I found some very interesting information on levels of consciousness. You’ve probably heard of levels of leadership and the hierarchy of needs but this one is even more fundamental than either. Every behavior and attitude displayed by each one us can be seen to correlate to the level of consciousness that each one of us is operating on. Some people developed different categorical names for the division but ultimately the assessment is the same. I’m aware that these will be mere words to those who don’t understand the wording of some of the levels. In my opinion, the wording of especially the higher levels of consciousness or the highest is intentionally left non detailed or ambiguous as the conclusion would alter a lot of things that the majority of mankind now accepts as facts. The same reason why many authors would not acknowledge Maslow’s transcedental cap stone in his hierarchy of needs. Mankind has the tendency to reject notions which it is not familiar with or which would distort its perception of truth in such a way that its perception would be rendered false by accepting such notions. In any era, the majority of us all feel that we have known everything and the thought that we know so little evokes fear that makes us to reject such notion and fight against anyone who brings new ideas to the world. Here are the more simplified categories of consciousness that are easier to digest: From lowest to highest precedence:
- Instinctual: This is the most basic and fundamental level of human consciousness and is not much more than the survival instinct. This level is reactionary and focuses on the acquisition of the basic resources necessary to sustain life. Conflicts for people functioning at this level of consciousness are typically viewed as, and sometimes are, struggles with life and death ramifications. Roughly 10% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
- Individualist: This level of consciousness centers around the defense and advancement of the ego, as the apex of physical consciousness. People functioning at this level are focused on the avoidance or elimination of threat to their ego, person and property. This frequently surfaces as a need to control their environment and other people. Failure to have control is viewed as a grave detriment to the person’s ego and security. At this level of consciousness, the person’s ego and security are typically undifferentiated from their perceived wellbeing. Roughly 20% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
- Conformist: This level of consciousness centers around the need for acceptance, and often manifest as a herd or tribal mentality. Members of the perceived tribe are valued over others, as they offer the support system the individual perceives itself as needing. While relationships become important in and of themselves, persons outside the tribe are viewed as less important, inferior or even dangerous. This level of consciousness often carries a strong emphasis on compliance with tribal rules and custom. The importance of these codes of conduct are evaluated by their level of acceptance within the tribe, rather than by the merits of the rules themselves. The tribe or clan can be any type of identifiable group. It could be a family network, a religious group, or even a socio-economic class. It can be any group with which the individual strongly identifies. Roughly 40% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
- Rational: At this level of consciousness, formal rational thinking predominates. Logic and reason are employed in evaluating situations and relationships. The moral standard of this level is viewed in terms of fairness, justice, and effectiveness. The scope of consideration for applying these values typically extends beyond tribal boundaries. Roughly 30% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level of consciousness.
- Pluralistic: At this level of consciousness, and egalitarian view predominates and people are valued because they are human beings, not because they are right or excel at some particular trait or skill. Love becomes the moral standard. Empathy becomes a globally usable skill and can be extended to any human being. Roughly 10% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
- Integral: At this level of consciousness the inherent value of all people and all levels of consciousness becomes apparent. The dispassionate reason of the Rational Level and the irrational love of the Pluralistic Level, are viewed as integral components of an effectively functioning system. The various views, approaches, and considerations of all the levels of consciousness are seen to function harmoniously rather than competitively IN THE PERSON. Roughly 1% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
- Transcendent: At this level of consciousness a sense of the divinity of all things emerges. Perception shifts from the harmonic interaction of disparate parts as seen from the Integral Level, to a wholistic view of all reality. All the parts of the universe are seen as one organic whole expressing itself in limitless ways. Roughly 01.% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
Another similar categorization of consciousness
“What Gurdjieff calls ‘Objective science’ uses the musical analogy to depict a universe composed of a chain of energies that stretches from the lowest octave to the highest: each energy is transformed as it rises and falls, taking on a coarser or finer nature according to its place in the scale. At each specific level, an energy corresponds to a degree of intelligence, and it is consciousness itself, fluctuating within a wide range of vibrations, that determines human experience…Gurdjieff also affirms the reality of an absolute level of pure quality (always evolving). From this source, energies descend to meet and interact with the energies we know. When this intermingling of pure with gross takes place, it can change the meaning of our actions and the influence they bear on the world.” Peter Brook (Gurdjieff, 2008)
