204: The Map -- Follow Your Heart to Illumination

The Labyrinth

One of the greatest difficulties in the path of self-development is to understand, "What is the goal, and what are the steps to that goal?" If we don't have a clear picture of what we can be, we have no hope of attaining it. At IAM, we do have a clear goal of what human development is, and how the opening of the heart is key.

The goal of spiritual development has changed in the last thousand years or so. It used to be "become pure, luminous consciousness." Now people ask, "What for? What can you do for me?" It is reasonable to ask, "What influence can a spiritually developed person have on the world, and what are the steps to develop that ability?"

Our roadmap of self-development is one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to the world. The clear descriptions of the 18 stages truly gives inspiration and meaning to the purpose of life. "The Map," as we call it, comes from the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, and incorporates the work of the great map makers --

  • The labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral is a visual image of the path, though not generally understood as such because it does not have the stages identified. The figure above shows where the nine steps are located in the labyrinth.
  • Farid ud-Din Attar, who wrote "The Conference of the Birds," described the first 9 steps of the path in allegorical terms.
  • Abu Nasr as-Sarraj (died 988) described the path of spiritual development through stage 9, though in a way that can only be understood by those who have been through it.
  • The Yogi Patanjali described a sequence of meditations from dharana (concentration) through seven levels of samadhi, but these attainments do not mark the stages of one's life.
  • In the 20th century, Erik Erikson, Daniel Levinson and Clifford Anderson described their research into adult psychological maturity, but psychological maturity is far from the end of the path. Their studies end at stage 5 of The Map because they didn't consider what's possible in spiritual maturity. Furthermore, spiritual maturity does not correlate to physical age.

Can you imagine how useful an experiential map of complete adult development could be? When you understand the sequence of steps that people go through, you can answer these questions for yourself:

  • Is this a time for you to step into the unknown, to consolidate your gains, or to reflect upon your direction?

  • Should you be building up your boundaries or dismanteling them? Developing power or sensitivity? Sacrificing for your ideals or looking beyond them? Learning or unlearning? Every possibility has it's place in The Map.

  • At this point in your life should you be developing your mind or your heart, achieving or surrendering, celebrating an advance or getting back on the path. There is a time for breakdowns, when they can lead to breakthroughs. And some events that feel like progress are actually back-sliding on the path to fulfillment.

  • How do you know what you can count on when you have to make a decision in your life? At each step of the path, the way to access your inner guidance changes. Furthermore, each step on the path has a trap and a puzzle. A lot of frustration could be avoided if one knew what is the current challenge and what should be postponed for later.

  • What is spiritual development, and what is the state it leads to -- awakening, enlightenment, illumination?

  • What is the purpose of my life and what is my next step toward that purpose?

The most important aspect of The Map is that it is not only descriptive, it is prescriptive. That is, The Map contains the instructions for making your next step.

The great step in human development is the OPENING OF YOUR HEART; it changes everything. It is an awakening to the beauty and wonder all around us. With your open heart you can accomplish great things, going far beyond competency to world-class excellence. You become essential to the heart of any organization you're a part of. Your relationships become extraordinary expressions of adoration, selfless service and willing surrender. In this course you will learn:

  1. What has to happen before your heart can open.
  2. The signs of the three stages of heart opening.
  3. What can happen spiritually and energetically after the heart opens.
  4. What stage you are in, and how to advance to the next stage.

This course is being offered through the University of the Heart.

The content of this course is taken from the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, the great Indian Sufi who taught in the West, starting in 1910. Although these teachings are a central part of his philosophy, IAM is the only school currently offering the material and experience of his map of spiritual development.

"The Map" is a treasure of the world's mystics, used to guide a person through the twists and turns of the path from early adulthood to the fulfillment of the purpose of one's life. To know The Map is to know what is possible in human development, what is the meaning of the challenges you're working with now, and how to reach your next step.

The Map describes the stages that relationships go through as they grow and develop more deeply. The Map also describes the stages of accomplishment and leadership. There is not another model that is so complete in description and so clear in prescription -- where you are and what you'll have to do and become to attain the next stage.


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The prerequisites for 204 are courses 101, 102, and 104.

The 8-week webcourse will require you to perform daily one of the eight meditations, as a new one is introduced each week, and to write several times a week about the great transitions in your life as you follow the weekly instructions and supplemental readings.

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