What is Spiral Dynamics and Why Have I Become So Interested in It?

In order to understand today’s post, you should make sure to read yesterday’s piece: Lost in the Political Wilderness. That article zeroed in on why I feel completely isolated from the current political dialogue, and expressed that those of you who feel similarly should resist the urge to be pulled into any of the ascendant tribes vying for dominance. If none of the currently popular political ideologies resonate with you, this doesn’t mean you’re the problem. Perhaps you’re just a member of a sane minority being relentlessly bombarded by divisive nonsense with the intent of bringing your consciousness down to a lower level where it is more easily manipulated. Don’t let this happen.

Yesterday’s post touched upon the evolutionary human development model known as Spiral Dynamics. I’m just getting up to speed on the concept so bear with me. I was initiated into the model via a 2000 article by one of the more prominent names in the field of consciousness development, Ken Wilber. The article is titled, The Integral Vision at the Millennium, and I strongly suggest you read it if you haven’t already.  I’m not going to summarize my understanding of the model in detail, because that would take a lot more reading and the publication of a book to do it any sort of justice. Nevertheless, I’m going to highlight some of what Mr. Wilber wrote in order to initiate readers into the concept. Naturally, I don’t expect it to speak to all of you, nor do I think it represents “the answer” to anything. It’s merely a framework, and one I find incredibly useful in current times.

What follows are some excerpts from the article. They will be followed with some of my own observations.

We live in an extraordinary time: all of the world’s cultures, past and present, are to some degree available to us, either in historical records or as living entities. In the history of the planet earth, this has never happened before.

It seems hard to imagine, but for humanity’s entire stay on this planet—for some million years up to the present—a person was born into a culture that knew virtually nothing about any other. You were, for example, born a Chinese, raised a Chinese, married a Chinese, and followed a Chinese religion—often living in the same hut for your entire life, on a spot of land that your ancestors settled for centuries. From isolated tribes and bands, to small farming villages, to ancient nations, to conquering feudal empires, to international corporate states, to global village: the extraordinary growth toward an integral village that seems humanity’s destiny.

So it is that the leading edge of consciousness evolution stands today on the brink of an integral millennium—or at least the possibility of an integral millennium, where the sum total of extant human knowledge, wisdom, and technology is available to all. But there are several obstacles to that integral embrace, even in the most developed populations. Moreover, there is the more typical or average mode of consciousness, which is far from integral anything, and is in desperate need of its own tending. 

From Clare Graves to Abraham Maslow; from Deirdre Kramer to Jan Sinnott; from Jurgen Habermas to Cheryl Armon; from Kurt Fischer to Jenny Wade; from Robert Kegan to Susanne Cook-Greuter, there emerges a remarkably consistent story of the evolution of consciousness. Of course there are dozens of disagreements and hundreds of conflicting details. But they all tell a generally similar tale of the growth and development of consciousness from—to use Jean Gebser’s particular version—archaic to magic to mythic to rational to integral. Most of the more sophisticated of these cartographies give around six to ten waves of development from birth to what I call the centaur level. (Beyond the centaur, into the more transpersonal waves of consciousness unfolding, agreement tapers off. I will return to this point later.) 

Few of these developmental schemes are the rigid, linear, clunk-and-grind models portrayed by their critics. Development is a not a linear ladder but a fluid and flowing affair, with spirals, swirls, streams, and waves—and what appear to be an almost infinite number of multiple modalities (there appear to be as many different dimensions or modalities of consciousness as there are different situations in life—i.e., endless). Most of today’s sophisticated developmental theories take all of that into account, and—more important—back it with substantial research (as we will see). 

