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Blue: Our Mythic Truth

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Levels of Development: Week 2

Blue: Our Mythic Truth
Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The fourth level of Spiral Dynamics is the Blue or Purposeful/Authoritarian level, which began approximately 5,000 years ago. I like to call it Our Mythic Truth. Here one discovers a deeper source of meaning, direction, and purpose that holds us together: creeds, codes, and cults. The Blue world is a secure existence of unquestioned truth “with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order.” [1] These are the “true believers,” the concrete-literal fundamentalists who love certitude and knowing who is right and who is wrong. Of course, they know they are right and will be rewarded for being right. However, as Pope Francis said while traveling in Africa recently, “Fundamentalism is always a tragedy. It is not religious, it lacks God, it is idolatrous . . . . Such people think they know absolute truth and thus they corrupt religion.” This is the world of flags and unquestioned group believing. There is only one right way to think in the Blue level. It is very tribal.

The Blue existence is structured by laws, regulations, and discipline. Violating the rules has serious repercussions, both now and forever. Guilt is used to keep everyone in line. People at the Blue level are comfortable with rigid social hierarchies. These people are loyalists, for good and for ill. They are willing to sacrifice for the transcendent cause. It creates religious fundamentalists, joiners, and patriots. Blue makes up 40% of the world’s population and 30% of world power. [2]

People who grow beyond this level hopefully let go of the idea that religion and security imply doggedly holding out and holding on to unquestionable beliefs. Yet the patience, perseverance, loyalty, and willingness to sacrifice found at the Blue level are well worth keeping.

In order to get beyond this level, people must undergo some sort of minor death to their egocentricity. Unfortunately, many do not undergo this necessary small death, leaving many narcissistic personalities inside Christianity who buy the Christian myth as a highly egocentric form of delayed gratification, so they can win in the end and “go to heaven.” There is no love required for this; it’s simply another way of winning and being in control, yet it has passed for “faith” for centuries because almost all of us were at the Blue level until the 1960’s.

If you allow life to help you die to your egocentricity, you can move beyond the egocentric levels into the sociocentric levels of development. The most common life circumstance that offers death to the ego is marriage. If you marry with any sincerity and are honest about relationship, you are giving up half of your egocentricity. If marriage doesn’t convert you, these wonderful little beings called children often come along and take away your egocentricity for at least the next twenty years! That’s why I think most people are called to marriage and child rearing. It’s the surest path to death of the ego, if you really allow your partner and children to mirror you, revealing your ordinary and weak self, and also helping you to experience unconditional love. Life has a way of revealing that you are not the center of anything and forcing you to give up control. We must keep growing—and that always implies death to the previous level—which many just will not do. Again and again we must move beyond our narcissism.

Gateway to Silence:
Transcend and include

[1] Ken Wilber, “The Integral Vision at the Millennium,” Part I, excerpts from Introduction to The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, Volume 7 (Shambhala: 2000),

[2] Ibid.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, In the Beginning . . . Six hours with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr on Reclaiming the Original Christian Narrative (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), discs 2 and 4, CD, MP3 download.

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