Caleb Rosado, Ph.D.

Professor of Urban Studies, Director, Urban Studies Program,

Warner Pacific College, Portland, Oregon USA


Written August 13, 2000, revised January 30, 2003

Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Rosado Consulting for Change in Human Systems

Telephone: 503.517.1047, website: http://www.rosado.net, e-mail: calebrosado@earthlink.net



         Most discussion on science and religion tends to focus on creation and evolution, at least

this has been the dominant theme in the media of late. Yet the subject of creation and evolution

is not the only concern in a discussion of science and religion. Other themes are also present:

science and belief in the supernatural, science and the soul, science and the transformation of

consciousness, science and the virgin birth, science and the resurrection, science and near-deaths

experiences, science and the Bible, science and eschatology, science, faith, reason and wisdom,

science and human Development, etc. All of these themes are part of a “new convergence” that

is emerging in the dialogue between science and religion. “We are entering the greatest era of

science-religion fusion since the Enlightenment last attempted to reconcile the two, three

centuries ago.” So writes Gregg Easterbrook (2002) in the special December 2002 issue of Wired

magazine devoted to a science and religion. In this paper I want to take up this theme and focus

on the spiral of spiritual development.

         The third millennium will be dominated by the “religion/spirituality paradox”: the

decline of organized religion on one hand coupled with a growing interest in spirituality and

wisdom on the other. Because organized religion is perceived by many to be more focused on

religious ritual and church trivia then on spirituality, people are searching for spirituality

elsewhere—outside “brand-name” churches and finding it in religious innovations. This

demands a reordering of priorities in terms of the spiritual, and an urgent need for a relevant

faith. “Relevant” is one of those words that tend toward triteness if not immediately focused.

Thus by relevant I mean a faith that speaks to the current and future concerns of our time.

Among these are: environmental concerns, poverty, diversity, racial/ethnic conflict, respect for

the Other (whether it be God, nature, individuals or the group), human awareness and the

transformation of conscious,  and the emergence of a “wisdom society,” as well as a desire for a

meaningful, purposeful existence, to name a few.

         One of the crucial problems human beings are beginning to experience in the 21st

century, and arising out of the information highway and the technological reconstruction of all

aspects of everyday life, both in business and leisure, is all the cacophony and on-line noise

humans are subjected to as a direct by-product of being technologically wired to a virtual,

imaginational world of mind-connect and artificial human interactions. Wherever people go they

are increasingly finding themselves artificially connected with others in a non-real world through

computer technology and other forms of media on a 24/7/365 basis. At some point people are

going to want to be alone, away from it all, with all systems turned off. One of the great needs

thus will be for “silence,” for “dead air,” for “quiet zones,” where people can separate

themselves from technology and experience peace, sanity, tranquility, and rest from all the

“technoise” of a wired life. They will also be profoundly driven by a thirst for what is “real,” for

what is “genuine.” This thirst in many ways explains the increasing interest in “reality TV”—

semi-documentary television programming that purports to portray real life experiences without

the artificial “props” of Hollywood make belief. This thirst for the “quiet” and for genuine

connection to what is “real,” raises a couple of important question regarding the quality of our

spiritual well-being in the 21st century. Will the information highway have a “rest area”? Will

the imaginational world of information technology, with all its built-in illusions, ever give us an

experience of the real and genuine? The answer is “yes.”  But it will not be found in the digital,

holographic world but in the world of the Spirit—connection with God, the only real entity in an

illusory world who can give genuine peace and satisfaction to the restless and thirsty soul

(Rosado 1996).


Statement of Purpose:

         This paper seeks to explore a deeper understanding and definition of spirituality, drawing

from a number of disciplines: psychology, sociology, theology, physics, and the nascent field of

memetics. There are several questions this paper seeks to address. What do we mean by

spirituality? How has scientism resulted in a revival of spiritual interest? How do emerging

frames of analysis help us to explore a deeper understanding of religion and spirituality that is

relevant for a secular/scientific age? How does the new physics of quantum reality broaden our

understanding of spirituality?

The theoretical framework that I will be employing in this paper is the convergence of

various theories—the theory of levels of existence also known as Spiral Dynamics, the fledging

field of memetics, and the new physics of quantum mechanics, plus insights from integral

psychology and sociology. All these approaches will be integrated through a biblical schema that

will hopefully result in a new approach to understanding spirituality and religion and their

various modes of expression as humans seek to improve their quality of life in the Third


         But first a discussion on scientism and alienation.


The Bankruptcy of Our Age—Human Alienation:

         The reality of human alienation and estrangement from all life-forms and spiritual

experience is a most evident social fact in our day. This reality is not a sudden phenomenon but

one that has been gradually growing throughout human history. Philosopher Ken Wilber (1998,

2000) gives a detailed and insightful account of the process whereby scientific materialism

became the proverbial camel that took over the spiritual tent and prevalent worldview of

modernity. From premodern times virtually all of the world's religious traditions have believed in

the Great Nest of Being, the perennial philosophy of human existence (see graphic).

         Each level or dimension envelopes the earlier dimension in what Wilber calls a

“transcend and include” mode so that each higher level includes the lower level but adds new

elements not found in the previous one (Wilber 1998:9). The model is one of “holons”—a whole

that is part of other wholes—”in a holarchy like atoms/molecules/cells/organisms, with each

senior enfolding its junior” (Wilber 2000:12). This is the significance of the A+B+C…. For each

level there is a corresponding branch of knowledge relating to it. Thus, physics studies matter,

biology studies life, psychology the mind, theology the soul in relation to God, and mysticism

incorporates all in a oneness of body-mind-spirit to the Divine.


Figure 1. The Great Next of Being

         When the shift in perspectives from traditional society to modernity occurred, as a result

of the Industrial Revolution, a theological worldview gave way to a scientific way of seeing the

world. Science proceeded to collapse the Great Nest, replacing it with a flatland perspective—a

one dimension fits all that Edwin Abbott talked about in his 1884 classic, Flatland: A Romance

in Multiple Dimensions. Here only one dimension mattered—matter—resulting in a material

understanding of the universe dominated by scientism: “the belief that there is no reality save

that revealed by science, and no truth save that which science delivers” (Wilber 1998:10,56).

Matters of theology and the spirit were relegated to “illusion” (Freud, the father of psychology),

“fictitiousness” (Comte, the father of sociology), and “ideology” (Marx, the father of ill-fated

communism). Wilber brings out the incredibleness of this process.


The bleakness of the modern scientific proclamation is chilling. In that extraordinary

journey from matter to body to mind to soul to spirit, scientific materialism halted the

journey at the very first stage, and proclaimed all subsequent developments to be nothing

but arrangements of frisky dirt. Why this dirt would get right up and eventually start

writing poetry was not explained. Or rather, it was explained by dumb chance and dumb

selection, as if two dumbs would make a Shakespeare…. The only word that can

adequately define this cultural catastrophe is “horrifying” (Wilber 2000:55,56).


         Sociologist Albert Bergesen (1995) suggests a parallel but not as complete conceptual

scheme of human alienation that can be identified in the historical process of human experience.

Bergesen says that humankind has gone through “three stages of alienation”—alienation from

the divine, alienation from the human, and alienation from nature. These various forms of

alienation represent a break from a basic progressive understanding of who human beings are:

religious, human, and natural or ecological beings.

         The original, oldest, and fundamental alienation is from God and emerges in a primal or

“Edenic” beginning as a break with the divine, an estrangement from the world of the sacred.

Various cultures and religions have different ways of picturing this estrangement from the

divine. The biblical description of the “Fall” is perhaps the best known, but certainly not the only

depiction of human alienation from the gods. This manner of describing human experience as

estranged and separated from God pervaded human understanding until the 14th century when

the Age of Renaissance emerged. Up until this time theology was the queen of the sciences, and

the prevalent worldview had a predominant religious framework. Meaning was centered in the

world of the sacred, and priests, shamans and goddesses ruled and occupied principal positions

of power in society.

         From the 16th to the 20th century, with global expansionism and the emergence of

scientific materialism, the focus shifted from God as the center of the cosmos to humankind as

the locus of the center of meaning. Alienation took on another form as separation from ourselves,

our work, and our fellow human beings. This was also a period of extreme forms of inhumanity,

often supported, blessed, and led in the name of religion.  Fueled by an insatiable greed and an

excessive quest for materialism, this period saw the rise of European expansionism, the

imposition of slavery, genocidal acts on indigenous populations and the reordering of the world

into the haves, the hads, and the have-nots. But such thirst for self-aggrandizement at the core of

scientism with its secular humanism already had within it the destructive seeds of the third

alienation—separation from nature or ecological alienation.

         Beginning in the 19th century the forces of human greed have marched steadily forward

in an endless wave of environmental destruction, with little thought for the future of our

planetary home. The result is that in the latter part of the 20th century postmodernism emerged

with a new awareness of estrangement, an alienation from the natural world and from our

“ecological” selves—the interconnectedness and interdependence of humans with nature (Capra

1996). In a counter move, “deep ecology” arose as a fundamental way of viewing our natural

environment at the center of our existence and human beings as “eco-beings” by asking the basic

“why” questions of life. Why are we here? Why do we believe that our present direction is the

most beneficial to all life-forms? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Do we have a

moral responsibility for the survival, care, and well-being of our natural environment? Where are

we environmentally headed with our present understanding of human progress? Is this all we

have or is there more to come?

         The cumulative result of these three forms of alienation has been spiritual disintegration.

This is a disconnected, fragmented social self without a sense of meaning and purpose to life,

destitute of a connection to God, to ourselves, to other humans, as well as to nature. There is a

natural flow to all these forms of alienation: first separation from God, then separation from

ourselves and from one another, and finally separation from our natural environment and the

various life-forms with which we share this planet. Bergesen suggests that each form of

alienation accuses the previous way of viewing reality with a false consciousness, with being a

myth and the source of pain and suffering. Scientific materialism, in breaking away from

religion, charged God and religion as the source of evil in the world, since most warfare has had

a religious undergirding. Deep ecology and an ecofeminism is now doing the same to

scientism—especially in its capitalistic and patriarchal forms—as destroying human life,

exploiting women, and annihilating the ecosystem.

         But is deep ecology—the movement espousing the interconnectedness of all life-forms—

the final solution to the problems of human alienation? Albert Bergesen and other deep

ecologists such as Fritjof Capra (1982, 1996) seem to suggest as much, by viewing these various

forms of alienation in a linear mode: estrangement from God to humankind to ecological. Capra,

along with other New Age scientists, is seeking for the solution in an Eastern cyclical

worldview. Yet, the reality that is emerging in the human social experience suggests otherwise.

What is emerging now is not a linear pattern of development, the dominant view of the West, nor

a circular pattern, the dominant view of the East, but a spiral process different from the other

two and in harmony with the biblical view. It has another stage in the process—the spiritual—a

return to the beginning. Let me explain. The Biblical model is one of pristine life in the Garden

of Eden in the first two chapters of Genesis. In the third chapter sin enters world. In the last two

chapters of the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, the Bible ends with a return to this

pristine world in the New Earth. In the third chapter from the end, Revelation 20, sin comes to an

end. Between the fourth chapter of Genesis and the fourth chapter from the end of Revelation the

whole of “salvation history” unfolds, culminating with the cross of Christ as the apex. Thus

eschatology (the study of the last things) is a return to protology (the first things), with one

exception. It is not a simple cycle returning one to the beginning as in a closed circle or a

spinning prayer wheel. Rather, it is an ascending spiral that moves one to another level of

existence, one with God making His dwelling in the midst of humankind (Revelation 21:3).

Thus, the biblical model of history is neither linear (Western) nor cyclical (Eastern), but spiral,

as in the quantum world where light is both a particle and a wave. John Edser is therefore

correct: “Life is not a cycle, it's a spiral, with quantum steps.”1 Developmental psychologist

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi said as much when he suggested that the process of human

development “is not a circular motion that returns to where one started, but rather, it resembles

an ascending spiral” (1993).

