There’s been heightened chatter as of late, particularly in the Twittersphere, around the idea humanity might be undergoing a consciousness expansion. This concept seems to be going mainstream, which could be a great thing provided it doesn’t get turned into a cliché or marketing gimmick.
This notion of a human consciousness shift that could emerge and alter the paradigm on planet earth in unimaginably positive ways was something I became obsessed with last year. My interest was sparked by the infantile and demented political environment which swept across the U.S. in early 2017, and was solidified by an encounter with the concept of Spiral Dynamics generally, and the work of Ken Wilber specifically. I ended up writing a five-part series on the topic, which I’d like to revisit before moving on.
According to Wilber, the key threshold to hit in order for the next stage of human evolution to occur is 10% of the global population moving into a second tier-type consciousness (yellow based value system). To understand what that means, let’s revisit some of the key characteristics of people resonating at second-tier consciousness.
Yellow value system Characteristics
Firstly, he noticed that a Yellow orientated lifestyle is much more free than a lifestyle in any of the other value systems. Yellow oriented people seemed to move and express themselves completely free and independent of their life environment. Contrary to people in other value systems, they were not afraid anymore to be rejected and they didn’t fear other people’s or God’s judgment. They didn’t show the need to make an impression on others and to reach the top at the cost of everything.
They also didn’t strive anymore for absolute truths and they didn’t have the need to belong to something anymore. In short: these were people without irrational fears, compulsive needs and compulsive behaviors. However, this Yellow freedom doesn’t mean that people in the Yellow value system are not connected to their environment. On the contrary, Yellow oriented people are very much involved and show a lot of compassion. The biggest difference with people from other value systems is that their life environment is not fearfully or compulsively leading them.
Now here’s Ken Wilber’s brilliant description:
That’s a lot to unpack, so let me summarize. The various stages within first-tier consciousness are all driven by a deficiency motivator. Humans operating at that level are primarily driven by a need to prove something to themselves or others, or by a need or desire to attain something. All levels of first-tier consciousness are highly tribal and see the world as us (my team) against them (the others, who are considered heathens). At the second level, humans aren’t lacking in any major physical or psychological way, and are thus motivated by what Wilber describes as “being needs,” versus “deficiency needs.” Fear dissipates as does attachment to dogma. You’re simply more understanding of different perspectives and they roles they play even if you strongly disagree.
Naturally, people obsessed with controlling others and dominating society do not wish to see humans operating en masse at second-tier. People at a higher stage of consciousness are simply more troublesome and far harder to control and manipulate. As I noted in last year’s post, What is Spiral Dynamics and Why Have I Become So Interested in It?
Based on his recent observations, he [Wilber] estimates this number [operating at a second-tier consciousness] to now be around 5%. That’s an incredible leap, and explains a lot of the current status quo panic and drive to divide and conquer everyone. To see what I mean, let’s put it in the context of the U.S. adult population, which stands at around 242 million individuals.
1% of that number is 2.4 million adults. While that’s significant, if Ken is right about his 5% estimate, we are now talking about 12 million Americans operating at a far higher level of consciousness. Not enough to win a Presidential election, but very significant and extraordinarily dangerous to the establishment. If that sort of “awakening” continues, the current paradigm has no hope of survival. As such, all of the madness being perpetrated by the media and divisive pundits on both sides needs to be seen in the context of this unfolding of consciousness. These people are in the fight for their lives to keep the current paradigm they are comfortable with alive. If you accept this view, then you recognize the importance of staying true to your values and not regressing back into first-tier type thinking. As Wilber and others explain, these are fluid states, so periods of stress or fear can result in a regression of consciousness. It’s not an exaggeration to say that preventing this from happening is of the utmost significance.
As mentioned earlier, Wilber also previously estimated we need around 10% of the world population operating at second-tier to kickstart an entirely new paradigm here on earth. Personally, I think we’re very close to that number (if not there already), and that the major catalyst has been an explosive growth of the internet and social media.
Although it’s become trendy to disparage the internet, and social media specifically, as propagators of “fake news” and tribal echo chambers, I take the opposite view. First off, fake news has always been a fundamental part of the human experience. In prior centuries, the wealthy and powerful simply had a monopoly on creating and spreading it. The establishment doesn’t care about “fake news,” it’s simply terrified that people are now able to come to their own informed (or misinformed) conclusions without gatekeepers telling them what to think and how to think. The primary driver behind the establishment panic over “fake news” is simply fear regarding a loss of narrative control. There’s nothing else to it.
Looking at the bigger picture, human beings communicating in realtime, globally, on a peer-to-peer basis using social media (as flawed as the current iterations of it are) is an extraordinary achievement with no precedent in world history. Moreover, this sort of connectivity has only been happening at scale for around a decade or so. This is a meaningless blip in the context of time, and we simply can’t imagine what the ultimate consequences will be.
My personal view is that we’re currently witnessing the emergence of what Terence McKenna called the “global brain.”
Here’s what he said about it in 1994:
The people who are not switched on don’t even know anything has happened. To them the world looks exactly like it looked five years ago. To the people who are switched on, earth is becoming a distant memory.
The internet is the global brain. The cyber-spatially connected telepathic collective domain that we’ve all been hungering for.
Some of you may misinterpret this, so let me elaborate. When talking about a “global brain” I’m not referring to uniformity of thought at a planetary level, but rather the ultimate outcome of human beings directly talking to one another across borders. Over time, I’m completely convinced this will result in a much more compassionate, understanding and connected species, which will make manipulating us into crazy wars or other insane activities counterproductive to our wellbeing much more difficult for the types who make a habit of that sort of thing.
The “global brain” is just humanity discovering that we are all connected. That we aren’t as different as we’re led to believe, and that we certainly shouldn’t be running around killing each other to satisfy the money and power cravings of a very small, but highly motivated, type of person.
In other words, the emergence of the global brain, thanks to the internet, will in the long-run help free us from systemic manipulation and lies. I’m not talking about a utopia, but I am talking about a much healthier paradigm for our species.
It won’t happen overnight, but it is happening. Your job is to do whatever you can help it come into being.
Given a universe in which anything goes, what are the most lovely, generous, and exuberant things we can do?
— Alan Watts (@AlanWattsDaily) May 2, 2018
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