1. Worldly Person
2. Spiritual Aspirant
3. Spiritual Seeker
4. Spiritual Master
1. Worldly Person: A worldly person is the one who cannot think beyond the five senses. Sensual pleasure alone gives him pleasure and if restrained from it he feels annoyed. He prays God and pleads Him for money, wealth and sense pleasures.
2. Spiritual Aspirant: A spiritual aspirant is a person who acknowledges that his present condition cannot give him permanent happiness and something must be done to overcome this limitation. However, an aspirant is often a confused person. He knows that he wants to change but he doesn't know how. He then starts looking for various spiritual paths. While searching a spiritual path an aspirant often shows selfishness. He expects that the path he selects should be easy. Though he knows that some change is needed in his life he is not wholeheartedly ready to take efforts in that direction. Once he feels that the path of Knowledge is right for him and the next moment he thinks that path of Devotion is more suited for him. When he comes across the path of Yoga he starts evaluating its merits and demerits. The idea of rigorous self-disciplines makes him nervous. Can I do it? Why is such strict life needed? Well, I can do that even without any disciplines, such are his thoughts.
An aspirant often hops from one Guru to the other. He considers himself so much knowledgeable that he tries to judge the Gurus. He decides on his own that Guru A is bad and Guru B is good. Out of thousand spiritual aspirants only few realize that in order to attain some spiritual progress honesty and determination is needed. Changing path or Guru often provides no solution. In fact it makes the situation worst. They now make up their mind to follow a chosen path and Guru. They sincerely request the Guru to impart his teachings. They are now ready to spend their entire life in the pursuit of the spiritual goals. This is how an aspirant evolves into a seeker.
3. Spiritual Seeker: A spiritual seeker is a person who has chosen a particular spiritual path and Guru and is dedicated wholeheartedly to the path. A true seeker rarely engages in acquiring knowledge via mere reading. More importantly Guru's words are scriptures for him. He has full faith in his Guru's teachings. No situation in life can shatter his belief from his path and Guru. Such a person alone can make any real spiritual progress. A true seeker rarely engages in intellectual debates. He rarely criticizes other paths of spiritual unfoldment. He says "My path is good for me but the other paths are equally good for their followers." Such a seeker works hard towards his goals. He has no doubt left about his path. At the advanced stages he starts getting glimpses of the Truth. Though he has made considerable progress there is still danger of degradation. Even an advanced seeker can get carried away from his path if he is not alert and allows worldly events to interfere in his spiritual life. Even if he might have got glimpses of Divinity but still he comes back to the material plane again and again.
4. Spiritual Master: After a lot of rigorous practice a seeker realizes the Truth. He gets convinced by the Truth and is able to dwell day in day out in the state of realization. He now becomes a master. Now he doesn't have slightest of doubt about the Truth because he has experienced it. He continues to live like an ordinary person but he is no longer affected by material events. He eats, drinks, sleeps and works like an ordinary person but he has become a Jivanamukta. Such a master can kindle the spiritual flame of thousands of seekers or he may opt to serve silently to the God. His life is now controlled by the Divine will. He lives his life only to finish the prabdha karma never to return back in this worldly plane.
Whatever stage one may belong to one should eye to the next stage with constant and sincere efforts. Never feel sad about your current stage. We all can try our best and strive to reach the next level finally reaching the ultimate goal. This is the only way to cross this ocean of birth and death.