         Within this understanding history is not a lemming-like march toward oblivion, but a

perennial spiritual process seeking a return to the Garden and a reconnection of humanity with

God. Ever since our primeval parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden, human beings

have been by one means or another, seeking to get back to the Garden. Human expressions of

religion and their diversity of beliefs are all various forms and means of human beings seeking to

get “back to Eden.” The many religious expressions throughout history are simply the diverse

means human beings have devised to understand this connectedness to the divine. What human

beings are now discovering, acknowledging, and experiencing is that we are not merely religious

or human or ecological beings. We are spiritual beings, experiencing a fourth alienation—

alienation from spirit. And we are at odds with the divine, with our self, with each other and with

nature, because our human spirit has lost its moorings from the Divine Spirit, from God, the

source of our being, existence, and interconnectedness. The result has been a progressive

alienation from everything else. All four forms of alienation—from God, from ourselves, from

humans, from nature—are in their essence and at heart a spiritual estrangement—a separation of

the human spirit from the Great Spirit. When such separation takes place it is easy to see how

human thinking has evolved from connectedness to alienation—from God as the creator of life,

to humans as the creator of God, to nature being God, to humans being god.


Our Table of Life:

         In order to understand this spiritual estrangement we need to recognize that there are four

dimensions or components to human well-being: the bio, the psycho, the social, the spiritual.

Any semblance of a healthy human life needs these four dimensions in an operative condition.

By this I don’t necessarily mean perfectly sound, for who of us is perfectly whole in any one of

these dimensions, but at least functional. The bio or physical is the area of the body, our physical

well-being; the psycho, the mental is concerned with the soul—the integrative whole of our

mind, will, and emotions. The social deals with our voice, the means to sustain social relations

with others, since without a voice we do not socially exist; and the spiritual, which focuses on

the spirit, the center of intimacy, meaning, purpose, and the contemplative life.

         The interrelationship of these four dimensions can best be illustrated with a table.


Figure 2. The Four Dimensions of Our Table of Life

Our Table of Life is in balance when all four dimensions are developed in a harmonious

or proportionate manner. When the table is balanced it can withstand a great deal of pressure and

stress, as when weight is put on the table. A table that is not balanced may collapse or give way

under pressure. A table can appear to be balanced, however, even if one leg is short. For all

practical purposes it may look balanced, since this type of imbalance is not easily detected until

pressure is put on the table. It is then that the lack of balance is recognized, and whatever is on it

spills. The same can be seen in human relations. Some people look reliable and dependable, but

when pressure is placed on them, when one attempts to depend on them, or they undergo stress,

they prove to be untrustworthy, undependable and cannot be counted on when needed the most.

For most people, especially young people, the one leg that is usually short, or the one dimension

that receives minimal attention is the spiritual.

         A table can also be unbalanced if a leg is too long. This type of imbalance is more easily

detected, since it tends to stand out. We tend to have special names when there is an unbalance in

each of the dimensions at the expense of the others. People with too long of a physical leg are

often called “jocks” or “babes.” If the social is too long, they are called “party animals,” “social

butterflies.”  If it is the mental leg, they are called “geeks,” “nerds.”  And if the spiritual leg is

the longer one, they are called “religious fanatics,” “spiritual freaks.”

         While all four dimensions are important for a balanced life, the most important of the

four is the spiritual dimension. This is the one that gives purpose and meaning—the why behind

the what—to the other dimensions. If one of the other dimensions undergoes transformation or

sudden change, it is the spiritual dimension as the anchor leg that provides the much-needed

sense of well-being, purpose, and significance. Thus, if an accident leaves a person paralyzed,

damaging not only the physical, but also the social and emotional dimensions of life, it is the

spiritual entity that addresses the “why” questions behind the quest for meaning and purpose to

life. Here lies the difference between science and religion.  The function of science is to give us

knowledge.  The function of religion is to give us wisdom. Wisdom has to do with values.

Knowledge has to do with facts. Science answers the why-questions of life in terms of

causality—what happened? Religion answers them in terms of values and ultimate meaning

why did it happen? And as Friedrich Nietzsche said, “If a person has a why to live, he can handle

almost any what!”

         The concern today with the recovery of the spiritual as the fourth dimension of life is an

effort—jaded as it may be in its many and diverse expressions—to reconnect us once again with

God, alienation from whom results in all other forms of alienation. This desire for

reconnectedness with God, however, is one cognizant of all the other forms of alienation, which

have resulted in exploitation of both the human and natural environments. What we are seeing

emerge today is a holistic form of spirituality which not only seeks to connect humans once

again to God, but also to self, to other humans and to the natural/ecological world, our

environmental home, of which we are all responsible caretakers. The result is a coming full

circle, back to the future, in a spiral of human development. How did this recent concern for the

spiritual emerge?


The Rise of Spirituality:

         With the rise of the Renaissance in the 14th century, a God-center worldview slowly

began giving way to a human-centered one and a humanistic way of life. By the 20th century,

following the restructuring of world society after World War II, humanism had become

prominent. With the splitting of the atom, humanistic materialism and naturalism in science took

center stage as the great savior of humankind. After all, it was the deployment of the best of

scientific research—nuclear fission—which brought an end to the war. With the launching of

Sputnik and the race towards the moon, science was now seen as the solution to human

problems. Interest in religion appeared to wane. In the 1960s, with the rise of secularism as a

way of life devoid of God, sociologists began to predict the demise of religion as a soon-to-be-

forgotten footnote of history. Liberal theologians and secular humanists proclaimed the “death of

God.”  Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s Americans rushed headlong toward materialism and greed,

including the continued destruction of the environment. This movement of secular materialism

was most visible during the Reagan administration and modeled by his “trickle down” economic


         Voices of concern from various parts of the world, however, were already raising a cry of

warning above the din of materialism coming from the moneychangers in the temple of

capitalism. The prophetic voices of liberation theologians, feminists, environmentalists, the poor

and disenfranchised, began calling people back from the brink of a mechanical, fragmented,

isolationist, dehumanizing, disconnected view of the world, a by-product of the industrial

society. This was due to the realization that western scientism was no different than the historical

materialism of communism, in terms of alienating the human spirit. Both worldviews left people

spiritually bankrupt and disconnected from each other, from their natural environment, as well as

from self.

         In the late 1980s and 1990s people began to turn to spirituality and a return to nature as

Green movements became popular. Now in the 21st century, a holistic spirituality has emerged

with a global awareness for human connectedness to the divine and communalism, and a

realization of our interdependence with the ecosystem. This sense of connectedness,

interdependence, and need for communalism is not just between human beings, but also with all

natural life-forms, within a paradigm which reminds us that we are all one with the earth. This

global awareness of the commonality of humanity was made possible in part by two factors.

First, an advanced technology that has turned our world into a telecommunications electronic

village, where each instantly knows what is happening to the other. Second, the realization that

scientific materialism, instead of being a savior to solve human problems, is in large measure

responsible for the destructive dualisms that fragment the human spirit and leave us alienated

from the ecological and eternal Other. A new paradigm or way of perceiving our world has

emerged as a “global consciousness” focused on the interconnectedness of all life-forms, both

human and environmental. This holistic—and very biblical—view of life has a profound

spiritual undergirding. Unfortunately, the deeper implications of this worldview to a global

village concerned with the impending threat of human/ecological destruction is only beginning

to be explored. It now appears that the most challenging discipline of the sciences, Quantum

Physics, may be leading the field in exploring the spiritual dimensions of the universe, preparing

us for a “quantum leap” forward. This is largely due to a sense of awe, respect, and wonder now

being generated through scientific discoveries about the universe, at both the microscopic and

cosmological dimensions.


The New Physics and Spirituality:

         Quantum mechanics (QM), the most challenging and mentally engaging form of the

sciences, has given rise to a whole new understanding of reality. Focused on the subatomic

world of energy, electronic particles, and light, quantum physics is forcing scientists and

knowledgeable laypersons alike, to see the world anew—radically anew. But it also is giving rise

to a whole new understanding of faith, as much of the subatomic world is non-observable and

based only on effects. Classical Newtonian physics with its mechanical orientation regarded light

as either particles or later waves, but not both. Under QM light is both particles and a wave, an

apparent impossibility, yet true and measurable, depending on the conditions of observation,

though not always explainable especially as regards its philosophical implications.

This article in no way will delve deeply into this mysterious, “spooky” world, as Einstein

called it, as the literature on the subject is vast and quite complicated. There are, however, some

implications to spirituality. Several physicists and scientists have written about the ramifications

of quantum cosmology, and the implications of the new physics (the converging of QM with the

general theory of relativity) for the spiritual dimension (Davies 1983, 1992; Tippler 1994; Lazich

1989, 2000; Pearcey and Thaxton 1994; Wright 1993; Clausen 1991, 2000). There are several

derived insights from this exciting field of study that will broaden our understanding of



Quantum Principles:


All reality is interrelated.

         Diarmuid O'Murchu (1998:66) declares: “At the heart of the quantum vision is the

conviction that all life forces are interdependent and interrelated. In fact, we experience life, not

in isolated entities, not in separate units, but in bundles of experience (quanta).” German

physicist Werner Heisenberg (O'Murchu 1998:78) first voiced the idea that our world is

essentially an “interconnected web of relationships.” This is a most important principle for

interhuman relations in a socially alienated and spiritually fragmented world. QM, by focusing

on the small-size world, enables us to understand the essential elements and components that

comprise life at the primary levels of existence. And from these basic levels on up, the basic

modus operandi of the universe—interconnectedness and interrelatedness—emerges which

governs life in our universe. Life is the result of nondual relationships, interlinked,

interconnected, and interdependent. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the Great Nest of Being,

the scientific humanism that brought this about also gave rise to a reality of alienation and

isolation, with an independent, autonomous and separate existence, away from interrelationships.

         Max Planck, the father of QM who coined the term quanta for the discrete bundles of

energy that comprise light, made an insightful statement at the heart of this principle of

interrelatedness. “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And it is because, in the

last analysis, we ourselves are part of the mystery we are trying to solve” (O'Murchu 1998:78).

Danah Zohar (1990:206) makes clear that the particle world is essentially “particles in

relationships.” All this is important for spirituality, for ultimately spirituality is about

relationships—God to human, human to human, human to nature, human to cosmic reality. This

is point that Katherine Zappone (1991) makes. “The pivotal shift in spirituality's meaning for the

twentieth century resides in the birth of a worldview of interdependence or relationality. In its

broadest sense, spirituality is the relational component of lived experience.” Even the traditional

Christian Doctrine of the Trinity models this principle of interrelated oneness. For too long a

mechanistic paradigm has dominated an understanding of this doctrine, where people end up

trying, as in “jigsaw puzzle”, to fit 3 into 1. But from a holistic QM framework, this doesn't

make much sense. Thus, O'Murchu suggests that “the doctrine of the Trinity is an attempted

expression of the fact that the essential nature of God is about relatedness and the capacity to

relate, that the propensity and power to relate is, in fact, the very essence of God…God becomes

meaningful in the very process of relating” (82). This gives rise to the second principle.


Quantum holism—the world is a seamless, indivisible whole.

The famous experiment by Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, now known as the EPR

Experiment, suggested that two particles of light instantaneously influence each other, even at

great distances, in an equal and opposite manner. Here is the strange or “spooky action at a

distance” nature of this experiment, as Einstein regarded it (Horgan 1992), for the influence

takes place faster than the speed of light. And since no information is known about the two parts

of the widely separated system, until one part is observed, then influence on the other part is also

immediately determined (faster than the speed of light), because it is part of a holistic system. As

Pearcey and Thaxton (1994:204) declare, “The two electrons seem to be bound together by some

mysterious unity.” American born physicist David Bohm suggests that the two parts are not

really two separate parts, but represent an “unbroken wholeness,” which affirms the

“interconnectedness of the whole universe” (Pearcey and Thaxton 1994:204). This is a quantum

nonlocality of holistic interconnectedness that transcends the binary separateness of localistic,

Newtonian physics.

         This sense of holism and mystical union appears to be what Jesus had in mind when he

prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to going to the cross. “The glory that you have given

me I have given them so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they

may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved

them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22,23 NRSV).

         New Age physicists, Fritjof Capra (1991) and Gary Zukav (1979), regard this

understanding as the dominant thinking of Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism).