I have, in numerous previous publications (especially Integral Psychology) given the details of many of those researchers. Here I will simply use one of them as an example. The model is called Spiral Dynamics, based on the pioneering work of Clare Graves. Graves proposed a profound and elegant system of human development, which subsequent research has refined and validated, not refuted. “Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiralling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as an individual’s existential problems change. Each successive stage, wave, or level of existence is a state through which people pass on their way to other states of being. When the human is centralized in one state of existence” —as I would put it, when the self’s center of gravity hovers around a particular wave of consciousness— “he or she has a psychology which is particular to that state. His or her feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning system, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, conceptions of and preferences for management, education, economics, and political theory and practice are all appropriate to that state.” [3] 

Graves outlined around eight major “levels or waves of human existence,” ranging from autistic, magical, and animistic, through sociocentric and conventional, to individualistic and integrated. As is usually the case with Western researchers, he recognized no higher (transpersonal) levels, but the contributions he made to the prepersonal and personal realms were profound.

It should be remembered that virtually all of these stage conceptions—from Abraham Maslow to Jane Loevinger to Robert Kegan to Clare Graves—are based on extensive amounts of research and data. These are not simply conceptual ideas and pet theories, but are grounded at every point in a considerable amount of carefully checked evidence. Many of the stage theorists have had their models checked in first-, second-, and third world countries. The same is true with Graves’s model; to date, it has been tested in over fifty thousand people from around the world, and there have been no major exceptions found to his general scheme. [4] 

Of course, this does not mean that any of these schemes give the whole story, or even most of it . They are all simply partial snapshots of the great River of Life, and they are all useful when looking at the River from that particular angle. This does not prevent other pictures from being equally useful, nor does it mean that these pictures cannot be refined with further study. What it does mean is that any psychological model that does not include these pictures is not a very integral model.

Graves’s work has been carried forward and refined by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, in an approach they call Spiral Dynamics. Far from being mere armchair analysts, Beck and Cowan were participants in the discussions that lead to the end of apartheid in South Africa. The principles of Spiral Dynamics have been fruitfully used to reorganize businesses, revitalize townships, overhaul education systems, and defuse inner-city tensions.

Beck and Cowan (who have remained quite faithful to Graves’s system) use various names and colors to refer to these different memes or levels of existence. The use of colors (e.g., purple for magic, blue for mythic, green for ecological sensitivity, etc.) almost always puts people off, at first. [6] But Beck and Cowan often work in racially charged areas, and they have found that it helps to take peoples’ minds off of skin color and focus on the “color of the meme” instead of the “color of the skin.” Likewise in other situations: a green environmentalist might switch from “all big businesses are bad” to “Orange can be uncaring.” Moreover, as much research has continued to confirm, since these are levels or memes that everybody has potentially available to them, the lines of tension are completely redrawn. In a particular situation it is no longer “black versus white,” but perhaps blue versus purple, or orange versus green, and so on; and while skin color cannot be changed, consciousness can. 

The important point is that these various waves of existence (or stages of development) are not just passing phases in the self’s unfolding; they are permanently available capacities and coping strategies that can, once they have emerged, be activated under the appropriate life conditions (e.g., survival instincts can be activated in emergency situations; bonding capacities are activated in close human relationships, and so on). We can be red in one context, green in another, turquoise in yet another. Moreover, as Beck puts it, “The Spiral is messy, not symmetrical, with multiple admixtures rather than pure types. These are mosaics, meshes, and blends.” [7] 

The first six levels are “subsistence levels” marked by “first-tier thinking.” Then there occurs a revolutionary shift in consciousness: the emergence of “being levels” and “second-tier thinking,” of which there are two major waves. Here is a brief description of all eight waves, the percentage of the world population at each wave, and the percentage of social power held by each. [8] Remember, these are all variations on archaic to magic to mythic to rational to integral, which is the common “developmental space” revealed by most research.

Now here are the color stages as he described them in 2000:

     1. Beige: Archaic-Instinctual. The level of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. Uses habits and instincts just to survive. Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life. 

      Where seen: First human societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, late-stage Alzheimer’s victims, mentally ill street people, starving masses, shell shock. 0.1% of the adult population, 0% power. 

