Spiral Dynamics: How Consciousness Grounds Itself as "You" - Part 1
In this post we will tackle the exciting model of Spiral Dynamics, a model that tries to explain how the human's mind works at the individual and social level and that shows us where we can evolve to. Just for the sake of length, I will divide this post in 2 parts.
"What you call "I", it is not a static and define
physical entity but an infinite Mind with
infinite potential in evolution".
In previous posts I have framed the context in which I realized the model of Spiral Dynamics takes place: not a physical Universe but a Cosmic Mind, referred as Consciousness, that in order to experience its own dream it has to limit its infinite mind in smaller ones, it has to take a distinct perspective that is what we erroneously call our self (for better understanding read my posts ("A Dream Called Reality", "It Is All Mind!", "The Context Of Spiral Dynamics"). This limited mind is what, through the usage of concepts and language, gives physicality and objectivity to something that has none.
Spiral Dynamics, for me, is therefore a psychological model that explains how each mind unfolds within the context of a Cosmic Mind. This is the reason why I have entitled this post "Spiral Dynamics: How Consciousness Grounds Itself as "You". For sake of clarity, the authors of this model do not talk about Consciousness and about awakening. This idea, therefore, reflects only my own personal view.
Regardless your interest in Consciousness's work and in awakening, I do believe that this model, taken in its original form, has the ability and power to help you in better framing what is going on at the individual and social level, giving you the opportunity to outgrow your own fears and limitations and strengthen your ability in understanding others. I give full credit for what follows to the authors of the book "Spiral Dynamics", C.C. Cowan and D.E. Beck, and to Leo Gura that has released a series of videos on this topic. In particular I will report in this post two videos of him entitled "The Grand Model Of Psychological Evolution - Clare Graves & Spiral Dynamics" and "Spiral Dynamics - Important Insights & Nuances".
As said, the Spiral Dynamics model is an evolutionary psychological model of the human's mind that explains how our psyche evolves at the individual and therefore at the social level. The authors found out that the human's mind unfolds in a predictable way over time, it has a directionality that always moves forward and only rarely back. Knowing how mind moves its steps represents an extremely important guide to know what is possible to achieve in life, where to move on, how mind tricks itself and which limitations and fears belong to each stage of evolution in order to overcome and transcend them. Each stage lives and literally creates a different reality that is based on a set of beliefs, ideologies, education, assumptions you were exposed to in early years of your life.
From this model you can deduct that what you think you are continuously evolves. What you think you are is not an absolute structure but a relative, morphing entity in respect to all the fields of the human's life such as morality, spirituality, science, religion, politics, economics and so on. Five years ago you might have been a disciplined and zealous attendant of church and now you might find yourself being a rational atheist that places Truth in science. Who is the real you and are you sure that your current position is the only valid one? Spiral Dynamics helps you in answering those questions by showing the limitations of each stage in order to overcome them once you are able to recognize their relativity and subjectivity.
The Spiral Dynamics model divides the human's mind in two major groups called tiers (tier 1 and tier 2). In tier 1 there are 6 stages, whereas in tier 2 there are (at the moment) 2 stages. To each stage has been given a color to easily memorize them. In order of evolution the stages are: Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange and Green (first tier) and Yellow and Turquoise (second tier).
These represent the major stages through which the human's mind has evolved and it is still evolving and therefore you will find yourself in one of these stages (of course each of us is a mixture but we have a gravity center in one of them). Each individual living on the planet Earth is at one particular stage of this model. Since society is nothing else than a group of individuals having their own specific ideas and perspectives, the color of each society will depend on the average of the color of its inhabitants.
Families and group of friends can be considered as well as small societies. If the people within a certain society, regardless its size, share the same colors and therefore the same vision of reality, they will likely live in harmony. On the contrary, more heterogeneous is the society, more conflicts and fighting will occur that will be solved with means that will correspond to the level of evolution within the society.
Needless to say, higher you find yourself within the ladder of evolution, higher are the chances that you will not fit in any kind of ideologies present within the society you are living in right now, causing you some initial distress.
Last point to mention before starting is the concept of dilemma. Each stage has a transformational dilemma that each individual needs to face and overcome if it wants to climb the ladder of evolution. Each stage has its own view upon reality, a view that is made out of specific ideas and conclusions regarding politics, economy, religion, science, spirituality, consciousness and so on. As we will see, whatever ideas you are holding on is totally relative and subjective and only by accepting and working on transcending your own conceptual limitations you will be able to expand your perspective and therefore the reality you are living into.
Even though it sounds an easy process, I assure you that is extremely challenging to admit that we were wrong, that our point of view is just one out of infinite ones. Our ego wants control and safety and admitting to live in an always changing and evolving reality does not feel right, taking also in consideration the pressure of the social environment we are living in.
Let's now have a look to each stage. For the moment it will be given a really short and shallow overview about each stage just to start understanding how the model works and which are its implications. Next posts will be focused on each single stage where more details will be given.
First stage is Beige. This stage is characterized by pure survival. People in this stage are aware to be alive as something/someone and they interact within reality mostly by using instincts to satisfy basic needs as food, water and safety. Examples of this stage are animals, infants, people with some mental disorders or elderly people that are losing some mental and physical control. Beings belonging to this sage do not have a formed mind and their ego structure is quite primitive.
At this stage the dilemma is to realize that other than me as an individual, there are other organisms which I have to learn how to interact with. Reality cannot be lived only from my ego survival perspective trying to fulfill all my basic desires but participating and sharing with others.
