♡•.¸¸.•♥ ✿⊱╮LAYERS OF SPIRITUAL
a message from Karen Murphy
is easy, given our cultural framework, to imagine spiritual learning as
analogous to education - that spiritual learning is an accumulation.
The idea we have is that one must keep learning, keep reading, keep
listening to teachers, keep doing yoga in order to "advance." However,
in truth, spiritual learning is nothing more than learning to be fully
who you are. There is no "better" as you grow older and have more
experience. There is simply more of who you are.
"In pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added.
the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped." - The Tao te
Ching No matter which spiritual path you choose, the path will always
bring you to You. Some people take roundabout paths and some dive in
headlong. There is structure in the manifestation of spiritual learning
as the learning moves deeper into the cells of your body and your basic
being. This structure creates "layers" of spiritual learning. There is
movement among the layers — this is not a static creation, nor is
movement restricted to one direction only. Each of the seven layers
exists within you, and each may be accessed at any time (although you
likely will "live" in one for a period of time). All layers are
necessary to create the tapestry that which is You.
Layers — not Levels — of Spiritual Learning
cultural framework suggests that older and wiser is better. Certainly,
in physical life, age can bring the wisdom of experience. This often
translates into perception of spiritual wisdom: "I'm an old soul,
therefore I'm more evolved than you" is commonly thought but likely not
voiced. But in reality, everyone — from infant to elder — is on a level
playing field, simply operating from a different perception. The idea of
layers conveys that. All layers exist simultaneously. One layer may be
close to your core, like the core of an onion, but all layers are part
of you and none are let go of or moved through, discarded. You do not
grow beyond a layer other than letting go of identification with it.
Each layer is simply an aspect of yourself. Deeper layers are not
better; they are simply present with you at all times, ready for access.
Within you, you always have both the new explorer and the enlightened
Moving through the layers is not a linear process. You do not
finish one and then move on to the next. There may be, for a time, a
"home" for you in one of the layers (certainly, when looking at them,
you'll be able to easily identify the layer you spend most of your time
in now, as well as layers you have used in the past), but you have
access to all of them at all times. They are always a part of your
Layer 1 - Explorer Layer 2 - Initiate Layer 3 - Teacher
Layer 4 - The Search Begins Layer 5 - Truth in the Moment Layer 6 -
Living Deep Harmony Layer 7 - Being Pure Presence
Layer 1: Explorer
initial layer holds the excitement of bounding out on a newfound
journey. The quest has begun. You feel an initial sense of wonder, like a
child tasting candy for a first time. You taste the potential of
spiritual presence and its benefits and you feel the energy coursing in
your body. In some ways, you have a core connection to what the deepest
spiritual attainment is — this generates enormous energy and inspiration
and draws you forward to your chosen path.
It is all new, so you
explore the spiritual world with a child's wide open eyes. This is what
we often refer to as the "sponge" stage. In it, you accept everything
but you do not yet apply discernment or even much differentiation.
Everything is good; everything is valid. You might explore and read any
related subject to your interest. You might follow the recommendation of
any teacher, friend or acquaintance who appears to be on a spiritual
path. For instance, if you are interested in Buddhism, you might read
every Buddhist title in the local library to explore it all,
irrespective of the branch of Buddhism, and you might also read anything
else with an Eastern flavor such as Hindu teachers. Because of the
newness, exploration within this layer can feel like pure Truth and the
stuff of great revelations. This is the "diving in" to a new teaching.
This layer helps you get a feel for what is out there and helps bring
the teachings deeper within you, past the surface layers of personality.
Layer 2: Initiate
some time spent in the Explorer layer, there is often a realization
that you need to narrow down your focus so that you can explore more
deeply into what resonates with you. You cannot become a master of all
teachings at once; here you find that you need to focus on one thing at a
The emphasis in this layer of learning is on the structure of
what is being learned. Passages, sutras, and scriptures are memorized
and you attempt to distill for yourself the essence of a teaching for a
purer understanding. This helps you incorporate that essence into the
routine of your daily life. You have a basic understanding of your
chosen teaching, and with this understanding comes a first siphoning off
of what does not work. For instance, if you were learning about
Christianity, you might at this point choose which denomination you wish
to belong to and decide on some level that other denominations aren't
"the Truth"- for you. You have decided which path to follow and what
works best for you in this moment. This enables you to have more focus
so as to better incorporate what there is to learn in the cells of your
Within this layer, there is also a sense of awe for all the
wisdom that is out there as well as for other "wiser" beings who are
teaching you. You search for teachers who bring a deeper layer of
learning. This can give you a magnificent feeling of support and
guidance, and it can also lead to the (false) belief that others know
best for you than you do. This belief is gradually let go as learning
Layer 3: Teacher
Within this layer of learning, you've
already accomplished a lot of intellectual and social learning — there
is a recognition that further study yields diminishing returns. You see
all the learning that you have accomplished so far. The value of the
teaching is still very much appreciated, however, and so you begin to
focus on teaching what you have learned to others. There is an emphasis
on demonstrating the authority of learning — that you know the teaching.