     2. Purple: Magical-Animistic. Thinking is animistic; magical spirits, good and bad, swarm the earth leaving blessings, curses, and spells that determine events. Forms into ethnic tribes. The spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Kinship and lineage establish political links. Sounds “holistic” but is actually atomistic: “there is a name for each bend in the river but no name for the river.” 

      Where seen: Belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, ancient grudges, good luck charms, family rituals, magical ethnic beliefs and superstitions; strong in Third-World settings, gangs, athletic teams, and corporate “tribes.” 10% of the population, 1% of the power. 

     3. Red: Power Gods. First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe; powerful, impulsive, egocentric, heroic. Mythic spirits, dragons, beasts, and powerful people. Feudal lords protect underlings in exchange for obedience and labor. The basis of feudal empires—power and glory. The world is a jungle full of threats and predators. Conquers, out-foxes, and dominates; enjoys self to the fullest without regret or remorse. 

      Where seen: The “terrible twos,” rebellious youth, frontier mentalities, feudal kingdoms, epic heroes, James Bond villains, soldiers of fortune, wild rock stars, Atilla the Hun, Lord of the Flies. 20% of the population, 5% of the power. 

     4. Blue: Conformist Rule. Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of “right” and “wrong.” Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Basis of ancient nations . Rigid social hierarchies; paternalistic; one right way and only one right way to think about everything. Law and order; impulsivity controlled through guilt; concrete-literal and fundamentalist belief; obedience to the rule of Order. Often “religious” [in the mythic-membership sense; Graves and Beck refer to it as the “saintly/absolutistic” level], but can be secular or atheistic Order or Mission. 

      Where seen: Puritan America, Confucian China, Dickensian England, Singapore discipline, codes of chivalry and honor, charitable good deeds, religious fundamentalism (e.g., Christian and Islamic), Boy and Girl Scouts, “moral majority,” patriotism. 40% of the population, 30% of the power. 

     5. Orange: Scientific Achievement. At this wave, the self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms—hypothetico-deductive, experimental, objective, mechanistic, operational— “scientific” in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one’s own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events. The world is a chess-board on which games are played as winners gain pre-eminence and perks over losers. Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth’s resources for one’s strategic gains. Basis of corporate states . 

      Where seen: The Enlightenment, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Wall Street, emerging middle classes around the world, cosmetics industry, trophy hunting, colonialism, the Cold War, fashion industry, materialism, liberal self-interest. 30% of the population, 50% of the power. 

     6. Green: The Sensitive Self. Communitarian, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, networking. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, Gaia, life. Against hierarchy; establishes lateral bonding and linking. Permeable self, relational self, group intermeshing. Emphasis on dialogue, relationships. Basis of values communes (i.e., freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments). Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus (downside: interminable “processing” and incapacity to reach decisions). Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, relativistic value systems; this worldview is often called pluralistic relativism . Subjective, non-linear thinking; shows a greater degree of affective warmth, sensitivity, and caring, for earth and all its inhabitants.

      Where seen: Deep ecology, postmodernism, Netherlands idealism, Rogerian counseling, Canadian health care, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, cooperative inquiry, World Council of Churches, Greenpeace, animal rights, ecofeminism, post-colonialism, Foucault/Derrida, politically correct, diversity movements, human rights issues, ecopsychology. 10% of the population, 15% of the power.

But what none of those memes can do, on their own, is fully appreciate the existence of the other memes. Each of those first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened. Blue order is very uncomfortable with both red impulsiveness and orange individualism. Orange individualism thinks blue order is for suckers and green egalitarianism is weak and woo-woo. Green egalitarianism cannot easily abide excellence and value rankings, big pictures, hierarchies, or anything that appears authoritarian, and thus green reacts strongly to blue, orange, and anything post-green. 

