How to Measure Spiritual Progress
Measuring one’s own spiritual progress when doing the inner work is not only something that can be achieved, but it is encouraged to do so. However, because spirituality is seen as an abstract subject, it is often assumed that a spiritual progress cannot be measured in a concrete way, and that the only way to attempt something of that sort is by some vague observations, or perhaps even being content with not measuring it at all, which is when spirituality is approached as a kind of a belief system. The latter seems to be the case for those who are content with searching for answers, but not doing the actual inner work. However, if the spirituality would be approached from the point of view of the inner work, then the spiritual progress can indeed be measured.
It is often the case among those who do the inner work to think that the only way to measure one’s own progress is by noticing an obvious decrease of the ego, or by noticing joy and happiness in life, or that psychic faculties are beginning to surface etc. These things can give us some insights, but only up to certain extent. It is necessary to go beyond that and to find out how exactly we are performing.
If we see after some time of applying the technique of the Mystical death that we are becoming more peaceful and less reactive, then this is a good sign, however it could also mean that the ego is simply not manifesting as much. If we assume that we are progressing (or not progressing) based on joyful states, we could again self-deceive ourselves, because such states (or lack thereof) could be there for various reasons, not necessarily as the result of the death of the ego or transmutation. They could be there because, for instance, we feel more content in life, or because of strengthening the consciousness by practicing self-remembrance, or as a result of meditation.
And the same thing goes for the appearance of psychic faculties; many look at these as the end goal in itself, but it is simply a stage in the work when we get them, not necessarily showing us that we are making any significant progress. The reason for this is because the psychic faculties could be enabled and given to us for various reasons; it is generally a decision of the inner Being, or sometimes a result of something that we did in our past lives.
There are better ways to measure progress; more concrete and tangible ways.
We can find out about the exact percentage of consciousness that we have. In the Gnostic teachings, it is explained that everyone starts the work with around 3% of free consciousness, while the rest of consciousness (97%) is bottled up in the subconscious mind. This means that the ratio at the beginning of the work is 3% of consciousness, and 97% of the subconsciousness. The latter are egoic states such as greed, anger, lust, pride, etc. Proportionally to the dissolution of these egos, the trapped conditioned consciousness is set free and it joins the already free consciousness, and like this it grows in size, from 3% to 4% to 5% etc.
When we do the inner work for some time, such as a year or two, we should be able to feel our consciousness more, and we should notice that it has increased, because the way we perceive our surroundings would change. We can also try and get the information about how much of it we have liberated. This information could be given to us in a dream, a conscious astral experience, or told to us by someone in the physical world who has access to such information. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to get that information, and knowing it would benefit you a lot.
The reason why it would benefit you is because you would know how you are doing. For example, suppose you are doing the inner work for two years, and you investigate and discover that you liberated 4% of consciousness in those two years, and that now in total you have 7% of free consciousness. This information would enable you to keep track of your progress; you could set a goal that you liberate 2% of consciousness per year, and then at the end of that year you can investigate to see if you achieved this or not. This would put you in the know on how you are doing, and if there is a need to apply more efforts to reach your goal.
Another way how to measure spiritual progress is by finding out where exactly you are on the Path to Liberation. Not only can you find out approximately on which stage you are, but you can find out precisely where you are, whether that be on the tests of the four elements, or the minor initiations of the Probative path, or further above, on the First Mountain etc.
Unfortunately, many Gnostic students (when I say “Gnostic students” I am also referring to teachers and even Gnostic leaders, because in reality all aspirants, and even initiates, are students of life and Creation) believe that the inner work is so difficult that it is almost pointless to apply an effort to measure progress. They believe that there are very few people who ever arrive to the Major initations; that almost no one can awaken Kundalini, and that climbing up the First Mountain is only for the elites – for those who have immensely strong inner Being that can push them to reach far. The sad thing is that many of such Gnostic students are not aware that with such thinking they are not only limiting themselves, but are also creating a stumbling block for their fellow students to reach far, by indirectly making them believe that reaching far is reserved for the ‘special ones’.
The spiritual progress can be measured, and it is measured by those whose mind is free enough to go beyond a common belief of a possible limitation coming from their group or school. Such people will search and will arrive to the answer about where exactly they are on the path, and how much consciousness they acquired.
The knowledge of where we are on the path can also be given to us through a dream or astral experience, or some other way. Again, there are ways to discover that information, and to discover it again after one year, and again the next year etc., and then based on that we can make goals and plans. For example, if you find out that you are on a certain initiation of the First mountain, but that in order to complete it you need somewhat more consciousness that you already have, then you would know in which direction should more efforts be applied; you would know that it is necessary to die to the egos more in order to achieve the required amount of consciousness so that you can pass that initiation and start working on the next one. Or if you discover that you are on a spiritual level for a prolonged period of time, you would know that something needs changing in your inner work so that you can pass that stage and go further up.
To be in the know about the level you are on is a wonderful thing, it is an important thing, because then the inner Gnostic work is not just something that stays at a level of an interest, but becomes something tangible and concrete, something that can be measured. Then plans, changes and adaptations can be made based on it. Like this, the inner work becomes something of a much more importance in life, much more valuable. We no longer feel lost as to where we are, but rather we know exactly where we stand on our journey, and what is in front of us that we aim to reach.
HDP, June 2020.