Metaphysics 101 – Stair Steps to Personal Development – A Two-Part Process

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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As we explore our development of spirituality in these articles, I have provided metaphors as memory aids. We are droplets of a “sea of consciousness” that is universal in nature.  We have been “asleep in matter” and are in the “process of awakening”. The universe “tickles” the largely unconscious sleepers and stirs them into consciousness. This may take more than one tickle. The “mountain of our spiritual progress” looms ahead of us as we begin our journey. Our spiritual growth is similar to climbing a “ladder” one rung at a time. As we achieve each new rung, we are treated not only to the answers to our questions but a broader vista. To resolve a single question is to raise 100 new questions because of that broader vista. At times we “grow” into awareness. At times we have flashes of insight or what I call the “Aha” principle, dynamic and motivating.

At times we are alone; at other times we have company as we walk our personal path. Each awakened being is on an individual path that sometimes can be shared. Each path is individual and those who accompany us part of the way may need to move away from us for their own rhythm and cycle. At times our growth seems to be two steps forward and one step back. All of this is all right. The universe offers us all the time and experience needed to learn our lessons. We must learn to trust ourselves simply by remaining true to our quest, which is our own spiritual evolution. All that we do and all that we experience has purpose and meaning to our awareness and our growth.

In this article I will add a new metaphor to describe our spiritual progress. At times our learning curve is dynamic, active, exciting, and frustrating as our lessons come fast and furious… and in large numbers. Sometimes we are at the front of the lesson, going with the flow. At other times we are carried along in a raging stream of activity kicking to stay afloat, wondering “why me?” or “what was that all about?” At other times we feel stagnant, that we are treading water not really getting anywhere in particular, wondering what we might have done wrong. We are ready to move on but the universe does not seem to be cooperating. Over the years of reading for others, I developed a visual reference for how spiritual growth occurs and to me it looks like stair steps.

If you encountered stairs with multiple steps, they come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. Your particular stair steps are designed to illustrate your growth process. Perhaps they are attached to a structure or free standing. The stairs may be enclosed or open for all to see. The stairs may be rustic or modern. The number of steps is up to you. This is your personal staircase so it can look any way you envision it. Your rate of climb is dependent on the work you do and the progress you make. No one chooses this for you. It is your ongoing free will choices that determine your success and your pace.

Stair steps have two essential ingredients, what I call a riser and a flat. Usually the steps are several inches apart on a vertical measure (the riser) surmounted by a platform (a flat). Take a moment to see those two ingredients in your mind’s eye before reading on. See the vertical lift topped by a level surface. That is how I see spiritual progress. We go through a period of intense activity, growing and learning, and at times are overwhelmed by sheer onslaught of experience. At other times we feel flat, unmoving, frustrated and stagnant. That last sentence is simply not true. We are growing and becoming, we are not stagnant. Our limited perception is confusing the issue.

At times, life comes at us fast and furious and we have to fight hard or work hard in order to keep up with the onslaught of experience. We could not do that all the time because we would break. We simply do the best we can to keep up with the turmoil and activity, hoping that we will have a break shortly, a deep breath, a pause in which to find ourselves. When the pause comes, we shake off our sense of overwhelm and are ready to go again…or are we? Seekers who are earnestly seeking spiritual development are not usually happy with the pauses if they last very long.  Those pauses are necessary to your growth and development. Why? Let us consider percolating a pot of coffee as an illustration.

You make a pot of coffee the old fashioned way. You fill the coffee pot with water, insert the stem and basket holding the coffee grounds, put on the lid and turn up the heat. The water boils and travels up the stem, bounces off the lid and falls into the coffee basket. Shortly all the water has boiled its way up the stem and the liquid resides in the coffee grounds, brewing your coffee. It is still not coffee. You remove the pot from the heat and wait for the liquid to seep through the grounds back into the bottom of the pot. If you taste the coffee too soon, it tastes like dishwater. You must be patient in order for it to become drinkable coffee. Got the picture? This is the process of percolation.

You, the human, have intense experience (the universe turned up the heat). That experience involves you and your life (moving up the stem to the basket). Mercifully the intensity eventually dies down (the heat is removed). Since there is no universal heat stirring up your life at that moment, you are usually relieved that the sense of overwhelm is finished. However, the process itself is still not finished and the spiritual “coffee” is not ready for consumption. You must have the patience for that lesson to filter through you to find a home within your consciousness or understanding, to contemplate what just happened, to allow it to enter your being. That is the flat or plateau of that two-part experience. This is the point at which you attempt to make sense out of the lessons. The riser is active, dynamic and easy to identify. The flat represents assimilation, introspection and resolve. Both are necessary to the percolation process, both represent spiritual growth in its two-part process: activity and understanding. When all is quiet after a period of intense activity, you are still growing. You have just moved from the external to the internal in your spiritual development.

As I read the progressing wheels of clients, students, etc., the periods of intense activity and those of assimilation are very clear in the wheel. The universe does not make errors (unless you consider the duck-billed platypus a mistake). All is part of your life process, no coincidences allowed. All is purposeful and contributes to your growth and evolution if you allow the universe to teach you on all levels of being. The universe is smarter than you are. It is the teacher and the teacher will always be the one to provide the curriculum for your progress. Your experience and progress is normal and natural – we just get impatient. I have never figured out a way to hurry the universe, so we need to practice patience at those moments of plateau because it is such a necessary part of our experience.

Published on EZine online May, 2010, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.