They, therefore, view oriental religions as being more compatible with the atomic physics than

Christianity. And to an extent, they are right. But what they fail to realize is that the Bible is an

Eastern book, written from an Eastern frame of understanding, and not the Western one to which

it has been made captive. Once one recognizes this fact, it is very easy to see how biblical

Christianity has a smooth connection with the New Physics, especially in view of the above

statement on “mystic oneness” made by Jesus Christ. Few Eastern thinkers have made as bold a

statement as Jesus made. It is the ultimate expression of mystical union with God. The result is

that “Christianity is a deeply mystical religion,” declares Ursula King in her book Christian

Mystics: The Spiritual Heart of the Christian Tradition (1998:10). “At its heart is Jesus’s own

experience,” she continues, “expressed as ‘I and the Father are one,’ the message of utter divine

unity” (King 1998:10). King gives the following definition of a “mystic.”


          A mystic is a person who is deeply aware of the powerful presence of the divine

Spirit: someone who seeks, above all, the knowledge and love of God, and who

experiences to an extraordinary degree the profoundly personal encounter with the

energy of divine life. Mystics often perceive the presence of God throughout the world of

nature and in all that is alive, leading to a transfiguration of the ordinary all around them.

However, the touch of God is most strongly felt deep within their own hearts (6).


         What makes it difficult for most people to understand mysticism and a mystical

relationship with the Divine and with each other is that our worldview is still dominated by

Newtonian physics with its mechanical, binary, independent, and segregated understanding of

reality. In such a worldview, the body, mind, soul, spirit, and even social dimensions are distinct

and separate. Any kind of union is by close proximity, but never a crossing of boundaries where

two become one, not in a manner where each ceases to exist, but as a third and experiential

entity. The best way to illustrate this is with music, because music is one of the few elements in

the Newtonian world that serves as a bridge to the Integrated or holistic world, the new world of

Being, the 2nd Tier dimension of Spiral Dynamics, which will be introduced shortly.

         It is a simple illustration but a most powerful one. In a piano one has both the black keys

and the white keys. Each makes its own sounds separately. But when played together, their

chordal union makes “harmony,” a third and distinct creation and entity that exists only when the

segregated elements come together to form a holistic, mystical union. This is what best explains

mysticism—it is a holistic, integrated union of body, mind, soul, spirit, within a social context of

community, where two or more entities (the divine and the human, the cosmic and the earthly, or

even human with human), experience a spiritual union, an energy-filled connection, that can best

be described as a holistic “oneness” of nonduality and nonlocality. This union results in

“harmony,” the “music of the soul,” a state of interconnectedness. Externally the bodies are still

distinct, but internally they are experiencing a oneness, an energy field where our mind and

body, our soul and spirit are so blended, that each feels the impulses, energy, and desires of the


         This then is the essence of spirituality at its deepest and highest levels of

understanding—it is a mystical, holistic, seamless, intimate experience of oneness, wholeness,

union, and communion with the Divine, who always remains the Other, distinct from us, or it can

be a union between human beings. Yet the experience of oneness and unity is such that as in the

EPR Experiment, action in one element influences the behavior of the other element. This

principle is at the heart of Christianity, where the redemptive action of God resonates in an

antiphonal response from humankind. “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to

love one another… God is love, and those who abide in love abide in god, and God abides in

them” (1 John 4:11, 16 NRSV). Such response results in a seamless, indivisible whole with the

divine. “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is

perfected in us” (vs. 12). Such mystical oneness is best expressed in the following statement.


          All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we

consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and

minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out

our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing

His service. When we know God, as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life

of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through

communion with God, sin will become hateful to us (White 1940:668).


         This is an example of the highest form of spirituality, for it describes a mystical

oneness—thoughts, aims, hearts, and minds blended in oneness with the divine—one seldom

seen our world. Yet it is one that flows from the very One who “created” the subatomic world

where it is modeled on a continual basis.

         Both Eastern religions and Christianity focus on a “mystical union” with God and the

sacredness of life. Yet there is a profound difference between the two. “…however intimate this

union with God is, Christian mysticism never abandons the otherness of God, and the mystic

never ceases to be God’s creature” (King 1998:22). Christianity never “deifies” the individual in

this quest for union and communion with God. The human does not become God, and God does

not become human, except in the person of Christ. The boundaries are still there, while

experiencing a harmonic oneness with the Divine, the God of the Cosmos. There is no final stage

of development, but a continual upward spiral of growth and interconnectedness.

         It is for this reason that Frank J. Tipler, not only regards theology as a “branch of

physics,” but also moves away from atheism to an embracing of Christian theology as true, after

examining all the evidence from QM. Here is his statement (Tipler 1994:ix).


          When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced

atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book

purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true,

that these claims are straight-forward deductions of the laws of physics as we now

understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my

own special branch of physics.


         It is interesting that Tipler’s rigorous scientific research leads him to regard not the

enlightenment of New Age thinking but the enlightenment of Christianity as best aligned with

the laws of the new physics.


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

         Since life is the product of relationships, “the quantum world does not operate in terms of

cause and effect.” O'Murchu continues, “The whole is not caused by the fact that all the parts

function in unison. No, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, yet, mysteriously, the

whole is contained in each part (as in a hologram). Cause and effect make little sense is an world

now understood to be fundamentally relational and interdependent in its essential nature” (66).

A novel, for example, is more than paper, ink, glue, words, or correct sentence structure,

so is the reality QM creates (Clausen 2000). In the same manner spiritual consciousness is more

than the sum total of the various levels of the Great Nest of Being (Wilber 2000). The whole of

spirituality transcends the whole of body, mind, soul, and spirit, resulting in a mystical

experience of interconnectedness with the divine.


Two natures, but one entity—an integrated whole.

         In classical physics Newton treated light as a particle. But the discoveries of QM have

resulted in what many perceived to be an anomaly. Light is simultaneously, wave and particle,

an apparent paradox. Yet, this is part of the previous principle where the whole, being greater

than the parts, as in light being more than particles and waves, results in an entity that is different

from the other two.

         This holism in quantum physics helps us to better understand what to many is the great

paradox of the Christian faith, the dual nature of Christ, as both God and human. Traditional

mechanistic worldviews have had a problem with this teaching because it tends to be

incompatible with a mechanistic, segregated, independent sense of existence. How could Jesus

be both God and man? Yet, this teaching finds a parallel in the new physics, making the dual

nature of Christ understandable from this holistic frame of analysis. From a quantum mechanics

perspective, Jesus is fully “both” God “and” man, just like light is both wave and particle

(Begley 1998:51).

         Quantum Mechanics also gives us a whole new understanding of human relations. The

mechanical worldview of Newtonian physics also segregated, compartmentalized, and classified

human groups, differentiating them by visible markers such as class, race, and gender.  Within

this worldview it was easy to justify slavery, the annihilation of indigenous populations, and the

oppression of women, and even find divine sanctions for such action. QM, however, is showing

how we are all part of an integrated whole, distinct but one human family at the same time. We

are interdependent, interconnected, and integrated, such that “there is neither Jew nor Greek,

slave nor free, male or female, but one” human family in the sight of God. This paradigm shift

that Christ brought to the human race—both/and—unfortunately has not been modeled by the

Christian Church or by society, both of which have been dominated by a Newtonian mechanical

view of the world. This binary either/or worldview has been at the heart of the failure of the

Christian Church in its social practice. The interconnectedness revealed by QM, however, shows

the close alignment between the New Physics and the “new humanity in Christ” that the Apostle

Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians. It thereby challenges the Christianity, Islam,  and

other religions, to shift to a both/and modus operandi of belief and behavior.


From chaos to self-organization.

         Classical physics theory regarded chaos as the result of randomness, disorder, and

instability. Yet chaos theory is finding order where others have only seen disorder (Gleick 1987).

The mandelbrot set discovered by Mandelbrot, after whom it was named, shows patterns within

patterns, where others might just see chaos (1977).

         The research of Ilya Prigogine, a chemist and Nobel laureate, takes chaos further by

focusing on the principle of “self-organization.” What Prigogine says is that states of chaos are

not end-states in themselves. In reality they are the states of upheaval just prior to a system

undergoing a radical transformation to a higher level of organization. Natural systems flow from

stability to chaos to a re-ordering to a higher state of self-organization; it is the way of nature.

Thus, systems tend to seek self-organization, moving from one level to a higher level of

development (Prigogine 1980; Prigogine and Stenger 1984; Wright 1993). Prigogine and Stenger

view chaos as a precondition stage prior to the activation of the self-organizing process inherent

in all living systems.

         This quantum insight has spiritual implications for human development. The human state

of alienation from a Chaos Theory perspective is in actuality a “precondition stage” preceding

the next stage of self-organization. In the sociological theory of religion, it would be the state of

moral and social disorder before a person experiences a need for a new order or “conversion.”

Psychologically it would be a state of cognitive dissonance prior to experiencing consonance

between belief and behaviour. Prigogine's point, however, is that life reorganizes itself. While

that might be true for some life forms and from an evolutionary developmental perspective, the

re-organizing of the spiritual life for human beings, from a biblical perspective, is more the work

of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3) than of human of evolutionary self-reformation.


A “Momentous Leap”

         This brief discussion of quantum mechanics and spirituality pushes the paradigm of our

understanding of spirituality to a whole new dimension of consciousness, existence, and

relatedness beyond the way humans normally experience spirituality within a mechanical

worldview. Quantum mechanics is pushing the envelope of human consciousness to a whole new

level of spiritual thinking. A growing body of scientists, philosophers, historians, behavioral

scientists, and spiritual leaders (from Howard Bloom, Ken Wilber, Barbara Hubbard, Don Beck,

Chris Cowan, Robert Kegan, Robert Wright, Melinda Davis, to Andrew Cohen, to mention a

few) are now recognizing the development of a whole new way of seeing the world. It is a major

shift in human thinking and of consciousness development, brought about in part by an

accelerated movement into the “imaginational world,” which will alter human living as we know

it. Beginning with the late Dr. Clare W. Graves, who in 1974 predicted "a momentous leap" in

human development (see The Futurist, April 1974), these and many others scholars are now

recognizing what Graves, perhaps the first, recognized back in the late 1960s, that we are on the

verge of a radical, seismic shift in human development, from "subsistence" levels of thinking

focused on human survival and existence, to "being" levels focused on human integration and

global community. It is a shift from a materialistic to a spiritualistic environment; from a

dogmatic/scientific oriented world to one focused on spiritual discovery and fulfillment, not just

for oneself but also for the planet as a whole. To put it simply, it is Integrative thinking and

living knocking and opening the door of Holistic thinking and action, in order to enter the

emerging world of Wisdom living and experience.

         Rodney Stark and Roger Finke (2000) have captured sociologically this trend shift,

where religion was once predicted to be a "footnote of history" (the position of sociologists in

the 1960s) to one where the demise of secularization has become a reality. A hunger for meaning

in the midst of human chaos as well as the need for a radical transformation in people’s lives (the

two functions of religion) has now emerged. Stark and Finke, however, have not grasped the fact

that this shift is part of a much larger, momentous transformation—a quantum leap—taking

place in human existence.

         Obviously, it is not taking place in all places on earth with the same strength. Most

segments of the world are caught up in survival modes of living, tribal warfare of various sorts,

or “holy wars” for religio-political dominance. However, in other segments of our global village

there is an awakening for the spiritual taking place the likes of which have not been seen in

history, and we are just beginning to see the early shallow waves hit the shore of human

existence. Soon a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual tsunami will hit with such gale force unlike

anything previously experienced. We need to now catch the dynamic waves of millennial

change, for if we are not part of the future, we will be history!

         These stages of self-organization, development, and transformation lead us into the field

of Spiral Dynamics, the theory of levels of existence and memetics, the principal framework for

best understanding spirituality in its many dimensions. And it has to do with culture and value



Value Systems as Cultural Currents: 2

         Don Beck brings out the point that culture is not a single point of view, with a uniform

set of beliefs. Culture is more like an archeological dig, consisting of many layers, strata, or

levels, each with a different worldview, bottom-line, perceptions of right and wrong, belief

systems, and understanding of the world. These “beliefs” or “Value System” are also v-Memes

or ValueMemes (pronounced vee-meem). The word “meme” was coined by English biologist

Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, to represent a unit of cultural information

that impacts human development. In the same manner that genes shape our biological makeup,

memes give form to our cultural and social formation. Both carry coded information that

reproduce their instructions in the bodies and minds that serve as hosts. Genes are transmited

through chemical systems and biological tissue in human bodies; memes spread their messages

like viruses, through word-of-mouth, printed and electronic media, and cyberspace—using the

human mind as a host. Beck and Cowan (1996) differentiate between memes as surface ideas,

beliefs, and actions, and v-Memes as the Value Systems, the worldviews, and mindsets from

which the “little memes” emerge.

