Don’t you love that title? Doesn’t that just grab you and make you want to read this? I’m kidding…but I hope you stick around and give it a moment…

One of the most personally influential theories that I have discovered in this lifetime is the one called Spiral Dynamics. I have written about it here on “the bridge” many times….here’s a link to a 3 part series that looks at it in connection with the Science of MInd.

One of the most popular videos on my You Tube Channel, viewed by thousands of people, is a 10 minute overview of the theory entitled “What is Spiral Dynamics?“. Recently, I have had several interesting questions posed to me by viewers which I have contemplated and posted a response over on You Tube. I thought it might be interesting to share them here on my website to make them accessible to more people. Below is the first one.

The following is a question I received and my response around the topic of the relationship between earlier forms of spirituality and the post-modern “green” and integral “yellow/turquoise” spirituality that “re-discovers” aspects of those traditions. For readability, I have edited these slightly. If you are not familiar with Spiral Dynamics and the “colors” used for various worldviews, you might want to watch the You Tube video.


The higher tier [spirituality] you talk about is what African villagers and many indigenous people have lived in for centuries. That is why many in the west are traveling to rural indigenous people to experience the non-material wealth these groups have enjoyed via Ayahuasca experiences and other forms of plant medicine. It is why technocrats like Steve Jobs journeyed to Ashrams in India to know about the interconnectivity of all things and to see that we are all part of a living, thinking and evolving one. It was 2000 years ago when a Jewish mystic called Jeshuah prayed father that they might be one as you and I are one, them in I, I in you. This is NOT a leap up a spiral. Its a leap back to interpret what the mystic St Francis of Assisi knew when he talked of brother sun, sister moon, and other expressions of the anthropomorphic variety toward all creation including rocks and streams.


As I mentioned at the beginning of the video, to truly understand all of the nuances of the theory of Spiral Dynamics would take much longer than what could be conveyed in a 10 minute video….but let me address your specific question.

Yes, indigenous people have long understood the interconnectedness of life and have offered the ideas that a spiritual nature was embedded in all the world. But those same indigenous people who are most likely operating at a purple worldview and have much to teach us about this aspect of life have not in other areas grown and developed other states of awareness. Specifically, they most likely have not developed the moral and legal systems that come with the blue level, the scientific and rational thought that comes with orange, the humanistic multi-perspective thought patterns of green and so on.

These latter stages of blue and orange specifically turned away from the spiritual aspects of god or spirit being “in” the world in order to fully develop the ideas that their stage brought. As such, Blue developed the moralistic anthropomorphic God. And,we can really see this denial in the orange level where it negates any kind of “God” or “Spirit” whether it be the God in nature of the purple and red levels….or the God as old man in the sky of the blue level…no matter how you look at it, When you are embedded in a thought system that sees everything as “stuff” (materialistic orange), it leaves no room at all for “God”.

But an interesting thing starts to happen at the green level….as they open themselves to seeing the multiple perspectives of different people and a desire to value them, they return to a sense of the spiritual….in fact, they tend to call themselves “spiritual but not religious”….they want to distinguish themselves from the dogmatic religions of blue….and every person at this level sees all humans as free to “mix and match” from spiritual paths to craft the spirituality that works for them. Because they frequently return to looking at indigenous religions, it can look like they simply reverted to the spirituality of purple.

But this is not accurate….to see it this way is what Ken Wilber calls the “pre/trans fallacy”. I would encourage you [the reader] to google this term and read a bit about it. At its core is the idea that anything we see that is “non-rational”, we erroneously lump together. Hence a “pre-rational” and “pre-personal” spirituality of the purple consciousness is equated with a “post-rational” and “post-personal” spirituality of the green, yellow and turquoise levels. At the outer observational level, it appears that the ideas presented by the indigenous culture may be the same as the ideas presented at green and second tier….but we forget to consider the inner growth of the person.

The individual who is at purple and sees “God in all” has not yet developed the sense of a personal ego that comes at the red stage of Spiral Dynamics. Hence they are “pre-personal”. The development of self and personal ego shifts the outlook of the individual on life….but the interesting thing at green and higher is that the individual who has a sense of the personal ego now sees spirituality as a means of transcending the personal. Now when one sees “Spirit in all” and the interconnectedness of All, it is seen in the light of a person who has developed a sense of personal ego and separation and is now returning to the sense of unity but with a greater awareness than they had before. That’s why it is considered “trans-personal”.

It is sort of like the hero’s journey in a way….we are at home in unity with the world but don’t know what we don’t know….we go out and about and explore the world “out there” seeing everything as separate and apart from one another, we lose the sense of unity and “home”….then we return and know and understand unity from a viewpoint that we could have never known if we had not made the journey…, yes, second tier’s understanding of the unity of the universe and the sense of seeing divinity in all certainly looks like the wise teachings of indigenous cultures and early mystics….and second tier certainly includes them….but it also transcends them with the wisdom that comes from moving through the journey of separation in our consciousness and returning back to the unity with a greater awareness.

As TS Elliot stated in one of his poems: “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Mark Gilbert

FINAL NOTE: Thanks for reading to the end. What are your thoughts on this topic? Love to hear from you!