November — A Little PTSD In My Coffee

i-votedSo it’s no secret I’ve been having a hard time processing the 2016 presidential election. What I didn’t know was how many other people were having similar problems. Symptoms (mine, and symptoms gathered from others) include: disrupted sleep patterns, nightmares, problems with general digestion, specific problem with unusually high blood sugar or blood pressure numbers, pessimism, darker cynicism, generalized depression, absence of hope for the future, inability to talk about public policy and politics without panic or anxiety, extended periods of crying… you may recognize some or all of the list.

2 “ah-ha” moments in the last 2 days:
1. greed is predatory. that is, American capitalism has painted a very clear (and yet untrue) picture that for one person to have *more*, another person must have less. Greed says that in order for Person A to get more, it is okay to take from Person B — even if that *taking* means stealing from, lying to, tricking, bluffing, bullying, threatening, conning, tormenting, torturing, or killing Person B. Greed makes us into predators who do not kill-to-eat, or kill-to-survive — but who kill or do harm to others for the pleasure of acquiring more and more and more. For the clearest and most easily understood explanation of how this model is flawed, watch Ron Howard’s Oscar winning film “A Beautiful Mind.” It is specifically the notion that economics must be competitive and predatory that John Nash was arguing against.
It is greed (and not money or economics or capitalism) that is virulent and predatory. Greed is not an economic theory — but an amoral add-on.
2. politics is as addictive as gambling — and in much the same ways. The idea that you can’t win if you don’t play is very much like the idea that you can’t effect change if you aren’t actively involved in politics. Or the idea that the amount you participate in politics is directly related to your commitment to being a good citizen. –which turns out to be untrue. Like addicted gamblers, political junkies find it nearly impossible to resist the call to be angry, argumentative, defensive — and often ruthless — in their attacks on those who do not agree with their own personal ideology. It causes a myopic attention to current events. It demands absolute and obcesive focus. It leads to isolation and loss of outside interests. It requires an attention to narrow detail that obscures the larger (and often, the pleasures of) daily life.

even the dog was having nightmares and a big chunk of buyer's remorse after this election....  she would have voted for Bernie.

even the dog was having nightmares and a big chunk of buyer’s remorse after this election…. she would have voted for Bernie.

I’ve never been vulnerable to addiction before, but I’m pretty sure this is it.
And just realizing this has helped a lot. (that, and deliberately walking away from any more than 10 minutes of political news per day, and choosing to only read headlines and abstracts of in-depth political news)

There was a 3rd “ah-ha!” — but it’s very specific to the Graves Model (a social and cultural evolutionary model) — so I’ll keep that one for myself. It takes a while to explain, and I’m sleepy….

The Basics of Opening Boxes (Graves L7)

L6 to L7 in physics: Relativity to Quantum Theory

While we may be foolhardy to try talking about many complicated topics in one or two paragraphs, we would not presume to explain General and Special Relativity in such a short space. What is important to know is how Einstein, and then how quantum physics, fits into the emergence of L6, L7 and L8 systems.

Special relativity (1905) predicted that observers moving at constant velocities with respect to each other would find the laws of nature to be operating in their frame of reference. That is, the speed of light would have to appear to be the same to every observer within the same set of conditions. If, however, the conditions are different – one observer holding a clock is stationary, and another with a clock is moving, the moving clock will appear to run slower (this is called time dilation). It also predicts that moving objects will appear shorter and heavier than stationary ones. Consonant with Einstein’s political liberalism, relativity is a sustained metaphor for the L6 viewpoint. Like Kierkegaard, the paradoxes inherent in this metaphor help to prepare for L7, but not enough so that Einstein felt comfortable with quantum mechanics, which he considered much too complicated.

It tells us that observation effects outcome (observing the behavior of subatomic particles effects their behavior; what’s happening when you look is never the same as what’s happening when you’re not looking….) What could be more paradoxical than the notion that “reality” changes depending on whether we’re looking or not? “X is not true – unless you’re looking, in which case X may be true.” The best known metaphor for this is Schrödinger’s Cat. In this little yarn, Schrödinger, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, has placed a kitten in box with a vial of poison gas which has a trip hammer poised above it. The trip hammer is controlled by a counter on the lid of the box which is counting off quantum events (for the sake of our telling of the story, anything counts as a quantum event, from blinking your eyes or dropping your coffee cup, to a neuron firing off in your brain….)

