Have you ever wondered why there are so many different and even contradictory approaches for finding happiness, success and love? And have you ever wished to find the one world view or method that would show you the path to realisation of your highest potential without any further detour and confusion? I myself have grappled with these questions all my life and over the course of the last fifty-four years I did little else than learn about various systems of personal and spiritual healing.
I have also used many different methods with my clients in my work as a psychotherapist and Buddhist meditation teacher for the last 25 years. This was often confusing because I realised that different people needed very different forms of help. What would work for a meditation student, for example, was not only useless for someone with a drug addiction but it was even counter-productive. Only after exploring different approaches to psychological and spiritual growth for many years a picture began to form within me of what was truly required to find freedom and real happiness.
What you now read is the result of my quest. Predictably, I did not find that there is only one world view or method that solves all problems for all people. This would have been too good to be true. Instead, I realised that we all are on a journey consisting of nine stages of consciousness. By understanding these stages of consciousness and what is required to move to the next stage, we will know exactly what we need to find more happiness, love and success.
The higher our stage of consciousness, the more satisfaction and success we can experience in every area of our lives. On the lower stages, we find people whose lives are ruined by addictions, violence and criminality and on the middle stage we find those with less problems but who still struggle to find genuine happiness. And at the highest stages, we find the enlightened beacons of humankind who have inspired the world in wonderful ways.
Every ascending stage of consciousness opens up greater possibilities to experience deeper love in our relationships, more joy, and increasing success in all our endeavours. At the highest stage, people experience these qualities to an extent that shows our highest human potential which some call enlightenment or union with God. This stage is signified by infinite love and great wisdom and power.
The model of the staircase works as a guide to show exactly what is required to move from where we are now to where we want to be. By first identifying our pre-dominant stage of consciousness, we will be able to determine exactly what needs to be done to advance to the next stage. Keeping in mind that with every new stage we acquire greater levels of joy and well-being, our life will change profoundly for the better with every level of consciousness we reach. In other words, once we know our own pre-dominant stage of consciousness, we will hold in our hands the key for the fastest way of improving our life.
The good news is that simply knowing and understanding the stages of consciousness almost automatically activates the higher stages within ourselves and allows more genuine happiness into our lives. Several dozens of people who test-read this book and gave me feedback on the effect it had on their lives attested to this fact. It is for this reason that the majority of the book simply describes the nine different stages of consciousness as they unfold in all areas of our lives. A
Each chapter covers one aspect of a person’s life – basic motivation, sense of self, general attitude towards the world, spiritual beliefs and attitudes towards love relationships, sexuality, work, money and parenting. I describe in detail how we deal with all these aspects in very different ways depending on our predominant stage of consciousness and what needs to change to enable us to advance to the higher stages.
The stages of consciousness described in this book are not just theoretical. As a psychotherapist, I have applied the knowledge of the nine stages to many hundreds of people and I have found that this understanding has massively reduced the time my clients needed to recover from the most traumatic situations. I have worked with many clients who have experienced terrible physical, sexual and verbal abuse and who have achieved complete and lasting emotional healing within a few months by using the lessons implied in the stairway of consciousness. Others recovered from chronic anxiety, depression and relationship problems without the need to go back to childhood traumas or lengthy self-analysis. There are many case-studies throughout this book that show how this healing can be achieved in practice.
I have also worked with numerous meditation students who did not seek recovery from psychological problems but wanted to find more spiritual bliss, unconditional love and increased wisdom. By using the model of the stairway of heaven many achieved ‘spiritual breakthroughs’ within a very short time and – what is even more important – found an understanding that enabled them to stabilise these breakthroughs and make them a permanent part of their enriched and more spiritual self.
The stairway to heaven is not only for Buddhists. These insights can be applied by anyone who seeks to develop towards their highest potential whatever their spiritual, intellectual and cultural background might be. In fact, the stairway to heaven will help people to understand more deeply whatever path of spiritual or personal development they have chosen and harvest the fruits of their path more readily.
What’s more, the stairway of heaven will enable you to explain the behaviour of other people, groups and society in general. Questions like, “Why does one person become a violent criminal, another person a successful business man and yet another person a psychotherapist?” will become easier to answer. You will understand why some people feel drawn to fundamentalist religion and even fight wars in its name, why others reject religion altogether and yet others are interested only in mystical experiences.
You will even be able to predict other people’s attitudes and thoughts to a large degree, and this understanding will take away a lot of confusion and – even more importantly – foster greater tolerance and acceptance of others. You will also become more tolerant and accepting of yourself as well, simply because you can understand yourself better. This will allow you to help others and yourself to find the happiness, love and success that we all seek.
Overview of the nine stages of consciousness
The nine stages of consciousness are ordered like a stairway with two flights of steps and one interconnecting step in the middle. It is possible to recognise these nine stages in every person, in every culture throughout history, in every organisation and even in every moment of one’s inner experience. Here is a first short overview of the stairway of consciousness:
Step 0 – Innocence: Passivity; little motivation; lack of awareness; sense of relative harmony; pleasure and trust; the individual says, ‘I belong to my group’.
Step 1 – Dominance: Wish to dominate others if necessary in a ruthless way; anger; greed; the individual says, ‘I want it and I want it now!’
Step 2 – Obedience: Submission and adherence to moral and social rules for the greater good of all; hierarchical structures in groups of people; self-denial and judging of others; the individual says, ‘I do what is expected of me.’
Step 3 – Ambition: Rational world-view; creating a successful self-image; materialism; competitiveness; the individual says, ‘I want to achieve more than anyone else.’
Step 4 – Sharing: Search for compassionate relationships; exploration of one’s emotions; egalitarianism; living in harmony with nature; the individual says, ‘I am close to others and to nature.’
Step 5 – Responsibility: Taking full responsibility for every single problem in one’s life; keen interest in personal development and following one’s vocation, the individual says, ‘I realise my dreams for the best of humankind.’
Step 6 – Love: Making altruistic love and spiritual development the most important aims in life; the individual says, ‘I send love to heal the world.’
Step 7 – Bliss: Realisation that one’s true nature is blissful loving space; development of supernatural powers; withdrawal into spiritual retreats; the individual says, ‘My true nature is spiritual bliss.’
Step 8 – Enlightenment: Infinite love, bliss and wisdom; seeing oneself as divine and the world as a paradise; the individual says, ‘I am love’.
The majority of people in Western society are at one of the first four steps. By comparison, people who are interested in personal and spiritual development are on the sharing stage, responsibility level or even on one of the higher stages. This is true even if they find aspects in themselves that belong to the lower stages, which signifies remnants of unresolved stress. Finally, only a small minority of people in our society have stabilised themselves at the highest three stages of consciousness and have become able to experience profound states of love, happiness and bliss and use their knowledge to help others.
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