Our experience has shown that if the Enneagram is used as an isolated personality system, people can become more identified with their type rather than evolving. In Integral Psychology, Ken Wilber (2000) states that typology systems such as Meyers-Briggs, the Enneagram, and Jungian types are horizontal systems. While useful for self awareness, these systems do not describe the whole picture of human development. However, pairing a horizontal system like the Enneagram with a vertical system of the stages and waves of the unfolding of human consciousness like Spiral Dynamics®, “you can start to see what a truly multidimensional psychology might look like” (Wilber, p. 54). In order to bring about true evolutionary change in an individual and humanity, we believe that systems can help us understand and define the personality and the different levels of human consciousness. There are a number of systems that describe these two areas in the human being. The Enneagram of Personality is a dynamic and powerful personality typing system that assists individuals in elucidating their unique and particular personality structure; it is magnificent in its description of the psychological defense mechanisms that each and every one of us uses (Palmer, 1998). As we become more aware through self observation by understanding our patterns and habits, we are better able to make empowering conscious choices. Spiral Dynamics® is a system that offers a view of the evolution of human consciousness over the last 100,000 years (Graves, 2005). It is a superior tool for helping humanity to shift cultures. As we become more aware of the spectrum of human values and worldviews, we are capable of developing deeper insight into the core issues that are responsible for conflict or cohesion among people, groups, and cultures. When combined, each of these systems informs the other, allowing individuals to have a multi-dimensional understanding of their inner workings over their lifetimes and a broader view of the always evolving levels of consciousness operating within and without (Ooten, Unpublished).
The first phase of the study was completed in 2005 at the International Enneagram Association Conference in California with 38 individuals who were very familiar with their Enneagram types and who are widely known Enneagram teachers. Participants were taught the Spiral Dynamics system and then divided into nine groups based on Enneagram type. Each of the groups was asked to: “Give a one-word name that describes your Enneagram type at each level of consciousness,” (Figure 1) and to “Give a descriptive phrase that describes your type at each level of consciousness” (Figure 2). A consensus was reached among recognized Enneagram teachers and researchers of 63 archetypal titles and descriptions for each of the Enneagram types at each of the levels of consciousness.
The second phase of the research has been ongoing for the past five years. Deborah Ooten, Ph.D. has administered the Values Test to 230 individuals who were already familiar with their Enneagram type through training with Dr. Ooten or with other recognized Enneagram teachers and have taken Spiral Dynamics training with Dr. Ooten through outreach programs and the School of Conscious Living, a two-year IEA Accredited Enneagram Certification School. “The Values Test: Priorities for Life Choices, An Analysis of Seven vMemes, Worldviews and Belief Systems in People, Organizations, and Cultures” (Beck, 2002) is a scientific and validated analysis of an individual’s acceptance and rejection of the worldviews and values of the seven developmental levels of the Spiral Dynamics® system and tabulates the levels of consciousness operating in an individual and whether these levels are operating consciously (acceptance) or unconsciously (rejection). There have been 74 men (32%) and 156 women (68%), ranging in age from 21 to 65 years, who have participated in the study to date. The mean age is 47. The levels of consciousness develop sequentially, each level encompassing the levels before. While not all participants have developed to the highest levels, all levels of consciousness have been represented. Twentyone participants had developed to the Blue Level, 52 participants had developed to the Orange Level, 73 participants had developed to the Green Level, 65 had developed to the Yellow level and 19 had developed to the Turquoise level. Participants were then presented with the 63 archetypal titles and descriptions of the Enneagram types at each of the levels of consciousness. Participants were asked for their feedback on how well each of the titles and descriptive phrases described their type at each of the levels of consciousness. The original descriptions from 2005 have expanded based on the most frequent responses. This study is still continuing through students of the School of ConsciousLiving and will be published in more depth in Deborah Ooten’s upcoming book (Ooten, Unpublished).
This paper presents the Levels of Consciousness of the Enneagram through these 63 archetypal titles and descriptions. This look at the Enneagram personality types within each of the levels of consciousness elucidates the vast variety of characteristics of the Enneagram types beyond wings, dynamic movements and subtypes as well as bringing an added dimension to the lifetime work of conscious evolution.