The counter goes from 0 to 100, but at 50 has a randomizer which will either send it up to 51, or down to 49. From 0 to 50, the hammer doesn’t move, but at 51 (through 100), the hammer falls, the gas is released, and the cat dies. At 50, however, there is an equal and random chance that 49 and 51 will occur next. In the language of science fiction, at 50 the cat has an equal chance of being both dead and alive. In fact, both quantum realities exist. The cat is theoretically both dead and alive.

If you open the box at 50 to discover which, opening the box is a quantum event and will send the counter either up to 51 where the cat is dead, or down to 49 where the cat is alive. The act of opening the box causes all but one of the quantum realities to vanish.

Therefore, observation effects outcome.

Whereas relativity reduced existence to separable perspectives, quantum mechanics intertangles observer and observed, particle and energy, etc. What cannot be sorted out and analyzed transcends the conscious mind. This is the world of L7.

Opening Boxes — Revisited

Let’s go back for just a moment to Schrödinger’s little cat.

Right at the moment the counter rested on fifty, the cat was, for all quantum purposes, a fifty-percent dead cat, and a fifty-percent live cat. The cat was metaphorically and literally both dead and alive.

And right as you opened lid, you effected that cat forever. Whether it’s dead or alive, your act of observing it has forever caused that cat’s present situation — and future — to be certain and immutable. At fifty percent, two “realities” were true and possible at the same time. But opening the box narrowed the possibilities to one.

That’s not quite the way the story goes, but it’s close enough. There’s no determinism in quantum physics — so this is playing fast and loose with the metaphor, so be generous in understanding this use of the story.

The bottom line lesson in physics is that observation effects outcome. What Schrödinger was really talking about had to do with the practicality of observing matter — atoms and particles. By the act of observing it, scientists somehow tint or skew their own research. Heisenberg takes the idea of observation effecting outcome even further to say that when we observe, we cannot possibly record what would have been had we never imposed ourselves into the observation. As we observe, we change what would have otherwise been True. That’s the layman’s version of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal.

But that’s a very narrow application of the cat story. If we open the box and look inside, then we remove possibilities from the universe. If we intentionally research or participate by looking or describing or intervening — then we also are intentionally affecting outcome. We are affecting reality. The act of opening the box forces the universe to move from many possibilities to a single necessary reality.

If you move across disciplines from physics to psychology, there’s a similar bottom line that says “language effects behavior.” That my language — the words I choose –somehow effects your behavior. If I say “Stop!”, that changes your behavior. If I say, “I love you,” that changes your behavior.

And if I say to myself, “every time the weather gets like this, I get a sinus headache.” This is where we cross over into all that’s being written about mind-body healing. By saying those words, I am affecting my own behavior.

You’ve got a conscious mind — the part that remembers to get milk and change the sheets every so often. And, you’ve got an unconscious mind — the part that remembers to breathe air and change your skin from time to time. In your conscious mind, you keep a constant stream of words running. We decide and debate and sort through information. We evaluate information and make choices. Like deciding that this is the kind of weather that causes bad headaches.

The unconscious is like a little child about four or five years old . It’s loaded with responsibility for operating the machinery, but its motivation and development of strategies runs like a four or five year old. So it’s like the super computer. It can run 385,000 operations per second — at least — and is set to run all kinds of programs when it’s delivered from the factory, but it still requires the operator — the conscious mind or some outside source — to give new instructions and throw the switches.

So when we say, this is the kind of weather that gives bad headaches — this little four or five year old says, “okay. I can do that.” And boom! Sinus headache. And since it remembers so well, it will continue to give us that same “boom” every time the weather makes this shift.

Observation effects outcome. Language effects behavior. My language effects your behavior. My language effects my behavior. Another way to say that my language effects my behavior is
“saying so makes it so.”

