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The Four Stages of Spiritual Development


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#1    jugoso

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:04 PM

The Four Stages of Spiritual Development: M. Scott Peck

Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.

Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.
Peck argues that while transitions from Stage I to Stage II are sharp, transitions from Stage III to Stage IV are gradual. Nonetheless, these changes are very noticeable and mark a significant difference in the personality of the individual

What are your personal thoughts on the validity of these four stages?

I also found these comments regarding Stage II to be particularly interesting and  quite true in my experience and wonder what others think about it:

There are several things that characterize the behavior of men and women in Stage II of their spiritual development, which is the stage of the majority of churchgoers and believers (as well as that of most emotionally healthy "latency" period children). One is their attachment to the forms (as opposed to the essence) of their religion, which is why I call this stage "formal" as well as "institutional." They are in fact sometimes so attached to the canons and the liturgy that they become very upset if changes are made in the words or the music or in the traditional order of things. It is for this reason that there has been so much turmoil concerning the adoption of the new Book of Common Prayer by the Episcopal Church or the changes brought about by the Vatican II in the Catholic Church. Similar turmoil occurs for similar reasons in the other denominations and religions. Since it is precisely these forms that are responsible of their liberation from chaos., it is no wonder that people at this stage of their spiritual development become so threatened when someone seems to be playing footloose and fancy-free with the rules.

Another thing characterizing the religious behavior of Stage II people is that their vision of God is almost entirely that of an external, transcendent Being. They have very little understanding of the immanent, indwelling God--the God of the Holy Spirit or what Quakers call the Inner Light. And although they often consider Him loving, they also generally feel He possesses--and will use--punitive power. But once again, it is no accident that their vision of God is that of a giant benevolent Cop in the Sky, because that is precisely the kind of God they need--just as they need a legalistic religion for their governance.
Source:
http://www.factnet.org/node/1809

:innocent: Happy Sunday!

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The kingdom of heaven is within"
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#2    StarMountainKid

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:03 PM

If I may quote from the OP's link, I find this paragraph insightful:

Quote

Perhaps, predictably, there exists a sense of threat among people in the different stages of religious development. Mostly we are threatened by people in the stages above us. Although they often adopt the pretense of being "cool cats" who have it "all together," underneath their exteriors. Stage I people are threatened by just about everything and everyone. Stage II people are not threatened by Stage I people, the "sinners." They are commanded to love sinners, but they are very threatened by the individualists and skeptics of Stage III, and even more by the mystics of Stage IV, who seem to believe in the same sorts of things they do but believe in them with a freedom they find absolutely terrifying. Stage III people, on the other hand, are neither threatened by Stage I people nor by Stage II people (whom they simply regard as superstitious), but are cowed by Stage IV people, who seem to be scientific minded like themselves and know how to write good footnotes, yet somehow still believe in this crazy God business.

Great post, in my opinion.

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#3    JGirl

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:48 PM

View Postjugoso, on 15 April 2012 - 06:04 PM, said:

The Four Stages of Spiritual Development: M. Scott Peck

Stage I is chaotic, disordered, and reckless. Very young children are in Stage I. They tend to defy and disobey, and are unwilling to accept a will greater than their own. They are extremely egoistic and lack empathy for others. Many criminals are people who have never grown out of Stage I.

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Stage III is the stage of scientific skepticism and questioning. A Stage III person does not accept things on faith but only accepts them if convinced logically. Many people working in scientific and technological research are in Stage III. They often reject the existence of spiritual or supernatural forces since these are difficult to measure or prove scientifically. Those who do retain their spiritual beliefs move away from the simple, official doctrines of fundamentalism.

Stage IV is the stage where an individual starts enjoying the mystery and beauty of nature and existence. While retaining skepticism, he starts perceiving grand patterns in nature and develops a deeper understanding of good and evil, forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. His religiousness and spirituality differ significantly from that of a Stage II person, in the sense that he does not accept things through blind faith or out of fear, but does so because of genuine belief, and he does not judge people harshly or seek to inflict punishment on them for their transgressions. This is the stage of loving others as yourself, losing your attachment to your ego, and forgiving your enemies. Stage IV people are labeled as Mystics.
Peck argues that while transitions from Stage I to Stage II are sharp, transitions from Stage III to Stage IV are gradual. Nonetheless, these changes are very noticeable and mark a significant difference in the personality of the individual

What are your personal thoughts on the validity of these four stages?