All of that begins to change with second-tier thinking. Because second-tier consciousness is fully aware of the interior stages of development—even if it cannot articulate them in a technical fashion—it steps back and grasps the big picture, and thus second-tier thinking appreciates the necessary role that all of the various memes play. Using what we would recognize as mature vision-logic, second-tier awareness thinks in terms of the overall spiral of existence, and not merely in the terms of any one level.

 The extensive research of Graves, Beck, and Cowan indicates that there are two major waves to this second-tier consciousness (corresponding to what we would recognize as middle and late vision-logic): 

      7. Yellow: Integrative. Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies [holarchies], systems, and forms. Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. Differences and pluralities can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows. Egalitarianism is complemented with natural degrees of excellence where appropriate. Knowledge and competency should supersede rank, power, status, or group. The prevailing world order is the result of the existence of different levels of reality (memes) and the inevitable patterns of movement up and down the dynamic spiral. Good governance facilitates the emergence of entities through the levels of increasing complexity (nested hierarchy). 

      8. Turquoise: Holistic. Universal holistic system, holons/waves of integrative energies; unites feeling with knowledge [centaur]; multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Universal order, but in a living, conscious fashion, not based on external rules (blue) or group bonds (green). A “grand unification” is possible, in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 

      Second-tier thinking: 1% of the population, 5% of the power. 

       With only 1 percent of the population at second-tier thinking (and only 0.1 percent at turquoise), second-tier consciousness is relatively rare because it is now the “leading-edge” of collective human evolution. 

As Beck and Cowan have pointed out, second-tier thinking has to emerge in the face of much resistance from first-tier thinking. In fact, a version of the postmodern green meme, with its pluralism and relativism, has actively fought the emergence of more integrative and holarchical thinking. (It has also made developmental studies, which depend on second-tier thinking, virtually anathema at both conventional and alternative universities.) And yet without second-tier thinking, as Graves, Beck, and Cowan point out, humanity is destined to remain victims of a global “auto-immune disease,” where various memes turn on each other in an attempt to establish supremacy.

At this point, I want to add a couple of notes. The piece above was written nearly two decades ago, and recent writings by Ken make clear that some things have changed. First, back then he estimated that only 1% of the population had entered a framework dominated by second-tier thinking. Based on his recent observations, he estimates this number to now be around 5%. That’s an incredible leap, and explains a lot of the current status quo panic and drive to divide and conquer everyone. To see what I mean, let’s put it in the context of the U.S. adult population, which stands at around 242 million individuals.

1% of that number is 2.4 million adults. While that’s significant, if Ken is right about his 5% estimate, we are now talking about 12 million Americans operating at a far higher level of consciousness. Not enough to win a Presidential election, but very significant and extraordinarily dangerous to the establishment. If that sort of “awakening” continues, the current paradigm has no hope of survival. As such, all of the madness being perpetrated by the media and divisive pundits on both sides needs to be seen in the context of this unfolding of consciousness. These people are in the fight for their lives to keep the current paradigm they are comfortable with alive. If you accept this view, then you recognize the importance of staying true to your values and not regressing back into first-tier type thinking. As Wilber and others explain, these are fluid states, so periods of stress or fear can result in a regression of consciousness. It’s not an exaggeration to say that preventing this from happening is of the utmost significance.

Second, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not think of this evolutionary process as simplistic or linear. I know it’s very tempting to do this, but it will lead you astray. People aren’t wholly yellow, or orange, or red or green. Each of us consists of a complex combination of these elements, and the way they all combine together into a whole human being makes us who we are from a consciousness standpoint. So someone you could characterize as orange, is actually far more complicated than that. This person could demonstrate levels of second tier-thinking in certain aspects of life, yet remains stuck in a worldview characterized primarily by orange. It’s far more complicated than it appears at first glance, and one of the biggest risks we all face in exploring Spiral Dynamics is to oversimplify the whole thing. Recall:

The important point is that these various waves of existence (or stages of development) are not just passing phases in the self’s unfolding; they are permanently available capacities and coping strategies that can, once they have emerged, be activated under the appropriate life conditions (e.g., survival instincts can be activated in emergency situations; bonding capacities are activated in close human relationships, and so on). We can be red in one context, green in another, turquoise in yet another. Moreover, as Beck puts it, “The Spiral is messy, not symmetrical, with multiple admixtures rather than pure types. These are mosaics, meshes, and blends.”

