The 8 Stages of Conscious Evolution

consciousness

Have you ever wondered…

About what level of consciousness you’re truly at?

Not in terms of it being a contest, or to say you’re better/worse than other people, but as a kind of inner GPS that simply tells you where you are.

As humans, we tend to have very distorted and biased perspectives, especially when it comes to ourselves.

It’s really easy to go on a yoga retreat and think you’ve transcended stress forever, or think you’re enlightened after reading a few spiritual books.

This is why it’s crucial to have references that “tell it like it is” and objectively reflect where you’re at.

I recently came across what can be described as a map of consciousness. It’s a research paper by Justin Faerman entitled Mapping the Evolution of Consciousness: A Holistic Framework for Psychospiritual Development.

This paper describes, in plain English, eight stages of consciousness. And it’s not abstract or woo-woo. It’s straightforward, simple to understand and backed by a lot of research.

Here are the stages outlined in the paper…

The 8 Stages of Conscious Evolution

stages of consciousness

Note: The first 2 stages are considered lower consciousness, while stages 3-8 are considered higher consciousness. This is not a judgment of being better or worse, but simply a means of classification.

Stage 1: Life Happens to Me (Externalization)

Stage 1 is categorized by patterns of externalization and an overall victim mentality. The dominant emotions are fear, disdain and hopelessness. There is also a belief that life cannot be trusted.

In this stage, blame is placed on other individuals, society, government, nature, disease, etc. and other elements believed to be outside of one’s conscious control and influence.

The motivating forces of stage 1 are safety and security.

Dominant Belief Structures:
Life is not safe; I am not safe

Mantra for Evolution:
“God does not play dice with the universe.” – Albert Einstein

Stage 2: Life Happens by Me (Control)

In this second stage, individuals realize that they have some degree of control. Yet this control is often motivated by fear and survival.

For example, war is an extension of this stage of consciousness. The enemy is perceived as a threat, and because of this, people believe they are morally justified to kill, eliminate or repress that enemy.

We also see various reflections of this stage of consciousness in our collective world. Look at how most people treat the environment and interpersonal relationships. Or consider the dominant mentality of politics and business.

This level of awareness is cut off from the following deeper understanding: Life is not a random series of events over which control must be exerted, but a deeper reflection of the internal psychodynamics of a person’s own mind and consciousness.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I must make it so; What I cannot control will destroy me.

Mantra for Evolution:
“If you bring forth what is within you, then that which is within you will be your salvation. If you do not bring forth what is within you, then that which is within you will destroy you.” – Gnostic Gospels

Stage 3 : Life Happens in Me (Creator)

In this stage, the individual begins to understand the direct connection between their own perceptions, beliefs and emotional state and the conditions of their life, relationships, experiences and reality as a whole.

This level of consciousness is represented by a fundamental shift, from disempowerment to empowerment.

In order to fully complete this stage, an individual must undergo a deep transformational process that includes the purging of all perceptual distortions (limiting beliefs) and the healing/release of all emotional wounds and traumas. The emergence of consciousness into later stages is observed in direct proportion to the evolution of an individual through this process of deep inner healing and transformational work.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am in control; I am creative

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Mindfulness, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, Emotional freedom techniques, Neuro-linguistic programming, Trauma release exercises, Psychotherapy, Ho’oponopono, Introspection

Mantra for Evolution:
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Stage 4: Life Happens For Me (Receiver)

In this stage, we see the evolution of the self into the beginnings of deep joy and peace.

As the resistance to perceived undesirable circumstances in life falls away and one begins to understand that there is an intelligent ‘flow’ operating in every moment guiding the evolution of consciousness on both an individual and collective level through what could be dualistically termed positive and negative experiences.

The individual realizes here that even in great suffering, there is great wisdom and potential for expansion and evolution and that nothing is out of place, ever has been or ever will be.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am loved; I am supported

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Seeing everything as perfect, Surrender, Acceptance, Letting Go, Embracing Flow and Effortlessness, Meditation

Mantra For Evolution:
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle

Stage 5: Life Happens Through Me (Philosopher)

At this stage of consciousness, the individual begins to understand and observe that the Universe is evolving itself through them.

The individual begins to realize that all perceived suffering or negative events are either:
a) Created or called into their reality by aspects of their own consciousness in an effort to be resolved and transcended as part of their individual evolution and as part of the larger collective evolution or…
b) Exist due to their conscious or unconscious resistance to what is unfolding, which is essentially a resistance of oneself.

Individuals in stage 5 live more through their intuition, as intuition becomes clearer and clearer as one moves up the stages.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am safe; Everything is perfect

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Intuitive Development, Kinesiology

Mantra For Evolution:
“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” – Rumi

Stage 6: Life is Me (Sage)

At this stage of awareness, the individual begins to understand that reality does not exist independent of consciousness, and therefore consciousness, or awareness if you prefer, is the causative factor of the universe and all that exists—that consciousness is creating all reality.

