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Introduction to States and Stages

This talk is an introduction to states and stages of consciousness. States of consciousness are our now experience, and stages of consciousness deal with the growth of self along many lines of development in time. In this talk I want to explain the importance of each of these perspectives of consciousness and begin to point at how we develop each of them.

States of consciousness are not permanent. They include: emotional states, drug induced states, meditative states, waking and sleeping states, and others. Much of our time is spent trying to manage our state experience. We feel hungry, we go for food. We have a headache, we take aspirin. We want to feel good, we have a beer.

Stages of consciousness instead deal with development along many different lines. Those lines include cognitive, value, interpersonal, moral, sexual, etc. On each of those lines there are altitudes of development. Some are more developed morally than others. Some are more developed cognitively. There can also be movement along these lines. An individual may start out as selfish, and move to nationalistic, and then finally resonate from a world view. Stages are objective judgments of subjective experience. They are the structures and beliefs from which we see the world.

Why do these altitudes of development get to be called stages? Because study after study shows that over time the answers to certain question about our experience go in one direction. The way we process and interpret the world tends to keep going in the same direction along these lines. There is a tendency to grow and widen our capacity and our understanding and experience of deeper stages. We all may not move along the line, but almost nobody goes backwards. There is a direction to the movement.

Healthy stage development, along any line looks like this: When one experience (or stage) is taken from subjective experience into objective experience. When we can look back at the prior stage objectively we have fully and healthily evolved through that stage.

Meditation (state management) practice doesn’t always show us our current stage. And while true subjective state experience doesn’t allow us to see our current stage ever (because we’re in it) we still grow through the stages over time. Working on meditation isn’t always only a direct state experience. Often it is a thinking dialog and running into walls of self, belief, structures, etc. It is my opinion that this part of the practice of meditation often leads to an understanding of the stages we’re going through. This is not because of the state experience, but rather the opportunity for introspection sitting offers.

States don’t tend to evolve, unless trained. And even then, they still jump around a lot. (Buddhas still sleep, wake and dream.) But states of mind can evolve when trained. The idea here is that non-dual awareness and the like can be developed. To a certain extent that is a stage in the realm of state experience. Once you understand and have non-dual experience, it has the capacity to inform the rest of your state experience.

Basically, we want to learn to manage our state experience as best we can, and grow through the stages of development along all the available lines as best we can. Doing those two things is what self development and growth is about, in this moment and through time.

Referenced: Integral Theory, Spiral Dynamics

Realizing We Have Enough

It makes sense that people who don’t have much feel a sense of lack. It doesn’t make as much sense that people who have tons of stuff, lots of money and means, also feel lack. One point of this talk is that the sense of external lack is driven by an internal lack. If we learn to get our joy from inside, we don’t need these external things to the same extent. Another point is addressing the actual lack in people and places on this planet.

I’ve talked before about the state of consciousness that expresses enlightenment comes from a place of abundance. It has arrived. It has what it needs. It’s interesting to see that the external things we want, all the Christmas gifts, and all the status we shoot for, they are fleeting. As I make a higher salary, I still want a higher salary. There is a treadmill here, and I’m not going anywhere no matter what I get or accomplish. Can we see this fictitious sense of lack and expose it?

Real lack does exist on our planet. There are lots of people without enough food. Lots of people without homes and basic needs being met. But at what point do we realize that we are abundant? For those of us that are not starving, and do have shelter, at what point do we feel abundant? Most of us never do.

This sense of lack drives our governments and our corporations. If we were to realize, deeply realize that we are abundant internally. What would change on this planet? One way we can make a dent in the actual lack on this planet is realizing we have enough both internally and externally. If we have enough, we can begin to share.

One could argue that there has been an evolutionary need for the feeling of lack. In small circles without enough resources the strong survive. But now we can see the entire planet, and we’ve never been able to do that before. We all have enough. There is enough food. There is enough money. For the first time in the history of the world, we can see that there is enough.

Those literal external expressions of lack are probably not fixed only by a redistribution. We can’t necessarily just feed the hungry. Historically that ends up creating more dependence and corruption than help. So the issues of lack are complex. But we have the capacity at this point to realize that we all can make it. In the past only some of us, the strongest of us, were going to be able to make it. But now we have the technology and the capacity to work toward all of us making it. All of us having meaningful and productive lives.

What would change on this planet if we all realized that there is enough? There is enough joy. There is enough food. There is enough money. The world is abundant. We are not stuck. The only thing keeping us stuck is our own erroneous sense of lack.