         An analogy with computers may help explain the relationship between genes, memes,

and v-Memes or value systems. Computers consist of three constituent parts: the hardware, the

software, and the operating system. The “hardware”—the computer—is comparable to the genes,

the biological code carriers in DNA, inherited from our parents. But the hardware by itself is not

functional until the “software,” the programs, is installed. This is equivalent to the memes, the

“cultural DNA”—the ideas, values, beliefs, and behaviours gained from parents, culture,

religion, and society. What makes the programs run is the “operating system,” whether it is

WindowsX or Mac OS. This is similar to v-Memes, the deep-level Value Systems, paradigms,

worldviews, belief structures, levels of bio-psycho-social-spiritual existence that “run” the

“software” or “mindware” from which surface memes emerge. These v-Memes (or vMEMES as

it is sometimes written) result from our responses to Life Conditions, the real change agents.

Periodically our computers have to undergo a systems “upgrade” as our needs change. In the

same manner one experiences a “mental upgrade” when one moves from one v-Meme level to

another, as our Coping Systems adjust to new Problems of Existence.

         Value Systems are like super-memes. Once a new Value System is awakened in culture

or in the collective life of a group, it will spread its instructional codes and life priority messages

throughout that culture’s or group’s surface-level of living. It impacts beliefs, economic,

political, and spiritual arrangements, psychological and sociological theories of living, styles of

worship, forms of musical expression, views of human nature, our future destiny, and ways of

expressing one’s humanity. It doesn’t just impact what people think and believe; it also alters the

way they think and set priorities. A shift in v-Memes is a shift in Value Systems and way of

seeing the world. These life-altering beliefs or Value Systems shape surface-level thoughts,

beliefs, and actions. They explain why things happen and to whom. They assign life’s priorities.

They determine who is and who is not a “true believer,” define group boundaries, shape racist or

inclusive thinking and behaviour, and write the scripts for future scenarios (Rosado 1999b).

         The majority of all attempts at group reconciliation, conflict resolution, motivational

training, workshops on leadership, diversity training, and seminars on spiritual growth focus on

these surface differences rather than on the deep operating value/beliefs systems within. Values

Systems are complex Coping Systems—decision-making motivators and ways of thinking—that

emerge in response to Problems of Existence. There are 6 billion people in the world today, and

though we all come from some 30,000 genes—ALL of us—we share only a few basic Value

Systems. Eight have emerged thus far (see table), as a result of bio-psycho-social-spiritual

research, which impact human behavior, shape culture, and give structure to belief systems

(Graves 1974; Beck and Cowan 1996; Roemischer 2002).



Figure 3. The Spiral-Like Strata of Human Value System Cultural Codes

         A color scheme best identifies in a simple way the outward and inward transformations

taking place as individuals and groups mature from birth to adulthood. The significance of the

colors is only to identify the respective systems and has no symbolism beyond that. Notice how

the Focus alternates between dominance of ME-oriented Express-the-self (warm colors) and

WE-oriented Sacrifice-the-self (cool colors) life focus. Note also the differences in what is

valued in each system as they flow from survival (Beige), to safety and security (Purple), to raw

power and instant gratification (Red), to purpose in life (Blue), to strategies for success

(Orange), to community awareness (Green), to alternative forms (Yellow), to global village

(Turquoise). At each level there is a different Lifestyle, from living for survival to living for

wisdom. The levels are open-ended, there is no final stage of development, as the ideal that set

before us is “higher than the highest human thought can reach” (White 1952:18). The lower

levels, however, have no understanding of what the higher levels consider to be of importance.

The higher levels, on the other hand, tend to lose contact with the operating principles that make

sense to the lower levels and will often regard these operational values to be of lesser value to

the overall good of society.

         Here’s the essence of the idea. Not only different nations, societies, cultures, and

subcultures, but also different groups and entities within an organization as well as individuals

are at different levels of psycho-social-spiritual emergence as displayed within these evolving

levels of complexity. What moves one from one level to the next is a change in one’s Life

Conditions (as these are impacted by Time, Place, Problems, Circumstances, and Capabilities),

coupled with an awakening of our Mental Capacities (our neurological system in the brain) that

respond to these changes. Life conditions outside interact with latent thinking capacities inside

the mind to awaken the next v-Meme level. It is an ever increasing and widening spiral of

development as people move through the various levels of bio-psycho-social-spiritual

complexity. Every time people move from one level to the next, they undergo a major paradigm

shift, a different window through which to look out on the world, a transformation of their basic

value system. This is a key aspect of what makes each level different, for the complexity of the

thinking must match or exceed the complexity of the problems of existence. Yet, and here is a

critical concept, the previously awakened levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within

the value system stacks, thus impacting the nature and content of the more complex systems. A

person can be at more than one memetic level in different areas of their life, even though one

value system dominates their outlook. Thus, for a given person his or her overarching v-Meme

may be a conservative Blue, especially in terms of religion and the church, in relation to the

family it may be Purple (tradition-driven), at work it may be Orange (success-driven), in sports it

may be Red (power-driven), and in relation to others it may be Green (people-driven), but the

basic paradigm and way of seeing the world is still Blue (order-driven).

         These eight v-Meme codes or value systems serve as cultural magnets around which our

“stuff” clusters and our life is aligned. When something is not right at the surface level—the

level where we express ourselves in relation to others including God—or when our priorities are

distorted or our lives are out of balance, we need to carefully examine what is happening below

the surface in these deep psycho-social-spiritual currents. These determine how people think and

respond to the world around them and not just what they say or do. Strain between these systems

is the home of all human conflict, understanding, and mis-understanding. These

v-Memes are the sum total of the invisible, cultural, and spiritual forces that drive our

perceptions, influence all of life’s choices, lifestyles, and sense of what is right, wrong, and


         What cause a memetic shift in one's life is when old explanations and experiences no

longer adequately explain one’s emerging reality as a result of changes in one’s Life Conditions

(determined by time, place, problems, circumstances, and capabilities), which now exceed the

parameters of one’s present worldview. These levels are “systems-in” people, not permanent

“personality types.” And like Russian Matroshka Dolls that also are “systems within systems,”

when one’s cup overflows one then moves to the larger, more encompassing system. Previous

value systems, however, do not go away; they just shift down the spiral. And, if changing Life

Conditions warrant, we may return to these previous systems. When disaster strikes, for

example, we may be reduced to Beige. But then as life normalizes, we gradually return our

previous level of existence or shift to a new level depending on the traumatic experience and its

impact on our psyche. It is this interaction between our “real life” experiences and our

mind/brain capacities that cause these value systems to awaken, ebb, and flow. Without our

latent mental capacities, the world outside has nothing to trigger (the situation of the mentally

impaired such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease). Without the stimuli from outside,

systems within may not have cause to be awakened (the case of the Amish and persons living in

“closed” communities). Thus, both nature and nurture are important.


How Do V-Meme Levels Relate?

         Persons or groups who exist at a higher level are not “better people” than those at a lower

level; they are merely different, operating with a different system of thinking. No value system

is inherently better or worse than another, as each has its positive and negative attributes. All

have a purpose, depending on the operative Life Conditions and problems of existence people,

groups, or cultures are experiencing. Appropriateness to the milieu is the key. The question to

ask is, “Does the thinking fit the realities.” Thus, to address issues of environmental

responsibility for a planet undergoing global warming (Green & Yellow v-Memes) to a culture

or society experiencing tribal/ethnic group conflict (Purple and Red modes of thinking and

living), is to impose a way of thinking and deep-level values for which there is no

comprehension much less the mental capability of appreciating and valuing such issues. As

Henri L. Bergson said: “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” It is not

that people at the lower levels do not have the intelligence to deal with such issues. It is only that

the circumstances impacting life have not awakened the next levels of thinking. All the Value

Systems are within us; they only await the right Life Conditions to awaken them. The point here

is, what is “appropriate” given the level of complexity of life experienced at that level of

existence? The level of thinking must match the level of complexity.

         Yet, when problems are created at one level, and these cannot be solved at that level

because of the prevailing systems of thinking, then one must look up to the next level for their

solution. Einstein said as much when he declared: “The world that we have made as a result of

the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems that we cannot solve at the same

level as they were created.” Jesus made a similar statement: “No one puts new wine into old

wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be

destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” And then, recognizing how hard for

people to accept change, he added. “And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but

says, ‘The old is good.’” (Luke 5:37-39).

Picture, if you will, an ascending colorful spiral that swirls up from Beige Bands and

Purple Tribes, and with each level widens its arcs while including the previous level as it rises to

Green Collective Communities, Yellow Integrated Systems, Turquoise Wisdom Societies and

beyond. The ninth level, Coral, resides in the dim unknown. The higher one moves up the spiral,

or the strata of our cultural dig, the more complex are the Life Conditions. Such is the flow of

The Spiral of Human Development (see graphic).


Figure 4. The Spiral of Human Development

         But does this mean that all levels are ultimately the same, that all Value Systems are

equal to the overall good of humankind? Clare W. Graves, the pioneer of the Theory of Levels of

Existence, answers this question best. “I am not saying in this conception of adult behavior that

one style of being, one form of human existence is inevitable and in all circumstances superior to

or better than another form of human existence another style of being. What I am saying is that

when one form of being is more congruent with the realities of existence, then it is the better

form of living for those realities. And what I am saying is that when one form of existence ceases

to be functional for the realities of existence, then some other form, either higher or lower in the

hierarchy, is the better style of living. I do suggest, however, and this I deeply believe is so, that

for the overall welfare of total man’s existence in this world, over the long run of time, higher

levels are better than lower levels and that the prime good of any society’s governing figures

should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence” (Beck and Cowan


         This concept of “stages” or “levels of development,” however, does not always rest easy

with people. This is because as Clare Graves explains, people do not see their striving in life “as

merely a stage they are going through, but as the ultimate, the permanent goal of all life.” Once

people feel they have attained this “ultimate,” this “permanent goal” or understanding “of life”—

and their Life Conditions are relatively stable—they tend to believe they have “arrived” at the

“truth” and become satisfied and complacent with the extent of their knowledge. Result? They

become conservative and cease to grow. Conservatism in matters of religion, for example, is a

sign of spiritual stagnation and decline, and develops when people stop investigating truth due

to their contentment with what they already have received and achieved.

         Graves explained what lies behind such thinking. “The real finding is that no one

understands anything above their own level. Even if you like what you hear of a level higher

than you own, you will reinterpret it on the basis of your own level. Thus, a human being

apparently can experience only up-to those systems that have become operational in his/her life.

What individuals tend to do is to listen to what others at a later system are saying and when they

run the content of what they heard through their top-down processing, it simply comes out, if at

all, at the system they are currently at. No matter what we hear from others we will run the

information through our brains and that information will generally come out as our system of

thinking understands it” (Lee 1998).

         The two value systems that tend to have the most difficulty grasping this discussion of

“levels” and “stages of human development” are persons operating with either a strong Blue

(Authoritarian) or a Green (Egalitarian) system of thinking. While the first reflects rigidity from

the right, the other is a rigidity from the left. Blue thinking believes there is no “truth” beyond

their level of understanding. Green, on the other hand, often operates with naïve relativism and a

flatlander perspective, where all cultures and value systems are regarded as equal, all truth is

relative, and eschews all forms of hierarchical thinking. “The green meme,” declares Ken Wilber

(2000:230-232), “effectively challenging the absolutisms of blue and orange,” mistakes “all

universals and all holarchies as being of the same order,” and gets “locked” in a closed system of

thinking. Yet, while we must respect and value the various cultures and a people's respective

system of values (Green thinking), not all values are the same nor are they of equal worth to

what is good and functional for humankind (Yellow thinking). Thus, while Spiral Dynamics

enables us to understand where Hitler's values came from and why the German people followed

him, it does not mean that these values are acceptable to the overall good of human existence.

