When we first encounter models and maps of the spiritual journey, there is often a sense of relief and resonance. Finally, we have a framework that makes sense of the terrain we have been traversing. The seasons, stages, or cycles outlined provide handrails to hold onto amidst the inherent chaos and confusion. We devour the teachings eagerly, finding ourselves narrated in the vivid descriptions of each phase.

Yet invariably, life happening upon life reveals the inherent limitations of these models over time. What once provided clarity and guidance now feels constraining, unable to fully capture the depths and detours of our lived experience. The clean lines blur, the distinct stages bleed into one another, and we find ourselves defying the categories. A way of mapping that once oriented us now disorients. A model that made the journey feel so orderly suddenly makes it feel that much more complex and disorderly.

In these moments of destabilization, we may look back wistfully at previous eras of our unfolding when the models held more sway and simplicities. We are tempted to force ourselves back into their constructs, beliefs, and practices that previously made sense. But those former ways of being inevitably feel too small, too confining for the expanded inner terrain we now inhabit. There is no going back, only going further in and further on.

The descents, deconstructions, and disorders we face are not signs that we have strayed from the path, but that we are advancing deeper into its core mystery. Our spiritual undressing reveals not our distance from Truth but our proximity to it. Like molting insects, we must shed formerly protective shells to unfurl into our next fuller embodiment.

We begin to recognize that the models themselves, no matter how revelatory, are still products of the human mind and its inherent biases. Even teachings carried through centuries hold the fingerprints of their cultural contexts and creators’ limited perspectives. The guides depicting the journey are not the journey itself but fraught representations shaped by the blind spots and backgrounds of those who birthed them.

For those subjected to systemic marginalization, this becomes exponentially truer. The ordered worlds described in many spiritual teachings are built upon foundations of disordered oppression and dehumanization. What is cast as “disorder” from a dominant lens is simply the daily reality for so many. Their “reorder” means overthrowing rather than returning to a dysfunctional former state.

Thus, we must hold the models humbly, as rough sketches of a vista no one has fully beheld. They can illumine paths forward for a while, until the way disappears into the cloud of unknowing once more. Then, we must feel our way Further Up and Further In, following the tracings of those who have gone before while blazing new trails.

At last, we recognize that the true kernel and curriculum lies not outside us in texts and teachings, but within the raw living of our own lives. Scripture, models, and guides are simply reflection pools helping us see ourselves more clearly in the ongoing revelation unfolding through us. We do not abandon the spiritual mappings offered through the ages, but meet them with our most intimate experiences, our most ferocious longings and gritty questions, until the models break open into deeper disclosure once more. In such crucible moments, we are stripped, re-forged, and sent forth as featured players and authors rather than passive recipients in the great Cosmic Drama. The twisting paradoxes of existence become our strange teachers, the anvil upon which we are hammered and reformed.

The path winds ever onward, and we find ourselves disoriented yet again as the maps blur and give way to trackless wilderness. We must surrender over and over to not-knowing, allowing the models to fall away so that our souls can be remade yet again in the fires of lived experience. With each revolution of the cycle, we die a thousand deaths to the certainties that once constrained us, emerging humble and wide-awake into a deeper aliveness.

In these seasons of descent and dissolution, the very energies and entities that we once understood as threats or impediments reveal themselves as strange guides and allies. The doubts, disillusionments, and detours that we dreaded turn out to be the secret entrance-ways into new expanses of being and beholding. We begin to recognize that there is nothing to avoid or exclude on this pilgrimage – all of it, every single shred of our fragmented inner and outer landscapes, comprises the rugged curriculum of our transformation.

So we commit ourselves fully to the only path there has ever been – a radical, unqualified yes to the rawness of what is. We meet the beauty and terror of this moment, this cutting-edge happening of existence, with the whole weight of our awakening being. Layer after layer, we are undressed until there is nothing left to hold on to but the loving embrace of Source cradling and animating all that arises.

As we spiral through these cycles of loss and renaissance, we sense how little we actually choose or control the voyage. The depths we have sounded and the peaks we have scaled – these were not achievements we bootstrapped through grit or self-determination. Like tree rings, our souls expand with each season of diminishment and outpouring, hollowing out our inner cores to make space for the sacred to pour through.

We are humbled witnesses to the relentless intelligence animating all of life, that masterful choreography unfurling through every galaxy and amoeba, every joyous inhale and every shuddering exhalation. We realize that even in our most courageous moments of consciously “choosing the path,” we are but dewdrops reflecting back the infinite vastness whirling within and around us.

The entire journey, in all its cyclical renewals, reveals itself as a love story – the Beloved sojourning through endless domains and dimensions, losing itself only to rediscover its inexhaustible depths in each new instant. Every step we take, whether scaled in transcendence or brokered in pain, is guiding us into ever more radical intimacy.

