The Four Stages of Human Progress

Posted By: Shailesh Dev Tag: Scriptures Last Update: 10/10/2018

You all know that every movement in this world is systaltic. That is, speed followed by pause, pause followed by speed, just like the movement of an earthworm. In the mundane sphere human development can be determined by observing the external progress in the fields of science, technology etc. But that is not true progress or development. If human beings themselves are still stuck at the same place where they initially started their journey, what progress has been made? By building a road one does not advance along the path of progress – one will have to move along the road. So humans must progress in the psychic realm. And in the process of movement, they will reach a stage when the mind becomes non-existent. It is the human mind which performs spiritual practice. Unless and until the mind reaches that final supreme point, human beings will remain imperfect. This path of movement is divided into four stages: yatamána, vyatireka, ekendriya and vashiikára.

Yatamána is the stage when the devotee or spiritual practitioner makes sincere efforts. Now the point to make here is that while one continues making efforts an unlimited time may pass away. A person may say, “I am trying”, but if this trying last for three, four, five, twenty or twenty-five lives it may lead to retardation. So to say, “I am trying,” is not enough. Nevertheless, the benefit of the first stage is that at least human beings make constructive efforts. This is yatamána.

One needs a firm determination to progress from the first to the second stage or vyatireka. “Phaliśyatitii vishvása siddherprathama lakśamańa”. “I must succeed”. This sort of firm determination is the precondition for success. The story goes that Lord Buddha practiced sádhaná for a long time, but still did not attain the final goal. So when he sat down the second time, he made a firm determination:

Ihásane shuśyatu me shariiraḿ
Tvagasthimáḿsaḿ pralayaiṋca yátu
Aprápya bodhiḿ bahukalpadulabháḿ
Naevásanat káyamatashcaliśyate.

“Unless I attain the supreme height of enlightenment, I won’t move an inch from this posture, even if my body withers, and my bones, flesh and skin are destroyed”.

The second stage starts from this point – when one sits down with this firm determination to attain the final success. This is the stage of vyatireka. What happens in the initial stages? One gains a certain degree of control over some psychic propensities (vrttis) for a while. Later, at some other time, one may gain a little control over some of the other propensities. This is what a devotee normally experiences in the second stage. It is often noticed that many saints and monks who give up hearth and home have a weakness for food. They are pleased with anyone who offers them delicious food and drink. Other saints and monks, however, who have overcome their weakness for food, get very angry if their visitors don’t pay obeisance to them.

These are all psychic diseases, weaknesses of the mind. This is vyatireka. Devotees must start fighting these obstacles. They must take a vow of “do or die” because this psychic imbalance should not continue for long.

The third stage is ekendriya. Ekendriya means gaining full control over a particular psychic propensity. Once con trolled, it will never return, will never cause further degeneration. Full control over a certain psychic vrtti is known as ekendriya. What will be the result, for example, if a person gains full control over the vak indriya, the organ of speech? Whatever he or she will say will come true. This is called vak shuddhi. That is, one indriya, in this case the organ of speech, is brought well under control.

Next comes the fourth and final stage, the stage of vashiikára. In this stage all the psychic vrttis are brought well within the control of the spiritual practitioner. Suppose someone wants to know what happened 20,000 years ago. The moment the desire to know arises, his or her mind will return to the distant past and will see what really happened 20,000 years ago. If someone wants to know what is written on a particular page of a particular book printed in a certain country he or she sends the mind to that page and comes to know the contents immediately. These are all signs of absolute vashiikára siddhi. Ordinary people think that Mr so-and-so is a very well read person but the fact is otherwise. Everything has come from his vashiikára siddhi. He can project his mind anywhere to know anything. At that stage everything comes within his perfect control and he attains a kind of godhood. If he fails to surrender himself to Parama Puruśa, however, what will happen? Well, after attaining vashiikára siddhi and acquiring various occult powers, he will develop some ego. He will curse those he hates and thus, unknowingly, will gradually degenerate. He will meet his downfall. So after attaining vashiikára siddhi, one should surrender one’s unit soul, endowed with the acquired occult powers, to Paramátmá. What will be the result? One will become one with Parama Puruśa, one will become Parama Puruśa.

This is the proper path for human beings. This is how human beings have progressed step by step in the past, are progressing in the present and will progress in the future as well.

A.V. Part-04, 7 November 1978, Kalikata