Spiral Dynamics® was developed in 1970 by Dr. Clare Graves and has been elucidated since then by Drs. Don Beck, Chris Cowan and Natasha Todorovic, among others. This system describes a bio-psycho-social, double-helix, openended emergent model of human consciousness that provides a new way of framing and understanding the forces of human interactions and behavior through stages of human development (Graves, 2002; Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). These stages can be applied to individual, organizational and geo-political nation-state levels (Beck, 2006). The expression of the level of consciousness is a product of interaction between external conditions of existence and internal complex adaptive systems. Nine basic levels or waves of human consciousness have been observed at this point, alternating “I” expressive and “We” sacrificing levels, divided into two tiers. In the first tier focus, there is conflict within levels and between levels. The second tier levels promote alternative, highly adaptive means of problem resolution. Each emergent level transcends the level before while also including the values, methods, and perspectives of the previous stages (Graves, 2002). Levels of Consciousness Spiral Dynamics® is an open-ended system, meaning that levels continue to emerge as humanity evolves. To date, eight levels of development have been clearly observed, studied, and documented (Graves, 2002; Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). The ninth level of development is just now emerging, but not enough individuals have reached this level to accurately describe it yet. The image of the spiral is used because each level includes the values, skills, and mechanisms of the levels below it while becoming more adaptive, complex, and expansive (Beck, 2006). As we evolve through each of these stages, all previous levels of consciousness are still operating and can be expressed appropriately or inappropriately given the life conditions of the time, place, problems, and circumstances we face (Beck, 2006). While Clare Graves assigned letters to the levels during his double blind studies,the levels are now often referred to by the colors assigned by Beck and Cowan for simplicity, and we will adhere to their color naming scheme for this paper (2006).These levels apply across different types of development, including the span of time of human evolution, the continued maturation of the individual from infancy through adulthood, the progression of societies, and the stages of corporate culture (Wilber, 2000).
Beige The first level is the Beige level of existence. The Beige level of consciousness is concerned with instinctual drives of survival of the species and immediate gratification of the very basic needs of food, water, safety, and sex. This level is sensory-driven and has no concept of individuated self, no temporal concept beyond immediate needs, nor spatial concept beyond the occupied space. Individuals can decreasingly still be found existing primarily at this level in remote areas, living off the land in loose, small bands with no leadership. It is also expressed as the primary level of operation in newborn infants, late stage Alzheimer’s patients, and after extreme trauma and shock (Graves, 2002; Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). Managing survival is completely integrated into the genetic code and social operations for most individuals today. Survival is rarely an issue and if so, then usually for only brief amounts of time. However, when survival is again an issue, this level rises to the forefront as during extreme events like the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since the Beige level is inherent and fully integrated in 99.9 percent of all humans, it is not separately evaluated in the Values Test (Ooten, Unpublished). As additional energy becomes available to humans, observation of cause and effect emerges, and when competition and threats endanger satisfactory survival, the Beige level shifts to the next level. At this point, new neurological connections create an awareness of a distinct self as well as awareness that group efforts are needed to ensure continued existence (Beck, 2006).
Purple The Purple level is magical and animistic, and the core motivations are about keeping the spirits happy, the tribe safe, and ensuring continued gratification of basic needs. In this stage, the core belief is that the world is mysterious and frightening, and in order to survive, the tribe must band together to placate or appease the gods, spirits, deities, and authorities. The needs of the individual are subsumed in the group. In an animistic worldview, everything has meaning and is living, including the rocks, trees, and earth (Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). This level is highly motivated by assurance of safety and survival, which is achieved through traditionalism and adherence to the tribal order (Graves, 1974). If and when the rituals, taboos, and tribal order become too constrictive or do not assure survival, some individuals will evolve to the next level, which focuses on expression of self for self-gratification (Ooten, Unpublished).
Red The Red level of consciousness is impulsive and egocentric. The core motivation is about doing what you want and being who you are, regardless of the consequences (Ooten, Unpublished). Neurotransmitters related to guilt are not physiologically present in individuals at this level, thus guilt is not expressed (Graves, 2005). The world is seen as rough and harsh; the mentality is about fighting to survive. At this level of consciousness, the needs of the individual outweigh the needs of the group. The individual expresses himself in an egocentric, exploitive, impulsive, control-driven manner. There are two categories of individuals at this level: the victim and the perpetrator, or a few “haves” and many “have nots” (Beck, 2006). Hedonism, immediate sensory gratification, power impulses and displays, and spontaneous guilt-free actions drive the individual. Individuals at this level are most motivated by survival fears, using any means of exploitation to attain power (Graves, 1974). When individuals begin to question why they must die and impulsive living takes its toll, some people will shift into the next wave of development (Graves, 1974).