The last point I want to make, is that I found the descriptions of second-tier thinking in the above piece to be lacking. Fortunately, I found a couple of resources that make understanding “yellow” much easier.

First, from Spiral Dynamic Integral the Netherlands:

Yellow value system Characteristics

Firstly, he noticed that a Yellow orientated lifestyle is much more free than a lifestyle in any of the other value systems. Yellow oriented people seemed to move and express themselves completely free and independent of their life environment. Contrary to people in other value systems, they were not afraid anymore to be rejected and they didn’t fear other people’s or God’s judgment. They didn’t show the need to make an impression on others and to reach the top at the cost of everything.

They also didn’t strive anymore for absolute truths and they didn’t have the need to belong to something anymore. In short: these were people without irrational fears, compulsive needs and compulsive behaviors. However, this Yellow freedom doesn’t mean that people in the Yellow value system are not connected to their environment. On the contrary, Yellow oriented people are very much involved and show a lot of compassion. The biggest difference with people from other value systems is that their life environment is not fearfully or compulsively leading them.

Finally, I saved the best for last. Here’s a quick description of yellow from Ken Wilber himself. I was particularly fascinated by what happens when you put a red, a blue, orange, green and yellow in a room at the same time. Makes perfect sense to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll dig more into how Ken thinks this all relates to where we are now, and how Trump’s election was certainly a regression, but a necessary regression from a human evolutionary standpoint.

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Michael Krieger

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28 thoughts on “What is Spiral Dynamics and Why Have I Become So Interested in It?”

  1. Thank you! Excellent thoughts and I am going to research the subject. There is clearly an awakening and a repressive response from the power elites, and one that transcends traditional historical analysis. Perfect timing for me, thank you for the introduction.

  2. Ooh, all these color coded thinking tiers are making me dizzy…

    Been thinking about Hitchcock’s concept of the MacGuffin – a plot device, a mysterious suitcase that everyone’s after, the Maltese Falcon, the Holy Grail – the object itself is not as important as the characters scrambling and fighting over it – their quest is the real story. North By Northwest – nobody knows what was so important, but people were willing to kill.

    Well, Trump is the political MacGuffin – he’s not the story (he’s to be replaced sooner rather than later), but the factions fighting over him are. He’s merely the catalyst to get everyone wound up and fighting. I wish they’d stop and realize we’re all in the same boat.

  3. The third tier really reveals the apparent ‘individual’ who could be first, second or third tier as a mere idea, or just another thought form or concept.. the ‘skin encapsulated ego, the separate self, doesn’t really exist…

    Even in the first tier, there is no-one there to ‘become’ third tier, just floating ideas

    According to the third tier, the whole mind map is a flow of the whole universe

    Fortunately though, the ground of being is love and peace, so we aren’t merely a weird universe having a weird mindmap in a psychodrama for no good reason..

    • I like to think of a state of mind that unite the the two opposite views 1) you are in the universe and 2) the universe are in you, the latter point beiing solipsism. Both are equally legit, but contradictory from a logical point of view. Hence neither is ‘correct’ because reality cannot be grasped with logic. Every kid that tried to imagine infinity already knows that. And physisist too, although many of them seems to remain in 19h century style thinking. It puzzles me that this controvercy is not discussed anyplace. If it was, everybody should feel a little more responsible and get ready to work together.

    • Except that isn’t true. I think he is mistaken in his tiers and the level of evidence there is to support it.