Individuals in this stage experience a profound sense of unity and oneness with everything.

When an individual fully enters and embodies this stage of awareness, their simple presence itself becomes a transformative experience for others. Individuals in this stage often become teachers or leaders, dedicate their lives to service of others or seek solitude to spend time in introspection, although they may also choose to live very normal and inconspicuous lives.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am one; I am whole

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Service, Contemplation, Meditation

Mantras For Evolution:
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.” – Alan Watts

“Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.” – Rumi

Stage 7: I Am Infinite (Avatar)

Individuals at this stage of growth begin to transcend the physicality within which we are proverbially ‘trapped’ until we reach this point.

Here individuals begin to harness conscious control over this process by directing their awareness in such a way (through belief, emotion, thought, visualization, the manipulation of energy, intent, accessing transpersonal aspects of the self and likely other mechanisms not yet discovered) as to be able to make use of these ‘higher order’ quantum-transpersonal abilities of the self.

Individuals at this stage perceive and know themselves to be limitless and are in various sub-stages of actualizing that reality beyond a simple intellectual understanding.

As individuals move more deeply into this stage they proportionally complete lower stages which leads to an embodied confidence, power and knowingness, which is palpable to most all who they come into contact with.

Dominant Belief Structures:
I am infinite/limitless; Anything is possible

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Esoterics, Visualization, Kabbalah, Sound/Vibration/Mantra, Qi/Nei Gong, Kriya Yoga

Mantra for Evolution:
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Stage 8: I Am Energy (Mystic-Shamanic)

Individuals at this stage tap into phenomena like:

  • The ability to project consciousness across space and time, which encompasses the ability to see, experience and remember aspects of the self existing in other dimensions of time (past, present and future).
  • The ability to interact with and communicate with other forms of consciousness such as plants, animals, objects and consciousnesses not currently existing in physical form.
  • The ability to intuitively pick up sensory data beyond the limits of the physical senses.
  • The ability to feel, read, manipulate and project subtle energy that is otherwise unperceivable to those in lower levels of stage development and virtually unrecordable with current scientific instrumentation.

Those who have near death experiences as well as users of psychedelic drugs or plant medicines (ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, mushrooms, etc.) are often able to have highly embodied first-hand experiences of this state of awareness pre-development into this stage, giving them a proverbial taste of this reality without necessarily having done the psychospiritual foundational work necessary to experience this stage organically and therefore they often lack a deeper understanding of the larger framework of what is happening along with the ability to maintain it beyond a transitory phenomenon, still nonetheless forever changed by the experience.

As an individual becomes more grounded in the later phases of stage eight—which encompass this dimensional awareness—and simultaneously completes their evolution through lower stages, one would theoretically achieve complete enlightenment or non-dual self-realization.

Dominant Belief Structures:
Everything is energy; I am awareness; Reality is an illusion

Useful Psycho-Spiritual Practices:
Energy healing, Esoterics, Visualization, Kabbalah, Qi/Nei Gong, Kriya Yoga, Meditation, Visualization, Remote Viewing, Astral Projection, Telekinesis

Mantra for Evolution:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Although this model ends at stage 8, this doesn’t imply that no further stages exist and that somehow stage 8 is the pinnacle of conscious evolution. However, any claims as to what happens beyond stage 8 at this time are simply conjecture.

stages of consciousness

Self-Awareness

At this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of where you’re at.

When the descriptions are objectively laid out, it forces you to be honest with yourself.

It’s also helpful to accept where you’re at right now, while continuously learning and growing. Don’t resist where you are right now or beat yourself up, neither of those serve your highest interest. Choose love, gratitude and compassion in each moment and you can’t go wrong.

Here’s another important point: you’re not limited to one stage! Chances are that you’re dipping into different stages on a daily basis. But it should be fairly apparent as to what stage you’re grounded in at this point in your life.

For me, I’m pretty grounded in stage 5, though I often fluctuate between stages 3 and 6. I’ve tasted stages 7 and 8, yet these experiences have been few and fleeting. Sometimes I’ll even find myself in stage 1 or 2, and that’s okay. It’s all a part of the human experience.

This framework is beautiful because it allows you to effectively calibrate where you are. It naturally creates self-awareness. Awareness is the first step toward any change, and transformative in and of itself.

I encourage you to read the full paper, which you can download for free here:
Mapping the Evolution of Consciousness: A Holistic Framework for Psychospiritual Development

Which stage are you in at this point of your journey? Is this framework helpful for you?

Leave a comment below.

Much love to you on your path.

– Stevie P

Stevie P