By saying what the weather does, I open the box and, boom! I make it so. Or not. But I take it out of the realm of randomness.

Another way of saying my language effects your behavior is
“you don’t have because you don’t ask. ”

If I say, “get out of the street!” — you either will or you won’t. Either way, I’ve effected the outcome. But without asking, I leave possibility at work. If I want to nudge reality in a particular direction, I have to say so. I have to speak up. I have to intentionally participate.

So you’re out in the street. My language has effected your behavior. Maybe you freeze and get hit; maybe you take off running and are saved. Either way — it’s no longer a random event. “You don’t have because you don’t ask” is the back handed way to say it. Frontwards, it’s “ask and it shall be given.” We just crossed over into religion, by the way. Both those lines are from the New Testament. Which makes sense.

What else is prayer but an attempt to effect God’s behavior? We pray in order to effect outcome. We pray so that we are participating and intervening. If you don’t have because you don’t ask is true — if quantum mechanics is true — then opening boxes becomes a very important part of life.

And opening the correct boxes is a very important part of life. There are some things we want to remain in possibility. We want the dice to keep rolling. Maybe pick up even more possibilities before we set reality in place. There are some boxes we leave alone. Maybe even most boxes. Some things we don’t talk about, because the very act of talking — or saying so — could set a process in motion that can’t be undone. There are a lot of areas in my life where I’m not ready to open the box.

There are some things I don’t want to “make so.”

If saying so makes it so, you must speak with care and with thought. Say only what you really want to be true. That may be the most difficult thing. Asking only for what you want and giving voice to only those things you want to be is a tall order for most of us who spend hours bemoaning our sad situation, or dwelling on the “maybe”, the “might” and the “what if.” Refusing to open boxes before their time; refusing to open boxes which are rightfully someone else’s business; refusing to listen as others throw open boxes which are not their own — these are lessons which go counter to the average, everyday life. We want to be nosy and look into other peoples’ boxes. Our curiosity is almost as powerful as hunger and thirst.

However, that is exactly what has to be. Maybe it is this metaphor of opening boxes which explains just what it is about gossip that we all find both compelling and repulsive. What better describes the act of gossiping than to compare it to opening boxes. Based on limited and questionable information, we speculate, draw conclusions, and then share our secret suspicions and deductions with others under the cloak of confidentiality.

In other words, we recklessly open boxes without any consideration for whether the cat lives or dies — and in many cases, we anticipate the announcement that the cat is indeed dead, so we can fold our arms and shake our heads with a mournful “I told you so.”

Take the example of the gossip who spreads the story that Joe and Mary are headed for divorce. Joe and Mary may be having trouble — or they may be having no trouble at all in their marriage — but if Joe or Mary hears from Martha who heard from Mike who heard from John who heard from Betty … that there are problems, they may begin to see trouble at every turn. Fear begets fear and anxiety, which begets anger and hurt, which begets more fear and anxiety and so it goes. Before long, what might have been a non-problem or a simple disagreement suddenly shows up in stress and tension in an otherwise safe partnership. And if you’re going to be executed for a crime, there comes the temptation to go ahead and commit it just to keep the accountant’s ledger honest.

Saying so makes it so. Language effects behavior. Observation effects outcome.

We are responsible for our words and our actions. They are not accidental or without intent. — and if they are with intent, the intention should be to help. “First, do no harm” isn’t good enough. We must intentionally do good. We open only those boxes which are our business to open, and we only open them when it is time to eliminate possibility and choose one course of action.
Box Opening at L8-Turquoise
We take it as true that observation effects outcome.

And that intentionally opening a box equals observation.

If someone at L2 opens a box, the effect will ripple out across the L2-tribe and that’s about it. But if L3 opens a box, it not only effects the L3 world, it drips down and effects any L2’s in the neighborhood — usually the L2’s who are living in the L3’s domain.

If an L4 opens a box, makes a new law or enforces a new policy — it’s going to follow gravity and change things for everybody all the way down. But beyond that, because the L3’s and L4’s have the future in their temporal construct, opening a box in the present will potentially effect the future as well.

