The Six Levels of Mind
The following is based primarily on the teachings of A Course In Miracles (ACIM), and adapted from Robert Perry’s Path of Light (one of the best ACIM interpreters I know of).
Level One: The Innocent Mask. This is where most of us start out in life, and often in any given
complex situation we may enter into. At this level, we see ourselves as purely
good, lacking any sort of shadow side. The world may be bad in so many ways but we have
absolutely nothing to do with it. We are not part of the problem, but nor are
we part of the solution. We are just innocent bystanders—our intentions are
always good, even as the world’s intentions are not. Or so, at least, we believe.
Level Two: The Angry Victim. Here, we have lost our innocence, as we become increasingly aware
that things in life rarely work out the way we thought they should. We are
still convinced that we are not part of the problem, but are now angry and
determined to strike out and blame the world for damaging us, and ruining our possibilities in life, so badly.
Level Three: Attack. At this level, we begin to see and embody the darkest face of our ego, and its vicious intentions. We are not truly on board with the whole idea of being a responsible, awake, wise, compassionate person, and nor have we ever been; and it is at this level that we begin to recognize that. We begin to see that we are part of the problem, but we’re not yet willing to do anything about it. At this level we use others to gratify our needs, and attack them in all sorts of ways, both obvious and subtle. The darkest elements of the personal shadow reside at this level, including the depths of self-loathing, and are what Perry calls the ‘hidden content’ of the first two levels. Properly seeing and understanding this level is key to the awakening process. We must reclaim our projected shadow elements, but this is only possible by seeing just how attacking we are capable of being, both to self and other.
Level Four: The Call for Help. At this point we develop some remorse of conscience
and begin to understand the effects of our actions. We feel guilty about such
actions, whether they have been directed at others or ourselves. We feel deeply foolish about having wasted our life in pointless struggles. We begin to
seek for release from our state of guilt. We begin to call out for help. The
old expression, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears’, speaks to
this. For most people, it takes a great deal to breakthrough to this level, owing to the power of pride (righteousness) and vanity (self-absorption). This 'help' may show up in the form of an actual person who provides some guidance, or it may show up via direct insights, or more commonly, as both.
Level Five: The Right Mind. A state of healing has occurred here, making us open and ready for deeper realizations into our greatest spiritual essence. The healing has been brought about by courageously facing into the darkest elements of our ego (the transition from Level Three to Four), assuming responsibility for them, and then opening up to the possibility of being helped by that which is ‘outside’ of our ego-system, yielding the willingness to enter the unknown. In so doing, we begin to understand the cause and effect nature of reality, and in particular the relationship between our thoughts and our level of suffering and/or delusion. We begin to truly grow up, in the greater sense.
Level Six: The Christ Mind. ‘Christ Mind’ is one term for it; ‘Buddha-mind’ is another, ‘True Self’, etc. In a sense, the limitless consciousness/love of this ‘mind’ is ever present; when we make the journey from Levels One through Five, we are in effect parting the clouds to reveal the sun that has always been shining.
It should be understood that this process is not walked through once in life, but rather many times. Many times we’ll navigate successfully through the minefield of the ego and its wiles, and part the clouds of delusion to reveal the light of truth. And many times we’ll stumble and fall, finding ourselves back at Level One again. The greatest barrier occurs at Level Three, where we face into the depths of our ego. Most turn back at this stage, too frightened or disturbed to push through, instead resorting to Level Two (angry victim) or Level One (‘what me worry?’).