The stages of spiritual development have many names depending on the author of the model being described. While the names may be different the forms and content of the stages are approximately the same. The model that seems most basic is one based on the hierarchy of six human needs outlined by Abraham Maslow: physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, self actualization, and transcendence.
The views of god held by human beings are anthropomorphic projections based on the felt needs at each stage of development. Church and religions exist and thrive to the extent that they help humans satisfy these needs throughout the human life cycle. Each stage of spiritual development subsumes the previous stage into the larger subsequent stage. These stages get repeated for each individual human being as well as for their groups whether they be family, community, regions, nations, societies, and global. Currently, at a societal level there is a transition from the belongingness stage, stage 3, what the integral philosophers call ethnocentric, to an esteem stage, stage 4, where the self worth of all humans is being recognized and acknowledged so that ethnocentric boundaries are crumbling creating fear in people stuck at the belongingness stage, stage 3, of development.
A question that might be asked is “To what extent do churches and religions facilitate spiritual development or impede it?” Churches and religions that have been barriers and obstacles to spiritual growth are dying with attendance and membership dropping significantly in the last few decades of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
If you go to church and identify with a religion, to what extent and in what ways does your church and religion facilitate your spiritual growth?
Let’s look at the stages of spiritual development outlined above based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and assess the degree to which various cultural beliefs and traditions, and societal institutions facilitate spiritual growth of the members of society.