The Three Stages of DevelopmentReading Time: 6 minutes
For each of us, as we mature, our first major growth phase comes when we give up dependency and move into self-responsibility. When we do this, we become independent, accountable and able to stand up for ourselves. Of course we don’t do this all at once, in one giant leap. No, we’re typically ambivalent about taking this step, with part of us raring to go and part of us dragging our feet.
The gung-ho part is ready for the freedom that comes with self-responsibility and independence. In fact, we’ll resent our parents if they attempt to hang on and not cut us loose. But there’s another part that resists this change, fearing the next organic step because we confuse it with being abandoned and unloved. As such, we dread the next step thinking it means we’ll be utterly alone and therefore lonely.
No surprise, in our confusion we experience an inner tug of war between these two contradictory pulls. This, in fact, is what goes on during every growth phase, and it must be sorted out so that the inner blocks can be cleared and a oneness of direction can be made possible.
We can gauge our progress by checking out how well we have assumed responsibility for our lives. Financially, have we become productive and self-sustaining, gladly providing for ourselves? Emotionally, do we still blame some authority figure for our problems and any unhappiness?
If we heed this inner message, there will be harmony in our forward movement.
Along the way toward achieving authentic independence, the pendulum is apt to swing a tad too far one way or the other, from time to time. This is fine, possibly even necessary, as long as we don’t get stuck out there on the fringes. So maybe we’ll be overly selfish for a time, as we overcome feelings of being overly enmeshed with someone else. Or perhaps we’ll sport an exaggerated show of independence for a while as we test out our new state of selfhood. But after a bit, our Higher Self will steer us back toward the center.
In a similar way, when it’s time, our Higher Self will nudge us to move to the next phase. “Wake up,” it says. “Time to try a new way of being in the world.” If we heed this inner message, there will be harmony in our forward movement. If we get stubborn though and dig in our heels, conflict and chaos will abound.
Here, the misunderstanding is that to leave our self-assertive state is to go backwards. We fear we will be forced back into a dependent state, but that’s not what’s actually happening. In the third stage, we are opening up—with trust—to a way of being that includes self-responsibility, self-dependency and self-assertion, plus something more. Nothing valid is taken away, but rather something new must be added.
Moving into Stage Three
At this point, we have moved from being totally dependent, nurtured and sustained, to being self-nurturing and self-sustaining. This process has asked us to severe the bondage of being dependent on someone else. Now the movement is to go from being self-nurturing to nurturing others.
As individuals, we can see how this manifests in parenthood. But for those of us who are far enough along on our spiritual paths, we are also equipped to take on a more global task. For us, our freedom from selfishness will manifest in creating new models for world government and new methods for handling society. For collectively, we are spiritually ready to develop new ways for all people to share spiritual as well as material riches.
Collectively, we are spiritually ready to develop new ways for all people to share spiritual as well as material riches.
What happens when we are ready to be emancipated from dependency on someone else and we resist this movement? Distortion and sickness come about. The same thing happens when we are organically ready to move to the next state, in the third stage, where we are to foster new ways for societies to live together. When we resist, our attitudes turn into ugly distortions and what we manifest is nothing short of absurd.
So to be clear, and to put it as simply and concisely as possible, the three stages humankind must travel through are: 1) Being nurtured and sustained, 2) Self-nurturing and self-sustaining, and 3) Giving nurturing and sustenance.
We must come to see that we can’t apply the same measuring stick for everyone. Some of us are ready to move from the first stage to the second. For others, it’s time to move onto the third stage. In any case, it’s when we resist the natural process that we face conflict.
The Way to Reconcile Opposites
It’s the development of many individuals in a group that determines the development level of the group. So what’s right for any given group at one particular time will become obsolete—and even destructive—at a later period.
And in fact, the rhythms and cycles of our development alternate over time to focus on the growth of individuals, and then to focus on the group. Before the turn of the century the focus was on individuals, where people were largely looking out for themselves, even while we may have been filled with a desire to serve and help and give.
If we resist this movement, believing our lives only belong to us, we forget that what we are receiving is for sharing.
Over the last two decades, a new state has emerged that is pushing the focus to the whole. Our awareness then must shift to include a larger scheme. If we resist this movement, believing our lives only belong to us, we forget that what we are receiving is for sharing. Instead, we consider everything that exists around us to be a tool for serving ourselves.
Moving into this last stage means something very specific. It means coming to realize that giving out is a way to enrich ourselves that transcends, by far, the self-enrichment we experienced through the second stage of self-nurturing. But what this brings up for many is a fear that our giving will make us poor.
And so we must die into this fear, because it is an illusion. Yes, we must die into it in order to find out that the illusory death caused by giving of ourselves will actually open new doorways to personal enrichment. In many small measures, each of us are being given ways to experience this truth for ourselves. What are we being asked to sacrifice and thereby nurture a larger cause? And how, by becoming part of a larger body, can we discover that our fear is false, that it will mean giving up our personal rights or advantages?
Quite the opposite, by giving out and becoming part of a larger organism, we will undoubtedly experience new enrichment that could not have come to us while we remained in the second state. And indeed, only someone who has found self-autonomy—who has learned to be self-nurturing and self-sustaining—can become a key part of a bigger body.
Moving into the third stage, then, is the movement that reconciles the opposites of individuals versus groups, of self-nurturing versus service and giving. It is also the way forward for finding the oneness in the seemingly opposite political systems of socialism versus capitalism.
What this brings up for many is a fear that our giving will make us poor.
A new model of society, then, must now be created that brings together fully functional individuals into a collective group entity. Note, there isn’t any false equality, or a leveling off, in this new model. Those who work harder and better will certainly not be put on the same level as those who have resisted the growth process. But we will all be asked to meet our fears and misunderstandings directly, rather than rationalizing them away.
When we do this, we will encounter some truly new math in which sharing will result in fruits that will create way more riches—worldly material ones included—than what we currently receive. At the same time, our individuality will be boosted and our autonomy more deeply anchored. If we don’t skip steps, we will become more secure and more authentic as we embrace becoming part of something bigger.
If we are truly doing our own work and want to proceed in our personal development, this is the way we must go. It’s the way that all of mankind must proceed. So the only way for societies to survive—with people getting along and sharing all of God’s gifts—is to realize this third stage.
This isn’t some new idea that’s just being sprung on us. Rather, this is the logical next step for all of us. It’s the potential waiting to unfold as our next organic step in the evolution of our consciousness. What’s at stake, then, goes way beyond simply instituting a new system. The opportunity before us is meaningful, and now is the moment for movement.
—The Guide’s wisdom in Jill Loree’s words