I also found these comments regarding Stage II to be particularly interesting and  quite true in my experience and wonder what others think about it:

There are several things that characterize the behavior of men and women in Stage II of their spiritual development, which is the stage of the majority of churchgoers and believers (as well as that of most emotionally healthy "latency" period children). One is their attachment to the forms (as opposed to the essence) of their religion, which is why I call this stage "formal" as well as "institutional." They are in fact sometimes so attached to the canons and the liturgy that they become very upset if changes are made in the words or the music or in the traditional order of things. It is for this reason that there has been so much turmoil concerning the adoption of the new Book of Common Prayer by the Episcopal Church or the changes brought about by the Vatican II in the Catholic Church. Similar turmoil occurs for similar reasons in the other denominations and religions. Since it is precisely these forms that are responsible of their liberation from chaos., it is no wonder that people at this stage of their spiritual development become so threatened when someone seems to be playing footloose and fancy-free with the rules.

Another thing characterizing the religious behavior of Stage II people is that their vision of God is almost entirely that of an external, transcendent Being. They have very little understanding of the immanent, indwelling God--the God of the Holy Spirit or what Quakers call the Inner Light. And although they often consider Him loving, they also generally feel He possesses--and will use--punitive power. But once again, it is no accident that their vision of God is that of a giant benevolent Cop in the Sky, because that is precisely the kind of God they need--just as they need a legalistic religion for their governance.
Source:
http://www.factnet.org/node/1809

:innocent: Happy Sunday!
i don't think spiritual development is always a journey taken in stages.
sure some do it that way, but what about those who have always been in stage three or four from the get go?

Edited by JGirl, 15 April 2012 - 07:48 PM.


#4    fran123

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:38 PM

Very interested in your post, especially Stage IV. I have noticed a change in my life as I am approaching 59 years.  I have an acceptance of what my life is, as opposed to what it used to be. The bad times in my past have gone from my mind as if they never existed, which I find strange. I and my wife have new friendships, after years of not having what could be classed as close friends. I feel no need to be "competitive", if that is the right word, e.g. get a new car to keep up with the neighbours etc. I also feel I show more understanding for people's feelings and am more willing to assist them if they are in need. My wife has felt the same change yet neither of us have consiously altered our views and feelings about life in general, it has just gradually come upon us. It is odd but we both feel we are in a better place for it.


#5    markdohle

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

Interesting.  I believe that this can probably be used broadly with any group, no matter what the slant.

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#6    White Crane Feather

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:30 PM

It's an interesting sort of labeling system. I would hesitate to use numbers that sugest a way if thinking above another... It most certainly is only going to be accepted by the mystics. Nearly every level is going to consider themselves at the top except number 1.

Why not:

Reactors
Religious
Materialists or spiritual skeptics
Mystics.

This way a decent discussion could be obtained with no one being "above" on another.

We are all intertwined. I consider myself on the mystic side of things, but there are certain skeptics that help to keep me honest, so I don't end up religious. There are also certain religouse people that remind me how important  surrender, devotion, and community can be and still others that remind me why its important to be skeptical. And the reactors allow the rest of us to exercise kindness and tolerance. There is a continuum of spiritual awareness there are many places both above and below all of us.

Edited by Seeker79, 15 April 2012 - 11:32 PM.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
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#7    J. K.

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

These are some interesting concepts, and I can see how one might transit through those stages.  However, my journey into spirituality took a different route, branching off differently from Stages 1, 2, and 3.

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#8    jugoso

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:59 PM

View PostSeeker79, on 15 April 2012 - 11:30 PM, said:

It's an interesting sort of labeling system. I would hesitate to use numbers that sugest a way if thinking above another... It most certainly is only going to be accepted by the mystics. Nearly every level is going to consider themselves at the top except number 1.

Why not:

Reactors
Religious
Materialists or spiritual skeptics
Mystics.

This way a decent discussion could be obtained with no one being "above" on another.

We are all intertwined. I consider myself on the mystic side of things, but there are certain skeptics that help to keep me honest, so I don't end up religious. There are also certain religouse people that remind me how important  surrender, devotion, and community can be and still others that remind me why its important to be skeptical. And the reactors allow the rest of us to exercise kindness and tolerance. There is a continuum of spiritual awareness there are many places both above and below all of us.
Hey Seeker,
Thanks for your comments. I found them to be very perceptive. Very true that the idea will only be accepted by "Stage IV". I also like your "labelling" system better and also felt the other feels hierarchial.

