy and attention from its
erstwhile fixation on the material dimensions, so that it is fully capable
of exploring the Spiritual dimensions of Reality. In this stage, the
heart -- the psychic core of the being -- is awakened to the Presence
of the Divine Being, and becomes fully capable of love.
The fifth stage of life involves adaptation to one’s higher
astral body, which reaches beyond personal aspects of the individual
human being into the realm of the transpersonal or cosmic. Activation
of this body opens up the awareness of higher subtle worlds, views of
the Cosmos as an objective whole, and ultimately the formless Bliss
of the nirvikalpa samadhi state.
- The Transcendentalist
view and awareness of the Transcendental dimension of Reality (Book
11) naturally stems from entry into the sixth stage of life:
The sixth stage of life involves identification with the Transcendental
Self or Transcendental Consciousness, the root and source
of one’s own “self” and "consciousness".
- The ultimate,
Divine view of Reality altogether (Book 11) – naturally stems from
entry into the seventh stage of life:
In the seventh stage of life – the fully Awakened or Enlightened
stage of life one is not only identified with the Transcendental
Consciousness, but it has become completely obvious that everything
and everyone is nothing but a modification of one’s Own Consciousness,
much like one recognizes dreams as a modification of one’s own consciousness.
One is aware as the Divine Being, in whom all of conditional Reality
– both material and Spiritual – is arising.
The rest of this book,
as well as the next book, will now explore, each of these views or Realizations
of Reality, in much greater detail.
nature of the descriptive framework. If
we read textbooks (or scholarly papers) on comparative religion, typically
what we will find is a descriptive framework, that is, one which
attempts to account for some, or even all religions or spiritual paths.
For instance, in Shamans, Prophets, & Sages: A Concise Introduction
to World Religions , Denise and John Carmody organize world religions
on the basis of similarities in the “personality types” of the people
who have stood at the center of the world’s religions. They found it useful
to cluster these people into three personality types: shamans, prophets,
and sages. But they acknowledge up front that these should simply be considered
useful categories, without any deeper ontological status:
To call these
personalities “types” is to admit that we are dealing with generalizations
or abstractions. . . . The type is a tool, not a straightjacket.
It should be a means, not something to fixate upon as an end in
itself. So we urge that it be taken lightly but seriously as a generalization
rather than an unfailing law.
Carmody and John Carmody, Preface
Shamans, Prophets, & Sages: A Concise Introduction to World Religions
That a type such as
a “shaman” is a useful one is evinced by the fact that that same type
shows up around the world, from Neolithic France and Spain , to present
time Siberia, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America .
But there is no address to such questions as: Why only these three types?
Could there be another type that perhaps doesn’t occur very frequently
or has yet to appear? And is there (or could there be) a deeper basis
for this (or any such) taxonomy, in that it reflects something more fundamental
about the nature of Reality altogether?
For instance, when
Sigmund Freud divided personalities into types (“Libidinal Types”, in
), he based his typology not on surface distinctions, but rather on
the deep structure of the psyche as he understood it, which, in his view,
was comprised of an ego (with self-preserving impulses), an id (with erotic
impulses) and a super-ego (which functions as conscience). In Freud’s
view, the dominance of one or another “part” over the other two would
then give rise to a different fundamental type. (He allowed for mixed
types as well.)
The erotic types
. . . are those whose main interest is turned towards love. Loving,
but above all being loved, is the most important thing for them.
They are dominated by the fear of loss of love . . . The second
type is . . . the obsessional type . . . The people of this type
are dominated by fear of their conscience instead of fear of losing
love. The third type . . . the narcissistic type. . . [has] a main
interest directed to self-preservation. His ego has a large amount
of aggressiveness at its disposal.
Freud, “Libidinal Types”
in The Standard Edition of the Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud
(Volume 21) 
Is there some comparable
deeper foundation available for us in taxonomizing religions and spiritual
paths? As we have seen earlier in this section, the answer is yes. The
framework we are providing here is not merely descriptive, like the above
example; it is also comprehensive by the very nature of the way
in which it is constructed: there cannot be another religion or
spiritual path that doesn’t fall into one of the categories provided here.
This is a strong claim,
but the reasoning behind it is quite straightforward. Just as all human
beings have the same physical anatomy, all human beings have the same
esoteric anatomy and Ultimate Ground. It is our view that all religions
and spiritual paths are based on the awakening, activation, or mastery
of the faculties and capabilities associated with different parts of that
esoteric anatomy (and the Realizations that come from doing so), including
the final Awakening as the Ultimate Ground Itself. (Thus a shaman is that
type of Realizer who has awakened the etheric and lower astral dimensions
of his or her anatomy to a far greater degree than usual.) Hence a comprehensive
taxonomy of the components of our esoteric anatomy forms the basis for
a comprehensive taxonomy for all the world’s religious and spiritual traditions:
past, present, and future.
most effective growth, base all practice (in the earlier stages of life)
on the view and the Realization of the seventh stage of life