Spiral Dynamics – Green to Yellow and beyond

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful readers including friends, and family who have been reading these posts. I am loving the conversations I’ve been having with people around this stuff and the questions. I think most of us have been looking at where we fit into these stages and how they apply to certain groups we see active in society.

Personally, I have been struggling to ‘include and transcend’ certain orange aspects as we steer our business through this Covid mess. I’m dealing with shadow stuff around ‘lack’ and ‘belonging’, also Orange issues, as we work on finding a new place to live after our landlord put the house on the market, despite us prioritising our rent. This is old shadow stuff, related to my adoption, belonging, and is probably multi-generational trauma. It’s not easy but it will be worth it.

The theme of Green is Seek peace within the inner self and explore, with others, the caring dimensions of community. The shift from Orange (individual, money, achievement) to Green (the collective, inclusion, greater good) is one that is really overdue for our planet right now. Like every shift it’s not absolute, we ‘transcend and include’. Sure some people go hard-core Green and literally run off to live in a tree but the world will benefit from even the slightest shifts. Meat-free Monday is Green, recycling is Green, heck, ‘consider the environment before printing this email’ is Green!

I was talking to a friend about Spiral Dynamics (as you do… well as I do!) the other day. She said she was confused when people said they felt the pandemic has ‘brought us all closer’. She felt the opposite was true, that everyone was more divided than ever. I agreed. Using the lense of Spiral Dynamics we can ponder if this is because the Western world’s populations have been 95% Blue and/or Orange for 300 years or so. In that time the biggest divides were within those stages: ‘are you a devout Christian/ Muslim?’ ‘Are you an Athiest?’ ‘Do you vote conservative or liberal?’ Even ‘are you a business owner or an employee?

Now millions are feeling the shift into Green with the massive social upheaval we are all experiencing. What started in the 60s with the Civil Rights movement and Feminism has rippled into LGBTQI+ visibility and equality, Black Lives Matter, inclusion and visibility for people with disabilities, environmental concerns, and animal rights and veganism.

I hate this overused phrase but ‘Now More than Ever‘ we are seeing society and even family units divided into factions of Blue, Orange and Green.

There’s a chapter in the book called Re-imagine. I almost feel, when I wrote it, I thought it was so radical but now everybody is shifting from resistance to re-imagining the institutions that orbit the world.

Valeria Kaur talking about her book See No Stranger on The Beautiful Writers’ Podcast.

The Blue Baby-Boomers are nervous and confused because they can’t say and do the things they used to say and do, Orange Big-Business is being held accountable for pollution, fossil fuel dependence, and environmental degradation. Weinstein, Cosby, Spacey, et al are all being held accountable for their shitty behaviour. Those in power are no longer ‘allowed’ to take advantage of those who hold less power! What a time to be alive! Unfortunately Green has some blind spots. Green seems to have closed it’s collective mind to nuclear power regardless of the new technology available.

Green art has been around for decades. In Gebser’s framework this is the Post-Modern Era. Think documentaries by Michael Moore, Stacey Dooley (see below), Deeyah Khan, Damon Gameau with his wonderful film 2040. Banksy, Live Aid, Lady Gaga…) Seinfeld, the show about nothing, is Green. Star Trek was Green from its inception and led the way with a multi-racial cast. It’s wonderful that we’re now seeing more inclusive casts on our screens. I recently watched a series called Delicious (Dawn French as a sexy chef!) It has a quite inclusive cast and I was impressed when an episode included an actor (whose name I simply cannot find!) who uses a wheel chair and the episode was about his wedding and didn’t once allude to the wheel chair.

But Green also invented cancel culture. Green hates hierarchy of any kind and often wants to throw the good out with the bad, to tear it all down and start again. This didn’t work terribly well for the Paris Commune in 1871. Pulling down the statues of oppressors isn’t a new concept. Those who don’t remember history are destined to repeat it. Read this Adam Gopnick article from the New Yorker for a cautionary tale for our times.

Stacey Dooley was shifted into Green while participating in a documentary called Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts.

It might be a seismic shift but basically Green is about kindness, empathy and the greater good. Green believes that it’s not enough to achieve (orange) unless everyone has the opportunity to achieve. It’s no wonder Integral Theory refers to these stages as ‘Growing up.’ The shift into green is happening all over the world and it’s the source of the extreme growing pains we’re witnessing.

And then…

The shift from Green to Yellow is more subtle, less volatile outwardly but isn’t without its personal challenges. While Green is more outwardly focussed, Yellow embodies the ideal of Think Globally, Act Locally.

It’s theme is Live fully and responsibly as what you are and learn to become. Yellow signals a shift back to focus on the individual away from the collective but it is still with an eye to understanding the underlying connection of all beings on earth. Leo Gura (Actualized.org) explained this really well in the below video. While it has a lot of great info I won’t make you watch 2 hours to get the crux of the subtle difference between Green and Yellow. Leo says you can tell the difference between the stages by looking at a yellow vegetarian vs a green vegetarian. The yellow is happy to provide information when asked however a green vego/vegan will be very loud/proud of their plant-based status. For the green it is often truly a status (green vegos are often accused of virtue signalling), but they just want to make the world a kinder place to all beings! They want to convert others, but yellows know that the decision to eat plant-based is a very personal one.