That being said, I do find a lot of truth in some of the things the excerpt says. It´s a very good read.

http://www.factnet.org/node/1809

I´ve never been a big fan of domga which is why so many religions don´t work for me. I think your sense of your spirituality and quest for your truth should be one the most important things in your life to determine. Allowing someone else to dictate it for you is not good IMHO. And I certainly appreciate skepticism and believe it to be very important if you want to find your truth. So I found this to be quite true:(From Excerpt)


"Seek and you shall find," it has been said. If people in Stage III seek truth deeply and widely enough, they find what they are looking for--enough pieces to begin to be able to fit them together, but never enough to complete the whole puzzle. In fact, the more pieces they find, the larger and more magnificent the puzzle becomes. Yet they are able to get glimpses of the "big picture" and to see that it is very beautiful indeed--and that it strangely resembles those "primitive myths and superstitions" their Stage II parents or grandparents believe in. At that point they begin their conversion to Stage IV, which is the mystic communal stage of spiritual development.

There are those in Stage III who will not progress to Stage IV - that is, anything that is beyond the empirical data and observation of analysis. All intuitive knowledge, all experience outside of scientific measurement and factual construction is rejected, as the Greek frame of mind of intellectual analysis is favored and the Hindu frame of mind, that of the essence of inexpressible "being," and "existence," is rejected as fallacious.


The paragraph directly above is were I was at before I had my "teaching" and probably would have stayed there witout it. In fact, I still try to go back to it in moments of self-doubt. But I believe if I keep trying and follow what truly resonates within me,   I´ll continue to grow spiritually and hopefully be able to manifest it in my life and reach my true potential. All I really know is sometimes I feel I have a long way to go and other times I realize I´m already here.  :rofl:

"Freedom is free of the need to feel free.
Free your mind and you ass will follow.
The kingdom of heaven is within"
G.Clinton

#9    Roy Perry

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 03:36 AM

God first

thanks  jugoso

How can some one say another is any stage at?

but if want to put in stages lets think about it

stage one would the planting of the seed in fleshly body

stage 2 would be awaiting has a life kind

stage 3 would be the forming a fleshly child

stage 4 would be the coming out of the child in the womb

stage 5 would be the crying of the baby the many wants of the flesh child

stage 6 would be the two's checking everything that the child see's

look how many stages I have in a few seconds

one can see there more stages than you think

with love and a holy kiss Roy


#10    Realm

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 04:27 AM

They might be valid for some people, however some may have 1 stage or 20 to fulfillment. Something like this to me is just like a horoscope, It may be accurate for some, but total crap for others..

Edited by Realm, 18 April 2012 - 04:27 AM.

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#11    ChloeB

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:43 PM

View Postjugoso, on 17 April 2012 - 10:59 PM, said:

There are those in Stage III who will not progress to Stage IV - that is, anything that is beyond the empirical data and observation of analysis. All intuitive knowledge, all experience outside of scientific measurement and factual construction is rejected, as the Greek frame of mind of intellectual analysis is favored and the Hindu frame of mind, that of the essence of inexpressible "being," and "existence," is rejected as fallacious.[/b]

The paragraph directly above is were I was at before I had my "teaching" and probably would have stayed there witout it. In fact, I still try to go back to it in moments of self-doubt. But I believe if I keep trying and follow what truly resonates within me,   I´ll continue to grow spiritually and hopefully be able to manifest it in my life and reach my true potential. All I really know is sometimes I feel I have a long way to go and other times I realize I´m already here.  :rofl:

I hopped on over here and read this and it's right on track with the thread I made on being.  See these stage 3 people are all over this place, which is fine, but they want to yack about God and the existence of God and they are only capable of accepting something as existing through empirical proof, just as you said data and observation of analysis, so they get on my nerves sometimes because it's like they want to force God, something pretty much as a given throughout all cultures and beliefs as a SPIRITUAL concept, but they want to force it, cram it into definitions they want to define for it, even change it.  I've called it absolutely asinine before.  "Hey believers, prove to me God exist!"  It's so ridiculous because they are very much a stage 3 person and these concepts like this, if they refuse to only operate in that stage 3 world, well then they really aren't for them and why they just don't leave it alone is beyond me.  My impression most often is some sense of smugness and looking for believers or people who entertain such ideas outside the realm of empiricism as easy targets to demand for the proof, knowing fully well the proof they demand the believers can't provide and makes them feel superior and smart, oh so smart for not entertaining such silly notions, but to me, it doesn't prove they are smart at all, more like daft, too daft to even grasp the concept they are demanding proof for.

