I’ve been refining my understanding of the 4 stages of psycho-spiritual development based on the work of Scott Peck MD. To me, the power is here is two fold. First it helps me to clarify my own thinking and path towards a better, truer, happier and more fulfilling and integrated life. Secondly it helps me to understand, have compassion for and more readily connect with and accept people who may or may not be at my same level or who have different world views. This is not intended to classify or rank people as to their value. While people do have a certain set point, as it relates to their specific level of development, we can all vacillate up and down a level or two from time to time or even be stuck or elevated to a different level in certain areas of our lives. These levels are dynamic not static, in both directions.
Level 1- Antisocial and Chaotic
Follows no rules. Gives into base desires with no reflection of the possible consequences. They are stuck in a juvenile and underdeveloped state. Criminals to Presidents can be at this level, depending on intelligence and ability to manipulate others. They are liars, fakes and cheats. It’s all about them! They have no sense of self and thus no interest in understanding others. Selfish and can’t form meaningful relationships. Narcissists, sociopaths, etc. Laws keep us safe from these people.
World view: survive and take what you need
Respect and give deference to: often no one but can look up to more successful criminal types and can over elevate others whom they feel they need.
Fears: being caught, being found out, physical needs not being met, animalistic survival thinking.
Relationships needs: for comfort, supply their own needs and for maintaining survival.
Level 2- Fundamentalist
They are religious as it relates to their adopted set of beliefs, not necessarily faith based.
They follow the rules that are given to them. Born again Christians is a good example here. Many people resonate at this level. It can be a very comfortable and externally successful way of living. Laws and societal rules and norms gives them a sense of security and direction in life. This can be a very challenging level to break through as it is reinforced by society and in this level novel ideas cause fear. They tend to judge those who are not like them and have Black and White thinking. Can have relationships albeit superficial and only with those that see the world through their same lens. When presented with conflicting information they employee all matter of defense mechanisms, and often employee psychic walls, to keep themselves and their beliefs true and right and to keep themselves safe and protected. They substantiate their beliefs by looking for, and finding, External reinforcements. Perfunctory tasks have meaning and can be elevated to the upmost importance. They are ardent defenders of the law and seek justice.
World view: realist, if something works in the external environment stick to it, order soothes them and shelters them from the change and conflicts in their external environment.
Respect and give deference to: authority figures, disciplined people, often Star Struck, other level 2 people that they believe are good examples.
Fears: instability, change, those that challenge them, stage 3 people, stage 1 people, some stage 4 people.
Relationship needs: seek those similar to reinforce their beliefs, sense of security and purpose.
“Consequently, the large masses of people are unknowing conformists in thought and deed. They are like mirrors reflecting the belief systems and values of those who surround them. They lack the intellectual skills and the incentive to think for themselves. They are intellectually conforming thinkers.”
Level 3- Seekers
They think about why these rules, why is it done this way, am I on the right path, and questions if they are doing the right thing? Have discerned there is something more and begin to Seek the truth for its own sake. They see the grey in the world, nonjudgmental. They are more accepting of others and they seek novel people and points of view. This can be a tumultuous phase and one filled with angst, quickly changing beliefs and apparent instability especially in the beginning or during episodes of external or internal difficulty. This is when the self is teased out and the ego is tamed. Introspection and then eventually self knowledge can be achieved.
World view: romantic, countless possibilities, belief in self, accepting of others and need to know. They tend to be repelled by those at level 2 yet compassionate for those at level 1.
Respect and give deference to: people who embody enlightened thinking or those who are creative. Those who possess a true knowledge of themselves. Level 4 people.
Fears: that they are lost or will never be at peace, dogmatic thinking, intolerance
Relationship needs: they seek other seekers but can be attracted to those at level 4. They need acceptance, love and support but can stand alone.
Level 4- Knowers
They are wise and make or create the rules both for themselves and society as a whole. Having gained the knowledge of the truth they are now content and can take humanity forward and support others at the deepest level. Truly integrated as it relates to their beliefs and there actions. Great at connecting with others and tend to attract people to them. They do not fear others but see the best in them. Can readily discern and understand people and situations.
World view: all is one, integral thinking, mastery of critical thinking, at peace with self and others
Respect and give Deference to: great thinkers, minds and spirits but also all people as they are able to SEE the goodness in everyone.
Fears: that those they love are stuck or internally conflicted and in pain
Each step forward on the spiritual development levels requires an enormous shift in thinking and requires epiphanies in the self. This can be relative however, as some can even be as high as level 3 at an early age. The shift from level 2 to level 3 tends to be the most difficult, and can even be life threatening, leap in spiritual advancement. In relationships, like intelligence, two people with too large a gap between their levels of spiritual development have a difficult time connecting and maintaining a relationship. The relationship can not edify either party. When two people, in a relationship, reach a certain threshold of development variance, the relationship will fail.