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There have been descriptions of levels of human awareness for thousands of years. Surprisingly the majority of these describe seven points of focus or seven levels. A few of them, picked almost at random, are summarised below.


You may be familiar with the concept of chakra which features in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Chakra are believed to be centers of the body in which a person can collect energy. They are connected to major organs or glands that govern other body parts. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" . The energies governed by each chakra give rise to different perceptions ranging from the body and physical senses at the root to divine consciousness at the crown.

The model proposed here has nothing to do with the chakras which are unproven and unprovable.

Sahasrara: The Crown Chakra

Ajna: The Brow Chakra

Vishuddha: The Throat Chakra

Anahata: The Heart Chakra

Manipura: The Solar Plexus Chakra

Swadhisthana: The Sacral Chakra

Muladhara: The Root Chakra

Teresa of Avilla and The Interior Castle

El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle) or Las Moradas (The Mansions) was written by St. Teresa of Avila in 1577. According to contemporary accounts, St. Teresa had a revelation from God of a crystal globe in the shape of a castle containing seven mansions. This is St. Teresa's interpretation of that vision, describing the journey of faith through seven stages, ending with union with God.

The Seven Rays

The concept of the Rays originated in the ancient Vedic literature of India, and was associated with the Seven Rishis, advanced beings who acted as agents of the Absolute. The Seven Rays were introduced to the west by Madam Blavatsky, and included in her book The Secret Doctrine.Amongst her variety of teachings on the ancient wisdom was the concept of the Seven Rays, the divine energy responsible for the evolution of all life.

One follower of Blavatsky, a member of the Theosophical Society, was Alice A. Bailey. Born in 1880 she wrote many books based around the concepts introduced by Blavatsky, including a 5-volume work on the Seven Rays.

Almost everything we know about the Rays today is based on the Alice Bailey books, because she gives apparently detailed accounts of how they function none of which has been substantiated. There are also numerous discrepancies within her works, and much is completely obscure.

Why then even mention this verbose product of early twentieth century credulity? Because again a sevenfold split in awareness is suggested. The essence of the teaching behind the Seven Rays is that each of us develops along one of seven different evolutionary paths. This makes the transmission of objective knowledge concerning the Rays very difficult, because each ray type will view the world from a different perspective. This is an issue which will be taken up later.

Richard Barrett

This sevenfold view is still continuing. In 1998, Richard Barrett, a British born Business Consultant, published ‘Liberating the Corporate Soul: Building a Visionary Organisation’ in which he introduces a Seven Levels of Consciousness model which he describes as so:

“Every human being on the planet evolves and grows in consciousness in seven well defined stages. Each stage focuses on a particular existential need that is common to the human condition. These seven existential needs are the principal motivating forces in all human affairs.  The level of growth and development of an individual depends on their ability to satisfy their needs”.

We need to clarify one point, the fact that many sevenfold models of awareness exist does not ‘prove’ that these centres exist and it tells us nothing about ‘reality’. What it does tell us with some degree of certainty is that the human psyche is set up to represent awareness in seven different ways.

Seven Levels to Enlightenment

The Qur'an frequently mentions the existence of seven samaawat, plural of samaa'a, which is customarily translated as 'heaven'.

"So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge."[Quran 41:12]

Scholars have generally interpreted this not that there exists seven separate heavens but one heaven (Paradise) with seven degrees of closeness to God.

Left: Ascent of Muhammad to Heaven (ca. 1539–1543), ascribed to Sultan Muhammad. From the Khamseh of Nizami


This introduces a very important concept, which will be explored in depth later, that there are left and right, positive and negative, external and internal aspects to these levels.


The Jewish torah defines seven aspects of awareness. Later, the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition produced the ‘Tree of Life’ a representation of all human experience and also a description of the entire Universe from the very roots of matter to the Godhead itself. There are Ten Sephira (Centres of energy / awareness) so at first glance this does not seem to fit, but if you look at the diagram you will notice that some centres exist at the same level, thus there are seven levels of being.