By doing so, we move to the second stage that is Purple. This stage is characterized by magic and tribalism. For the first time, humans join together as tribes forming small communities. At the individual level the purple mind sees the world as a mysterious place, inhabited by spirits, ghost and deities. There have not been any scientific, religious or technological influences on their mind and reality is lived with pure awe and superstition rather than being filtered by rationality, logic or dogmas. Quite common are the practices of woo-doo, magical rituals and the presence of healers and witches within the tribe. At this stage the survival instinct is still strongly operating: people needs to protect themselves from others tribes and from nature. Some Amazonian tribes existing nowadays are still at this stage of mind evolution.
The social dilemma of this stage is the recognition that me, as an individual, I am one with the tribe. My own individuality and personality is sacrificed mostly entirely for the goodness of others and an urge of independency is arising. People start asking for more individual power and authority especially if they realize to be stronger and more competent than others.
This rebellious behavior leads to the third stage, labeled as Red. This stage is dominated by physical power, violence, chaos, fights, absence of rules and lack of morality. Once again we move back to individuality at the detriment of community. The main focus is self gratification: "I want something and I want it now". People at this stage do not care what other people think about their behavior, they do not care if feelings or emotions of others are hurt, they do not care about future consequences. There is a total absence of discipline and will power and danger is not carefully valued and perceived. Everything is allowed regardless the means. Examples of this stage are dictators, mafia, gangsters, criminals, murders, rapists, emperors.
An inner crisis happens when people realize that this impulse thinking and gratification is very disastrous in the long term and that physical force is unsustainable in the long run. Moreover, people start to see that this behavior can hurt people that they care about opening the doors to the next stage.
The fourth level of evolution is Blue. This stage is characterized by absolutism, nationalism, strong discipline, order and structure, authority figures and rigid set of rules. In this stage real civilizations start to emerge. At stage Purple we had tribes, quite primitive forms of society. The Red stage was too individualistic and the prevailing chaos was preventing the birth of a real society. With Blue a more structured mind evolves within individuals and the recognition of an authority figure allows the arising of an hierarchical civilization.
At this stage mind swings back to a community centered perspective: it sacrifices the good of the self for the good of society. It is at this stage that traditions start to emerge. Families and countries are seen as fundamental structures to be defended from whatever external threat. Religion is now an important part of each individual's life. According to the religion there will be different creeds and beliefs that must be respected with discipline, obedience and reverence. In most religions God is seen as an external figure, living somewhere in the sky, observing and punishing you if not in compliance of the given rules. Heaven and hell are believed to be real places one must go once death arrives and everything is categorize as either good or bad.
At this stage there is the conviction that only my religion, culture, country and nation are the right ones and all the others are false and deceived. Each culture is seen as the superior one, each tradition are the only one to follow and holy books are thought to hold the Truth about reality. People at this stage will punish or try to convert others that do not agree with their perspective. "Truth exist in what I and my culture believe!" stage blue people say. The world is seen as black or white, there is no real ability of thinking outside the box. No individual questioning is taking place, no real science is happening and full authority is given to God, to the family's father, to the priest or guru and to holy books.
Middle ages are a classical example of Blue stage. Science was not yet been invented and used as a tool to investigate reality. Reality was lived according to specific beliefs and dogmas that were imposed to people since childhood and any attempt to question them was simply suppressed. It is at this stage that a strong sense of guiltiness arises at the individual level, especially regarding sex and money. They are seen as dirty, as a devil creation, a source of sin and shame. Emotions and feelings are often suppressed leading the individual to great suffering. It is not uncommon at this stage self-punishment for being bad or sexual abuses as a result of too much sexual oppression and suppression.
Nowadays there are still many individuals and entire societies/institutions at this stage such as the Islamic world, the Church and the Vatican, Buddhism (highly structure and disciplined) often leading to extreme social behavior as fundamentalism.
People that start questioning this stage will face the dilemma that this black and white thinking is limiting living in a world that is more a shade of grey. Some people might have the chance to interact with other cultures and recognize that their culture is different but not superior to others. Moreover, the individual ego might start to rebel once again (as in stage red) and to be fed up with all these oppressive rules and cast systems. An urge of individuality is back.
For today I prefer to stop here because we are only half way and still a lot of things to say about this model. I just would like you to see whether you could already find some of these traits within you and to try to challenge them having understood that they are only relative and subjective perspectives that can be evolved.
Each mind needs to ground itself to find security and to have the illusion of control and it will use whatever perspective is more convenient for itself to survive within the society it is surrounded by. Each mind is like a sponge and it will absorb anything around in order to survive. That is why it is so critical to know about this model. I want you to realize that if you are now at an high stage of evolution is only because the society you live in is at that stage. If you were born in a Nazi society, bombarded 24/7 with Nazi beliefs, ideas and values you would be behaving as a Nazi simply because that was the only reality you were exposed to.
Therefore, knowing this model helps also to be more comprehensive and not-judgmental toward others that might not have been as lucky as you in growing in a more healthy state of collective mind.
No stage is better or worst compared to another but rather a necessary step of evolution. You cannot be strongly anchored at an high stage of the spiral if you have not, as an individual, went through all the stages below. Each stage teaches you something that is necessary to evolve to higher stages. For instance, the beige stage teaches you how to survive as an individual, the purple stage starts to make you realize the importance of living within a society, the red stage teaches you how to be resourceful and autonomous, the blue stage teaches you the importance of discipline and rules. If you have not learnt the healthy values and behaviors of each stage you will not be able to get to Orange or higher. Of course, the excesses of each stage are to avoid, but as you, know only by doing mistakes we learn the best.
Everything that you do, that you value, that you think is a state of mind that can be shaped and evolved more and more consciously by realizing that within reality there is no absolute good or bad but simply different perspectives. Nothing is static, nothing is physically frozen unless you think it is. You need to be aware of that or your mind will be easily manipulated by unconscious minds.
See you next week for part 2.