[This is part 2 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. Please read the previous posts to put the following in context.Link to Part One.]
We do not all have the same life conditions, therefore we don’t all have the same worldview. Ultimately, this is the crux of our differences. By looking at the differing level of needs of individuals, groups, organizations, cultures or countries, we can see that they are often operating with different views of what is important. This unfortunately is usually invisible to us. For as Graves stated the error most people make “is that they assume the nature of man is fixed and there is a single set of human values by which he should live.”
Beck and Cowan suggested that these levels of existence are DNA-like codes called “value-memes” or “v-memes” which reside in the mind or brain. They stated that their potential lies available to all of us and that they are “awakened” as life conditions outside us interact with these latent systems within us. In Science of Mind terms we might consider that these v-meme codes are a part of the One Mind which is subjectively available to all of us. Holmes reminds us that, “This Mind contains everything that was ever thought or perceived. From it flow all ideas that are now inherent within it. Any demand made upon it creates a new idea.” Hence, the demands of new life conditions brings forth from within our subjective minds the creation of the new inherent worldview to deal with them. This is part of our evolutionary nature.
So what are these Spiral Dynamic levels of existence and how do they show we have and are continuing to evolve? Let’s look at them briefly.
First, early man was faced with life conditions of basic survival. This “beige” level of existence gave rise to a worldview related to purely meeting biological needs. We became aware that we were distinct selves, began to sense cause and effect in the outer world, and developed heightened sensory abilities to best survive in that world. As we began to meet these needs, we sensed a desire to foster group effort to support meeting our challenges. Hence, there arose the second or “purple” level of existence wherein we formed tribes to create safety and stability. Here, there emerged the belief in mystical spirits in nature, a seasonal sense of time, and the development of myth and tradition. However as needs were met at this level, the security of the tribe was disrupted eventually by the emergence of the personal ego and the sense that the self was more powerful than the tribe.
The third or “red” level of existence brought forth our power impulses; “might is right”; a spontaneous, guilt-free, daring nature; desire for immediate gratification, and a lack of concern for consequences. Historically, these were the powerful warlords creating a system of those in power and those who submitted to the powerful. Yet as our needs were met at this level we began to reflect upon the unfairness of the system of haves and the have nots. This gave search to our belief that there are forces guiding our destiny and a need to understand the underlying rules of life giving rise to the fourth or “blue” level of existence. Here we find a desire for meaning and purpose, a sacrifice now for rewards later, order and rules, and a need to control impulses causing our newly found guilt. Historically, this level gave rise to our major religions and our systems of laws. However, as the needs of this level were met, we began to question the cost we paid in our loss of individual freedom due to absolutistic rules.
In the fifth or “orange” level of existence we begin to question these rules, authority and the delayed gratification of our needs. We began to strive to conquer the world, unlock its secrets, and achieve personal material success. We sought pleasure in life now, not in the future. This level saw the rise of goal oriented planning, economic competition and the pursuit of scientific truths. But alas, our material success did not give us true happiness and we began to turn inward to find our truth. The sixth or “green” level of existence saw us begin to seek consensus for decisions, pursue humanitarian efforts and display a tolerance of personal differences. We sought harmony through belonging, acceptance, community, unity, and understanding our inner nature.
These six “first tier” levels are characterized by the fact that if you look at life through one of them, you don’t recognize that there are other valid ways of looking at life. We can see this playing out in the world today as the various religious fundamentalists (blue) have conflict with one another over whose “truth”, order and God is the “right” one. We begin to understand why popular books written by scientists (orange) are driven to deny that God (or more accurately the God as defined by the blue level) exists. We start to understand why often well intentioned humanitarian efforts (green) to assist the conditions in certain third world countries often are confiscated by the local leaders (red) who have not developed the conscience and rules that only come in the higher blue system.
When we start using the map offered by Spiral Dynamics, we begin to see why people often don’t understand one another. We recognize why the solutions developed at one level of thinking do not always work when they imposed onto the life conditions that exist at another level. And you can’t just tell people to think differently because their thinking is generally appropriate for them given their experiences. As Don Beck often says, “you can’t say don’t think that way, because they do think that way”.
So how do we begin to heal these differences? It is only with what Graves called the “momentous leap” into “second tier” consciousness where you begin to see the validity of these different worldviews. You come to understand not only that each person has the right to believe what they want, but that there is a good reason for why they believe as they do. Their beliefs are serving to assist them with their current life conditions. To put this in Science of Mind terms, we begin to see perfection and wholeness in all of life as it plays out before us. Everything is in right and divine order even if it is not what we may personally choose.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!