But it isn’t just a matter of effecting the present and the future. Every time we move up a level of complexity, the box itself becomes more complex. — As though it had connecting wires attached. When the box lid opens and you observe the contents, other boxes open automatically because they are connected. — So opening an L4 box automatically opens a series of L3 and L2 boxes. And while L2 and L3 boxes only play out in the present, L4 boxes begin to have long term effects on the future. This is what complexity means in this context. By the time you get up to L7, what might otherwise appear to be a simple box is so dramatically linked to other aspects of existence that opening it sets the quantum tumblers in motion altering the entire pattern. And knowing what we now know about the temporal nature of each level, the complexity attached to an L7 box implies that the ripple will not only effect present and future, but it will effect the present and future of multiple timelines.

What we’ve said earlier is, “don’t go about opening boxes that aren’t yours to open.” The whole concept of people taking responsibility for their own lives depends on their willingness and freedom to open their own boxes.

Except that the pattern — the structure of the complexity — is precisely what L7’s do best. They are able to see in advance where many of the tendrils of connectivity are located. They know before the box is opened how pervasive the ripple will be. They may not have the exact results in detail, but the scope and reach are there.

And so, at L8, part of the defining task is to deliberately open boxes. It is absolutely right that L4’s shouldn’t go around opening other people’s L4 boxes because they have no way of knowing how they will ultimately effect the life or death of the little cat. But L8s, by virtue of knowing the outcome of opening or not opening a given box, have the responsibility of opening those boxes that need to be opened, and doing everything in their power to keep the others sealed. It’s like being given the keys to a car.

Once you’ve got the keys and know how to drive, if you see someone lying hurt beside the road and you choose not to pick them up and take them to the hospital, then you carry some of the blame if the person dies. The L8’s get the keys to the car — and they get the responsibility for using them.

The result is that while there is a necessity to not open boxes at some levels, there is an absolute necessity — obligation, to open them at L8.

And that’s a very different approach.

And if someone else — say, someone who knows about L7 and L8 but doesn’t accept the responsibility and authority — or maybe just doesn’t realize the responsibility and authority — I suppose this would be the definition of an unhealthy L8 — takes it upon themselves to throw open an L7 or L8 box and make some grand prediction about the future of the world or the destiny of some society or culture — and they publish that prediction. . . Whether they publish it in print or through some other medium like television or out on the internet, or even if they just throw the idea out into the stratosphere where any fool can get at it — if the idea gets out there and it collects followers and adherents, then the idea begins to materialize. Saying so makes it so—

— Agreement describes it. If you work toward a common goal — if you have agreement with other L8’s — it has a cumulative effect. If you do it from the same physical location, at the same time, it has an even greater effect. “Agreement” between L8’s is a demonstration of the “whole being the greater than the sum of the parts.”

There is necessity, obligation, and responsibility to this. If someone without the responsibility firmly in hand opens an L7 or L8 box — even if they open it alone but it still publishes out into the ether or out into print — and others read it or know it — it infects them like a virus. Once the thought is out there it takes on a virus-like life of its own. It spreads through the whole.

This is what is commonly called memetics . Memes. This popular “science” of memetics is nothing more than another metaphor describing the same phenomenon as the metaphor of opening boxes.

This is just another way of saying, “Saying so makes it so,” and “you don’t have because you don’t ask.”

Once the box is opened, the meme — the virus — is just lying dormant waiting to infect the next receptive organism that happens by. And once infection has occurred, it forms a kind of agreement. Instead of one copy of the offending meme, there are now two. Or three. Or three hundred.

All that cumulative agreement. No intention involved. No conscious consent to being infected with this randomly activated virus. And like AIDs or Ebola, it can change the world before anyone even recognizes that it exists.

