By Doug Esse
Spiral Dynamics is a psychological and sociological system developed by psychologist, Dr. Clare Graves based upon research he and his team conducted between 1950’s and 1960’s. Later, it was developed by psychologist, Dr. Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, into a coherent system that maps different levels of consciousness present in both the individual person as well as at the societal levels. There are predictable and valid value systems within each level of consciousness. The Spiral is a vertical model with each level transcending the former one, like Russian nesting dolls.
Spiral Dynamics helps explain interpersonal conflicts and reveals ways to work through them without scapegoating and demonizing others. We explore how certain levels along the Spiral may correlate to the various energy centers as illuminated by Ra.
I am not a “spiral wizard” as some teachers are known who show particular fluency in the model and its application real-world phenomenon. But I do consider myself a student of Spiral Dynamics because it helps me to better understand our complex world. It is just a tool, however, and as such, Spiral Dynamics is not sacrosanct.
And since Spiral Dynamics is a tool, it is not metaphysical reality like, say, the energy centers (chakras) about which the Law of One elucidates. On the other hand, Spiral Dynamics may indeed be picking up on the metaphysical reality present in energy centers as expressed individually and collectively, and providing a conceptual structure to help us discern the different bandwidths of consciousness contained within each center’s energetic frequency. In other words, what if the Spiral can highlight attributes of what it looks like to live individually and collectively from, say, the first three chakras? What would it look like to live from the heart chakra? How does that register on the Spiral? I hypothesize that Spiral Dynamics is useful in describing the different points of views–or views from the energetic points of origin, if you like.
Spiral Dynamics also accounts for important nuances that play out in the real world. Though there are many variables, I’ll list just four for this introductory article:
- There are two tiers in Spiral Dynamics.
- The first tier contains seven levels, each transcending the next. However, the ethos of the first tier is “transcend and exclude.” Why exclude? Because the first tier does not recognize that there are different levels of consciousness. Each level within the first tier believes that their value system is the ONLY correct way to view reality, and each level looks upon the others levels as either inferior (for those levels “below” on the Spiral) or aloof, elitist, lazy, and heretical (for those levels “above” on the Spiral). The bottom line is that the different levels view the other levels as threatening.
- The second tier contains two levels with a third one still germinating but not yet sprouted. The ethos of the second tier is “include and transcend.” The second tier does not demonize the first tier but rather recognizes that each level contains its own valid truths and values. These are to be honored because one recognizes that one doesn’t enjoy the view from the top of the ladder without have a firm foundation of the lower rungs.
- The gap between the first and second tier is very difficult to cross because it requires the ability to loosen one’s attachment to their belief systems in order to see more clearly from a greater holistic vantagepoint.
- “I” and “We”
- The colors chosen for the Spiral Dynamics do not intentionally correspond with the chakras. Rather, they were chosen to offer the dynamic between warm colors and cool colors which correspond to the pendulum swings between an “I”-centric movement versus a “We”-centric movement on the Spiral.
- This dance between the “I” and the “We” is a pattern found in the research showing that as societies evolve in their complexity, the individual on one hand, and the collective on the other, are continually rediscovered in new ways, building upon the previous level.
- Different lines or axes
- There are several different “lines,” or more than one axis, that have their own Spiral. These unique but interconnected intelligences include: cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical, relational, political, and moral.
- Therefore, one may be highly developed spiritually, but be less developed relationally. Or one may be highly evolved in logical thinking but be poorly developed in processing their emotions and expressing them well.
- Stages and states
- Lastly, there are differences between stages and states. States of consciousness include waking, dreaming, altered, peak experiences, etc.
- A stage as depicted by the Spiral is one’s current dwelling place. It’s is more permanent and has a gravity around it. With training and meditation, one can transcend their stage but that is usually years in the making.
- Therefore, we might see someone who has a transcendent peak experience where they pierced the veil a bit. But when they return from these heights, they come back to their normal stage of consciousness and must interpret what happened to them via their stage’s value systems and beliefs. Just because someone has one or several peak states of lucidity and cosmic insight does not mean that that is their normal stage. Conversely, just because one does not have peak experiences, does not mean they are operating most of the time from lower stage.
In the following descriptions of the different levels of the Spiral, I also give my speculations as to the corresponding energy-center activations based upon careful reading of the Law of One material and moderate familiarity with Spiral Dynamics. To the right of each level description, I offer the map of the levels as they shift from the “I” focus to the “We” focus and back again. By the end of the article, you’ll see this:
But it should be understood that it looks more like this:
The Stages of Spiral Dynamics and possible chakra correlations:
The shift from Green to Yellow marks the shift from the First Tier to the Second Tier. It’s a very difficult gap to pass through and there is much resistance at the edges. Ra says something similar when they describe the shift between third and fourth densities: “The stair upon which an entity stopped would be either third-density light or fourth-density light. Between the two stairs lies the threshold. To cross that threshold is difficult. There is resistance at the edge, shall we say, of each density (82.29).”
Emerging at the Yellow level for the first time is the “attained integral structure of consciousness,” as brilliant theologian and mystic, Dr. Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault points out. “Integral” in a way, is not a new consciousness, but rather it is the ability to see the whole structure of consciousness for the first time. Indeed, the Second Tier of the Spiral acknowledges that there is a spiral that contains ever-transcending different levels, and there is an appreciation for that structure. Moreover, at the Second Tier, it is finally understood that the ego is not to be eradicated, nor is it evil. Rather, the ego as our sense of self , is accepted as part of our embodiment here in third density. A balanced ego loves the world and embraces the suffering through solidarity. It does not forsake the world but dives more deeply into it and at the Yellow level, is used at the service of systemics thinking for the wellbeing of living systems, particular and global.
Lastly, the Second Tier’s ethos is include and transcend. This inclusion of all of the levels prior and its appreciation of the complexity of the world through systemic thinking feels like the hallmark of the green-ray’s universal love, as described by the Law of One. Second Tier folks are wholehearted folks.