Teaching others brings you a renewed appreciation in what you have
learned; there is a dual experience of the joy of this path.
this layer, you may desire to create a study group. You may become a
counselor. You may respond regularly to questions in a society or in an
online group. You may proselytize if your path advocates it. You may
write a blog. By teaching others and exploring your own beliefs, you
learn more yourself and see how your learning interacts with others'
paths. You expand your own presence to try to influence others.
limit of the learning so far, however, is that up to this point you have
been learning primarily from external sources: books, teachers, and the
community around you. You are an authority under something else such as
an organization or an abstract teaching. Therefore what you teach tends
to be your interpreted regurgitation of what you have learned so far.
You do not yet teach directly and solely from your own soul. In other
words, the student becomes an authority by playing the role of what they
think a true person on the path should be. A student of Buddhism might
meditate regularly, speak with compassion and follow the eightfold noble
path as best as they can. If you have an advanced degree in psychology
you may hold workshops and counsel others.
authority in this external fashion is all part of the journey to find a
true sense of inner power by learning to live your path from your
deepest essence. Layer 4: The Search Begins
"What?" you may exclaim. "The Search Begins only here? What about Layers 1 to 3? I've been an expert - I'm not just beginning!"
is in this layer that the diving off the cliff toward inner knowingness
truly begins. This is the fulcrum layer between following a teaching
and living it from within. In the previous layers, there was a social
identity — a firm path to follow — which can involve teaching others. If
you belong to an organization and have an identity as such, you'll have
an understanding of what is appropriate within the teaching of your
organization. However, at some level you will realize that just because
someone else speaks a truth doesn't mean their truth is yours. Following
the path of one's own quiet inner voice requires courage, integrity,
and a willingness to step away from the herd. It requires changing your
path if one day that path doesn't feel right for you — even if it
disappoints others' expectations. This is where the dark night of the
soul appears. What you know disintegrates and crumbles around you — your
identity, your comforts and defenses — so that you may find something
greater: your Self.
In short, the inner self opens and begins to
speak up. You have a newfound dialog with your own soul and essence. The
newness of this creates movement in your life in thoughts, emotions,
Conflict and turmoil can appear if one's inner voice
differs from what has been learned. It is rare that your true perception
matches exactly the teaching that you have been following. Perhaps you
realize that your body does not truly want to sit in meditation for
hours and that substituting other practices can give you the same
benefit. Perhaps common phrases you have used now feel dogmatic — that
is, having lost their personal meaning for you. Within this layer you'll
find yourself questioning authority of all kinds so that you find that
you yourself are your own greatest guru. In some spiritual communities,
this creates unrest, discomfort and conflict. Cries of 'heresy' and of
not being 'true to the teachings' can occur. However, in this layer you
feel compelled to truly bring your teaching to a new level that includes
being true to one's self. There is a desire to see for one's self
instead of relying on anyone else's experience, including liturgy. Every
true teaching is a living teaching — and it is your life you bring.
layer also brings a deeper connection to others — you are bringing more
of yourself forward in meeting with others. You are no longer
identified as "just" a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or any other member of a
teaching. You are you. You are an expression of the Divine, just as you
are, and you begin to recognize with your own eyes - not simply through
others' words - that others are as well. By beginning to truly be
yourself, you support others in recognizing themselves as well. You
begin to understand the greeting "Namaste" for the full depth of its
That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you.
Layer 5: Truth in the Moment
a regular connection to essence occurs and you recognize the dichotomy
that while your past learning may have been true for you at that time,
newfound revelations and perceptions are always different in each
moment. You therefore learn to live by your own perceptions, moment by
moment, with a deep trust in them. You know that there are no rules,
only choices - and that all choices contain within them an inherent
perfection. You build from your past learning instead of limiting
yourself to it. The ideas of "right", "wrong", "good" and "evil" fall by
the wayside. There is only Truth, and part of that truth is a deep love
of life and everyone and everything in it. The result is an expansive
flexibility that is filled with gentle humor and play.
