Ready to Look at Your Neighbor With a New Lens?

A Life Worth Living | Apr 8, 2022

Every Saturday I share a story about my life in a way that you can hopefully relate to. I believe we are all here to share our journey, both the highs and the lows, as this is how we collectively raise the consciousness of the planet. If anything resonates with you, please share! πŸ™ (5 minute read)

Many years ago, when I was living in Atlanta, I began getting more interested in meditation and made an effort to seek out like-minded folks.

This eventually led me to discover EnlightenNext, a group led by Andrew Cohen. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with the local chapter in Atlanta and it really helped to deepen my practice. I even attended my first-ever 10-day silent retreat in 2010.

Being a part of that organization opened me up to a whole new world of teachings and teachers as well.

A New Discovery

One book I was led to that I found particularly fascinating was Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan. It's an exploration of the complex nature of human consciousness and the evolution of human culture.

Spiral Dynamics

At its core, the book argues that human beings are not static creatures, but rather that our consciousness and the societies we create are constantly evolving. The authors describe a model of consciousness that is organized around a series of "memes," or basic units of cultural information.

Mind you, this book was written in 1996, so way before "memes" came to mean something else entirely.

The Beauty of Spirals

These Spiral Dynamic memes are arranged in a spiral pattern, with each level representing a different stage of development in human consciousness.

The first level, known as "beige," is characterized by survival instincts and a basic need for food, shelter, and safety.

The next level, "purple," is focused on tribalism and the formation of community.

From there, we move to the "red" level, which is marked by a focus on individual power and dominance.

As we continue up the spiral, we encounter the "blue" level, which is characterized by a need for order and structure.

This is followed by the "orange" level, which is marked by a focus on achievement and the pursuit of success.

Beyond these levels, we find the "green" level, which is focused on egalitarianism and the values of social justice.

Finally, at the highest level of the spiral, we find the "yellow" and "turquiose" levels, which are marked by a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of all things and a recognition of the need for a holistic, systems-based approach to problem-solving.

Special shout out to Brandy Agerbeck, whose illustration I found extremely helpful here:

Throughout the book, the authors argue that this model of consciousness is not just theoretical, but is also rooted in real-world observations of human behavior and societal development.

They suggest that by understanding the different stages of consciousness and the memes associated with each level, we can better understand the motivations and behaviors of individuals and groups, and work towards creating a more sustainable and harmonious society.

What's In It For You?

I think this was the part that stood out for me the most. It's this idea of applying a lens to the behavior you see in other people, whether they're simply from another neighborhood or city, and even more so when they're from another country, religion or culture!

To often when we see the activity of a group, whether in-person or online, we're prone to make a snap judgement about them. And by 'we', I mean 'me' LOL.

What's fascinating about the spiral model is that as you ascend, you're overlapping with a lower level of development and building upon it as well.

By understanding this model, I've gained a deeper understanding of why different individuals and cultures hold different values and beliefs, and how these values and beliefs can shape their behavior.

The book provides real-life examples of how different societies have progressed through these stages of development, and how understanding these stages can lead to more effective communication and collaboration across cultural and ideological divides.

I'm always looking to make sense of the world around me and for tools that help me better understand my fellow human beings.

This book definitely opened up new pathways to compassion for me. I think we could all use a little bit more of that nowadays.

As I get older I've come to realize that I need to do a better job of being more self-aware and empathetic towards others, and to better understand how to engage with individuals and groups at different stages of development.

It's an ongoing, expansive and, at times, very uncomfortable journey.

Have you read a book recently that opened up your awareness? I'd love to hear about it.

πŸ™ with gratitude,


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πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ P.S. When You're Ready...

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