The Third Reich's culture-specific “absolutes” must not be confused nor equated with

“universals,” normally regarded as “human rights,” which transcend cultures (Rosado 1990). The

essence of Wisdom thinking (Turquoise) is to balance the various interests and environments for

the widest common good, through the best practices (Sternberg 1998).

         Does this mean that everything is relative? Absolutely not. Cultural relativism does not

imply that there is no system of moral values to guide human conduct. Rather, it suggests that

every society has its own moral code to guide members of that society, but that these values are

of worth to those who live by them, though they may differ from our own (Herskovits 1973:31;

Rosado 1990). At each level people have “absolutes” and experience truth. But what may be an

absolute at one level may not be the same at another level. This does not mean that there are

multiple “truths,” but that the truth held may be seen from various perspectives as it unfolds.

         Having said all this, it is important to recognize that a strong, healthy Blue v-Meme is

foundational to the entire spiral. It provides the anchors of law, order, good authority,

responsibility, and righteousness without which individuals, organizations, or nations stand

weak. If we lose this crucial system, we lose direction, our moral compass, the inner core, and

the essential foundation of the more complex systems.

         There are five qualities that characterize the spiral levels:

1.             They are hierarchical—each builds on and integrates the operations of the previous level.

2.             They are sequential—one comes after the other in logically necessary fashion.

3.             The sequence is invariant—you can’t skip over a level. The lessons of the previous    level are essential for success in the next level.

4.             The sequence is universal—though the rate of movement is different from culture to culture, the same series of levels characterizes the path of human development for all groups  (Fowler 1981)

5.             The process is open-ended—there is no finish, no final state of development; it is on-going (Graves 1974).


Toward a Definition of Spirituality:

         How does all this relate to spirituality? For years now I have been teaching young people

in various academic settings. What I have discovered is an ever-increasing and profound interest

in spirituality. But what is spirituality? In my classes, especially my sociology of religion course,

I have had to define spirituality in such a way that it encompasses the needs of all groups and

extremes, from born-again Christians, to members of Wicca, to Earth-First environmentalists

enthralled by New Age forms of spiritual thinking, to atheists and agnostics—all in the same

university class. The challenge has been to define spirituality so that all feel included. I have

managed to do this and the outcome has been that all the students, no matter their particular

spiritual belief system, concurred with the definition as one that resonated with their needs. Let

me put forth two working definitions of spirituality developed after years of seeking to

communicate this elusive concept to different audiences with varied but often vague

understandings of the term.

         Spirituality is a state of interconnectedness, an intangible reality and animating,

integrating life-force that cannot be comprehended by human reason alone but is nonetheless as

important as reason, intellect, and emotion in accounting for human behavior. It is the center of

our devotion, loyalty and concern, the worship of which constitutes our god—whether that god

be our self, sex, race or ethnic group, church, money, ideological beliefs, another person, nature,

Allah, Buddha, the Great Spirit or Jesus Christ. It is the object of our ultimate love, human drive,

commitment, source of power, and our interconnectedness with the Other—the divine, the self,

the human, the natural, or any combination thereof—that nourishes the soul (the integration of

mind, will and emotions), resulting in a state of security with a sense of worthful purpose in life.



         In this definition of spirituality, God is spelled with a small letter “g” because the god at

the center of most people’s lives, even among many professed Christians, is not the biblical God,

but a human construction—an idol. An idol is any product of human construction, whether

material or non-material, to which people give their ultimate devotion, loyalty and concern, and

around which they organize their lives.

         Within this understanding of spirituality there are no atheists, for we are all “spiritual

beings.”  We all have a spiritual center at the core of which is our “god” (see graphic), whatever

our understanding of that god may be or however we may have socially constructed it. Whatever

a person gives their ultimate love, devotion, and commitment to, and to the extent that this thing

or object or idea or person becomes the most important entity in a person’s life, that entity

becomes one’s god. Thus, there is no such thing as an atheist or agnostic, for we all believe in

something that transcends who we are and is greater than us, even if it is our own sense of reified

self. Whatever is at the center of our life, at the core of our spiritual center, that thing IS our god.

The crucial question then is: who or what is at the center of our life and is our object of worship

(Gilkey 1966:233).

         Yet, whatever we consider to be our god can only ultimately serve as god if it is not

transitory or temporal or depends on our whims or social circumstances, here today and gone

tomorrow. Only that which transcends human existence and is eternal, only that which is not

subject to time or temperament, in other words, cannot be taken from us, can serve as God. Only

that which goes beyond our own welfare and is a source of security and meaning in our lives,

and transcends our human existence, can serve as God.

         This does not mean that people cannot make gods out of all kinds of things, which they do.

It simply means that since these things are so temporary and transitory, most of what passes for

god on this earth, leaves people in a state of insecurity and meaninglessness. Here lies the thirst

for spiritual fulfillment and a meaningful purpose to life, giving rise to a whole generation of


         Since the above definition is rather complex, let me give a simpler version of it.

Spirituality is a state of interconnectedness with the Other—the divine, the self, the human, the

natural, or any combination thereof—that nourishes the soul (the integration of mind, will and

emotions), resulting in a state of security with a sense of worthful purpose in life.

This is Holistic Spirituality, spirituality in four dimensions (see graphic), where the

human center—our social self—is interconnected with: a vertical to God, the world of the sacred

(pictured as an “eternal flame” within an equilateral triangle symbolic of the Trinity); an inward

to self, the world of personal well-being; a horizontal to humankind, the world of people; and a

outward to nature, the world of all non-human life-forms.






         Most Christians tend to have only a one-dimensional form of spirituality, the vertical,

manifested in a personal devotion to God divorced from concern for humankind, usually within a

patriarchal paradigm. This was the type of spirituality that led to the rise of Monasticism early in

Catholicism and later to Pietism in Protestantism, and eventually to the current rejection of

Christianity by secular humanism. This one-dimensional kind of Christianity has resulted in a

personal righteousness caught up with an overriding focus on the self in relation to God, at the

expense of love to our brother, resulting in racism, and to our sister, resulting in sexism. It has

given rise to a fundamentalist expression of Christianity in its proclamations, politics, and

practices. It has also given rise to an attitude of indifference toward the environmental mess we

have made in our planet, our ecological habitat that declares: “Why bother, God is going to clean

it up anyway?” It is a closed-Blue v-Meme expression of spirituality.

         Another variant of a one-dimensional spirituality is a lack of a healthy connectedness to

our personal self. Most people have fragmented selves, which are often expressed in one of two

directions, in a sense of self-hatred, personal abuse, and low self-esteem, or in a narcissistic

sense of superiority. These feelings that emerge from a fragmented self are often times taken out

on others through acts of violence, abuse, dehumanization, discrimination and indifference. Or

we can take them out on ourselves in feelings of self-rejection, inferiority, and in acts of abuse

toward our self, or in a narcissistic self-love, focused on the body-beautiful, and a preoccupation

with ourselves at the expense of others. It was with these concerns in mind that Jesus declared:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Only when I have a healthy love toward myself will I have a

healthy love toward my neighbor—the Other in my sphere of influence. If I only have hate for

myself, then this self-hate will be expressed in my relationship to others. Therein lies a source of

racism, sexism, and homophobia, a one-dimensional Red v-Meme expression of spirituality.

Thus, one aspect of genuine or holistic spirituality is a healthy inner connectedness with our

inner self.

         Other forms of one-dimensional spirituality have been humanistic approaches focused

only on the horizontal realm. Pulling strongly from popular, self-help forms of psychology, there

is a growing spiritual movement seeking to get human beings in touch with their feelings, their

emotions and connections to each other, whether through eastern philosophy, meditation

techniques, or personality development theories. This “new agey,” quick fix, trendy, fast-food

form of spirituality is invading corporate structures, university campuses, and suburban

communities of America, as people seek to get more in tuned with their so-called “true inner

selves.”  It is a Green v-Meme expression of spirituality.

         Then there are the two-dimensional forms of spirituality, one of which focuses on the

female/feminine forms of the sacred, connecting people with nature, their ecological selves, and

the rhythms and cycles of the universe. This is the primary locus of New Age forms of

spirituality, some of which pull from American Indian expressions of spirituality, much to the

abhorence of American Indians (Deloria, Jr. 1992:43), in an inward and outward direction,

seeking to get people in tune to themselves and to Gaia, the living Earth, personified as Earth

Goddess or Mother Nature. Many of these spiritual forms eliminate the need for the vertical

dimension to God, since god is believed to be within and not without, in the sense that we are all

gods. All one has to do is to discover the god within and in nature. Neo-Pagan groups, Wicca,

and Goddess spirituality are examples of this one-dimensional, Green/Purple v-Meme form of


         The Social Gospel Movement in Christianity around the turn of the century and

Liberation Theologies since the 1960s have also emphasized a two-dimensional form of

spirituality—the vertical to God and the horizontal to humankind. The result has been much

political involvement focused on social change and socioeconomic justice. Yet a missing

element in both approaches has been a concern for our ecological/environmental home. To

counter this missing dimension other forms of two-dimensional spirituality have emerged such

as Zen Buddhism and Deep Ecology, focused on the horizontal and the outward, by integrating

and interconnecting the inner self with the life-forces of nature through enlightenment. A sense

of balance in life is sought through a focus on the present, centered on personal experience and

meditation in connection with nature, another expression of the Green v-Meme.


         All of these forms of spirituality, however, from Christian, to the body-beautiful, to New

Age enlightenment, are but one or at best two-dimensional constructs of spirituality. These are

forms of spirituality that are individual-centered, in search of community. People today are

seeking “community” and searching for attachments. Wade Clark Roof (1993:252), drawing

from M. Scott Peck, defines community as a sense of well-being arising out of social/communal

bonds where people “share their lives and communicate honestly with one another,” within

“relationships that go deeper than the masks of composure, and who have developed some

significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together, and to delight in each other,’” in an

environment that fosters the qualities of “sharing, caring, acceptance, belonging” and

compassion. “The qualities themselves often are more important than the places where they are

found.”  This is why when people’s spiritual needs are not met by a specific religious group, they

will go elsewhere. Religious brand-name loyalty is out; individual spiritual needs are in. If

people have options and religious choices, given a chance, they will exercise those options.

Since religion is a voluntary association, people exercise those options every weekend. If they

feel they don’t have options, because of religious monopoly or political rigidity, and their needs

are not being met, they will drop out for a lack of community. If they have options they will shop

elsewhere for their spiritual needs.


A Spiritual Mall:

         Rodney Stark’s “religious economies” theory is most helpful in understanding the idea of

religious options. In democratic societies that value religious freedom what one often encounters,

to use an analogy, is a spiritual superstore or mall with several floors of available goods, where

people can shop for their spiritual needs. Chicago’s Water Tower Plaza comes to mind. (see


         At each level (visualize memetic levels), people’s needs differ. At the first level or Beige

are survival needs (the realm of the homeless, the street people, the down and out). Salvation

Army does good work here, so also do street ministries. When these needs are met people then

take the spiritual escalator to the next level, Purple, where needs of family, spiritual security, the

church as the “ark of safety” and  “haven of rest” is found. So also one finds here indigenous

religions, cults, and nature religions. The form of religious expression is not as important as the

nature of the needs being met: needs of spiritual security and the celebrations of traditions and


         At the third level, the Red forces are at play: gangs, warlords, self-centered, arrogant

conduct and flashy, gaudy lifestyles all show off their wares here. Red expressions of religion

and spirituality best meet these needs, storefront churches are found here. Pentecostalism, with

its strong expressions of Red spirituality and Blue doctrinal rigidness and authoritarianism has

had good success in reaching out to gangs, drug addicts, the poor, and those in prisons.

Pentecostalism has also been most successful in impoverished regions of the world: Africa, Latin

America, Asia, and in impoverished urban sectors. Their Blue authoritarian teachings provide

among the best interventions to Red value systems.



Figure 5. The Superstore of Spiritual Needs

         When these Red needs are met or when people are seeking stability, sound doctrines and

teachings, Blue religions, usually conservative in doctrine and lifestyle, and found on the fourth

memetic floor, are the best ones to meet such needs. Mormons, Adventists, Baptists, Jehovah’s

Witnesses are all found here. The differing doctrinal positions among these groups are not what

is important here, but the operational values of “one-right-way,” “people of the book(s),” law

and order, “truth,” and delayed gratification. These are the spiritual good s that can be

“purchased” at this floor. Notice that the connecting line between Red and Blue is the broadest.

