How we change and develop as we grow older is complicated – each of us has our own journey to walk, but we can identify patterns that are common to most of us, and those patterns can be comforting when things are looking “nasty”. The patterns chosen here are Ken Wilber’s Personal Development Spaces and the Societal Developmental Spaces of Spiral Dynamics. They are both strong forces moulding us into the patterns of behaviour we exhibit throughout our lives.
It’s important to recognise that we can become stuck or can choose to stay at any of the levels. Becoming stuck at a low Personal Development level can be problematic from a clinical point of view; our Societal Development is powerfully influenced by the pressure to “fit in”. Breaking out of our Societal level is often a necessity and consequence of making our life transitions.
“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything”. (Oscar Wilde)
Wilber: Archaic – first 3 years of life. We are unable to distinguish self from the environment. Our life is governed by primary bodily needs ( Maslow level 1 Physiological needs).
Egocentric – between 3 and 6. We become aware of separate emotions but our world view is narcissistic. Our needs and pleasures are all that there is. Governed by basic emotional needs of safety, security, affection and sex (adults) (Maslow level 2 Security/Safety needs)
Spiral Dynamics 1: We use habits and instincts to survive. Beginning of memory and a sense of time.
Mythic – from age 6. The first of the mental levels. Gods become the source of authority – parents, teachers, nations, religions. We embrace the beliefs and conventions of parents, peers and culture and are intolerant of other views and beliefs (Maslow level 3) Our life is governed by concepts, rules, theologies, introspection and study.
SD 2: Family and Kin are most important as the collective is better able to survive than the individual. Myths and legends abound and the culture is rich in folk stories, songs and art. Social events are ritualized and customs are deeply valued. Consensus decision making is the way things are done – “the tribe has spoken!”.
SD 3: Ego and self confidence develop. Consensus thinking gives way to strong leaders who take control. Individuals live for the moment, have to learn to live within limits and manage their personal power. Positives – creativity, love of adventure and fun. Summer camps and martial arts are indicators of this level.
Rational – from young adulthood. Moving from “me” focus to “we”. We begin to develop logical skills and abstract concepts like “freedom, equality” and lots of conflict about rules, roles and society. A time when one “loses one’s faith”
SD 4: The level of law and authority, “Gods” are vengeful and swift to punish those who don’t fit in. Society offers eternal absolutes, order and gives life meaning through the prevailing belief system. We experiment with concepts of right and wrong. Everyone has a place and stays in it. Patriotism is important, but things are either black or white – no room for grey. The elimination of impure thoughts and actions.
SD 5: Achievement orientated and competitive. Marked by the rise of nation states, industrialization and the separation of science from religion. We need opportunities to excel, we are self-reliant, progressive, optimistic and comfortable with risk but don’t think of long term consequences. We are concerned about status and rank, we ridicule emotions as weak.
Vision-Logic – capable of abstract thought. Encompass a world view and become tolerant of other races, cultures and beliefs and want to do “good works”. Must decide who one is according to one’s own views, values and conscience.
SD 6: Community orientated, concerned with feelings and revitalizing spirituality. Concerned with fairness, ecological concerns become important. Value sensitivity, consensus decision making and cultural awareness. Team building and empowerment are important. Tolerant of others, their beliefs and behaviours. Tendency to flatten everyone, limiting opportunities to excel and stand out from the crowd.
These are all Personal Spaces – now one enters Transpersonal Spaces
Psychic – sensitive to energies, out of body experiences, psychic abilities. A shift from a global view to a “shamanic” view – connecting with all life forms. Embrace Nature Mysticism. Governed by soul nourishment – visions, contemplation, meditation and union with the Divine.
SD 7: People handle more diversity and complexity. Care about group concerns but no longer need to belong. Inner directed with strong ethics. No need for status and displays of power, favour minimal consumption.
SD 8: A sense of community re-emerges along with a respect for holistic wisdom. Value intuition and instinct, able to use conscious and subconscious aspects of self. Open more possibilities for ideas solutions and behaviours. Sense the underlying order to things and see the world as an organism where everything is connected. Reality can be experienced but not known.
Subtle – continuation of the multidimensional development of the self. Shift from Shamanic to creative patterning. Access to Angels, Spiritual teachers and Guides. Experience ecstacy, bliss, visions and interior illuminations.
SD 9: No clarity as to what this level looks like as societies haven’t reached this level – perhaps with the exception of counties like Bhutan that measure the success of society against the happiness of the people (not GDP).
Causal – formless mysticism. The self experiences a sense of freedom and release and a “oneness” with spirit. Live in the NOW
Nondual – awareness that there is nothing that is not spirit – emerging from the sea of spirit consciousness. Awareness that every developmental stage is adequate for accessing Consciousness.