To some extent this can happen without consent. Imagine if I have a dream that someone is trying to kill you, and I tell you about it. Whether you believe that dreams are predictive or not — whether you act on my idea or not — I’ve put that idea in your mind and you will watch for proof that it isn’t true. You’ll notice small, otherwise insignificant events and begin to attach significance to them. My observation — true or not — has effected your outcome. Your world is substantially different — and not because someone is in fact trying to kill you, but because I planted that idea and it has taken hold and grown. Now imagine that I told three other people who are friends to both of us and they all have the same reaction. And they share the idea and their reactions with each other — and you. The power measurement on that one idea is now much greater regardless of the truth or untruth of its original incarnation. Before long, you’re looking over your shoulder, avoiding alleyways, staying home after dark, and refusing to walk to your car alone. Your nervousness draws attention. You’re conspicuous. You walk and talk like someone who has a reason to be afraid. And nothing draws danger like someone running on fear. What’s more, all that fear is likely to damage your immune system and make your health vulnerable. Long enough, and the person trying to kill you might just be your own body. Add into that how differently your friends are now acting toward you, how your family has changed, how it’s effecting your job, and how you’ve changed the way you think about your future, and suddenly that one small observation has had a far reaching and disturbing effect.

It won’t always infect the outcome to such great lengths — and then, sometimes it will — without permission or intent on the part of the infected one. Intention comes when we deliberately intend to counter or agree with the observation. Passivity is like an open wound — where every virus or bacteria that floats through the air is potentially able to change the body forever.

And so the real point is not “nobody open any boxes”, or “only L8’s open boxes,” but “only open a box you understand and are willing to take full responsibility for opening.”

And that’s about the scariest thing I’ve ever said. Actually, the scariest thing I’ve ever said is the next piece.
The Presupposition Behind Opening Boxes at L8
For the sake of argument, let’s say that it’s true that this harmonic scale has six tones. That L1 is in some ways parallel to L7, and that L2 is in some ways parallel to L8. In what way is this true? L1 is figuring out the pieces of the physical world so that you can navigate and survive there, right? And L2 takes that learning and uses it for this tribal group of people. But the defining characteristic of the tribe is not just that they share the same campfire and share in the work. The thing we keep saying about them is their connection to their ancestors, to ritual, ceremony, — this is where God lives. Whatever kind of god they follow or worship with their ceremonies and rites and prayers and offerings — there is no way to do L2 without that. We’ve been going over and over this, and can’t find a tribal society without some kind of assumption of deity. — That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible. We don’t have records of too many L2 societies. But all the evidence I’ve got (and everyone I know who has studied this model in depth) in front of me says that the presupposition of deity is part of the basic structure of L2. Lets just suppose that to be true for a moment.

Now, with that as the basic presupposition — tribal structure and the recognition of deity — look at L8. We’ve already got a conclusion that L8 has responsibility. Well responsibility, as a concept, implies responsibility and therefore accountability. If we are responsible, then we must be accountable or else responsibility is no motivator. And if we are accountable, we must be accountable to someone or something that has intention.

And the someone or something with intention has got to be bigger than me, or else accountability has no consequences. So if there is responsibility, accountability, and consequences to someone or something bigger and more powerful than me which has intent and personality, then L8 demands the presupposition of deity, just like L2.

If you try to do L2 without that presupposition, then what are the rituals, ceremony, magic, and prayers connected to? Even if the deity is nature, the sky-god, the god of fertility or harvest, — pantheism, monotheism, animism — it doesn’t matter. It’s the presupposition that is the glue of it. That presupposition is what gives the tribe its identity and stability. It’s where they exist. And to try and do L8 without that presupposition — regardless of how you have shuddered at the thought of something more powerful than you at L5, or L6 — regardless of the gods you abandoned at any of the previous levels — without that presupposition, there is no tribe, and no survival.

If you delete consequences; if you delete accountability; if you delete responsibility — then opening boxes becomes trivial. A game. An option.. Using what you acquired at L7 becomes optional. And if using what you acquired at L7 for the good of others is optional, then you’re still at L7. Indeed, not even very far into L7, because when the Self begins to emerge you become aware that highly complex systems behave as if they were alive. The Gaia hypothesis is a rather crude attempt to prove this in terms of the earth, but if the whole universe is interconnected, one would expect its system to be vital—not in a primitive way but in one reflective of its complexity.

Can’t the tribe hold you accountable?

