Stages of Enlightenment

The following table lists the stages from ordinary conditioned consciousness to full enlightenment, with a capsule description of each. I will explain each one more fully in the next episode of The Dharmasar Solution Podcast.

Section

Stage

Description

Preliminary Being in the World Conditioned existence: ignorance of self-realization, fruitive work and pursuit of temporary sense pleasure; aging, disease and death.
Suffering Realization that no amount of material sense enjoyment, acquisition, fame etc. can uproot the causes of suffering.
Terror of the Situation Existential realization of being trapped in saṃsāra (continuous death and rebirth) with no way out.
Becoming Genius Cultivation of knowledge, particularly of how to learn. Acknowledgement of need for help from more advanced beings. Broad survey of human knowledge, especially the great spiritual traditions. Search for a realized teacher.
Transitional Call of the Friend Recognition of the Call of the Friend throughout ancient esoteric literature and spiritual traditions.
Hearing the Call Identification of the Friend as a particular Teacher or tradition that speaks to one’s personal needs for spiritual instruction.
Conscience Realization that one’s ignorant thoughts, words and actions in the past are the cause of bondage to saṃsāra; certainty of the necessity for change, especially improvement of character.
Integrity Practice of truthfulness and straightforward dealings, keeping one’s word, harmlessness and blamelessness.
Authenticity Taking a stand for one’s vision and knowing of what is actually good for one’s future life and happiness, regardless of the opinions of others or the relative moral standards of the surrounding society.
Path Faith Trust in the divinity and effectiveness of a particular path or teacher; learning the methodology of the path and testing one’s understanding of it by practical experiment and experience.
Contentment Experiencing the results of authentic spiritual practice in the form of understanding, mental peace, insight, material prosperity, security, freedom from negative mental and emotional states.
Rapture Absorption in jhāna (meditative concentration) leading to momentary feelings of ecstasy.
Calmness Confidence and commitment based on experience that one’s spiritual practice and path lead to actual enlightenment.
Bliss Experience of deeper joy from retreat, seclusion, prolonged concentration and higher meditative states.
Samādhi Complete withdrawal from sense perception and absorption in higher transcendental jhānas.
Eye of Dhamma Direct personal vision and realization of the Four Noble Truths.
Disenchantment Complete certainty that conditioned experience and sense enjoyment cannot provide any real pleasure, security or freedom from suffering and rebirth.
Dispassion Detachment from all processes of becoming by means of Dependent Origination.
Deliverance Absolute confidence that the Noble Eightfold Path leads to cessation of becoming and Nibbāna.
Cessation Actual cessation of becoming and its fruits.
Nibbāna Attainment of the Unconditioned, the Deathless.
Unbinding Complete freedom from rebirth.
Fruits Stream Entry One will be reborn in saṃsāra a maximum of seven times and is certain to attain Nibbāna.
Once-returner One will be reborn in saṃsāra only once and is certain to attain Nibbāna after the next life.
Non-returner One will be reborn only once in a Pure Abode and is certain to attain Nibbāna in the next life.
Arahant One has attained Nibbāna in the present life, at the end of which one will attain complete Unbinding.
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Published by

Dev Jacobsen

Musician, author and yogi, developer of Palingenics.

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