The Seven Levels of Awareness

By James Chase

When I write the story of my life I would like to give it the title – “The Parable of the 2 x 4”. In order to understand why let me share with you a story about a farmer and his mule. The originator of the story is unknown and I have seen several versions on the Internet so I will write how I remember it.

A long time ago a new farmer was in need of a mule to plow his land. He went to his neighbor to see if he had a mule to sell. As is the practice when purchasing a mule, the new farmer asked if the mule had any problems that he should be aware of. The neighbor said that the mule would do anything he asked.

The new farmer took the mule home and the next day took him out to the field to plow. The farmer said, “Git up!” But the mule did nothing. He even went as far as talking nice to the mule. Still nothing happened. After some time the new farmer called his neighbor and came over right away.

After the new farmer explained what had happened, the neighbor went over and picked up a two-by-four. He hit the mule over the head and whispered in the mule’s ear. The mule proceeded to plow back and forth the field. The new farmer said to the neighbor, “I am not in agreement of mistreating an animal. Why did you hit him over with the two-by-four?”

“Well,” said the neighbor. “You have to get his attention first.”

Now, I am not a proponent of hurting animals and this story is only a metaphor, but it describes perfectly the “aha moments” that we each have. As I look back through my life I can remember many of them.

For example, several years ago I came across the “Seven Levels of Awareness” as described by Bob Proctor, and they made an impact on me. Let me share (from the lowest to the highest):

  1. Animal – At this level “we react” to outside influences and circumstances.
  2. Mass– Here we “follow the crowd”.
  3. Aspiration – This is where we desire to be better but don’t make the necessary changes.

These three levels are where most of us are and we get stuck at aspiration. But we don’t have to. The rest of the levels are as follows:

  1. Individual Expression– Here we become aware of our own uniqueness.
  2. Discipline – When we are at this level we give ourselves a command and we follow it.
  3. Experience– At some point we have direct experience and we act on those ideas.
  4. Mastery– This is where we reach a certain level of skill – we have mastered whatever skill we are trying to obtain.

Learning about these levels was an “aha moment” for me because I had previously wondered why I couldn’t seem to obtain that “golden ticket” in life. When I learned about these levels, I finally had words to describe my problem.

There are several areas of our life that we can work on: spiritual, financial, physical, relational, and personal/professional lives. I seemed to focus on only one or two items but left the others to whatever came along. Understanding the levels allowed me to chart out where I am, and where I want to be in each of the areas.

And when you feel you have mastered each area, there are always new goals that can be achieved.

In the personal and professional area I had received my high school diploma. I had mastered that area, or so I thought. I realized after that I would need a college education to progress further in my career. I went through the levels again to work towards my Bachelors degree. This degree only took me so far. To become a college professor I need to continue on to obtain my Masters degree. Again that took me only so far, so I obtained my Doctorate degree and became a full professor. It seems that in both schooling and in life, there’s always another level of achievement that invites us to stretch and grow.

No matter who we are, there is always room for improvement, and this is something we must understand if we want to continue experiencing growth and development in all the areas of our lives.

Dr. James B. Chase, Jr., EdD
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