These are the groups having the greatest success in numerical growth, for they operate at the

levels where most people are found, and where the spiritual needs are the greatest.

When the group beliefs become too confining, or when people want to experience

spirituality without all the dogma and rituals, and desire a greater freedom in their worship style,

Orange is the floor to take the spiritual elevator to. Here religion is expressive, without the Blue

guilt, the style worship is more individualistic; one can be rich without being made to feel guilty.

Independent ministries, mall and mega churches are all found here. The worship and doctrinal

style is casual, so is the clothing.

         At the 6th Level one finds a Green spirituality and religious expression that is inclusive,

egalitarian, gender and racially sensitive, environmentally conscious, less focused on doctrines,

more focused on social issues, justice concerns, and peace in the world, Liberal Christian

churches (Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Unitarians). The

are the ones that are experiencing the least growth also, because so few of the population, at least

in the United States, are found at this level of operational value systems. Here also are various

form of New Age spirituality..

         Most denominations and religious groups tend to function predominantly at one level,

though more and more are beginning to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach (the flatlander

mindset) is no longer possible in a multimemetic (a more correct term than “multicultural”)

society. More appropriate than “multicultural,” which is focused on the dermal layer rather than

the cranial, is the realization that society as well as churches are really “multimemetic”—

multiple value systems are interacting at the same time, within the same environmental space and

organization.  Yet these systems often have no method, or spiritual escalator, to reach the floors

where people with different spiritual needs are to be found. At best such groups want these

people to make their way “down” to their level. Styles of spirituality and methods of ministry

that reach out to people at levels higher than where the main spiritual body is found, are

condemned, rejected and denounced.

         With the changes taking place in global thinking, human consciousness, and evolutionary

psychology, the “momentous leap” Graves predicted and is now emerging, is pushing the

spiritual envelope far beyond the levels at where traditional religions function and expressions of

spirituality are to be found. They also have little to offer people who are experiencing a spiritual

hunger at the Yellow and Turquoise levels and beyond. It is not that Christianity, for example,

cannot reach people at these levels, for it can and it is in some circles. It is more the situation that

present religious organizations are not able to perceive a spiritual reality beyond their level of

operation, primarily because they see the world from a mechanical Newtonian paradigm. In

Scandinavia, for example, where the culture operates more at the memetic levels of Green and

Yellow, New Age forms of spirituality, with their transcendent view of reality, are much more

popular with the educated populous then traditional Blue Christianity. The same can be found

throughout the United Kingdom and other parts of Northern Europe. For Christians to say that

they have the “truth,” while regarding others as having “error” does nothing to further their

cause. The fact of the matter is that people are experiencing a spiritual hunger, and when they go

to shop at the floors consistent with their memetic existence (the 6th, 7th, 8th, and even 9th levels),

there is little to nothing of Christianity there, which finds itself in an arrested mode of

development at lower levels. So people “buy” what is available, It may not be “truth” to others,

but it is “truth” to them. And, wherever it exists, there people will shop and buy. There they will

also find community and their comfort zone.

Thus spirituality, while being a private journey, finds its most comforting expression in

the context of community. This is the main point of Emile Durkheim’s famous study on religion,

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, where religion is seen as the “social glue” that

binds the individual to the group, the moral community (1965).


The Spiral of Spirituality:

         Why do we see such interest in spiritual phenomenon in an ever-increasing scientific

age? Let me suggest an answer from a Gravesian perspective, using SD theory. There are several

reasons, let me offer three: One is “millennial mania.” Millennial periods bring out millennial

movements that focus on spirituality, the supernatural, and the end of the age. It happened at the

turn of the year 1000 (Cohn 1990). Expect to see in the years ahead an increase in alternative

religions and in spirituality. In fact, spirituality already is one of the hottest commodities and

topics in the media.

         A second reason is the bankruptcy of science to answer the big questions of life: Who we

are? Why we are here? Where we are going? Science cannot answer the why questions of life in

terms of ultimate meaning, only in terms of causality, and not always. In the face of these

ultimate questions we are all spiritually poor. People are searching for meaning to their fragile

lives, since pure science alone no longer has the answers to a full understanding of human

existence, no matter how much evolutionary scientists might think that their theories provide the

answers to questions of ultimate meaning. Ultimately, such theories leave people cold, vacuous,

with no sense of the hereafter. Then too, most people don't live their lives in “pure science” all

the time, not even the most scientific ones among us. We are not always rational in our ideas,

attitudes, and actions. The “faith factor,” which transcends reason,  is always present in much of

what we do, whether we like to admit it or not, especially those of us who like to pass ourselves

as always being objective, for even our most sophisticated ideas have to be taken by “faith”

much of the time.

         A third reason is a Spiral Dynamics one, which I call, the “Madonna Shift”—from

“material girl” (Orange) to “spiritual girl” (Green). The current shifts back to rural life, a simpler

lifestyle, and e rethinking of life’s priorities, are all examples of this shift. It is no longer “he

who dies with all the toys wins,” a very Orange meme. Rather, it is one reflected in Stephen

Covey’s soul-searching maxim, “No one in their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time

at the office” (Covey 1994). Thus after all the toys, stocks, and image enhancement additions,

what’s left? “What’s it all about, Alfie?” This was a hard question raised by Burt Bacharach in

the early 70’s. There has to be more to fill the emptiness inside. The result is a return to either

Blue religion or Green spirituality, or on to Yellow and Turquoise consciousness transformation.

In an unstable age of rapid social change, hurling down the information highway at the speed of

nanoseconds, people are desperately searching for anchors to the soul. Others are seeking for

“quiet zones” away from all the cacophony of technoise. Many are now seeking and finding it in

spirituality (Rosado, 1996). While concern for spirituality has been the realm of religion, much

of religion is losing its focus, and a whole generation, disappointed with the trivia of organized

religion, is now looking for spirituality elsewhere. Thus, secularism, contrary to what was once

believed, does not lead to the demise of religion, but to its transformation through revival and

spiritual innovation (Stark and Finke 2000).


Religion versus Spirituality:

“If spirituality is the journey, then a religious tradition functions as a map of the

territory.” This statement by John Testerman (1997:288) provides a good analogy that clarifies

well the difference between spirituality and religion. Testerman goes on to bring out useful

insights from this analogy by suggesting that sometimes “mapmaking” can consume a person’s

time such that it can “take the place of going on the journey.” What makes this true in many

cases is that often good religious folk focus their whole attention on the rules of the road, but

never actually travel the road of spirituality, the map of which they think they know well. The

result is a religious form without a spiritual experience.

         For others, the problem is an opposite one.  They launch out on their spiritual journey

without a map to chart their journey and “risk getting lost.” This is the route many are taking

today in their quest for spirituality, as a result of their dismissal of organized religion. Since

many such folk find the map questionable or prefer their own concocted map, they launch out on

their faith journey without chart or compass, letting the winds of the “spirit” serve as a travel

guide, blowing where they may. The results for many are short journeys and spiritual deadends.

The dilemma of the spiritual dimension is that spirituality can exist without a religious

institutional home, while for others religion can exist without spirituality. Either form can

ultimately be unfulfilling since both religion and spirituality are not only personal journeys but

also social experiences within a supportive community. Yet, as Dale Matthews suggests,

“spirituality poses questions; religion composes answers” (Matthews 1998:182). In light of this

discussion, and drawing from Matthews, I define religion, spirituality, and worship as follows.


Religion:             The organized express of faith and the sacred.

                   “        Is communal, particular, defined by boundaries.”

Spirituality:        A state of interconnectedness with the Other that nourishes the soul —the

                            integration of the mind, will, and emotions.

                            “Is private, universal, no boundaries.”

Worship:            The manner of behavior in the presence of the sacred.

                            Is either communal or private depending on the memetic level at which it is



Spiral Dynamics and Spirituality

         Many consciousness transformation thinkers believe that spirituality is found only at the

higher levels of thinking and consciousness, at the memetic levels of Green and beyond. Such a

position in itself is an example of what Ken Wilber calls, the “Mean Green Meme” (2001)—the

idea that only Green thinking has a correct understanding of the world, its problems, and

solutions, and thereby negates the value and contributions of other levels of thinking. This is not

just a problem unique to Green thinking, however, since each memetic level has difficulty

accepting anything other than its own worldview (Roemischer 2002).

         Spiral Dynamics provides perhaps the best framework for understanding spirituality, as it

shows how each level of thinking not only has its own unique worldview, operative value

systems, method of decision-making and manner of living, but also expression of spirituality,

form of organized religion, and style of worship. Spirituality exists at every level of human

development; it is just expressed differently at each level. Failure to understand this results in a

spiritual arrogance and self-righteous exclusion of other ways of approaching the divine and the


         Here is how religion, spirituality and expressions of worship are manifested at each

memetic level.





The Spiral of Religion, Spirituality, and Worship


Purple:      Religion is the mainspring of life that holds the family-clan-tribe-society

                   together, and gives meaning and purpose to life within the context of the group.

                   Spirituality is an awareness that both nature and everyday life are influenced by

                   The world of spirits, both good and evil, and needs to be placated through spirit

                   guides–shamans, mediums, witch-doctors, gods & goddesses, holy men, elders,

                   spiritual leaders; amulets, totems, signs, and relics of the magic.3

                   Worship is traditional and commemorative, safeguarding rituals and ancient

                   religious/spiritual practices.


Red:           Religion at this level views God as an all-powerful, vengeful, controlling ruler,

                   with human passions and weaknesses, who can be bought off. (“God, if get me

                   out of this mess, I’ll…”)

                   Spirituality is a whimsical “bolt from the blue,” and often takes on the form of

                   idolatry, as individuals seek god-like status and deny their mortality.

                   Worship is experiential and expressive, as each individual experiences his or her

                   own unique manifestation of the spirit.


Blue:          Religion is organized, institutional, hierarchical in structure, purposive, and rule-

                   bound. Rigidity, guilt, and dogmatism are high.

                   Spirituality is self-sacrificing in nature, and is defined as specific beliefs and

                   truths, a code of conduct, and as a contest between the forces of good and evil,

                   which will be settled in the end time. The script is “written” and pre-determined;

                   you simply follow it.

                   Worship is adorational and orderly, and objective in character toward the divine.


Orange:     Religion is independent, entrepreneurial, strategic, and success-oriented.

                   Spirituality is “feels-good,” “tell me more about me,” gushy, emotional,

                   experiential, and multiplistic–many possible ways but one is best. God can be

                   persuaded, and wants you to succeed in the here and now, and not wait for the


                   Worship is a celebrative event, subjective in character and expression.


Green:       Religion is self-help, egalitarian, communitarian, consensual, and relativistic, but

                   intolerant. Rigidity is high, dogmatism is low. Don’t know what they believe, but

                   they are certain about it.

                   Spirituality is inner-oriented, focused on internal peace, harmony, and

                   togetherness, and on connectedness to “natural forces.” Seeks understanding and

                   integration of the mind, soul, and consciousness. God is within. Is harmonic with


                   Worship is communal and inclusive, not only of participants but also of



Yellow:      Religion is integrative, flexible, inclusive, tolerant, functional, and contextual,

                   with a flattened organizational pyramid.

                   Spirituality is inner-directed, mystical, low on dogma, synergetic, but high on

                   expressiveness, without being sacrificial.

                   Worship is functional and individualistic—“what works best for me.”


Turquoise:          Religion is a living, wisdom-oriented, order-seeking system of interdependent

                   relationships that transcends the usual human barriers, to create global community

                   in harmony with all life forms in a single ecosystem.

                   Spirituality is holistic and mystical in nature, encompassing four dimensions: the

                   vertical to God, the inward to self, the horizontal to humankind, the outward to

                   nature. It stands in awe of the cosmic order, with a macro view of how all life

                   interconnects with the divine with a sense of order, purpose, and wisdom.

                   Worship is mystical and transcendental, a contemplative, holistic union of body,

                   mind, soul, spirit with the divine.