Because of this flexibility, there are many ways that you might manifest who you truly are:
You may find a newfound interest in other learnings and see them no
longer as different from one another, but as part of a universal
You may begin to have a gentle, relaxed laughter as the
humor of life itself is experienced. Yes, this path is perfect - as is
every other path!
You may find a new sense of creativity and even
eccentricity. For instance, if you explained a spiritual topic to others
10 times, you may give 10 completely different explanations - each one
being true as a completely new discovery in that moment. These may even
be contradictory on a superficial level - but the contradictions will
help others see the deeper truth.
You begin to let go of the
"shoulds" that are in your life and live life simply as you desire.
There's less need to do anything. Paradoxically, this lets you act
selfless, help others more, and make better use of your time.
Living firmly in this energy helps firmly build community and connection around you. True pillars of community live from here.
Layer 6: Living Deep Harmony
this layer the connection to One has become deeper and stronger; there
is less focus on what looks like teaching and more focus on loving. You
live life with sacredness and spaciousness of experience, and within
that spaciousness grows a deep sense of inner peace. There is room for
all of You. This brings harmony in thought, emotion, and action. You
love life itself. You meet all of life, from your inner demons to
external conflicts, with that sense of inner harmony. This can bring
tremendous inspiration to others as it shows others how to let go of
past habitual conflicts and destructive habits.
This harmony also
extends to tremendous compassion for the world. You bring all you have
learned through manifesting a calm sense of appreciation of life in
whatever form it may take. This compassion can manifest as humanitarian
action, like with Mother Theresa, or through social change, as with the
work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Because the action comes from inner
peace, movements arise seemingly without effort. There is little basis
for internal conflict.
Layer 7: Being Pure Presence
This is where
the great spiritual teachers reside. Here you regularly experience
essential oneness with the Self: your essence, your Buddha-nature, your
Atman, or your Christ Consciousness. You experience the reality of Who
You Are. Intellectual learning is put aside as you teach from the Now.
There is no longer a need to teach, nor to change things — perfection is
experienced simply as What Is. Love is expressed simply by being, and
this is felt powerfully by those around you. This manifests as pure
The power of manifesting your full nature cannot be
underestimated. Students came simply to sit with Ramana Maharshi, for
example, because sitting in his presence enabled them to experience
inner harmony for themselves.
Pure presence is more than the ultimate
manifestation of a teaching, a religion, or a path. It is the
unrestricted allowing of All That Is - and this creates an unlimited
potential for creation and conscious choice. It is this field which
allows great healing to occur. It is a far deeper authority and power
than the third layer, as the authority with the layer of Being Pure
Presence comes from the full allowing of All That You Are, which without
exception exceeds your wildest imagination of what you can experience.
Your full and complete presence is the ultimate gift that you bring to
the world and to others.
Using the Layers
How does the layer
concept work in reality? Again, there is no linear progress through
them, although you may experience a sense of that for a given time. I'll
use my own experience as an example:
When I began to focus on my
spiritual path, everything lit up for me. I wanted to taste it all. I
found truth in so many different things: energy healing of all kinds,
crystals, the whole "ascension" idea, plant lore, shamanism, the work of
Louise Hay (just a few examples). Everything tasted good! I was clearly
in the Explorer layer. This is what I often refer to as the "sponge"
stage. As time went on, I applied some discernment. Some things
resonated more than others. I deepened my look at the things that felt
right to me. I was in the Initiate layer. Over time, I felt that I
wanted to speak about what I knew. I had taken these truths into my
being and was ready to move them outward again. I was a Teacher, but
also used the Explorer and Initiate layers when new things were
Then the real fun began. Everything fell apart and I
questioned it all. I went deeper into myself, examined my beliefs, and
came out more sure of who I was and how I viewed the Universe. The
Search Begins. And at times, because of that, I've been in Truth in the
Moment. But frequently I'll move into Teacher because it works for that
time. And then into Explorer/Initiate when I wish to learn something
new. And I've had moments, perhaps, of Living Deep Harmony and Being
Pure Presence — we all have access to those layers — when everything
just clicks and I am in the beautiful flow of the moment.
is part of the beautiful tapestry we weave on a collective global basis
through our experience. Every layer has a purpose and a use. Every
layer is necessary to create the structure of that tapestry and to hold
it together. So wherever you are in the moment is perfect for that
moment. You can flow through the layers seamlessly and effortlessly,
weaving your own path through the tapestry with glorious colors, being
more of who you are, and in so doing encourage others to be more of who
they are, to deepen and brighten the colors we weave together. ★¸.·´¯☽¸.
★shared with LOVE Tasia ★¸.·´¯☽¸. ★