Why would they, if they’re not accountable to anyone either?

Think about how we all hold Bill Gates responsible for how he uses his money. He’s already changed the world by leading it into the information age — At least he’s the public figure we attach to that change. As a result, he’s got billions of our dollars of which he has become custodian. He earned it. We gave it to him gladly, but now we hold him responsible to use it well and use it wisely. — And we all get a little defensive and even angry when we realized how little he was giving back. So in a way, we hold him accountable — we, the society, and he seems to have responded to this in the last few years with massive philanthropies, but without much personal involvement—without becoming L6 himself.

The only motivation for opening these big, scary boxes at L8, is either because there’s some kind of a power rush — which is totally uncharacteristic of the even levels — or because there is even greater accountability than Gates finally accepted. It has to be impossible to live any other way, or we’d just opt down and live a more simple, easier, less complicated existence.

And I think that this must be true for every blossoming even level. Look at the great books of law from the times when L4 first kicked in. Every detail. Every question. Every condition. They were so careful and precise. Why? Maybe they presupposed deity, too.

In science, one of the things that makes a new theory gain respect is whether it somehow manages not only to explain its central premise in a clear and understandable way, but if the — side effects — of the theory also explain, or help make clear and understandable other ideas that are known to be true, but not otherwise understood. Gravity doesn’t just explain why things fall from up to down. It also lets us understand tides. The movement of planets and stars. Seasons. Weather. Without gravity, we may have been able to document the pattern, but we didn’t understand it. It’s that same difference we hit when we were talking about time. The difference between being able to recognize it, and being able to understand it. Then using it becomes a whole other step.

So here we have this theory that L8 only really works in a healthy way — actually, that it only exists at its full flower, at its full potential, if it follows its L2 counterpart and presupposes deity.

Of course, the real presupposition is that all the levels, if healthy, have to presuppose deity. If the fullness of L2 demands the presupposition of deity, then every subsequent level is going to inherit that presupposition if there is total health. In this regard, it doesn’t really matter if the emergence of systems is cyclical or not. The only thing that matters is that the healthy manifestation of each system requires that it congruently incorporates each preceding system.

It’s so tempting to say we don’t need our L2 anymore once we get up a level. We want to be self-sufficient. Our ego wants to be in charge. It wants all the credit. It wants to make the rules. To pound its chest when it wins. We want to have earned our prestige and accomplishments at L5. We want the credit for turning the L3, L4 and L5 “man’s inhumanity to man” into L6 “man’s humanity to man”. We want to discover on our own. To figure out on our own. To create with our own two hands. So we shrug and say, “how juvenile to believe such fairy tales and myths. How primitive we once were. How advanced we must be now.”

There are all these opportunities and motivations for leaving that presupposition out in the cold to freeze and die. Not everybody does, but it isn’t for lack of opportunity. Then we arrive at L7 and L8 where reclaiming becomes important, and — there it is again. Another chance. An opportunity to go back and realign everything that came before.

Health at Any Graves Development Level


Spectrum Cartography
One of the greatest advantages to looking at a model of human development is the ability to see the map as we are moving from one place to the next. Unlike the great explorers who entered a new land knowing little more than what direction they were facing at any given moment, we have the ability (thanks to Clare Graves, Ken Wilber, and all the great cartographers of the human spirit) to see not only where we’ve been, but where we are in relation to the rest of the world, and where we might be going next. The power inherent in that single piece of knowledge is the power to prepare, to build, and to approach each change with both caution and gratitude.

Whether as an individual, charting a personal path; as a society using the map to understand itself and its sub-cultures; or as an organization, future thinking its place in society; it is the possession of a map which allows us to plan, to avoid wandering lost and without direction, and to return to the safe and familiar without fear.

From L6, however, something important is about to happen to those who travel the spectrum map. In order to talk about this important step, let’s look at a metaphor. If you have or know children who play “quest” type games on their personal computers, this may be familiar.

Where We Begin
To get a better idea of what is about to happen at the transition between L6 and L7, imagine that you are sitting down at a new computer game. The screen comes up, and it is a map, completely obscured by black shielding except for one small grid square where a tiny character is standing next to his house.