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Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
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#12    jugoso

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:04 PM

View PostRealm, on 18 April 2012 - 04:27 AM, said:

They might be valid for some people, however some may have 1 stage or 20 to fulfillment. Something like this to me is just like a horoscope, It may be accurate for some, but total crap for others..
I don´t see any relation to a horoscope. These are stages of development. I do recognize tat individuals are unique and do not always fit nearly into psychological or spiritual pigeonholes. However, if talkingg about spiritual bevelopment, were else on tis continuum can people fall?

Stae I (reactors). Tese people don´t believe nor care about anyone oter tan temselves. It is essentially a stage of undeveloped spirituality. Their relationships with their fellow human beings are all essentially manipulative and self-serving.  Being unprincipled, there is nothing that governs them except their own will. And since the will from moment to moment can go this way or that, there is a lack of integrity to their being.

Stae II (religious): Tese people believe but also believe tat teir way is te only way. They have submitted themselves to principle-the law, but they do not yet fully understand the spirit of the law. They are religious for clear cut answers, with the security of a big daddy God and organization, to escape their fear of living in the mystery of life, the mystery of uncertainty in the ever moving and expanding unknown. Instead they choose the formulations, the stagnation of prescribed methods and doctrines that spell out life and attempt to escape fear.

Stae III (skeptics): Tese people don´t believe for loical reasons. owever, teyare often deeply in involved in and committed to social causes. They make up their own minds about things and are no more likely to believe everything they read in the papers than to believe it is necessary for someone to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior (as opposed to Buddha or Mao or Socrates) in order to be saved. Tey differ from stae I in tat tey ave principles and are uided by an internal understandin of wat is acceptable beaviour.

Stae IV (mystics): Tese people act and are motivated ut of love and commitment to the whole, using their ability to transcend their backgrounds, culture and limitations with all others, reaching toward the notion of world community and the possibility of either transcending culture or -- depending on which way you want to use the words -- belonging to a planetary culture. They are religious, not looking for clear cut, proto type answers, but desiring to enter into the mystery of uncertainty, living in the unknown. The Christian mystic, as with all other mystics, Sufi and Zen alike, through contemplation, meditation, reflection and prayer, see the Christ, Gods indwelling Spirit or the Buddha nature, in all people, including all the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and so forth, recognizing the connectedness of all humanity with God, never separating oneself from others with doctrine and scripture, recognizing that all scripture acts as fallible pointers of inspiration, unable to capture the essence of truth outside of both human perception and the linguistic straight jacket of language and articulation.

What other stages could you identify with respect to Spiritual Development that can´t fit within the continuum these four?

Cloe B
I hopped on over here and read this and it's right on track with the thread I made on being. See these stage 3 people are all over this place, which is fine, but they want to yack about God and the existence of God and they are only capable of accepting something as existing through empirical proof, just as you said data and observation of analysis, so they get on my nerves sometimes because it's like they want to force God, something pretty much as a given throughout all cultures and beliefs as a SPIRITUAL concept, but they want to force it, cram it into definitions they want to define for it, even change it. I've called it absolutely asinine before. "Hey believers, prove to me God exist!" It's so ridiculous because they are very much a stage 3 person and these concepts like this, if they refuse to only operate in that stage 3 world, well then they really aren't for them and why they just don't leave it alone is beyond me. My impression most often is some sense of smugness and looking for believers or people who entertain such ideas outside the realm of empiricism as easy targets to demand for the proof, knowing fully well the proof they demand the believers can't provide and makes them feel superior and smart, oh so smart for not entertaining such silly notions, but to me, it doesn't prove they are smart at all, more like daft, too daft to even grasp the concept they are demanding proof for.


I really hear you on this one and think they have a much easier time with stage II people than stage IV. And I certainly do understand it to a certain extent. I´ll use an example.

" I am the way the truth and the light. No one can come to the father except through me."



A Christian will interpret this as if you don´t accept JC as your personal saviour then you won´t enter the kingdom of heaven. So it would follow then that, Buddists, Muslims etc. will not enter regardless of how "pious" a life they live. I think that is totally bunk which causes skepticism with all dogmatic religions (our way is the right way)and most probaby rejection of it..

I believe a stage four person would interpret the above quote differently. The " I Am" doesn´t refer to Jesus specifically but to all people. After all, he is both the son of God and the son of man, isn´t he? So in this interpretation Jesus would represent all people and the meaning would suggest that the only way to truly enter into the kingdom of heaven is through yourself as exemplified by your own personal soul-searching as well as your outward actions and behaviour.

