There is a surface reality of separate objects and a deeper reality of oneness. The spiritual journey is the process of learning how to perceive the deeper truth and eventually become one with it. There are three major stages that you will pass through on the journey to oneness.
The Surface of Life
The vast majority of people on the planet have not begun the true spiritual journey. They are controlled by the ego, and their awareness is trapped on the surface of life.
Beginning the Spiritual Journey
Once grace intercedes and you have a conscious glimpse of the deeper reality, your spiritual journey begins.
The spiritual path is the process of dissolving the karma accumulated in all your past incarnations. As your karma lessens so does the ego’s influence. When all of your karma is gone, the sense of separateness falls away.
The divine is found beyond the limitations of thought and the ego-controlled mind. By learning how to still the mind you can break free of ego’s control and touch the underlying Source of life.
While connected with Source you gradually dissolve your accumulated karma. The more often your attention in on the deeper reality, and not trapped in the thinking mind, the faster you progress spiritually.
The karma accumulated in your prior incarnations is enormous. To make real progress in dissolving it requires the intervention of an enlightened master. By developing an internal connection with such a person grace flows to you, and your past conditioning is removed much more rapidly.
In the beginning stages of the spiritual path, you connect with Source infrequently and for short periods. The ego is still very strong. It easily pulls your attention onto a thought or desire. Through discipline and an effective spiritual practice, you gradually learn how to keep your attention on the deeper reality.
Intermediary Stage of the Spiritual Journey
As your spiritual practice matures you are able to connect more deeply with Source while meditating. And you develop the habit of turning your attention to the divine throughout the day.
As your karma dissolves, your energetic sensitivity increases. And you become aware of the ever more subtle levels of awareness.
At this intermediary stage of the spiritual path you perceive the deeper reality as something that exists apart from you. Your sense of identity is still confined within the borders of the physical body, and outside of you is the divine.
Advanced Stage of the Spiritual Journey
After a great deal of your karma has dissolved, usually over a span of many lifetimes, you reach an advanced stage of the path. The ego has weakened to the point that the veil between you and the divine is thin.
While meditating there are brief periods in which the veil temporarily disappears, and you experience Source as existing both within and without. Your sense of an individual self falls away, and there is only the one universal consciousness. Hindus refer to this state as savakalpa Samadhi.
Once the temporary experience of oneness is over, you return to the world of duality. And once again you perceive the divine as existing apart from you.
Every life form is a manifestation of the one universal consciousness. We exist so that the divine can have every conceivable experience through our physical forms, including going through the spiritual journey.
When the divine is ready, grace once again intercedes. Your remaining karma dissolves, and you attain liberation. The illusion of separateness falls away for good, and you always experience the state of unity.