As the little explorer moves in any direction on the playing field, the grid squares where he/she walks are illuminated, and the map underneath the shielding is revealed.

Tools, Information, Clues, Experiences, Territory, Resources
Hidden within the grid squares all over the map are treasures (X), little tools (T), bits of information (i) and clues, challenges, opponents to defeat, puzzles, and experiences.

– And, somewhere on the map is a central challenge to be met. Once the central challenge of each map is complete, the little explorer is propelled into the next map.

Metaphorically, this is a description of how we experience our own travels through the spectrum map. We discover. We learn. We pick up tools and resources to help us on our journey. We make a home for ourselves in the territory of our own spirit. We become comfortable with our self and with our place in the world.

So our little explorer is making his way around the first map, picking up tools, skills, experience, treasure, clues, and information as he goes. He defeats wild creatures and assists those who need his help. He builds structures and performs tasks.
And then, he stumbles across the key to the door that will catapult him into the next map.

How We Progress: Solving the Riddle of Each System
Remember that we’re in the land of metaphor. In the developmental model built by Dr. Clare Graves, there is no central puzzle or riddle at each level. There are a handful of lessons that seem only to be available within certain contexts and at certain points in our development, but the idea of a key riddle for each level is strictly a part of this learning tool and shouldn’t be mistaken for a literal part of the Graves Model.

That said, once our little explorer stumbles into the grid square that contains the central puzzle for that map, he blinks and then: Voila! He finds himself in the only illuminated spot of a brand new map.

And with or without all the skills, tools, and information available from the previous map, the little explorer is on his way again.

What We Mean By Health and UnHealth
There has been a lot of speculation about several “alternative” ways to travel the spectrum map. Some of these alternatives include:

1. a preference for either even or odd systems which allows an individual to spend relatively little time in the systems opposite their preference (occidental culture, for instance, associates odd-numbered levels with “masculine,” even-numbered levels with “feminine” traits);
2. a complete skip of one or more systems; and
3. a surrogate relationship with the individual’s particular society or culture in which a system completely saturated into the culture can be “absorbed” by osmosis (another form of the “skip”) rather than being explored or experienced in the usual way.

All three of these exceptions have been observed and are completely viable in the first tier systems (though still not the preferred experience). Remember, however, that what we are talking about is a definition of health within this model. There is as a big difference between the minimum experience of each system (our little explorer stumbling onto the key puzzle of the map and being thrown directly into the next map) and real health, as there is between minimum existence and a healthy life.

One of the most striking aspects of this developmental model at first exposure, is the extent to which it accurately describes what we all view as inherently unhealthy about our society and cultures. An unhealthy L2 is recognizable where there is child or spousal abuse of any kind; in the flood of latch-key children and absentee parents; and in adults who have never mastered the basic skills of trusting, loving, and being honest or open with others. Unhealthy L3 is recognizable in tyrannical or bully-ish behavior; hyper-competitiveness, inadequate respect for authority, and insufficient boundaries between self and others. These are our terrorists, street gangs, cults, and militia groups.

Unhealthy L4 may be unethical and dishonest to an extreme; fanatical and proselytizing; punitive; callous and de-humanizing, judgmental or hyper-critical; or prone to anger, depression, and isolationism. This is where we have experienced witch hunts of all kinds, from Salem, Mass., to Joe McCarthy’s U.S. Senate. Unhealthy L5 may be cut-throat and greedy; materialistic to the exclusion of human relationships; a con-artist or swindler; or mercenary – willing to do anything for a buck. These can be found from the inside traders and sharks of Wall Street, to the deceitful heads of non-profits who steal from medical research and children’s camps to fatten their own wallets. Unhealthy L6 can be overly permissive and unrealistically idealistic , gullible in their willingness to believe others based on sincerity rather than on evidence or truth; or easily distracted from any mission or purpose. These are our space cadets, so caught up in their own touchy-feely experience of the world that they believe enough money and charitable feelings will fix anything.