Blue From the chaotic and usually short-lived lifestyle of the Red level, arises the Blue level of consciousness, wherein the individual becomes concerned with the world being divine, controlled and purposeful. There is obedience to authority and, for the first time in the developmental stages of humanity, the sense of guilt becomes present, thereby creating a desire at this level to do right, to do good, and to sacrifice now in order to obtain rewards in the afterlife (Ooten, Unpublished). At this level of consciousness, individuals are likely to find purpose in causes and to dedicate themselves to crusades or jihad. Fundamentalism predominates (Graves, 2002; Beck, 2006). “At this level man accepts his position in life. Inequality is a fact of life. He believes that the task of living is to strive for perfection in his assigned role—absolute perfection, regardless of how high or low his assigned station” (Graves, 2005, p. 254). Individuals operating at this level seek security of salvation through sacrifice. Tired of sacrificing for future gains, the Orange level arises, seeking immediate rewards (Graves, 1974).
Orange The ego becomes fully individuated at the Orange level of consciousness in a world view where independence, logic, competition, success, optimism and progress are highly valued (Ooten, Unpublished). Orange level thinking rationalizes the means to reach the ends. The scientific method is highly valued, yet learning is often through self-experimentation and observing what has worked for select others. Authority, however, is not highly respected. At this level, individuals are capable of seeing many ways to solve a problem; yet, they also believe there is always one best way. They are highly self-motivated and often shrewdly, subtly and strategically manipulate others to reach their goals (Graves, 2002). Paradoxically, individuals at the Orange level see themselves as highly objective, yet the ego is most subjective at this stage (Ooten, Unpublished). This level of consciousness is instrumental in raising quality of life through technological advances for the entire world and is also responsible for heavy depletion of natural resources (Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). From the Orange level, people are motivated by independence and use scientism to achieve materialism (Graves, 1974).
Green From recognizing the intense pain that arises from ego individuation, independence and competition in the Orange level of thinking, the individual may realize that he or she has separated from fellow humans (Ooten, Unpublished). A need to connect and join in community with others develops in the transition into the Green level of consciousness where the valued group, inner peace and unity are valued over materialism. Thinking at the Green level is more expanded and open to more solutions than previous levels. Individuals at this level turn their attention to their fellow man and creating equality of rights, opportunities and resources (Graves, 2005). Yet paradoxically, this level becomes lost in self-contemplation and uses massive resources with little production. Acceptance and harmony within the valued group are key to the individual at this stage. Feelings and spirituality become more important than rational thought and materialism (Graves, 2005). This level of consciousness is highly idealistic and believes that all humans are equal and, as such, equal opportunity will allow all individuals to flourish. There is discrepancy when both freedom of expression and adherence to the group are equally valued. Consensus rules while change and action occur slowly in an attempt to maintain group harmony, consider all options, and maintain the status quo. This level also naively believes that all humans are loving, good, and can learn to appreciate one another (Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). Individuals are motivated by affiliation and use sociocentricity to achieve a sense of community (Graves, 1974).
Yellow The transition from the First Tier of Consciousness to the Yellow level of the Second Tier is a “momentous leap” according to Clare Graves (1974, 2005), when the individual realizes that equally distributing resources among all people and expecting that all humans are equally good and loving creates more problems than it solves. This leap may occur when life conditions change to seriously threaten survival, and the individual/species has to relearn survival (Graves,2002). There are currently a small number of individuals who operate from the Second Tier of existence, but the species as a whole has not yet evolved to this level (Ooten, 2010). Adherence to the favored group in the Green level is transformed into acceptance of all people for who they are, where they are in the Second Tier. This acceptance allows individuals at the Yellow level of consciousness to speak to the listening of others, regardless of their level. Chaos is seen as part of the natural order and imperative for change (Graves, 2005). These individuals are highly flexible in their thinking and are able to see from a perspective that is larger than all the levels of the First Tier combined (Graves, 2005). The reality of existence is emphasized and interconnected with spirituality. The individual transcends self-centered, instinctual and emotional drives to a way of being that expresses self to the benefit of self and others (Ooten, Unpublished). Individuals at this level live from the knowing of the interconnectivity of all of humanity, and that what affects the individual, affects the whole. The focus becomes the continued existence of all of life (not just humanity), using whatever means are appropriate given place and time (Beck, 2006). Methods and thinking are fluid, adapting to conditions. If democracy is appropriate, democracy is used. If consensus is appropriate, consensus is used. Technology is highly utilized for self and all of humanity to rapidly network and interconnect with others at all levels of development, as well as to quickly produce solutions and resources for existential problems. People at this level can also express a level of arrogance about their broader perspectives and understandings (Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). Individuals at the Yellow level of consciousness are motivated by the continuation of existence and use acceptance to ensure the continuation of life (Graves, 1974).
