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Spiral Dynamics

Levels of Development: Week 1

Spiral Dynamics
Friday, December 11, 2015

Next week we will look more closely at each level, but for now I’d like to give you an overview of the entire spiral of human development. This model was popularly introduced by Don Beck and has been adopted by many others, including Ken Wilber. Each level, which describes both individuals and societies, is represented by a color.

The early levels of development are the most dualistic and egocentric.


Egocentric Early Levels:

  1. Beige: Instinctive/Survivalistic (0.1% of adults in the world)
  2. Purple: Magical/Animistic (10% of adults)
  3. Red: Impulsive/Egocentric (20% of adults)
  4. Blue: Purposeful/Authoritarian (40% of adults)

At this point, some minor death of egocentricity is required in order to move forward.

Sociocentric Middle Levels:
    5. Orange: Achievist/Strategic (30% of world population; 50% of people in power)
    6. Green: Communitarian/Egalitarian
        (10% of world population; 20% in developed countries; 15% of people in power)

Many of the people who reach the Green level stop here, believing they’ve made it to the top. Up to now each higher level has been contemptuous of the levels below, reacting most strongly against the level they most recently left. What Ken Wilber calls “Boomeritis” often occurs at the Green level. It is a combination of arrogance and individualism which will not finally let go of the ego’s separateness and superiority. A major death of the ego must be undergone in order to move forward to the Second Tier of development. This cannot be engineered by the ego, but is always initiated by Reality/God/Circumstances. This is the necessary “Dark Night of the Soul” which most will not allow.


Wisdom or Non-Dual Consciousness
    7. Yellow: Integrative
    8. Turquoise: Holistic

(Less than 2% of the world population and less than 1% of those in power are at the level of second tier consciousness.)

Only at the Wisdom levels of consciousness can we have the freedom and ability to include the value of previous stages and not need to hate or reject any of them. There is a cosmic humility and a “rediscovery of hierarchy” in the second tier, whereby you are fully open to people still growing up and the possibility that there are people far beyond where you are now. You are now fully free to love, believe, and hope in everything.

Gateway to Silence:
I am open to change.

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), disc 2, CD, MP3 download.

Image Credit: Insula dulcamara (detail), 1938, Paul Klee, Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland
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