I realize I´m making assumptions here and much is based on my personal experiences, but I think the close-mindedness of many organized religions are what turn many people off and turn them into non-believers.

"Freedom is free of the need to feel free.
Free your mind and you ass will follow.
The kingdom of heaven is within"
G.Clinton

#13    ChloeB

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 08:56 PM

View Postjugoso, on 18 April 2012 - 05:04 PM, said:

I really hear you on this one and think they have a much easier time with stage II people than stage IV. And I certainly do understand it to a certain extent. I´ll use an example.

" I am the way the truth and the light. No one can come to the father except through me."



A Christian will interpret this as if you don´t accept JC as your personal saviour then you won´t enter the kingdom of heaven. So it would follow then that, Buddists, Muslims etc. will not enter regardless of how "pious" a life they live. I think that is totally bunk which causes skepticism with all dogmatic religions (our way is the right way)and most probaby rejection of it..

I believe a stage four person would interpret the above quote differently. The " I Am" doesn´t refer to Jesus specifically but to all people. After all, he is both the son of God and the son of man, isn´t he? So in this interpretation Jesus would represent all people and the meaning would suggest that the only way to truly enter into the kingdom of heaven is through yourself as exemplified by your own personal soul-searching as well as your outward actions and behaviour.

I realize I´m making assumptions here and much is based on my personal experiences, but I think the close-mindedness of many organized religions are what turn many people off and turn them into non-believers.

Simple thing is, stage II people are exclusive and stage IV people are inclusive.....is there any question why one is ranked higher up on the spiritual advancement scale?  Little stage II's have to leave someone out on the playground to feel good, special, chosen.  

When you originally posted this...

Quote

Stage II is the stage at which a person has blind faith in authority figures and sees the world as divided simply into good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Once children learn to obey their parents and other authority figures, often out of fear or shame, they reach Stage II. Many so-called religious people are essentially Stage II people, in the sense that they have blind faith in God, and do not question His existence. With blind faith comes humility and a willingness to obey and serve. The majority of good, law-abiding citizens never move out of Stage II.

Autonomy vs shame and doubt kind of yelled out at me, which is just from cramming that in my head so much for psych exams, but it's actually a stage II, also stage II in Erickson's theory of development but you think about it, here's just a real quick simple explanation for discussion's sake:  

Ah, Erickson and autonomy versus shame and doubt. Yep, it is psychology 101 at it's finest. Erickson's theory is that children go through natural stages, each one with either a positive or a negative outcome. He believed the second stage to be autonomy vs. shame and doubt and it deals with a child's toddler years, or about age one to three. Basically he asserts that kids have a natural curiousity and if they are free to explore safely, and come back to mom when they need to but not forced to stay with mommy, they will likely develop a healthy sense of autonomy. If they are stifled in this stage they will likely develop shame and doubt. No doubt, you can read more about Erikson's theory here, en.wikipedia.org's_stages_of_psychosocial_development.

My link

But what you said about blind faith and shame, is that not the very thing that stage is talking about?  The blind faith is encouraged, submit to Jesus, even if he's just someone you've been told stories about, but they ask for you to upload those stories to your brain and make them real to be saved.  And Erickson says if says they will develop autonomy if they are free to explore safely.....what was the very thing Adam and Eve were punished for?  Curiosity, seeking knowledge and they were banished and that story is the foundation upon which 3 religions are built, and out of those if you consider Erickson's ideas, exploration is punished, then you have shame and doubt, the very thing which fuels religions, packs them in.  Shame that you need for forgiveness for, the doubt you need God to provide the answers to you for.

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey

#14    Beany

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:57 AM

I believe this correlates somewha with Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Stage 3 is the concrete thinking stage, where things are seen in mostly black or white. Stage 4 is the most sophisticated, and includes the ability to forumulte hypothesis and understand abstract ideas. According to Piaget, only about half of the adult population reaches the 4th stage, and while it is possible for someone to eventually move to stage 4 after spending a long period at stage 3, it's unlikely. So, as many of the conversations on UM indicate, communication between stages 3&4 are difficult, because the understanding & perceptions are at odds with each other. They just don't get each other.


#15    Paracelse

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:19 AM

What does it mean if one went from stage I to stage IV without going through the other two?

Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither Benjamin Franklin
République No.6
It's time for a sixth republic.




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