3 stages of spiritual realization

Swami Vivekananda in his address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 spoke of 3 stages of spiritual realization.

We arrive at stage 1 when we are able to focus our mind on some particular image, book, work, method or specific place of worship. Swami ji said that without this support it shall be impossible to control the mind and stay on the spiritual path.

The 2nd stage of spiritual realization, thereafter, is achieved when we become capable of praying solely in our mind. Thus we may be physically engaged in any work, yet our mind remains absorbed in the prayer only.

Thereupon, the 3rd pedestal of spiritual realization we achieve, when we are able to  experience the eternal truth or the supreme self within ourselves.

Thus the complete journey of spirituality is travelling from stage 1 to stage 3. This is for everyone, everywhere and there are no short cuts to it.

Yes, some people, because of their past work (karma) are able to come quickly to stage 3, whereas others struggle to find semblance at level 1 itself.

Further, it has been my experience that as we continue to free ourselves of our various confusions, fears and dilemmas, etc. in life, we are gradually able to make progress from level 1 to 2. And then when we are able to develop enough concentration for meditation or true love of devotion, we start coming in sight of experiencing the level 3.

Hence, the key to spiritual progress in life is: Freedom from confusions, adopting meditation & love of devotion and vice-versa as well.