[This is part 1 of a 3 part article on the basics of Spiral Dynamics and their relationship to the Science of Mind.  An edited version of this article appeared in Science of Mind magazine’s April 2008 issue.]

One of the first things that attracted me to the Science of Mind was its view of God.  The idea that God is a power that moves in and through everything as that thing totally resonated with me.  I also loved that Ernest Holmes’ philosophy blessed all paths to God seeing how they serve the whole of life.  I often think that if everyone studied and applied the concepts of Science of Mind, we would bridge the differences of separation that appear to exist in the outer world.

But then I am hit by questions such as why do people think so differently?  Why is there so much conflict in the world between religions and between those of faith and science?  Why is it that people cannot see beyond their differences to their common unity?  Why do people have such drastically different visions of God?  In Spiral Dynamics, I found a theory that helps me answer those questions.

Spiral Dynamics is a scientific theory derived from the work of Dr. Claire Graves in the early 1970s and popularized in the last 10 years or so by the work of Dr. Don Beck and Chris Cowan.  It describes a process by which humanity develops and moves through an upward spiral of emerging values or ways of looking at the world that come forth in response to our changing life conditions.   Applying the model can be useful (and has been) in the areas of breaking down cultural barriers, assisting in organizational leadership, meeting varying educational needs and more.

Moreover, I believe that understanding Spiral Dynamics allows us to enhance our use of Science of Mind principles.  We know that how people think creates their lives.  The better we understand how we and others think the way we do, gives us insight as to the underlying beliefs that may be limiting us.  It also opens us to compassion and understanding when confronted with the limited beliefs of ourselves and others.  And most importantly, Spiral Dynamics can help us bridge our differences in how we see God.

Ernest Holmes repeatedly stressed that we were evolving and described where that evolution was taking us.  He stated both  “Evolution is the emergence of that which already is in form, in an ever-upward spiraling” and that “the whole process of evolution is to produce a being who can consciously co-operate with the Evolutionary Principle, which is Pure Spirit.”  Spiral Dynamics supports this.

Just as Holmes developed the cross-disciplined philosophy of Science of Mind based on the golden thread of truth he saw between science, religion and philosophy; psychologist Graves first developed his theory of human development based on years of research into human values that crossed into the areas of psychology, sociology and biology.  His data indicated that human beings exist at different “levels of existence” where we exhibit behavior and values that are characteristic of people at that level.   We learn our behavior and values in order to meet the needs of the life conditions which surround us.  Yet, as we meet our needs at one level of existence there emerges new life conditions which require us to grow. As Einstein said, “the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

Spiral Dynamics maps a system of nine or more levels of consciousness or worldviews through which humans move in order.  For ease in describing the levels, they are color coded, although the colors assigned have no particular significance. These levels alternate between a focus on the external world and attempts to change it and a focus on the inner world and attempts to come to peace with it.   When charted, this pattern of evolutionary consciousness resembles a spiral.  New life conditions bring new levels of thinking which bring new life conditions in an ever repeating pattern.

[Link to Part Two….]

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