June 26, 2014 by Joshua Tilghman
Have you ever wondered what your current level of conscious development is? What if you had some information to help you gauge it?
The book, The Science of Spirituality (Lee Bladon), has such a section. Much of Bladon’s information is based on the study of religious texts and its esoteric interpretation, as well as the integration of science, philosophy, and psychology. His chapter on the levels of consciousness made perfect since when it comes to explaining modern human behavior, and more importantly, my own!
If you believe in reincarnation, Bladon’s explanation will be especially valid to you. Each life provides opportunities to advance individual consciousness through all the stages of development we will mention below, but even if you don’t believe in reincarnation, his chapter still provides great insight into a classification of human behavior.
As we discuss his framework of conscious development, please be aware that there’s no judgment here. Everyone develops at their own pace according to their experiences. Each individual life provides its own unique opportunities. According to Bladon, and indeed many ancient spiritual traditions, the soul is a sojourner in the physical world and is constantly evolving through the conscious experience.
Though I believe it’s useful to understand how consciousness is evolving, we should never use that knowledge to judge another. Why? Because even the most enlightened person was once at the most basic conscious level and we are all heading towards the same goals.
With that being said, Bladon breaks down humanity’s conscious development into five levels:
- The Primitive Stage
- The Civilized Stage
- The Developed Stage
- The Humanistic Stage
- The Enlightened Stage
Let’s explore each one:
The Primitive Stage
The primitive stage is characterized by physical needs and negative emotions. In this stage, anger, fear, and greed are motivational factors, which means this level of development is mostly about “me” and “I.” Behavior in this stage can be highly erratic and uncivilized when someone doesn’t get their way. People on this level are almost incapable of exhibiting compassion and empathy. Their actions always benefit themselves first and foremost. For example, they may buy someone a gift, but only with the expectation of benefiting in some way, like getting something in return.
Bladon believes education and religion help people to develop beyond the Primitive stage. Education develops the intellect and religion can help by curbing negative inclinations and impressing moral values.
According to Bladon, this is where the majority (up to 60%) of humanity resides.
The Civilized Stage
Bladon believes that about 25% of humanity resides at the civilized stage. He states people at the civilized stage exhibit a healthy mixture of both positive and negative emotions, but their individuality is identified by their emotions in general. People at this stage can use reason when making choices, but their reasoning is almost always clouded by their emotions. They demonstrate more restraint when not getting their way, but behavior can still be temperamental.
Someone at this stage might have strong religious preferences, but only because it’s based on tradition and the emotional ties that come with it. They are often more religious rather than spiritual. They might go to church and participate in acts of kindness, but are generally still judgmental and only try to “act accordingly” for an eternal reward.
People’s contentment level at this stage is also conditional to external factors. For example, much of their happiness and fulfillment comes from sex, alcohol, gossip, material possessions, etc.
I tend to think more of humanity resides at this stage instead of the primitive stage, but I think it’s safe to say that the majority of humanity does fall into one of the two. This is not hard to see when we look around. All the discord in our world is evidence of it. Again, no judgment here, just noting the obviousJ
The Developed Stage
People at this level of conscious development utilize more of the intellect and higher emotions. They can use reason to make decisions without getting carried away with anger, frustration, and fear. They tend to be more objective rather than subjective. They exhibit more love and less selfishness. According to Bladon, these people are generally caring, thoughtful, and intelligent, and they enjoy art, culture, literature, philosophy, or science. They see the benefit that different cultures bring to humanity and the importance of learning from others. Usually developing a healthy world-view, they might engage in humanitarian projects or are apt to devote some time to volunteer work.
Even though this seems like a huge advance, Bladon also believes that people in this stage are prone to imbalances like high levels of stress, anxiety, or depression, especially in modern countries. This is because their nervous systems are still getting accustomed to the higher energies that their intellect and emotional make-up are expressing in the midst of a fast-paced, modern existence. Bladon states that these people still have to learn balance and control in order to proceed to the next stage of development. Mr. Bladon believes that approximately 14% of humans fit this level of conscious development.
The Humanistic Stage
This stage is identified with people who demonstrate high intellect and compassion vs. emotionality. People at this level of consciousness have a strong mind that is able to completely rule the emotional nature. Being mostly objective, they also think for themselves and rarely let other’s beliefs and opinions influence their decisions. They can see through the guises of religion and even the limitations of science. This is because these individuals are also developing their intuitive side, which taps into a greater consciousness and awareness of the larger universe and its reason for existence.
Humanistic stage people are sometimes advanced meditators and understand the benefit in such practices. They are not prone to addictions and bad habits and choose to live consciously toward all living beings. They eventually advance beyond the pursuits of mental knowledge and yearn to focus on higher states of being through love, joy, and contentment. Bladon believes only one in 1,000 people currently reside at this stage.
The Enlightened Stage
In Bladon’s own words, people at this state are “characterized by an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, wisdom, and unity that cannot be understood without being experienced.” Perhaps this level of conscious development was exhibited by the likes of Jesus and Buddha. Bladon believes that only one in 1,000,000 people reside here. At this stage, the personal and lower ego has been eradicated and unity of the self has been achieved.
How this classification system could help humanity if reincarnation is true
I must reemphasize that Bladon’s work is based on the spiritual belief of reincarnation. If he’s right, then the understanding of his classification system could be used to greatly aide in the advancement of human consciousness.
Let me give you a possible scenario:
Imagine someone in the Primitive Stage of conscious development goes to rob a house, and in the process, he kills a husband and wife. He then goes to prison and ends up on Death Row. He knows he’s in jail until he is actually executed so he sees no hope and sees no benefit in changing his behavior or attitude toward life. Finally he’s executed. If reincarnation is true, haven’t we just created another killer for a future generation? Some might argue, “Well, that’s his Karma!” This is true, but as we evolve as collective human beings, shouldn’t we seek to educate that person so the future will be a little brighter? I wouldn’t want him killing my great-great grandson years down the road in another home invasion.
Many years ago I would have agreed he got what he deserved, but after studying esoterics my beliefs have drastically changed. I see the benefit of humanity collectively working together for the greater good.
I also see its limitations. If collective humanity were on the lower end of the conscious scale working together, it could create more harm than good.
I have no idea how our future is going to turn out, but I see the glass half full. In a lot of ways I believe consciousness follows the law of biological evolution. It will use the circumstances to eventually learn what brings more pain and what brings less, and then adapt. In the end, a greater amount of wisdom and love will be produced from it, even if humanity experiences brief moments of great pain.