      Yellow from what I see cannot exist, people are not unimpacted by their environment (as you learn in psychology you need not be aware of something in order for it to impact you). Jesus wouldn’t be an example of yellow because he did advocate for the slaughter of other groups in the bible. In short I don’t think there is any reason to lend this spiral dynamics any credence.

      Even his example of Zen practitioners really isn’t evidence of turquoise, since we can see through brain scans that their experience is really the result of the alteration of brain structure. The disidentifying with the body can be stimulated by magnets and other drugs, so it’s not really a truth so much as a fabrication.

      The only reality we know is that you are a body. There need not be a self, and you can choose to not identify with a body, but it doesn’t change the reality that you are a body and that your brain creates your conscious experience. You aren’t the universe and the universe isn’t in you (physics proves this to some level).

  4. Thank you Mike, I have really enjoyed these last two articles of yours. I’m glad that you came across this research when you did. Very timely, for a lot of us.

  5. Thank you for sharing your consciousness and this paradigm “Spiral Dynamics”. I have been browsing in this field called human development for a while. I found a particular succulent patch called “The Mutable Self: A Self-Concept for Social Change” by Louis A. Zurcher 1977. Now I shall have to go back and read the whole thing as well as Ken Wilber’s article and the stuff on Spiral Dynamics; as they all seem to reinforce a cogent gestalt. With regards to your statement, ” so periods of stress or fear can result in a regression of consciousness. It’s not an exaggeration to say that preventing this from happening is of the utmost significance.” : I think you will find some practical advice in the work “So,What’s Your Proposal? Shifting High Conflict People From Blaming to Problem Solving in 30 Seconds” by Bill Eddy.
    Live Long and Prosper

  6. No, Gary North, Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul are not second tier thinkers. I am not saying this to be negative, but realistic. They are all very intelligent, very good men. Ron Paul is a hero of mine! But they are not second tier. You may want to examine why you believe they are second tier by rereading the article. Again, I’m not a troll and I’m not saying this to criticize, but to make sure to examine this apolitically.

  7. You are absolutly wrong that Trump’s election was regression. You cannot have consciousness in absence of masculinity. And vagueness free of principles or truth and right and wrong type thinking is not advanced consciousness. Maybe I didn’t catch all the nuances, but nuances are not advanced consciouness either. If u throw out the great for the small (liberalism) you regress. Trump is about greatness. Not just in the slogan but in consciouness itself. His election means small petty details are small petty details, if not insignificant. We have been tearing our society apart over these things that son’t actually matter. Nature is flooding in and correcting our spoiled behavior. If we ignore it we get conquered by stronger tribes / nations from the outside.

    • Given what you wrote, I think it’s likely you didn’t read the next two posts in last week’s five-part series, which address many of the issues you raise.

      Ken Wilber’s recent e-book about the election specifically agrees with the sentiment you expressed when saying “Nature is flooding in and correcting.” I don’t exaggerate when I say that notion is a major part of his entire 80 page book, and indeed my posts reflecting on them.

      In addition, the other most repeated point in the e-book, and my later posts, is precisely that “vagueness free of principles or truth and right and wrong type thinking is not advanced consciousness.” Exactly right, which is where liberal (green) ideology went off the rails and necessitated a Trump-like regression, as Wilber explains.

      As far as nuances, yes it’s hard to take them in if you haven’t read all of my articles, including his e-book, which I make clear. The key thing you fail to grasp is that something can be both evolutionarily necessary, preferable at a given moment in time, and a regression all at once.

      Here’s a very simple real world example. If someone operating at a very elevated state of consciousness suddenly finds themselves starving on a desert island, this person will quickly and very necessarily revert back to very low levels of survival-only based consciousness in order to hopefully survive the ordeal. This is both a necessary and beneficial shift, as well as a regression of consciousness.

      These two things can be true at the same time.

      This is not to say you have to agree with the conclusions when it comes to the 2016 election, but it’s important you understand the thought process and thesis properly.

