During this human journey, our relationships with ourselves and the rest of the world constantly change. Yet there are significant gateways almost all of us go through. These are what I call the "Seven Stages of Human Mastery." There are variations on the theme and the timing of each stage is different for all of us. Still, these are the common signposts that guides a soul's journey towards self realization.
Stage 1: Wounded in transition
You are born and being born is hard. You are transported from the light-filled ethereal realm to the rugged ground of the earth plane. This world is bizarre, loud, unyielding, penetrating one like a cold blade. Being born inevitably means being wounded. You are not alone in this shared history, though most of the time it feels the opposite. No matter how wise and loving your caretakers are, they cannot shield a soul from this rough transition. And in most cases, out of their innocence they unknowingly become causes of the wound.
Stage 2: Building the shell
You learn to protect yourself by separating from the world, energetically and even physically. Life's innate wisdom realizes that to survive this earth existence, you need armors, fences and boundaries. The alternative would be to bear every whim of the world -- its thoughts and feelings and ecstasies and hysteria -- as your own. It'd be too overwhelming, too soon. The shell gives you room to breathe and space to solidify your sense of self.
Stage 3: Resisting the shell
Useful as it is, at some point the armor gets in the way of life's inherent desire to expand and grow. You are not aware of this until your self grows to the extent that the protection feels constricting. Despite its comforting safety, you realize that you would never fully experience the magnificent wonders this earth life has to offer, by guarding yourself so tightly. But breaking the shell feels too scary.
Stage 4: The armor thinning
You grapple with your fear. You examine your wounds. You try to differentiate real danger from your inner demons. Bit by bit, you become a little braver. You gather your courage and venture out of your cover from time to time. One day, miraculously you find your armor starting to thin. Slowly, your heart expands and your intuition sharpens. You taste a sense of freedom like never before.
Stage 5: The heart opening
The world and its delicate beauty touch you everywhere you turn. You are affected by anything and everything. You feel their joy and pain, their affection and sadness. A glimpse of sunset can make you cry in gratitude. A look in a child's eyes sends your heart soaring. Compassion pours out from you spontaneously to all beings. The world becomes so intimate to you that you could hardly bear it. It is heartbreaking and overwhelming. But you've crossed a threshold of no return. You are driven by love, not fear.
Stage 6: Finding the ground
Amid the churning world and the undulating emotional landscape, you find what is eternal and unchanging. You discover that at the core of your existence, there is timeless spaciousness. It is the groundless ground that holds every phenomenon, the eye of the storm that is forever calm. You realize that it is the real source of your strength, creativity, and wisdom, that you are both vulnerable and invisible, fragile and enduring.
Stage 7: True self emerging
The illusive boundary between you and the rest of the world falls away. You see the self in every fellow man, as well as the stars and oceans and blades of grass. You self fills every space, from the molecules in your body to the far corners of the universe. You feel at home no matter where you are. Because you are the world. And the world is you.
No matter how uncomfortable your journey makes you feel, know that you are a master of human life at each stage. You do not go through heartache or confusion by mistake, but by the intelligent design of life for you to have a full experience of being human. You are not better or worse no matter where you are on this journey. There is no rush. And always be compassionate to yourself.
What questions do you have on life, love, success, and spirituality? Shoot me a message on Facebook or write on my wall. I source my answers from both intellect and heart, as well as my intuitive sense of what you need at the moment. But be warned: The answer that will move you most quickly towards liberation is often not the answer you think you want.
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Natasha Che is a personal growth teacher and writer based in Washington DC. She writes about relationship, career, spirituality and creative process on natashache.com, where you can sign up to receive monthly inspiration. Natasha is working on a memoir titled Wizardry: One Woman's Quest for Meaning, Mission, and Magic.