Coral:        At this level of spiritual awakening there is no Cartesian split differentiating

                   between Religion, Spirituality, and Worship. All is one in a state of nondual,

                   nonlocal, nontemporal mystical union of enlightenment with the Divine. The

                   experience is a kinesthetic one that transcends and includes and is at one with

                   God with no separation of mind, body, spirit, and soul from the Divine, in a state

                   that crosses the threshold of time to experience eternity.


         We as humans are “naturally” drawn to relationships, lifestyles, behavior patterns, places

and forms of worship, political positions and parties, belief systems, modes of entertainment,

expressions of art, musical tastes, other people, worldviews, leadership styles, designs and places

of residence, and spiritual rituals, etc., which resonate with our dominant (peak) value system,

thereby enabling us to experience a comfort zone that gives us a sense of being “at home.”

When we encounter any such entities that lie outside of the “comfort range” of our level

of existence, we experience dissonance, discomfort, displeasure, disinterest and distance.



The level of comfort is measured by the distance from one’s nodal system (see bar

graphic). The greater the distance, the greater the level of discomfort. Thus, if my comfort zone

is centered on the Orange v-Meme, then I will be most comfortable with Life Conditions at this

level. The further I move from this level the greater the sense of discomfort.


Three Streams of Spirituality:

         Three streams of thought with regard to spirituality are currently flowing. The first and

most powerful stream flows from traditional Blue world-religions, primarily Christianity,

Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, and emerges from their mechanical Newtonian, linear, either/or

worldview and is focused on their “holy books.” A second and far-side stream, often at odds

with the first, is the Green New Age stream of spirituality that is increasing in size. “Green is not

New Age,” Don Beck is emphatic to emphasis, “but New Age finds a niche in Green.” This

stream is transitional between the mechanical and integral world, is very cyclical, inwardly

focused, me-centered, and is oriented toward spiritualism and the immortality of the soul.

         A third stream is emerging, and though right now it is a mere trickle and most people

have probably never heard of it, it will soon become a rushing force that will draw from the best

elements of the other two streams to become an increasingly powerful stream of spiritual thought

in this 21st century. This is the Yellow (“left-brain with feelings” [Beck]) and Turquoise (“right-

brain with data” [Beck]) stream emerging from Quantum Physics. Exploration of astronomy (not

astrology which is in tune with New Age and is Purple), and the origins of the universe, is giving

scientists a new understanding of the “physics” of God and of spirituality. This stream, as Tipler

(1994) brings out, is compatible with the best of Christianity and the deeper-level spiritual

teachings of Jesus and some of the other world religion founders.

         This third stream, of which the consciousness transformation movement and the integral

thinking of Ken Wilber are a part, is spiral in nature and is riding the crest of the first waves of

Graves’ “momentous leap” of human development that is emerging on the horizon of human

existence. The first stream is 1st Tier spirituality. The second one is transitional. The third

reflects 2nd Tier spirituality and beyond. This third stream is also pushing the boundaries of

spiritual rituals, contemplation, and connection with God.


Spiritual Rituals and Connection with the Divine:

         All three streams have different spiritual rituals by which to connect with the Divine. At

the Purple to Green levels but primarily Blue, much of what passes for Christian, Jewish, and

Islamic spiritual rituals—the first stream—is centered on the Sacred Writings, prayer, and group

ritual. It is often a cognitive exercise, connecting heart and mind with position of body in a

mechanical, routinized, but religious exercise of spiritual connection. There is an intellectual

union with God that affects the spirit and the heart, nourishes the soul, and exercises the body.

But the four dimensions of bio-psycho-social-spiritual are distinct, discrete, and disconnected. It

is First Tier “Subsistence” spirituality, very linear and dualistic in nature with an either/or, left-

brain/right-brain view of reality and spiritual expression.

         The second stream of spirituality is cyclical, transitional, often draws on Purple

indigenous rituals, fertility rites, and Green connections with nature. There are few “holy books,”

some popular writing, and some of the spiritual exercises include trance-inducing elements.

         At the other end, the third stream, is the Second Tier “Being,” Integral world of mystical

spirituality. It kinesthetic and seeks to connect with God directly, without intermediaries such as

the Holy Book or other sacred writings, through the mystical oneness of body, mind, soul, spirit

as one integrated whole in connection with God in spirit, such that energy-flows are experienced

between the individual and God. This is the ultimate spiritual connection that Jesus desired for

his followers. “God is spirit,” he said, “and those who worship him must worship in spirit and

truth” (John 4:24). The purpose is to have a mystical, kinesthetic, holistic union with God

divorced of disconnection and distraction. It is spiral in nature, ascending to higher and higher

levels of spiritual awareness and divine enlightenment. While the integral uses all the learning

styles (cognitive, affective, auditory, and kinesthetic), all are directed toward the kinesthetic—a

holistic, non-localistic, non-verbal union with the divine. The mechanical stays in the cognitive,

affective and auditory with very little kinesthetic union. Truth in the First Tier is recognized

outwardly. In the Second Tier, which builds on the First, truth is recognized inwardly.

         There is a close connection between spiritual development and a balanced table of life.

When the four dimensions of the table—the bio-psycho-social-spiritual—are balanced there is an

open connection for continual spiritual growth and a mystical union with the Divine. When the

table is not balanced, the mystical union is cut off or blocked and the spiritual energy is

channeled into other areas of life, where they become the drugs of choice: sexuality, pseudo-

intellectualizing, spiritual seduction, and other deviant paths. At the 2nd Tier, integral levels, all

these dualisms of the Newtonian worldview cease. A oneness with life, self, the universe and

with God is experienced within a quantum nonlocality state of interconnectedness, devoid of

dualistic, binary thinking.

         The point of these spiritual rituals, however, is connection with the divine. For the first,

the predominantly Blue religions, the mechanical process is very important, partly because it is

the only worldview recognized as legitimate, and partly because it is the accepted method of

distinguishing truth from error. But the connection with God at this level is partial, deductive,

and often unfulfilling, within a cognitive, left-brain vs. right-brain context. And if the person

remains at this level of spiritual growth and development, the experience will be an incomplete

one, though not always recognized as such by the participant(s). The other experience is holistic,

integral, intuitive, and whole-brain in approach and kinesthetic connection. But as Jesus made

clear, one must come to God not only in spirit but also in “truth.”  There are false connections,

not all spirit are true spirits; communication with evil spirits and mediums is also possible, as

was King Saul’s experience in the Old Testament (I Samuel 28). There are other spirits that lead

one to believe that one is God, and by extension no longer needs God. That is why the spirits

must be “tested” to see whether or not they are of God. Not the “me-god” of New Age, but the

biblical God of love and compassion as manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately,

even the Judeo-Christian faith does not know this Jesus, for much of what is taught and practiced

in His name is still in an arrested mode of First Tier development of spirituality, and used for

destructive purposes. That is the reason why those who are at the Second Tier of spiritual

development do not find much of value within present-day, First Tier, church-based Christianity

(see Super Mall graphic).

         Part of the problem with 1st Tier, mechanical spirituality is that it often gets all caught up

in hermeneutics, in the study, analysis, interpretation, and diagnosis of the outward truth of

spirituality, and misses out on the inward experience of spiritual union with God. Yet, the one

should not negate the need for the other. Jesus balanced his time between the mountain and the

multitude. On the mountain he experienced a mystical union with God, which fueled Him to face

the crowds below. Amidst the multitude he pushed the envelope of their first tier understanding

of spirituality and religious behavior. “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you…” In

the end they never grasped what He was talking about, as their worldviews did not allow for

other levels of understanding. And thus, with a sense of resignation, disappointment, yet hope,

he said toward the end of his earthwalk, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot

bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12,


         Such an integral, mystical experience was the one the biblical prophets had with God, as

also have other mystics throughout history. See Ursula King. Christian Mystics: The Spiritual

Heart of the Christian Tradition (1998). The Apostle Paul also had a similar experience and

described it in this manner. “I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to

the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows” (2 Corinthians12:2). This is a spiral, intuitive connection, as opposed to the first being linear and

mechanical and the second being cyclical and repetitive. Yet, as a friend shared with me,

reflecting on this point: “The Bible is actually very full of mystical references, although they are

not recognized as such by most people who claim the Bible as their source of truth, as their

sacred writing.” Then my friend raised an intuitive question. “So how did that happen, if

nowadays we are supposed to be so much farther along than they...” An insightful question

indeed. The answer, I believe, is found in that people became comfortable with what they had

received. They then canonized it, codified it, treasured it, and stopped growing. They thus

become conservative and ceased learning, and dogmatized and fossilized their understanding of

truth within a mechanical, binary (either/or) Newtonian worldview. Yet, as stated earlier in this

article, "Conservatism in matters of religion is a sign of spiritual stagnation and decline, and

develops when people stop investigating truth due to their contentment with what they already

have received and achieved.” But, there is more a lot more to spiritual growth, and we are only

just beginning to know who we are in relationship to what we can become. Eternity, the future

that lies before us, will be a state of continual, experiential growth in spiritual development. This

state of nonduality and nonlocality is not so much understood cognitively, as it is experienced

kinesthetically. The difference, however, between knowing all this intellectually and knowing it

by experience is a quantum leap, and is part of the “momentous leap” Graves talked about.

         What makes the "momentous leap" "momentous" is that it represents a shift from the

Newtonian, mechanical, linear worldview, with all its dualisms and binary thinking, to the

integral, holonic world of quantum physics and chaos theory. Here life is holistically

experienced within a quantum nonlocality state of interconnectedness that “transcends and

includes.” The reason why the 2nd tier levels are able to see the whole spiral is because they are

now on the other side of the chasm operating with a holistic, spiral, quantum worldview.

         While the concept of Life Conditions is most important for change at the First Tier levels,

LCs take on another dimension at the 2nd tier quantum levels of nonduality and nonlocality. By

nonduality I mean a mystic oneness with the universe whereby we experience life not as separate

entities but as an integrated/interinfluenced "whole" of relationships; by nonlocality, I am

referring to two entities influencing each other in a manner that distance or location is not a

factor, as in the "spooky action" of Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen's famous experiment. Here the

very nature of life at the Turquoise level and beyond in Coral is more of what David Bohm

suggests is an "unbroken wholeness," which affirms the interconnectedness of the whole

universe. This is the quantum nonduality and nonlocality of holistic interconnectedness that

transcends the binary separateness of localistic, Newtonian physics and the Cartesian mind/body

split, which struggles with a congruence between the Life Conditions and the Mental Capacities.

Life at the higher levels of 2nd tier is no longer "left-brain with feelings" and "right-brain with

data," but “whole-brain” with a mystical union with the universe.


Spirituality and Compassion:

         There is a profound relationship between spirituality and compassion, for wherever

genuine spirituality is manifested the other is also present. Matthew Fox (1979) has addressed

this connection in a most inspirational and challenging manner. Compassion is a heavenly plant

transplanted to earth, and wherever it is manifested, God is there. “Whoever does good is from

God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11). Compassion is a rare commodity in the

world today, especially the business and political world. To be successful in the interconnected

world of interdependence and interhuman relations of the 21st century, compassion needs to be a

necessary individual and institutional character quality.

         Compassion is not the same as sympathy. There is a vast difference. Sympathy (meaning

to sorrow with) is an emotional response of sorrow toward another being generated by pity.

Whereas compassion (meaning to suffer with) is the ability to suffer with another being with

loving, caring concern, in an endeavor to alleviate suffering through reciprocal action to remove

the pain and meet the need.

         Three couplets illustrate the difference between the two.

         1. Sympathy looks down with teary-eyed pity and says, “Oh, I am so sorry.”  Compassion

comes down with loving concern and declares, “How can I be of help?”

         2. Sympathy remains in the realm of affection. Compassion always moves from affection

to action.

         3. Sympathy is some times motivated out of self-interest in a pious cloak. Compassion is

motivated out of a genuine concern for others with no strings attached. The essence of

Compassion is taking the role of the Other and viewing life from the Other’s perspective, out of

the Other’s situation of need, as a motivation for action.

         How do compassion and sympathy differ from empathy? These three concepts tend to be

confused in the minds of many as similar or even the same, but they are not. They are vastly

different and elicit from the respondent three different behaviors. These three behaviors can best

be illustrated in the following manner.