      Here are the next three posts in case you haven’t read them yet.

      How a Breakdown in Liberal Ideology Created Trump – Part 1


      How a Breakdown in Liberal Ideology Created Trump – Part 2


      Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward


    • The hole in your argument is that there are no levels of consciousness, elevated or otherwise. It’s just consciousness. There is no red, blue, orange, whatever.

      It just seems like there isn’t evidence to back up his claims. Just like in the case of Maslow.

  8. Judging the behavior of the population during the election and after, there is clearly an inability for MOST of society to ever find solace in the green or orange, and have regressed into a purple-streaked blue spiral. Shorn of true religious thought and experience — which I am convinced must be a part of human existence, owing to countless millennia of our exposure to it — today’s spiritual empty shell is being flooded with political feelings as a primeval replacement for the more developed religious thought and feeling of the red and blue spiral — at least, that’s how it appears to me after reading this article.

  9. I became aware of Spiral Dynamics back in 2000 or so and have been familiar with it for a long time. I utilised similar if not more effective modeling prior to Spiral Dynamics that preceded it, which together give a world view that explains much of human evolutionary development, both ontological and phylogenetically.
    The meme model is useful to simplify the cultural expressions, but therein it reduces some of the other more complex overviews which exist within the exogenous elements of the Quadrant approach of Wilber.
    Post modernism and the green meme have dominated strongly for some time, but they are an inflexible cultural expression, with shortcommings of their own megalomania – and desire to control. This we see presently in the manipulation of the narrative around suppression of free thinking, critical discourse vi political correctness. This is the shadow of the green meme – its control freakery. Trump needs to be understood within this context.
    Further, the green meme does not understand as yet as it has not evolved the understanding that the red tribal stage requires being suppressed. This is Trumps and the European growth in immigration control, Brexit and the rise of the right. Suppression of disorder, tribalism, primitivism. Green sees this as romantic inclusion.
    There is a consolidation here. To leave out the technological expression and mastery of Trumps campaign, the mastery of the meme itself, of symbolic expressionm to tap the cultural zeitgeist, which the mainstream media missed, as they did in Brexit and are in the rise of the right, needs to be seen to see that Trump and Bannon are utilising mastery of understanding the technology of the internet – to reach the people. This transcends the green meme, and also highlights a limitation of the Quadrant model and the Beck model – they do not include these important parameters clearly enough. Omitting this makes Trump look like a regression – he is not, he is the progression and the technological understanding signifies this – mastery of neuro electric technology – this is yellow in Spiral dynamics – integral self – mastery and expression of self, central nervous system, internet – post post modernism, and further understands the containment required of lower order self levels and exogenous/cultural expression to facilitate self activation. Look at the cast system in India or elssewhere to understand this ancient understanding. This is not new – it is ancient.
    Wilber fails to see this as he is stuck in green himself…..also the realm of where narcissim floursihes at its highest level of expression. Yellow transcends this and also paralleles with the level of metaprogramming of John Lilly, and reimprinting of Tim Leary. Green can not do this…….thus is stuck in rigidity and idealism, but lacks deep cultural expression which appreciates the shadow side of self – the violent inner animal. The right understand that man is at base primitive, a primitive, the left deny this, as pointed out by Zizek……thus is their down fall, and what will be and is currently happening as the decay of the green cultural revolution that we are now experiencing. A new phase is upon us and Trump needs to be seen in the context of Bannon…..again the msm miss this, showing the limits of their ontological niche – their green meme credentials……in seeing this you see the boundary, the end of the reach of the mindset of the green meme. The quicker it is over the better, because what succeeds it is true insight and wisdom, but one which horrifies the sensibilities of the post modern mindset. which they beleive to be the end point…..what a joke…but therin is alos the narcissistic self delusion of grandiosity and self belief that defines the green meme and its shadow element. Glad it is over, as it has entered a psychotic phase, which the public see now and are revolting against.

