An Overview of the Seven Stages of Life

Page 6 of 7

Stage Six—Awakening to the Transcendental Self: In the sixth stage of life, one is no longer perceiving and interpreting everything from the point of view of the individuated body-mind with its desires and goals. One stands in a Transcendental Position, Identified with the Very Consciousness that is the Ground of all that exists, rather than with the apparently separate self. In that Position, one stands as the “Witness” of all that arises, even while continuing to participate in the play of life. While life goes on like a movie on a screen, one sees the greater import of Existence and the non-necessity of all that arises. This is the beginning of what Avatar Adi Da calls “the ultimate stages of life”, or the stages of Identification with Consciousness Itself.

The sixth stage of life may include the experience of Jnana Samadhi, which, like fifth stage conditional Nirvikalpa Samadhi, is a form of temporary and conditional Realization of the Divine Self. However, fifth stage conditional Nirvikalpa Samadhi comes about through the strategy of ascent, the urge to move attention up and beyond the body-mind; in Jnana Samadhi, on the other hand, awareness of gross and subtle states is excluded by concentration in Transcendental Self-Consciousness.

The Awakening to Consciousness Itself in the sixth stage of life is the pinnacle of Realization achieved by the greatest (and exceedingly rare) Realizers in certain schools of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as Jainism and Taoism. Such Realizers eschewed the fascinations of experience from the beginning, turning away from the enticements of “money, food, and sex” in the first three stages of life, as well as from the attractions of devotional (fourth stage) rapture and of Yogic (fifth stage) mysticism. Instead, the Sages of the sixth stage of life have traditionally contemplated the freedom and purity of Consciousness—to the degree of Realizing that Consciousness Itself, eternal and Prior to any mortal form or temporary experience, is our True Condition, or True Self.

But even deep resting in the freedom of Transcendental Consciousness is not Most Perfect Enlightenment. Why not? Because there is still a stress involved, still one last barrier to Divine Self-Realization. Sixth stage practice and Realization is expressed by turning within, away from all conditional objects and experiences (including the energies and the movements of attention of one’s own body-mind), in order to concentrate upon the Source of individual consciousness. Thus, the root of egoity is still alive. The search still remains, in its most primitive form. The sixth stage of life is the search to identify with Pure Consciousness Prior to and exclusive of phenomena.