Fr. Tom and Dr. Qinjian talked about spiritual growth
By Fr. Thomas Benz 2005

Here is my way of articulating the spiritual and developmental stages of life:
Many spiritual writers have written about the stages of spiritual development.  Perhaps John of the Cross is the most well known with his stages of purification, illumination and union.  However, individual people have unique differences and these stages are not absolutely the same in every instance.  People have many unique differences in their own unique journeys through life and to God.
However, in every case the believer is invited to move from self-centeredness to God centeredness.  In every case, we are called to move from selfishness to love.  I suppose that every legitimate spiritual writer is describing in some way that movement which is the heart of conversion.
You, Joseph, mention the journey from body to soul to spirit.  In you framework the individual moves from being focused on satisfaction of bodily needs and desires to the satisfaction of spiritual desires and finally to a pure and detached love of God.  I think that this is as good as any description of the spiritual journey and it parallels John of the Cross quite well.
John of the Cross spoke of the beginning of the journey as purification, that is, the individual must be stripped off the selfish desires that are part of our existence.  Then the person finds light and joy in God.  Often the person who finds illumination in God feels that he or she has already achieved the highest spiritual realms.  The sheer joy that one finds in God becomes very attractive, more attractive than the satisfaction of physical desires and thus the person begins to revel in the love of God.  At this stage the individual is not aware of the selfishness that still lurks in his or her heart.
The only way to the next spiritual stage is through the cross.  On the cross, Jesus felt abandoned by God, "my God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"  In his extreme pain, humiliation, rejection and impending death, God seemed absent.  In the dark night, the individual feels no more consolation from God. He or she remembers how sweet was the light of God's love before, but now finds not the presence of God, but His absence.  It is possible at this point for the individual to give up on God and to revert to a material or body focused lifestyle.  But if the person has been struck deeply enough by God, he or she will walk in this darkness, still loving and still believing.
The person begins to realize that even spiritual consolation is partly selfish.  When a person prays to get spiritual peace, the person is acting somewhat for his own ends.  It is only when the person continues to pray without even getting spiritual peace, that the individual begins to discover what a truly mature and pure love of God will be.   A pure love is when we continue to love, despite getting nothing in return, not even spiritual peace.  This is a real shedding of our desires in favor of a deep desire for God alone.
Faith alone.  At some point there is no bodily sense, no miracles or answered prayers, no spiritual comfort--only faith.  It is faith in the desert; it is the faith of Jesus on the cross.  This is a faith, which is quite frightening and rare.  But this is the highest form of Christian perfection and it means that the individual has been stripped off everything but the desire for God and God's will.