We recognise them as the seven stages of consciousness or the levels of Self (Nafs, ego).
The Commanding Self (nafs al-ammara),
The Blaming Self (nafs al-lawwama),
The Inspired Self (nafs al mulhimah),
The Satisfied Self (nafs al mutmainnah),
The Consenting Self (nafs al radiyah),
The Consent-Given Self (nafs al mardiyyah),
The Purified Self (nafs al safiyyah).
The phrase of "states of Nafs" denotes basically the "stages of consciousness".
When the consciousness takes shape in the beginning, it considers all the carnal desires as if they are its own desires because it recognizes itself as a physical body as a result of its database. Thus, it leads a life completely focused on the needs and pleasures of the body. This is identified as the Commanding Self. At that level of understanding, the consciousness recognizes itself as a physical body. While still accepting himself as a body, thinking that his life will never come to an end but go on in some way after the body dies, and that he will experience the consequences of his deeds in this world, the Self begins to feel regret because he realizes his possible wrongdoings while considering his future life after death. This state is described as blaming the Self.
As seen above, the Self at both of these levels, that are the states of consciousness, are connected to and focused on the physical body. The consciousness at that state is not aware of its heaven (sama) yet. Its world is the earth (ardh), the physical body. All his delights, concerns and struggles are connected with his ardh, that is his body.
If a person's consciousness realizes that it is not in fact a body but a reflection of the universal oneness or an expression of the qualities possessed by the universal oneness, at the level that its capacity allows, such awareness is called as "the Inspired Self" (nafs al mulhimah) in view of its characterization because such awareness is realized through inspirations (ilham).
At that level of understanding, the consciousness begins getting rid of the idea of accepting himself as a body. He sometimes feels himself as a body and sometimes as something separate from the body. However, what kind of an entity he is at that state of feeling separate from the body is not clear to him yet. Also, that is not a state that can be experienced through knowing. This stage of understanding for the consciousness is the most difficult stage of life. There, the consciousness faces many contradictions. He may sometimes consider himself as a servant, other times as a God, experiencing the odd results of such sensations. The person, who sees himself as God at that stage, may even find the level of sainthood (walayat) as lowering for himself. He may, thus let loose all his values and fall on a completely corporeal life.
For people of true faith (muhaqqikun), the act of "reading" begins to be practiced at that level of consciousness. When reading the system, which is called "Sunnat-Allah", is initiated for such a consciousness, then the "why"s of "what" RasulAllah brought opens to him at the level of realization known as "certainty through Haqq (haqq ul yakeen)". He becomes khaneef (worship-free of a God) at that station. His is "actual belief" in the one named as "ALLAH" at that level. He is purified from the spiritual power of "heartless discovery, unveiling" (kashf-i zulmani) and possesses the spiritual power of "caring discovery" (kashf-i noorani). He begins to perceive the secrets of the Qur'an that rule till Doomsday. He who experiences that spiritual state is called as "arif" (Aware -Gnostic).
Almost all the persons whose believers (ahl-al taqlid) among common people assume them to be saints (awliya) and even regard them suitable for the spiritual status ofGhawth, Qutb (chief center authorities of spiritual influence) and are at that realm of consciousness. Those persons may sometimes think themselves as real possessors of those spiritual positions (martaba) due to their level of comprehension, whereas theirs is yet no more than a small accumulation of water coming down from the fountain of sainthood (walayat).