In Sufism, or Islam generally, or Hinduism or Buddhism – in fact in all of the great faiths there are descriptions of the stages of spiritual development that the true, sincere and committed seeker can achieve in her or his desire to reflect the name, attributes and qualities of God.
The Bhagavad Gita is one such piece of scripture – text & chanting in English HERE
My favourite passage from the Bhagavad Gita as many of you know is this;
“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the
individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the
self same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the
tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.
“The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the
divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he
recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his
glory, he grieves no more.”
It’s my favourite because it encapsulates a complete answer to the question that I laboured so long to answer, "What is it to be fully & positively human?" My 80,000 answer, a doctoral dissertation, is HERE (Ahhh the joys of brevity!)
It also answers the question, "What is reality?" AND provides the heart of The Perennial Philosophy/the mystical core of all of the great faiths traditions.
I suspect that 8 and four etc are more the stages in Buddhism – but what joy there is in the ppure teaching – HERE
For a fascinating way into Sufi presentation of 7 stages see HERE
Haven’t yet found a really good co-equivalent from within Christianity – but I suggest you explore this fascinating site – HERE
SUMMARY OF THE SEVEN VALLEYS (Baha’i)
1 The Valley of Search
The valley of search is described as the first step that a seeker must take in his path. Bahá’u’lláh states that the seeker must cleanse his heart, and not follow the paths of his forefathers. It is explained that ardour, and patience are required to traverse this valley.
2 The Valley of Love
The next valley is the "Valley of Love" and in this valley the seeker is compared to a moth who has found a flame. Bahá’u’lláh writes that the heart of the seeker is touched, and the seeker has fallen in love with God.
3 The Valley of Knowledge
The knowledge referred to in this valley is the knowledge of God, and not one based on learning; it is explained that pride in one’s knowledge and accomplishments often disallows one to reach true understanding, which is the knowledge of God. It is explained that the seeker, when in this valley, begins to understand the mysteries contained within God’s revelation, and finds wisdom in all things including when faced with pain and hardship, which he understands to be God’s mercy and blessing. This valley is called the last limited valley.
4 The Valley of Unity
The next stage is the valley of unity, and it is explained that the seeker now sees creation not by its limitations, but sees the attributes of God in all created things. The seeker, it is written, is detached from earthly things, is not concerned with his own self and has no ego; instead he praises God for all of creation.
5 The Valley of Contentment
The next valley for the seeker is the valley of contentment, where it is explained, that the seeker becomes independent from all things, and even though he may look poor or is subjected to suffering, he will be endowed with wealth and power from the spiritual worlds and will inwardly be happy. Happiness is explained to be the attribute of the true believer, and it cannot be achieved by obtaining material things, since material things are transitory.
6 The Valley of Wonderment
In the valley of wonderment the seeker, it is written, is struck dumb by the beauty of God; the seeker becomes conscious of the vastness and glory of creation, and discovers the inner mysteries of God’s revelation. Being led from one mystery of creation to the next, it is explained that the seeker continues to be astonished by the works of God.
7 The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness
The final valley is the valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness and it is the furthermost state that the mystic can reach. The seeker, it is explained is poor of all material things, and is rich in spiritual attributes. It is explained that it is the state of annihilation of self in God, but not an existential union: the essences of God’s self and the mystic’s self remain distinct, in contrast to what appears to be a complete union in other traditions.
NB This summary is to be found on WikiPedia
FULL TEXT of THE SEVEN VALLEYS (+ The Four Valleys) – Read the full text HERE NB The introduction is long – I suggest you go straight down to the ‘Valley of Search’
Whether the stage are 7 or 8 or any number the final stage is always ‘no-self’. There are many paths to the top of the mountain but reality at the summit is One.
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