The seven stages of soul development, as formulated by Catharose de Petri and Jan van Rijckenborgh, always had something difficult to access for me, but also something mysterious.
Right at the beginning I had my difficulties with the concept of stages. It quickly evokes associations of a path that is linear, plannable and manageable. But I cannot, with the best will in the world, describe my path as linear. Rather, I go forward, sometimes backward, more in zigzag, more intuitive, a little chaotic, but in no case according to a “map”.
And “steps” for me are rather small steps. One step prepares the next. Steps inwards, like into the inside of a shell.
I feel clearly that the individual steps have nothing separating them. I experience them as the imperceptible gliding from one room into the next. All these rooms seem to lie inside one another like spheres. I experience them as permeable spaces, as “semi-permeable cell spaces of the soul”, in which something like a “flow” develops, from which healing and recovery can grow.
These permeable spaces lead me into another dimension of consciousness. Here there are completely different laws than those of logic. Although it becomes more and more concentrated towards the inside, they lead into a complete expanse and openness.
The first Soul-state: The Soul of the blood – The Step of contact
The beginning is of utmost importance. What stands at the beginning? It is the soul of the blood. Flesh and blood stand for my body – they are not something separated. When it comes to soul-consciousness, my body belongs to it. It is the instrument on which the soul wants to play its melody, it enables its development or stands in its way. It needs careful attention and care.
My personality can become a “physical witness” of the spirit, the spirit that wants to sink into the deepest matter, into the body. So it is good to perceive and know the body in all its facets:
– in its hunger for satiation,
– in its passionate surge of needs for closeness and touch,
– in itshis sometimes effervescent, sometimes restrained expression of feelings and moods,
– in its pendulum movement between tension and relaxation, between inhalation and exhalation.
All this belongs to it, all this is allowed to be, all this I can let be as it is without any judgement.
But there is something else: my turning to the spiritual-emotional background of life and my longing to become one with it. Through them, my body is sometimes seized by a very fine vibration that makes it tremble. An “inner earthquake” runs through my whole body. At this moment my body is moved by an inner force. It is put into vibration, into a trembling that I did not make. I experience this especially when the vibrations of the Spirit are concentrated by the openness of a whole group turned to the Spirit.
I am moved.
This is the stage of contact..
The second Soul-state: The Breathing Soul – The Step of Binding
Inhale – exhale – inhale – exhale …
Breathing happens all by itself. Not that I am breathing, but It is breathing. In some languages the word breathing refers to ATMAN, the unchanging, immortal and true SELF (e.g. the German atmen)
It is an almost shocking realization: while breathing in, I also inhale the breath of the Spirit – as power, as inspiration, as healing food. What the body does automatically, I now try to experience spiritually.
Breathing in – breathing out. In between there is a short moment of nothingness. In this breathing space the creative impulse for “exhaling”, for the concrete realisation in life, arises from the emptiness. This can be made up of ideas, encouragement and comfort. Am I awake enough to recognise, accept and realise these gifts?
It breathes through me. This connection holds me. No matter in what way the “exhaling”, the realising happens – it does not have to be “right”, it can never be perfect. It is always the next step on the path of consciousness … and then there is already a new inhalation, a correction of consciousness through It, through ATMAN.
The consciously breathing soul awakens for the Spirit, experiences the connection with it, answers the Spirit – ATMAN, it sees itself in responsibility.
The third Soul-state: The Soul which Clothes Itself – The Step of Proof
When I incubate something, for example when I am ill, I wrap myself in a warm blanket. Something wants to be sweated out, both physically and mentally. The heat generated from inside creates a purifying climate. What is hardened and encrusted can be softened and gain a new form.
The spiritual enters me in a higher vibration when I consciously open myself to it. A heat arises, a high energy penetrates me, especially during a longer spiritual gathering. My body reacts against it, similar to an illness, it wants to maintain its normality. Resistance also stirs up in my psyche. My ego is standing in the way. I get into tension, the spirit wants to bring about a transformation. I know that states of crisis like this belong to the path of awakening. The word crisis means to have to decide (kritein/Greek = to decide). I turn inwards, turn my attention to what is happening inside me, try to surrender to the spiritual impulses in spite of everything.
The ground is preparing for a whole new kind of receptivity.
The envelopment, my awareness of what is taking place, is a kind of proof. According to our current scientific understanding, a proof consists of a collection of facts and verifiable data. But here, it is a proof of the heart, an achievement of wisdom. My transformation begins in the “inner chamber” of the heart in which a new soul structure is evolving.
The fourth Soul state: The Perceiving Soul – The Step of Perception
New perceptual antennas develop in my inside. But it is not external seeing, not external hearing. It is, so to speak, a feeling with the heart, a becoming conscious of what is happening.
Sometimes I feel my heart beating with something I perceive intensely. Then I immediately know that I have come across something very essential, true. Sometimes I wake up at night and experience a clarity regarding a task or a problem, which is touching and powerful. I can no longer see past it.
For me, perceiving with new sensory antennae also has something to do with an attention as it is described in the Upanishads in the story of the two birds sitting on the branch of a tree: One bird eats from the sweet fruits of the tree, the other bird just watches without eating.
The one bird is a symbol for my active being in life, the other one is an image for the newly awakening second consciousness within me. In him I simply perceive what is – I am a silent witness.
Both perspectives are necessary and complement each other. The attentive observation happens without evaluation – without judgement, it happens from outside the haze of active action. But the word “outside” is deceptive. It is a perception out of unity. In this bird I stand in the unity of life, while in the other I have stepped out of this unity and experience my independence. I can now allow myself to be taken by the “bird of unity”, the “other one” within me, which I am also. With new eyes I look at everything around me. Spaces of a soul relationship open up between me and everything I perceive more intensely. It is very clear: every living being reaches beyond itself, is not limited, has soul aspects, has a living vibration. In these vibrations we penetrate each other.
(to be continued in part 2)
 The two authors are speaking as one „I“.