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The Spiral of Consciousness

By ron esposito · December 5th, 2007 · The Road to Wellness
In 1996, Don Beck's and Christopher Cowan's Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change put forth an incisive and far-reaching theory of human development that's a breakthrough in mapping consciousness. The book gives insight into the spectrum of human psychologies, beliefs and values that are guiding our choices and shaping our identities.

The authors state that the evolution of human consciousness can be represented by a dynamic, upward spiraling structure charting the evolution of our systems of thinking as they move through increasing levels of complexity. The levels describe eight memes -- value systems that contain our identities, beliefs and worldviews from the individual to entire cultures.

Memes are chunks of cultural information and are to the mind what genes are to the body. Like the Russian dolls, there are systems within systems. Memes operate in concert with one another, producing our unique personalities.

In Spiral Dynamics, the memes are color-coded to connote that they don't represent a hierarchy but rather that each can be expressed in a positive and negative way.

The whole spiral with its assortment of meme codes is inside the person and might be called upon in response to the demands of their changing life conditions.

Let's look at how the memes spiral and unfold:

´ Beige Instinctive/Survivalist Meme

Theme: Do what you must to stay alive; relying on instincts.

´ Purple Magical/Animistic Meme

Theme: Keep the spirits happy and the tribe's nest warm and safe; obeys the desires of the spirit being and cosmic signs.

´ Red Impulsive/Egocentric Meme

Theme: Be what you are and do what you want, regardless; the world is a jungle where the cunning and strongest survive.

´ Blue Purposeful/Authoritarian Meme

Theme: Life has meaning, direction and purpose with predetermined outcomes; ordered existence under the control of the ultimate truth.

´ Orange Achievist/Strategic Meme

Theme: Act in your own self-interest by playing the game to win; a marketplace full of possibilities and opportunities.

´ Green Communitarian/Egalitarian Meme

Theme: Seek peace within the inner self and explore with others the caring dimension of community.

´ Yellow Integrative Meme

Theme: Live fully and responsibly as what you are and learn to become; life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies, systems and forms.

Theme: Experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit; the world is a single, dynamic organism with its own collective mind.

Beck says that we're in a state of constant motion and that we're shaped by the code of the spiral. In short, we can change our own psychology and the brain can rewire itself.

RON ESPOSITO is a certified Life Coach, Enneagram Teacher/Trainer and 12-Step Recovery Coach at the Conscious Living Center in Mount Auburn. Email: Ron.Esposito@Gmail.com


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