Stages on the Spiritual Path

Miscellaneous comments on Meher Baba's planes of consciousness and states of attainment, and the Avatar

(from the Donmeh discussion group)
Neale Lundgren and Tom Hickey

The term "enlightened," for Babaists, is a description of the illuminative stage of realization (which is only the 5th plane), not the 7th plane which is the plane of the God-Realized.

Meher Baba  clearly differentiated the fifth plane state of*illumination* from the conscious seventh plane state of God-Realization, and even further differentiated the Perfect Master state (Sadguru) from the Avataric state (Jagatguru). According to Baba, unlike the Perfect Master who "ascends" into the state of God-Realization (and so is a Man-God) and gives Realization to his immediate circle and "knows" creation at all its levels, the Avatar "descends" every 700-1400 years and gives God-Realization to a number of circles and to whom he pleases when in or outside his body, and
does not only "know" creation, but "becomes" creation. (The Avatar is a God-Man).This is the secret of the infinite agony of the Avatar, an agony which is purposeful and part of his avataric function.

According to Meher Baba, the criterion for being at the highest level is knowing everything in eternity, e.g., not only all one's own past lives but everyone else's past, present and future lives. A
criterion for being established on the fifth plane is being able to know anything one wishes, but serially, one thing at a time. For example, one established on the fifth plane can read anyone's mind anywhere in the world. Someone on the second plane can do minor miracles, like changing
water to wine. Someone on the third plane can do major miracles like giving sight to the blind. Someone on the fourth plane can raise others from the dead and create new forms at will.

Meher Baba also throws a wild card into this model of involution through the planes to Realization, making it very difficult to tell anyone's status. He says that Masters generally take their charges through the planes veiled to protect them from the temptations of what the Sufis call the "heavens," each plane having a heaven associated with it. This is to shield the Wayfarers from the subtle experiences that would otherwise be encountered and which are very difficult to resist, even by great yogis and sages who go unveiled - in the Vedic story Rishi Vishwamitra succumbed for a time to a celestial nymph (Skt. apsaras, Ar. houri).

Meher Baba stated that enlightenment is a fifth plane [wali/Friend of God] state, a state of "seeing with the eyes of God" continuously and without a break), the limited ego bows before the divine ego and plays the role of this "staged duality" for the spiritual benefit of all and according to the laws of
duality which govern the gross world of mayavic illusion.

The Avatar "descend"s and plays the trinitarian role of Lover, Love, and Beloved.   For instance, Baba would sometimes pray to a picture of himself with the mandali and bowed at the feet of rishis and saints when he played the role of the spiritual seeker in the New Life phase.
Yet, Baba  clearly differentiated the fifth plane state of illumination from the conscious seventh plane state of God-Realization, and even further differentiated the Perfect Master state (Sadguru) from the Avataric state (Jagatguru). According to Baba, unlike the Perfect Master who "ascends" into the state of God-Realization (and so is a Man-God) and gives Realization to his immediate circle and "knows" creation at all its levels, the Avatar "descends" every 700-1400 years and gives God-Realization to a number of circles and to whom he pleases when in or outside his body, and
does not only "know" creation, but "becomes" creation. (The Avatar is a God-Man).This is the secret of the infinite agony of the Avatar, an agony which is purposeful and part of his avataric function.


THE STAGES OF THE PATH - Meher Baba
very interesting talk detailing the seven fanas or stages of spiritual-divine realisation.  The following is a  tabular summary:

7 Fana-Fillah the final annihilation of the self in God conscious Godhood (becomes God)
6 fana-e-mahabubi the annihilation of the self in the Beloved continual perception and enjoyment of God 
(although still not One with God)
5 fana-e-jabruti annihilation of all desires  Here the incessant activity of the lower intellect comes to a standstill
4 fana-e-malakuti the annihilation leading toward freedom gains powers (siddhis)
3 fana-e-zahiri annihilation of the apparent. videh samadhi, or the state of divine coma. Consciousness is 
withdrawn from the world
2 ana-e-batili the annihilation of the false absorbtion in bliss and infinite light
1 fana minor annihilation of the ego.  temporarily loss of limited 
individuality - experiences of bliss

Meher Baba's stages of spiritual enlightenment (read from bottom up)


Metaphysical Models and Spiritual Attainment



On the fourth plane the soul is fully conscious of infinite energy. It is the very same infinite energy which is the shadowy aspect of that infinite energy of God. Here the soul is equipped with full power and is even capable of raising the dead and of creating new forms and worlds breathing with life. On the fourth plane there are no occult powers. They are divine powers. 

Meher Baba, God Speaks. Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, Second Revised Edition, 1973, 1997 printing, p. 44.




back to Meher Baba index page


page uploaded 18 October 1998
revised 5 & 16 November
modified again 30 June 1999