This content is excerpted from the Lifecycles & LIfestyles Student Manual. Copyright: Kundalini Research Institute 2007.
“Life is in stages; the body is in stages. You are a child, an adult, and then you become old. Each stage needs to be respected. At each stage, the mind should cover the body and the spirit should cover the mind. If this happens, it brings you balance, virtues and prosperity.” — Siri Singh Sahib ji
We all recognize that there are stages to our lives; but we rarely think that they will really happen to us. We tend to avoid the long view. Instead we deal only with the challenges directly pressing on us—today—with little awareness or perspective of our entire journey.
Many sages have alerted us to the value of mapping the territory of this brief journey called life. Even if we have only a rudimentary understanding of how this moment in our life’s journey is part of a longer journey, we could pace ourselves.
We could prepare: bring the right supplies; be sure our emergency kits are up-to-date and complete with the instruments and balms necessary to soothe or prevent the common ailments that occur on this common journey.
Spiritual guides, professional healers, therapists, and even storytellers have given us such maps. Some of those maps focus on special features, like moral judgment in Kholberg’s studies, or personality development in Erickson’s stages, or on health issues in various medical models, or on movements toward transcendence, as in Wilbur’s transpersonal models.
Our Spiritual Teacher gave us another perspective. He looked at this common journey and its stages from the perspective of how to act—successfully and regally, with dignity and grace in every step of life.
To do that, we must realize our basic nature, how we’re constructed and the mechanisms we employ as a human being. Each of us is a combination of body, mind, soul and you.
You are a collection of vehicles or bodies that can experience and act in different realms of existence. In yoga we speak of ten bodies, instead of just the one physical body. These ten bodies, from the physical to the subtle, have their own characteristics and requirements. They have cycles and rhythms that must interact smoothly in order for you to experience vitality and awareness.
The goal of our efforts in Kundalini Yoga and Meditation is simple:
“The basic purpose of life is just to be human and to deal with life as a human being. Don’t’ become so bitter that somebody will throw you away or so sweet that someone can eat you up.” — Siri Singh Sahib ji, 1982
“Take just one understanding upon yourself—I am a human being. When are you going to realize you are a human being? Once in a lifetime? The day you remember that you are a human, that day you will become Divine, and duality will leave you. You will be prosperous. Opportunity will come to you. You will not try to get anything—all things will come to you and your spirits will be high. As a human being you are very vast. And that vastness can give you all the happiness you need. That is your fulfillment. That is your completion.” — Siri Singh Sahib ji, April 7, 2000
The Three Basic Cycles of Change and Opportunity
The secret to fulfilling yourself as a human being within this complex system of experiential vehicles is to master the balance, maintenance and development of your three basic cycles—the three rings of success.
Each ring represents a cycle of change and every one of us is subject to these natural developmental rhythms. The various life cycles and stages of development are windows of opportunity for our own expansion and growth, an opportunity to uplift ourselves and our soul . . .
The cycles have a natural rhythm of 7, 11, and 18 years. These cycles function like natural tides. Each cycle changes our energy, our perception of ourselves, and our manner of engaging with the world.
Each cycle aligns us to the stage of life we are in and creates conditions and contrasts which allow us to assess ourselves and the results of our past efforts.
The three cycles are outlined below:
The 7-year Cycle of Consciousness
Changes the basic level and style of consciousness. How do we interpret things? What are our priorities? What are our values? How do we find and create meaning? To what depth, quality and character are we aware of our original self? What is our scope of being? How connected are we to people and the universe? Consciousness refers to how we understand things, our priorities and our sense of self.
The 11-year Cycle of Intelligence
Changes our applied intelligence. How do we manifest our thoughts into action? What are the strategies we pursue toward realizing our goals? How do we enact our consciousness? How does our spirit and our consciousness guide the intellect to act intuitively? How well do we perceive cause and effect, and the implications of our actions and choices? Intelligence is our means of enacting our ideas and fulfilling our purpose, as identified by our consciousness.
The 18-year Cycle of Life Energy
Changes physical health and vitality and our manner of dealing with our life – our interactions, level of activity, needs for a quality of life, lifestyle and habits to care for our physical well being. Life Energy describes the level and quality of energy available to us, how we organize activities and how we establish and maintain relationships.
Each of these cycles addresses a part of our lives. Because each cycle is a different period of time, the interactions between them generate adaptability and flexibility and give particular qualities to the transitions we experience at different ages and stages in our lives.
The movement and combination of these cycles provide a basic character to the stages of our life. There are many ways to mark the stages of development in the flow of life. When we look at the interactions of the cycles and where they cluster into major life transitions, we observe five primary stages of development. Each has its own needs, challenges and tasks to fulfill as we mature and master all of our capacities as a human being.
The Five Stages of Development
- Childhood or Mutuality: Conception through 11 years
- Adolescence: 11-21 years
- Young Adult: 22-40 years
- Maturity: 40-66 years
- Elder: 66 years to death.
These developmental cycles progress at their own pace. We may or may not pay attention to them and we can often be mistaken about the stage we are in.
We imagine that our likes and dislikes, desires and goals are decisions we make, when actually the shifts in these cycles change our desires, our perceptions and even the world we think we live in.
We need to have a sense of these cycles so we can accept them and do what is necessary to optimize the opportunities they provide and better steward their needs.
“The tragedy of something is that whatever we love, every 7 years we hate it. Want it out. When you were one year old to seven years old, you loved certain realms. Seven years to fourteen years, you didn’t . . . When you are one, two, three years old, all you like is your bottle. So personality changes because consciousness changes after every 7 years. That’s a set brain wave to which man has no control. And you can think, you can plan, you can strategize. After every 11 years, your intelligence will change. These are the things over which you have no control. After 18 years, your lifestyle will change. It’ll not be the same, because your energy, your maturity, your experience will force you to change.” – Siri Singh Sahib ji, March 3, 1991