1. In Sympathy there is sorrow for the Other in need. But with sorrow there is also a

sense of distance, separation from the Other, and an “I’m-not-like-you” type of response. Even

though there is an emotional response, the “bridge of identification” with the Other has not been



crossed. Sympathy tends to be a response from the Blue Value System, focused on right living,

truth, justice. It thus tends to look down with pity, often with a self-righteous, judgmental

mindset. “If you lived right and planned for the future, you would not be in this fix.”


2. In Empathy there is not only sorrow, but also identification with the Other in need.

Here the person crosses the “bridge of identification” and enters into the emotional sphere of the

Other and identifies with the pain. The Other senses and knows that identification has taken

place. This response tends to arise from a Green Value System—“I share your pain.”



3. In Compassion there is not only sorrow and identification with the Other in need, but

also an involvement in action to meet the need.


         Here the response does not stop at identification, but goes one step further to take the

necessary steps of action to alleviate suffering. The two-way arrow symbolizes that the action

takes into consideration the wishes and, if possible, the involvement of the Other in a reciprocal

process of bringing about change through empowerment. This is a response from the Turquoise

v-Meme, where the connection is with the spirit of the Other, as part of being a world citizen,

seeking harmony and oneness with the human family. Much of what passes for compassion,

however, is often an imposition from the outside without regard for what might be best for the

Other nor for their input. This is compassion from a Blue v-Meme rather than from Turquoise. It

is also a manifestation of compassion without the understanding of the spiral of human needs.

Much of Green’s good intentions fall into this trap, imposing from the top, instead of

understanding the Life Conditions and situation of where people find themselves and then

implementing interventions at those levels. This is the problem that “do-gooders” from the

developed world experience when seeking to give aid to people in less developed countries.

         In addressing the needs of others from these three helping responses, one first needs to

ascertain the level of existence and operational values of the person being helped in relation to

the person helping. A person at Blue and needing sympathy may not want anything beyond that,

such as “I experience your pain,” since their sense of self may be at stake. Those in need of

empathy may be frustrated with so-called do-gooders who limit their action to emoting without

action. Others in need of compassion may become frustrated with people whose only effort is to

talk about compassion with no action, a tendency among some Greens, who believe they are

compassionate simply because they talk about compassion. It is so easy to be caught up with

compassion-talk deprived of compassion-action.

         These three expressions of human response are reflective of different value systems and

levels of existence. Persons at the lower levels are not able to understand nor appreciate the

response of people at the higher levels. Thus the Blue Sympathizers may not appreciate the

comments and responses of the Green Empathizers, and especially the actions of the Turquoise

Compassionate. The same thing can be said with Empathy in relation to Compassion. If they are

operating with an Open mindset, however, they will be able to accept the response but not

understand where it is coming from. A sense of being patronized can be the response from the

lower levels to the higher levels ("stop patronizing me"), while the possibility of a

condescending attitude is there from the higher levels to the lower levels, especially Green

Empathy to Blue Sympathy. Genuine compassion, because it is a Second Tier response, is not

condescending. For Green empathizers there is such a thing as "compassion fatigue" but not for

Turquoise, who believe that compassion is a rare commodity in the world today, and because of

its short supply, the world needs more and not less of it. So for Turquoise Compassion, there is

no such thing as Compassion Fatigue. In reality compassion fatigue is nothing more than the

attitude, "I am tired of serving so let me blame the victim, since I do not want to appear as the

bad-guy here, since my good, caring image is at stake."

         There is nothing wrong with sympathy, per se, however. There are many times when the

only action a person can take is limited at a sympathetic response. There are other times when

one can go further and express empathy. And there will be times when the opportunity will be

there to express compassion. The problem comes when one has the ability to demonstrate

compassion, but for reasons of one’s own choosing, decides to limit the action only to sympathy

or at best empathy. This is what the story of the Good Samaritan is all about (Luke 10)—to see

oneself in the experience of the Other and move into action to change the circumstances, and not

just limit one’s efforts to a mere sympathetic or empathetic response. Compassion, thus, is an

attitude, a way of life, which arises out of spirituality—that sense of interconnectedness that

nurtures the soul—and manifests itself in action.

         But neither is compassion the same as altruism. Altruism is a helping behavior that may

or may not arise out of compassion. Whereas compassion is always altruistic, altruism may or

may not be compassionate, in the sense that it can on occasions just be a spontaneous reaction

with no sense of interconnectedness to the Other, other than helping someone in need. Altruism

is both innate and learned; compassion is not innate, it is learned. At the heart of compassion lies

“respect”—the process whereby the Other is treated with deference, courtesy, and compassion in

an endeavor to safeguard the integrity, dignity, value, and social worth of the individual. It

means treating people the way they want to be treated. As Nicholas Berdyaev declares: “To eat

bread is a material act, to break and share it a spiritual one.”  This is the mark of true

spirituality— compassion.

         Thus, what is needed is a four-dimensional, holistic spirituality that connects us to God,

to our self, to humankind and to our ecological world, thereby creating community—

compassionate and caring. This is a spirituality that serves as an integrating life-force that

dissolves all four forms of alienation—religious, human, ecological, and spiritual—and fuses all

four dimensions with meaning, purpose, and unity in diversity in community. It is a

spirituality centered on God—the Great Spirit—that balances our relationship and responsibility

to our fellow human beings, to our environmental home, and to our self with a meaningful,

purposive existence in community.

         People today are searching for meaning to all the chaos in society and in their lives. This

is the driving force behind the quest for spirituality, a need for a caring, compassionate

community, a desire for a sense of meaning to life—the why behind the what—a sense of

worthful purpose. Langdon Gilkey (1966) says, “Meaning in life is the spiritual fuel that drives

the human machine. Without it we are indifferent and bored; there is no ambition to work, we are

inspired by no concern or sense of significance, and our powers are unstirred and so lie idle.

Without ‘meaning’ we are undirected and a vulnerable prey to all manner of despair and anxiety,

unable to stand firm against any new winds of adversity.”  A recovery of holistic spirituality in

its four dimensions changes all this.

         Genuine or holistic spirituality, security, and meaning to life is found when our lives are

centered in that which cannot be taken away from us. Why? Because only that which cannot be

taken away from us is able to give us a sense of genuine security, and is the only thing that can

qualify as GOD in our center of spirituality. Everything else dissolves under pressure or changes

with time.


The Source of Genuine Spirituality:

         In an unstable age of rapid socio-political change, people are desperately searching for an

anchor to the soul. But what is it that “triggers” this search? What forces are operative in a

person that raises the need to change spiritually, either to seek God in the first place, as in a

change from a Red self-destructive lifestyle to a Blue conscientious, authority-driven existence,

or from one level to the next for that matter? Clare Graves long ago said that it is a change in the

“life conditions” (the circumstances and combination of five factors: Time, Place, Problems,

Circumstances, and Capabilities) that serves as a catalyst that motivates a person to change. We

cannot change people, but the life situations may be such that these trigger the need for change.

Carolyn Myss, in her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, agrees with Graves as to the importance of the

life conditions as a change agent and as a trigger of spirituality.


          The trigger that causes people to seek deeper meaning and psychological and spiritual ‘ascension’ is usually a physical disorder that creates a personal or professional

earthquake.  We all tend to look upward when the ground beneath our feet shifts out of

control (1996).


         But this search for spirituality can be just as bankrupt as science, if people place at the

center of their life that which is not eternal and divine, but temporary and transitory lacking

community. Failure to center life on the sacred has resulted in the various forms of alienation

throughout history—religious, human, ecological, and now spiritual.

         Today, American society is becoming more and more awashed in spirituality. It seems

like everything is taking on a sense of spirituality, from aerobics, to the environmental

movement, to vegetarianism. But it is also a spirituality that flees from grace, the Christian belief

that human salvation is all of God divorced of human effort. Grace, the source of genuine

spirituality, makes all our efforts to make ourselves divine beings irrelevant because it proclaims

us already accepted and “legitimated by the work of Someone Else, without a single effort on our

part” (Capon 1996). Today’s pop-brand of spirituality is an expression of the sacred that keeps

the divine firmly in the grasp of human control. People today “will buy any recipe for

[spirituality] as long as that formula leaves the responsibility for cooking up [spirituality] firmly

in human hands” (Capon 1996). The result is a shaping of God in various images of humankind.

This is because people tend to develop or gravitate toward those forms of religious expression

that are compatible with their cultural lifestyle, social behavior , and give meaning to their

existence. In other words, instead of being created in the image of God, people create God in

their own image. Langdon Gilkey (1966:234) gives us the core reason why God must be center

of our spirituality.


          The only hope in the human situation is that the “religiousness” of [human beings]

find its true center in God, and not in the many idols that appear in the course of our

experience. If [people] are to forget themselves enough to share with each other, to be

honest under pressure, and to be rational and moral enough to establish community, they

must have some center of loyalty and devotion, some source of security and meaning,

beyond their own welfare.

          This center of loyalty beyond themselves cannot be a human creation, greater than the individual but still finite, such as the family, the nation, tradition, race, or the church.

Only the God who created all [peoples] and so represents none of them exclusively; only

the God who rules all history and so is the instrument of no particular historical movement; only the God who judges His faithful as well as their enemies, and loves and cares for all, can be the creative center of human existence.


          The ultimate concern of each [person] must raise [him or her] above [their] struggles

with their neighbor instead of making these conflicts more bitter and intense. Given an

ultimate security in God's eternal love, and an ultimate meaning to [their] own small life

in God’s eternal purposes, a [person] can forget [their] own welfare and for the first time

look at [their] neighbor free from the gnawings of self-concern.

          From this we can perhaps now see what the [person] of real faith is like. [He or she]

is the [person] whose center of security and meaning lies not in [their] own life but in the

power and love of God, a [person] who has surrendered an overriding concern for [themselves], so that the only really significant things in [their] life are the will of God

and [their] neighbor’s welfare. Such faith is intimately related to love, for faith is an

inward self-surrender, a loss of self-centeredness and concern which transforms a

[person] and frees [them] to love.


         Thus, a balanced approach suggests that genuine, holistic spirituality needs to be centered

in God, the true object of our worship, who does not change but is the same yesterday, today and

forever, thereby creating a sense of integrated balance between our self, the human, the natural

and the spiritual worlds. This Spirit-uality then is none other than the Divine Spirit, who creates

a longing and yearning for God in the human heart, along with a deep reverence and respect

for—but not worship of—nature, our fellow human beings, and our self.

         Saint Augustine (Early Church Father, 354-430), recognizing humankind’s need for

spirituality, declared: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are restless until

they find their rest in Thee.”  Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and

father of statistics, 1623-1662), reminded us that, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of

each [person], which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God.”  This is the

essence and source of genuine, holistic spirituality, interconnectedness with God.

         The challenge this poses for spiritual seekers is to develop a spiritual life built on holistic

spirituality that creates community, rather than on traditional one-dimensional or at best two- or

three-dimensional models of spirituality arising out of individualism or self-centeredness. Only

then will one’s table of life be balanced, resulting in a life of meaningful purpose and dedicated

compassionate service to others. Only then will we take the first spiral steps that move us from

Flatland toward creating a caring society.



1 Comments by John Edser, independent researcher, from a discussion between members of the

International Paleopsychology Project headed by Howard Bloom.

2 This discussion of Value Systems theory comes from the seminal research of Dr. Clare W.

Graves (Union College, NY), “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap,” The Futurist,

April 1974, and from his students, Don E. Beck, Chris C. Cowan, Spiral Dynamics: Mastering

Values, Leadership and Change (Blackwell, 1996), and an e-mail the author received from

William Lee, another former student of Graves. Additional thoughts come from Beck’s article,

“Turbulence in the Balkans, a Paleo-Cultural View,” e-mail to author April 20, 1999. The best

single article on Spiral Dynamics, however, is the one by Jessica Roemischer, “The Never-

Ending Upward Quest. A WIE Editor Encounters the Practical and Spiritual Wisdom of Spiral

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3 An illustration of how the Purple value system functions in Filipino society is the paper by

Reuel U. Almocera, “Scientific Mindset, Animistic Worldview, and the Gospel: Implications for

Religious Education in the Asia-Pacific Region.” A paper presented at the 26th Annual Faith and

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