Turquoise The Turquoise level arises when the interconnecting technology of the Yellow level creates chaos and new global problems. In the Turquoise level, a sense of order is understood within the chaos of the universe, and spirituality and physics are combined for a deeper understanding of how the universe and multiverses operate (Graves, 2005). The idea of the holon is embodied (that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm and the macrocosm reflects the microcosm; or as above, below and as below, above). The individual is seen as a part of the larger cosmos, a conscious collective, which serves the whole and the one as the same, because they are not separate (Ooten, Unpublished). In the understanding of that Oneness, individuals at the Turquoise level are aware that all actions and nonactions impact all beings, all planetary bodies, the entire cosmos (Graves, 2005; Graves, 2002; Beck, 2006). Individuals at this level see the earth and all living beings that inhabit the earth as one organism and understand that sacrifices are necessary by all for life to continue. These individuals learn intuitively and experientially, are deeply grounded in the metaphysical, and live minimalistically to create more for all (Graves, 2005). With such a broad awareness, there may be difficulty with creating direct and focused action. Paradox is embraced and known as essential (Graves, 2005; Beck, 2006). Individuals who operate from the Turquoise level value experience and through experiencing, they create communion with all that is (Graves, 1974).
Enneagram Archetypes within Levels of Consciousness Spiral Dynamics is a model that describes phylogenetics, the evolution of the species. The Enneagram of Personality is a tool that details the fixated aspects of the individual and describes ontogentics, the development of the individual of the species. Pairing these two systems provides a map for the evolution of individuals through levels of consciousness. Through properly comprehending and applying these two systems, we can develop deep compassion and understanding for our fellow human beings and can be more effective in all endeavors (Ooten, Unpublished).
It is sad to see that many of our leaders, men that are so often praised and hailed in the media (take Lee Kuan Yew for example) evidently functioned at low level of consciousness. The insecure Lee Kuan Yew was evidently an ego-centric person who fell into the following category:
The Red level of consciousness is impulsive and egocentric. The core motivation is about doing what you want and being who you are, regardless of the consequences (Ooten, Unpublished). Neurotransmitters related to guilt are not physiologically present in individuals at this level, thus guilt is not expressed (Graves, 2005). The world is seen as rough and harsh; the mentality is about fighting to survive. At this level of consciousness, the needs of the individual outweigh the needs of the group. The individual expresses himself in an egocentric, exploitive, impulsive, control-driven manner. There are two categories of individuals at this level: the victim and the perpetrator, or a few “haves” and many “have nots” (Beck, 2006). Hedonism, immediate sensory gratification, power impulses and displays, and spontaneous guilt-free actions drive the individual. Individuals at this level are most motivated by survival fears, using any means of exploitation to attain power (Graves, 1974). When individuals begin to question why they must die and impulsive living takes its toll, some people will shift into the next wave of development (Graves, 1974).
Individualist: This level of consciousness centers around the defense and advancement of the ego, as the apex of physical consciousness. People functioning at this level are focused on the avoidance or elimination of threat to their ego, person and property. This frequently surfaces as a need to control their environment and other people. Failure to have control is viewed as a grave detriment to the person’s ego and security. At this level of consciousness, the person’s ego and security are typically undifferentiated from their perceived wellbeing. Roughly 20% of the world’s population functions primarily at this level.
But this begs a question that for such people as Lee Kuan Yew to succeed, the majority of us must be living primarily on the same level or lower or hardly a level above. Only monkey would lead monkeys so to speak. You only need to take a look at quotes from Lee Kuan Yew to realize what kind of person he was. He was no Mandela nor Mahatma Gandhi. He had never said anything really great in character and the older he got the more you can see that he was nothing but an insecure man trying to hold on to power.