Yellows know that we can’t be reasoned out of something we weren’t reasoned into. Those of us who grew up eating meat just did so because that was the done thing in our families and our cultures. It wasn’t right or wrong, it just…was! For me, it was a falling out with a family member over a religio-cultural choice not to eat certain meats that I can trace my yellow vegetarianism back to. I knew what it was like to be confronted for my choice of food and never wanted to fall out with family over such things ever again. It’s all good there now and I am so grateful for that lesson!

Yellow explained by Leo Gura from Actualized.org I don’t agree with everything Leo talks about but his explanation of the stages was pretty thorough (even if he did say that women don’t experience Orange…???)

My own shift from towards Yellow rocked me to the core. For good, yes, but I lost my connection with a couple of friends with whom I’d become really close during our joint journey through Green. While I was more than happy to continue the friendship, their Green view of the universe was staunchly atheist and after they heard about my ‘experiences’ with meditation felt I had gone to the “Woo” side. Orange often hates what they see as airy-fairy new-agey crap even more than they hate organised religion and Green atheists will often conflate the two.

In my experience, often those who have grown up in a religious-based culture, as I did, will shift away from that belief system once they shift beyond Blue. I was never a great ‘Christian’. I considered myself agnostic at the very least by my mid twenties, however I was still quite Blue in my use of tarot and crystals etc. Once I had ‘transcended and included’ Blue in my late 20s I considered God, as the Abrahamic religions framed ‘him’, existed only to oppress women and control the working class, a very Orange view. The shift into Green solidified my belief or lack thereof and I considered myself an atheist, something that would get me killed in countless Blue cultures around the world. People in certain places in the USA are shunned if they come out as an atheist such is the pull of the Blue organised religions there.

My own shift to yellow came from months of study, meditation and journaling when I had numerous experiences of non-duality.

This stuff doesn’t come easily.

Brie Cosma on Instagram

Even though I had transcended and included Blue, I had had numerous first hand experiences that I couldn’t explain until I got to Yellow. I have read tarot, had experiences of mediumship, seen auras and entities…but I was still super cynical!! Blue would say it was “god” or the “devil” depending on their viewpoint, Orange would suggest I was hyperventilating, lying or delusional. Green is often more open to the unknown (see Sam Harris’ Waking Up app), but I couldn’t really explain those experiences until I got to the non-duality of Yellow.

Nonduality is the experience of oneness; a sense of connectedness and identity with the entire universe.

I’ve been meditating for over 20 years and had had just 3 moments during that time of experiencing non-duality. The first two ‘shocked me’ back into duality, into my humble human existence, but I was more ready for the third. I was using Dr Dan Siegal’s Wheel of Awareness meditation, a secular meditation practice, and boom. I felt a huge surge of love and can only describe the feeling as ‘at one with everything’. This lasted for minutes and was bloody lovely. Then, as the saying goes, I chopped wood, aka went to work. That day I had some pretty heavy-duty truths to deal with. I had been in a miserable work environment for a while and realised that I would keep going through the same bullshit until I changed my own behaviour. It heralded weeks of big breakthroughs for me. I finally ‘realised’ that I am not my body and I am not my thoughts. I am, as you are, something far bigger than that.

A secular meditation created by Sam Harris for experiencing non-duality.

Then, a few days later, I watched a video entitled “I will prove the existence of God’ or something like that, on Youtube. It had been posted on the very funny Facebook page ‘The Scottish Atheist’ (highly recommended for the best memes on the internet!) The video was captioned ‘We should see our subscription rates go through the floor after everyone watches this.’ Now, a quick search will reveal huge number of videos either promising to prove the existence of a supreme deity (Blue) or disprove the same (Orange) but I didn’t find the one I watched 3 years ago standing in my kitchen. There was something in that video that caused a non-duality experience. It was incredible, but then the experience shifted as the narrator started down a very blue, religious path. I remember saying to the phone in my hand “No, no, no, This, whatever this is, you can’t shove it into a man shaped box.” The creative force behind the universe is not a ‘man on a cloud’. God, as they say, ‘is not religious.

This is what Blue organised religion has done since they started murdering “witches”, banning Medieval Moorish medical expertise (Isabella and Ferdinand were religious terrorists, look it up…), building cathedrals on sacred wells and groves, and holding inquisitions willy-nilly.

Now, I don’t know what ‘it’ is but it’s far bigger than us and the beauty of Yellow is all our dogmas and ‘beliefs’ have been stripped away in Orange and Green leaving us with an open heart and mind to accept that we just don’t know.

Enlightenment or awakening is not the creation of a new state of affairs but the recognition of what already is.

Alan Watts

Thank you so much if you’re still reading! I don’t know about you but after three days of writing this post I am a bit exhausted but also really hyped about the subject! I am going to leave this here now. My next post on the subject will look at the next stage, Turquoise, and I’ll talk about how our Growing up through these stages interprets our ‘Waking Up’ experiences.