Application

Several observations may be drawn from applying this model in practice. Firstly, it does not seem that an individual needs to be at the same stage in all these dimensions. In fact, people are often not (which creates difficulty for theories that do not recognise the different dimensions). To illustrate this point, the development can be represented with three figures where the first one refers to knowledge, the second to experience, and the third to intent. For example, fashion followers can be generally characterised in this way as 2, 1, 3[11]. Number (2) indicates that their concept of fashion is dictated by others or the media. This is applied to the physical experience (1) (as long as clothes are considered to be so). However, they are making a personal choice (they are not conditioned) to follow a particular trend (3). In comparison, those whose appearance is defined by their culture or a religious creed would be 2, 1, 2. On the other hand, 2, 1, 4 may refer, for instance, to the disciples of a yoga master. The first figure indicates that their knowledge depends on a teacher, the second that the focus is on the physical, the body, and the third that they are dedicated to transcendence. Those who practice reflectively would be 3, 1, 4, and those who abandon attachment to even their own way of doing yoga and follow intuition would be 4, 1, 4. A stage of development is, however, not stable and may fluctuate from situation to situation. Reaching a particular stage means that one's repertoire is expanded, not that the person remains always there. In fact, sometimes it is more appropriate to utilise or operate at earlier stages, in order to avoid a conflict with others or unnecessary complications (e.g. the 1st ring is normally most conducive to driving). Moreover, quantitative development plays an important role too. Any stage of any dimension can be well or poorly developed in this respect. Even a whole dimension (e.g. experience) may be neglected, which is different from being at its early stage. This all shows that although developmental models can be useful tools, any generalisations based on them (including the ones above) may not capture the complexity of real life.

 

One issue has not been addressed so far: the motivation for individual development. Of course, it is to some extent intrinsic (especially at the early stages) but this recedes over time. Many arrive at the point of asking themselves ‘I am going to die any way, so why bother?' For this reason, it is important to consider what may happen after death and whether development may continue. This is the subject of the next chapter.

  • [11]. The numbers represent stages: 1 - physical, 2 - conventional, 3 - personal, and 4 - transcendent.