The Sufi has different methods and practices, different schools and scholars. One thing that most Sufis know is the “nafs/self’ levels. Based on these levels the “Mureed” (Student) of Sufism will start his/her journey to the Most High. There are sub-levels and multiple branches but what we will highlight here are the main Seven Levels of Self as taught by the Sufi Scholar Abdul Qadir Gilani. The seven maqamat (stages) on the path of truth every soul must go through to attain Oneness.
God’s names come with each one of these Levels. The knowledge of each name is not revealed until you reach the next level. Through each name, you experience certain situations and encounters where this particular name is the perfect method to reach the Lord’s blessings and advice.
Working with the names means understanding, verifying their secrets and meanings, enjoying the pleasure of worshiping through them, collecting their reward, and creating behavior according to their concepts and contents (embodying the name). The ranks of the Seven Selves, revolve around the meanings and secrets of Gods 99 names.
The Seven Levels
The seven levels happen in the following order:
Level One – The Depraved Self:
The most primitive and common state of being. Most humans are stuck on this level, suffering, and struggling. This stage is full of desires like eating, sleeping, talking etc. The self is all that’s important, it needs and it wants all the time. It is the body’s primitive needs. You will go through envy, jealousy, stinginess, anger, fear, and unawareness of self or others. The main state here is to always do something instead of being. Also blaming others for your own unhappiness. If you are on this level you will notice animals and their animalistic behavior of blind emotions and desires. You think of animals as an unimportant nuisance. The Depraved Self is occupied with thoughts like filth, drugs, alcohol, how dirty and unfair the world and people are.
Level two – The Blaming Self:
When the self is more aware of its own unhappiness it starts focusing inside. You hold your self accountable for your own unhappiness. You will be wavering and uncertain of things most of the time. Swinging between right and wrong. You will feel shy and hide some of your feelings from others. The main state here will be over-thinking and disagreeing in general. If you are on this level your center of attention is food and its origins, houses, shops, and neighborhoods. You will notice more plants, fruits, and vegetables. You are preoccupied with earning a living and supporting your self. You are still developing spiritually inside.
Level Three – The Inspired Self
The self on this stage is more mature. It is humble, generous and patient. Only at this level, you experience knowledge. You display perseverance and wisdom. The main state here is awareness and discernment between right and wrong, in what you or others do. At this level, you notice women and men, people with faith and without, all types of polarity because the self has knowledge and clarity now. Life seems adventurous and exciting.
Level Four – The Serene Self
This stage is more generous and awake. You are always thankful for the unfolding of events in your life regardless of hardships. When you reach this level people’s presence and opinions don’t concern you anymore. You notice saints, scholars and mystics. You focus on worship, reverence and helping others. You also start noticing presidents and kings or people in power.
Level Five – The Pleased Self
Now the self is very different, it is on a higher level of consciousness, closer to the Most High. It seeks only the Beloved. Here you are permanently pleased with God, you are pleased with whatever the situation you are placed in. Suddenly all small inconveniences don’t matter. Nothing can disturb your inner peace. You focus on the heavenly kingdom of God and his blessings, you see only in his light.
Level Six – The Satisfied Self
In this level you become a shining flame for others, radiating energy and love to everyone who seeks it. You are teaching truth and helping humanity. You make a big difference wherever you go and in peoples lives. The main focus here is serving God by serving others. If you reach this level you notice the skies, space, and stars. Fire is seen as a sign of demolishing in the Lord’s love. You endure any pain or harm that has been done to you and you forgive.
Level Seven – The Perfect/Purified Self
No one knows much about this level because it is the last one which completes a human being. Some mention seeing pure water in different forms, rivers, seas, oceans, rains as a sign of the ultimate merging with consciousness and Oneness.
Whether you are at the first or the sixth level, the self can always be improved and polished. In this life, we climb the ladder from total ignorance to different levels of knowledge and inner tranquility. The most important message here is that self-knowledge is your own private journey. What happens in your life is not coincident, what you see and experience is designed and destined for you. The nafs (self) is the veil and whenever it is left and illuminated, we can Be.