Spiral Dynamics

Published on: March 1, 2012

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A Tool to Help Get to Where We Want to Go

The Spiral Dynamics model describes how societies have evolved throughout history and how consciousness has evolved commensurately. The Spiral is a perfect symbol, seen in galaxies and everywhere in nature. It is a useful model in the exploration of how consciousness evolves in individuals, and is especially useful in exploring evolution within organizations.

Those familiar with the Spiral Dynamics model will recall that colors (not related to chakras, spectrum, etc.) are used to denote various levels of change. They are divided into two tiers. The first tier colors, including but not limited to, red, blue, orange and green are related to subsisting in present-life conditions. The second tier, yellow, turquoise and beyond, is about being and becoming. Society as a whole is experiencing a movement into second tier.

11--spiralWIE_webAt each level, there are healthy and unhealthy manifestations. The healthy forms all contribute to maintaining the integrity of an organization and assuring its upward movement. Unhealthy forms represent the shadow of the organization and manifest as impasses and overall discontent. This is because when the second-tier consciousness begins to emerge, the unhealthy aspects of all of the previous levels also begin emerging. Underlying this emergence is fear of change.

Individuals and organizations evolve by including and holding to values and beliefs that continue to serve and leaving behind or transcending those that no longer serve. It is characteristic for a belief or value to be thought so significant there is resistance to transcending it. Tensions arise with the fear of losing what served so well at previous levels of consciousness.

Recognition of a strong sense of identity within an organization is a healthy aspect of red, a high priority in Unity. In unhealthy red, the fear is the loss of that identity resulting in confusion and discontent. It shows up in the “us vs. them” mentality, triangulation, and backbiting, common in organizations seeking to evolve and transform.

In organizations, the blue brings structure, order, and respect for tradition. Unity’s teachings about principle come from blue. Unhealthy blue appears as attempts to enforce “the one and only right way.” All religious organizations have feared the abandonment of traditions. All have undergone periods of time when they resisted healthy change to traditions and teachings. Unity is no exception.

The orange brings advances in consciousness with the desire for exploration and vision for the future. Unity’s founders recognized this need to plan for the future and the result is the Unity movement and Unity Village. The Law of Mind Action is an orange concept, as is prosperity. “I am free, I am unlimited” expresses healthy orange. Unhealthy orange is seen when the bottom line is perceived as or suspected to be the primary factor driving major decisions. There is fear that an important teaching may be lost, e.g., “we don’t raise money, we raise consciousness.” Advances in ministerial education seem threatening to traditional educational practices. Emilie Cady’s “stop reading many books” is recalled. (Lessons in Truth, page 28)

The New Thought movement arose when green entered. Green brought sensitivity, caring and inclusiveness, the value of the individual, the heart as well as the head. Unity offers a healthy-minded religion. Unhealthy green is susceptible to “group think” and is resistant to hierarchy in membership and leadership. One of Unity’s biggest challenges is the predominance of green in the consciousness, much of it unhealthy.

Second Tier: Tradition and Transformation

The first level in second tier, yellow, accepts the inevitability of change. Transformation in individuals and organizations depends upon movement upward and forward into second tier. In yellow there is an understanding of the value of “both/and” rather than “either/or.”

It is important that values to maintain stability and tradition be held on to. Equally important is continuing to be open to new understandings. It is key to recognize that raising of consciousness always precedes the flow of prosperity. Operating from the heart must be acknowledged. However, intellectual understanding is the gift of Spirit, one that must not be neglected. Hierarchy does not mean one individual is better than or more enlightened than another. Individuals are at different places on the spiral in their beliefs and values. They also have different capabilities and talents.

The second level in the second tier is turquoise. It has been described as a holistic field theory. It is characterized by spirituality and the blending and harmonizing of a strong collective of individuals. When there is a commitment to work together harmoniously to evolve to the next level of consciousness, there is a shift in an organization.

Acknowledgement of the shadow is a key requirement for psychological advancement and transformation. Our challenge is to be willing to explore, together, areas of resistance to change and to move beyond our fear. At the same time, we need to celebrate the healthy aspects of the spiral that Unity embodies and to nourish and support any initiative that will bring harmony and trust to the organization. Let us honor the call to transcend and include in the upward, forward movement of Spirit.

EJ Niles
Director at Spiral Pathways

Rev. EJ Niles is director of Spiral Pathways, an alternative ministry.

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