  10. When developing a brain trust, or second tier thinkers, who have walked through their fears, and who dare to speak their minds, because they are no longer living in fear, the impetus for the greens to see the wisdom, occurs, and the view of their peers becomes information of what that change looks like. Not being afraid that you will be listed on the FBI database for being a free thinker, is part of this. The changes occur, slowly, and then, quickly. Thank you for exploring this idea! You have my attention!

  11. People who I think are second tier, Hannah Arendt, Nicholas Taleb, Ray Dalio, just to name a few. The key is that we are now inter culturally connected, and can see and feel our worth as people of the world in community that embodies a approach to grounded solutions.

    Indeed, Max Keiser was fun, in his expression, of let’s see and hear more!

  12. the prime directive of the schoolroom named planet earth is the evolution of consciousness (see the dead sea scrolls). spiral dynamics provides the underlying means by which we expand our consciousness and move into a higher “grade”.
    as an author whose purpose it to explain in lay terms what is really happening in our world (thru the lens of ancient prophecy corroborated by quantum mechanics), i have been doing an hour long lecture entitled “humankind at a crossroads: a call to action!” which i also hired a videographer to film in 5 small parts. it is located under my name lauren tratar on youtube.
    michael, in my opinion, you are correct. the ONLY way to overcome the “bad guys” is through POWER, not force. this is the power of consciousness, of thought. my video explains exactly how to USE this power for the highest good of all.
    the Maya tell us that the degree of pain and suffering mankind will endure during this time of transition, is directly commensurate with how long it takes us to wake up! first, to the corruption, lies, propaganda, illusion and deceit we have been “programmed” to believe and next to the knowledge and application of our power.
    are you wiling to be the 100th monkey?

  13. It will be nice if reference to Spiral Dynamics is tied to the creators of the theory Chris Cowan and Don E. Beck. Wilber might have popularized it, but ended up watering it down to fit his own narcissistic evolution/devolution. Try going to these 2 websites to be informed about the true applications of the Gravesian approach: https://www.spiraldynamicsglobal.com/ and http://spiraldynamics.org/ Wilber no longer mentions the SD framework in his talks and writings and when he does, he refers to it as a “values line”. This is truly a disservice to the advancement of consciousness. Find me a single Wilberian capable of articulating the “systems” aspect of the human evolutionary process. This is exactly the approach that makes the Graves/SD model functional. Wilberian thought leaders focus on exactly the opposite.

  14. Didn’t read the full article, but it reminds me of Dubrowski’s theory of positive desintergration. It looks really similar and at first glance they are complimentary.

    • Interesting perspective. Dubrowski is talking about the development of an individual due to that individual’s feeling if inferiority, whereas Spiral Dynamics is talking about the need for development to adopt to a change in the environment.

  15. This explanation of developmental cultural memes is especially helpful now as Extinction Rebellion is helping us hoist ourselves up levels to survive. Good to be prepared to expect the stress will throw us back to basic survival memes at times and back and forth to everything in between.

  16. I used to believe this, until further investigation showed there was little evidence to believe it. There aren’t tiers of thinking or levels or color, this just sounds like yet another theory of the many out there though saying he used Maslow as inspiration doesn’t bode well for its credibility.

    Yellow and above sounds like magical thinking or mysticism and doesn’t seem to address the philosophical questions at hand, like “why should I”. Before people get into me, yes there is an I and there is evidence to back it biologically and from physics as well. You are not the universe but a body.

    But second tier thinking is undone when it fails to answer the why behind its actions. Just because we are connected to everything doesn’t mean we have to do anything or care about it. Sure I know I am connected to everything but that doesn’t inspire love or compassion, it’s more like a cold fact. Love and compassion that follows from that is based on the human trait of tribalism, only you expend the tribe to include everything, objectively speaking there isn’t a reason for me to care.

    But yeah, you guys are taking a scientifically unsound theory and applying it as though it is reality.


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