I have really been nerding out on Spiral Dynamics lately. I first read Marion’s Putting on the Mind of Christ and new Psychology of Human Well-Being by Richard Barrett. My favorite book so far about spiral dynamics is Integral Christianity by Paul R. Smith. I also listened to an excellent podcast series on Spiral Dynamics by Phil Drysdale (https://soundcloud.com/thephildrysdaleshow/an-intro-to-spiral-dynamics). Spiral Dynamics is basically stages of psychological development.
A basic example of Spiral Dynamics is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Once basic needs are met, individuals can move up to higher level needs. Barrett explains that humans must fulfill their basic or Egoic needs (the first 5 levels of development) before they can then fulfill their higher spirit needs. A key principle of spiral dynamics is that an individual must move through all the issues in their current level before moving to the next level of development. One can help others move up the level of development by talking to them on their level of understanding or even one level above. But when one talks to someone from 2 or more levels above another it creates resistance and even can push someone to dig in and regress in their own development.
Let me give you an example of psychological development over time. The example I will use is God in the Bible. To understand my perspective I need to clarify that I believe the Bible was written by men to understand God and that it is not infallible. In the old Testament people believed in many gods. God told Abraham that he was the One God, but that he was Abraham’s God.
During this time period people believed that gods were angry and needed to be appeased. They would offer human sacrifices to appease the gods. God refined this view when he told Abraham that he did not need to sacrifice his son, but instead could use animals in place of humans. Later, Jews viewed Jesus as the sacrifice for humanity and that we no longer needed to offer sacrifices to God.
Today, many people are waking up that God is love and that means that he never needed sacrifices for sin. We condemn ourselves and suffer from our own guilt. Jesus taught that we’re all God’s children the same as Jesus was God’s son. Instead of identifying as sinners, it is more helpful to understand that we’re perfect in Christ, working to put off our sinful nature.
Globally we’re continuing to develop in consciousness and are starting to reach the integration stage of gathering truth from different traditions and learning how to talk to all people in the way that they understand where they’re at in their development.
Besides stages of development there are states of consciousness that can happen at any stage. Some of these states are awaking experiences and the dark night of the soul. These states help radically shift people forward in their stages of consciousness in a very fast manner as long as they learn to integrate their experiences by making sense of them and then living the truth out authentically.
I’ll give you a few charts below to help you get familiar with spiral dynamics. If you want to learn more I would recommend starting out with the podcast listed above or read Paul Smith’s Integral Christianity.