Looking at our partially revealed maps, it’s easy to see that even though our little explorer may successfully navigate his way from one level to the next – he may be doing so at the expense of a great many experiences, challenges, acquired skills and tools, and accumulated information and clues to existence. Real health would mean experiencing each map to the edges – that is, every grid square and every aspect of each system should be absorbed; every bit of knowledge and every skill should be gathered, learned, and practiced with intention.

What’s more, real health would mean keeping all those learnings from each system and incorporating them into the next system and every system thereafter. Failure to complete a system along the way results in the inability to successfully complete any system thereafter. An incomplete or unhealthy L2 would result is every system from that point on being incomplete. There is no such thing as a healthy L5 without a complete and healthy L2 as its foundation – but with L2 firmly in place, L5 can achieve its prosperity without sacrificing its family. In fact, L5 will only be healthy and live up to its full potential with successful and complete L1L4. If any one system is missing or incomplete, L5 will be distorted from its intended form.

The same holds true for each system.

A healthy L3 would be one in which all the values and learnings from L1 and L2 are embraced, respected, and used to allow L3 to be competitive (as it always is) with trust, and ego-driven in an environment of safety. Such an L2 support base will allow L3 to be less violent, and respectful of its L2 followers.

And the same holds true whether we are talking about individuals, families, businesses, or states. Not only do all people follow this model and these patterns – but so do all groups of people. An L5 organization without the trust and tribal loyalty of L2, missing the competitive edge of L3 or the ethics of L4 – will also miss the mark at L5 and never achieve its full potential as an L5 business – and then never be able turn toward healthy L6 or beyond. The trend toward using trust-building exercises like “ROPES” courses and wilderness weekends is an attempt to build missing or lost L2. In fact, neither L2 nor L4 is particularly easy to add to the mix since the implication is that for the group to have it – so must the individuals. We’ll talk more about this in a few pages.

It’s a safe bet that if you look across the business community and find those businesses which are having trouble with the follow-through on current trends toward “teams” – then what you are actually finding are the businesses with one or more of the lower systems dysfunctioning. A business in this state may want to follow the trend, or even look longingly and try to emulate the transition into L6, but even if they try to form teams they will be teams in name only, still operating under a management hierarchy, and still exhibiting all the characteristics of L5 operations.

Businesses for which L6 is an exciting turn, embraced by most everyone in the company as the answer to their problems of existence, are businesses in which the majority of employees have healthy preparation for this change.

For individuals, as long as we are functioning in the first tier, the goal of health across the spectrum is an ideal; from L7 onward, however, it becomes a necessity.

Remember that part of what makes L7 tick is its love for gathering information, and its propensity for putting all the pieces together – solving puzzles. With its perspective on the first tier systems, L7 enters its “reclaiming” phase – hopefully before L8 emerges. It seems that part of what defines a healthy L7 is the quest to go back to each map and illuminate as much of the darkened grid as possible, filling in missing pieces of the puzzle as it goes.

Once each map is completely revealed and all the information, tools and skills are congruently incorporated into the whole, systems L1L6 are complete, and survival above L6 is much more likely because the completed first tier turns out to be the initial learning for the second tier.


Another metaphor, and one used by both Beck and Cowan, and by Mike Armour and others who teach and use Graves, is that of the “core sample.” In geological terms, a core sample is a vertical sample of earth which shows the stratification of soils, rocks, and mineral or other deposits that have accumulated over time. In its simplest terms, this metaphor – as seen in the first two samples below – illustrates the distribution and imbalance of an average, unreclaimed existence. In the first core sample, we see a person with very prominent L4, a good portion of L2 and L5, and modest or minimal L1, L3, L6, and L7. In the second core sample, the dominant system is L7, with L2 and L6 close behind, a crown of L8, but still minimal L1, L3, L4, and L5.

The core sample on the far right, however, illustrates an ideal. A life in balance where either by natural, sequential development (improbable) or reclamation and remediation, the spectrum is in balance.

So long as all systems are available and the best system tools are available for use at any given time without preference either toward any one system or away from any, then flexibility, versatility, and the freedom to choose with wisdom and without fear is a real possibility.