Three stages of Awakening (table)


The table below is an attempt to provide a map for a large variety of spiritual journeys based on personal interests and challenges. Please note that the list of modalities is not comprehensive and the terms are not strictly limited to the categories in which they appear. 


First, it is important to understand the differences between the three columns:

  • Conventional duality is living with the understanding that who I am is the mind/body. From this most common perspective, the world is seen as separate from who I am, and I need to act on it in order to achieve goals based on desires and wants. Change is required, and therefore practices too. The ultimate want on this level is to find lasting happiness. 

  • Non-dual Awareness is the understanding that my essential self is pure, unlimited, boundless Awareness. Here there is no separation, no others, no world, and therefore no wants, desires, or need for change. It is called ‘domain’ rather than ‘level’ because it encompasses all phenomena. 

  • Embodied understanding is the knowing that my essential self is Awareness, and yet fully embracing the illusion of duality. Even though there are others and a world, everything is known to unfold perfectly. Practices may be spontaneously enacted out of love for the body/mind, or to perfect virtues of loving-kindness, compassion, or peaceful equanimity. 

The purpose of the table is not to create separation between the columns, and divide reality into levels. On the contrary, it is to show that the differences are only perceived from the first perspective of Conventional duality. Each of the approaches used to ‘get to’ Non-dual Awareness would naturally lead to Embodied understanding if fully explored.


The list of questions is only a general overview of all the types of questions that a mind/body can have.


How to use the table: 

  • Contrary to traditions that focus on finding the answer, the focus here is on finding the question. What questions do you have in life at this moment? Is it about difficult emotions, health, the Universe, a relationship? Look at the sample questions and underlined keywords for inspiration. 
  • Once you have found your question, you are encouraged to type it into a search engine by choosing a modality from one of the first two columns. An example search can be "what is sadness self-help". See which modality appeals to you the most at this time, and pursue that path until you feel the desire to move on. This can take a week, a month, or many years. You can then proceed to finding your next question or modality. 
  • Each mind/body has preferences based on previous conditioning, and is also given challenges based on this conditioning. This table unites the preferences and challenges into one easy-to-use and practical answer machine, with the aim to decondition the mind and heal the body. 

Once this process has begun, it naturally gains momentum. It is important to note that the process deepens in a spiral-like shape - all questions are asked at all levels, and the answers gradually change based on the level of Consciousness that the question is asked from. Your journey of spiritual seeking is complete once all questions have been understood from the perspective of Non-dual Awareness, which automatically leads to Embodied understanding. 


*For a further clarification of the levels of spiritual growth, please visit "Advancing on the spiritual path" (table).