And so we continue onward, shedding and unfurling at every turn. With each passage through death and rebirth, our perspectives broaden and our hearts crack open a bit further. We can no longer harden ourselves against the realities that previously threatened us – the shattering of cherished beliefs, the unraveling of roles and identities, the loss of relationships, health, and dreams. For in losing what we grasped so tightly, we have discovered the secret freedom of embracing the fullness of existence exactly as it is.

In this charged awakeness, the entire cosmos reveals itself as a boundless banquet and crying vigil layered into one boundless happening. All parcels of the experience serve as portals into the one great Mystery. Sharp sorrow and thunderclaps of insight, sublime stillness and seething restlessness – each discloses another facet of the jewel, another painting in the endless gallery exploring the raptures and paradoxes of divine embodiment.

With our shells of certainty dissolved, we find that we can safely hold the most seeming contradictions within our integrated field of awareness. Light and shadow, life and death, union and separation – these dualities harmonize into a higher unifying chords within us, appreciated rather than grasped or resolved. We bow to what the great spiritual masters have affirmed across all traditions – that the unspeakable Source weaves itself through form and emptiness, pleasure and pain, gaining and losing, without opposition or conflict.

In this spacious embrace, all models and teachings reveal themselves as wondrous plays of perspective, each framing reality through a unique lens while inevitably falling infinitely short of depicting the whole. The very notion of “one path” or “ultimate truth” surrenders to a humble recognition – all our mappings are provisional, poetic gestures expressing aspects of the seamless radiance that defies full capture or depiction.

And so at last, we find ourselves free from grasping the way, able to flow with life’s ceaseless unfolding without attachment even to non-attachment itself. Having followed the twisting roads of previous traditions as far as we could, we now wander wild as love’s jesters, celebrating and satirizing all philosophies and prescriptions along the way. For whether entranced by ecstasy or enshrouded in alienation, we have unveiled the open secret – all arises as pristine emanations in this eternal moment, facets refracting the infinite play of consciousness exploring itself through myriad eyes.

Our native enlightenment surfaces as the willingness to abide as fully-present witnesses in all conditions and terrains of the path, with all its circuitous joys and woundings. In bearing intimate testimony to life’s endless unfolding, we become life itself – unbounded, untamed, and ever-new. Our cyclical descents and ascents unscroll into a breathtaking dance of always arriving yet never arriving, the grand pulsation of unveiling with no endpoint or completion.

In this cradling mystery, all models and maps dissolve into the wordless poetry heard only in great silence. And so we spiral onward as that holy hush, receiving and celebrating existence at the ever-unpeeling frontier – where the only journey that matters ventures forth into the sweetness of this listening, this irreducible, sacred Yes.


Models of spiritual development, such as seasons or stages, provide helpful frameworks for the journey, but have inherent limitations and should not be clung to rigidly. Surprisingly, what appears as regression may actually represent profound progress according to the traditional contemplative view. Even scripture itself can catalyze deconstructing overly simplistic theological containers by revealing greater complexity. The process of descent or disorder is often necessary before ascending to new growth and reorder, requiring a letting go of previous stages. However, models are created by human beings reflecting the constraints and perspectives of their creators, often from the dominant culture. Those from different backgrounds and generations may experience the same models quite differently, necessitating continual updates. For marginalized groups, the very concepts of order, disorder, and reorder take on distinct meanings shaped by lived experiences of oppression. Ultimately, one’s life itself becomes the true curriculum and teacher, demanding courage to engage the difficult questions and experiences integral to transformation. The aim is not rigid dogmatic answers, but a willingness to dialogue, explore, and let life guide the unfolding seasons of spiritual growth.


1. Models of spiritual development, such as the seasons or stages of the spiritual life, can provide helpful frameworks for understanding the journey, but they have limitations and should not be clung to rigidly.

2. What may appear as regression or backsliding in one’s spiritual life can actually represent progress and deeper transformation according to the traditional contemplative understanding.

3. Scripture itself can be a catalyst for deconstructing overly simplistic theological containers, as it reveals greater complexity.

4. The process of descent or disorder is often necessary to let go of previous stages before ascending to new levels of growth and reorder.

5. Models are created by human beings and thus reflect the limitations and perspectives of their creators, often coming from a dominant culture.

6. Individuals from different backgrounds and cultures may experience the same models differently, and future generations will likely need updated models.

7. For marginalized groups, the concepts of order, disorder, and reorder may have different meanings based on their lived experiences of oppression.

8. Ultimately, one’s life itself becomes the curriculum and teacher, necessitating courage to engage with difficult questions and experiences on the path of transformation.

9. The goal is not rigid dogmatic answers, but an openness to dialogue, exploration, and letting life be the guide through the seasons of spiritual growth.