People have been quite fixated on the idea of cataclysmic change. I catch snippets of the Apocalypse and the 2012 Mayan Prophecy in conversations around town that usually end up pointing to humanity being magically transported to a new world, a new way of being. Seen as some enchanted departure from the world’s natural, political, and economic devastation, mass enlightenment is trending in a very big way.

Is the world going to end in a year’s time? Visionaries have passed down prophecies of humanity’s demise for generations while promising an age of awakening—a New Age. By now we should be asking instead, does catastrophe, or lack thereof, determine our ability to “awaken” or experience enlightenment?

As we look to newscasts to judge if our world is collapsing or flourishing, it’s the external events in our lives that become little voices whispering, “It’s the end of the world.” Through fear we can’t help but wonder if some remarkable transition will save us. Perhaps it’s tragedy itself, such as foreclosures, layoffs, earthquakes, tsunamis—that force us to look internally. And by this coincidence we notice that something is happening. Transition is occurring. When we gaze into ourselves and find our center unaffected by external events, we experience peace, however small, and we become the prophecy.

The Quest For Enlightenment

The quest for enlightenment is no straightforward journey, nor is the map identical from one person to the next. The definition itself is as elusive as its path. For some it simply means “understanding.” Others include super powers, immortality, and magical abilities.

For myself, enlightenment simply means “living without suffering.” For this to be possible, I keep constant watch over the condition of my heart, or what I call the heart state. My heart state determines how easily I’ll be able to move about on my own personal path.

I’ve outlined a few stages to draw attention to the movements in consciousness that we experience on our path to internal peace. You may recognize some or all of these stages on your unique path to enlightenment.

Stage 1: Get over low self-worth

We often begin from a place where we think our thoughts are reality. And if you’re like me, many of those thoughts were not useful at all. This stage ends when we finally overcome our stance of powerlessness. It takes a little courage and a leap of faith that things can be different. This first stage requires that we overcome our sense of worthlessness and low self esteem.

Stage 2: Achieve success

Giddy egoic stage where we achieve some success. We are able to access low level spiritual gifts. We may develop clairvoyance or be able to manifest fun and interesting situations and events. We run the risk of getting stuck here, chasing more and more stuff to manifest. We might also catapult back to Stage 1 if we “fail” at some manifestation we try.

Stage 3: Ego and small identities are unimportant

Look toward helping others rather than ourself. When it’s time to look inward, realize that indulgence is an ego game and that it’s better to turn our focus on staying more connected with the greater part of ourselves.

Stage 4: Embrace co-creation

Getting out and joining other like-minded individuals who are also at this step of the game to build and enhance our world. Lots of partnerships and plans for new ways of living are generated here.

Stage 5: Feel content with just being

At this stage we accept that any grandiose views of enlightenment might just be myths. Get content with the ordinary. Don’t judge events as good or bad, take them as simply being events. Don’t feel an urge to interfere with or change events. See beyond dualism and embrace it all.

Stage 6: Have a sense of oneness

Notice the many possibilities that lie within any event or circumstance. After simply observing calmly throughout Stage 5, open awareness to include seeing and noticing multiple levels of experience in any situation. The awareness gives us more options and paths to choose to experience. It is in this stage we’ll notice the internal beauty and calmness that exists despite the external events around us. We feel one with the world.

Concluding Thoughts

Of course these stages don’t actually operate linearly, and we can find ourselves revisiting earlier stages as needed. Whether these stages seem familiar to you or not, I invite you to take time today to trace your own unique process. There is no “one size fits all” path. There are many paths to remembering who we are.

Keep in mind that most of us have experienced moments and glimpses of the state we might define as “enlightened.” A knowing, however fleeting, of something larger, deeper, more profound can give us a sudden experience of complete well-being. Look forward to discovering, or allowing, more enlightened awareness into your life, in whatever shape or form it turns out to be.

About the Author

Jaden Rose Phoenix, the author of Beyond Human: Claiming the Power and Magic of Your Limitless Self, internationally-respected master teacher and alchemist, is founder of Alchemy Wisdom - a healing arts center focused on creating life-changing transformation for clients. A student of ancient and modern alchemy and consciousness technologies, her workshops and classes are prized for their simple, down-to-earth approach to exploring and harnessing the potential of consciousness.