The End Of The World As We Know It — Keep Swimming


First a quick nod of thanks to R.E.M. for the song that’s been playing in my head for nearly a month.  Where would we be without our daily life soundtrack….

A few days ago, I posted a short piece to FaceBook that I later added here as a blog entry, talking about how I’ve finally managed to get past the election of Donald Trump, and get on with my life.  In that post, I said I’d had 2 “ah-ha” moments and I explained what I’d learned, then ended by saying there really was a 3rd big AH-HA — but it would take too long to explain in a FB status update.  After all the comments, Likes, private messages, phone calls etc from my friends & FBcontacts, I now realize that just about everybody I know — including even those who don’t live in the US or have US citizenship —  has been experiencing the same kind of PTSD reaction to this year’s election, and that maybe I should have taken the time and explained all three Ah-Ha’s.  Here we are, nearly five weeks after the fact, and people are still either in denial — still expecting some deus ex machina intervention or catastrophe to prevent the coming inauguration — or so deep into depression that they are considering a visit to their doctor to talk about SSRIs.  Or Valium.  or Xanax.  or medical marijuana.  or how to self-administer a lethal injection.

Not those who voted for the Don, I suppose.  But I don’t actually know anybody who voted for him.  Or who will admit to it, anyway.

The worst reactions are coming from those who have either been in abusive relationships and escaped — or those who have lived and/or worked closely with a narcissist.  (Not a slightly self-absorbed average person — a real, live, clinically pathological narcissist.)  For those people, the post-election season is a little like waking up in one of their own nightmare memories.  The evening news is like watching old home movies — playing out on a global scale.  People who have survived a marriage to a narcissist or a business relationship with a narcissist  know what’s coming.  It’s the Big Reveal.  Or the Big Run-And-Hide.  Enemies lists, revenge, retribution, long-game-I’ll-show-you, spiteful jabs, reputation destroying, enemies-closer, cyber-stalking, power-plays, victory laps, pep rallies, loyalty rewards cards, military parades, membership in Biggest Winner Fan Club, mass hysteria, dogs and cats living together….

And they’re right, of course.  All of that is more than possible.  It’s probable.  Likely.  Coming to a theater near you.  And a market near you.  And a street near you.  Everybody needs to have their exit strategy laid out.  Keep the tank full at all times.   Have at least 3-4 weeks of food and water on hand.  Keep blankets and water and an emergency care kit by the door.

This is not a test.

But here’s the other thing that’s just as true:

The model still holds.

I am not going to explain the model in this post.  That would be like explaining particle physics in 20 words or less.  (lol)  It would be a 50 page (conservatively) snooze-a-thon for most folks.  There is a full explanation of the Graves Model here in my blog (start here, if you want the full monty) – but the essentials are these:

  • There is a developmental pattern shared by all of us.
  • The same pattern of human development is shared by groups — families, societies, species.  From individuals to villages, companies to governments, to the global village — each of us, and each of the cultural groups we belong to, all follow the same pattern of evolution.
  • The level of the model an individual operates at is demonstrated by their motivations, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • When the “tipping point” of any level is reached, the person or society that has reached that tipping point moves on to the next level. (much like a simple game, where the tiny explorer fights all the creatures and solves all the puzzles on one level, then discovers the doorway into the next level and so moves on.)
  • The levels alternate between inward focus and outward focus.  That is, Level 1 is all about my own personal survival.  Once that survival is secured, we look around and say “Is that it?  Is that all there is to life?”  And of course, the answer is always, NO.  There is more to life that just my own survival — but I can’t see that until I’m good enough at surviving to look around my own little 2-square-feet of real estate.  And Level 2 is born — the family group or tribe is born.  Level 1 is inward — just me.  Level 2 is outward and inclusive — US.  WE.  We survive and we do it better together.  We take care of our own.  We share the load.  We help each other.
  • Each progressive step upward reaches its threshold asking a question.  Odd numbered levels ask, “Is that all there is?” before moving up to an even-numbered level.  Even numbers ask, “but what’s in this for me?” and then move up to the next odd-numbered level to do inward/individual focus again.
  • Each progressive level is broader and/or more complex than the previous level.
  • The group — the US — of each progressive even number is bigger than the last.  Level 2 is about protecting and building family and tribe.  Level 4 is about protecting and building social order — church, state, laws, written morals etc.  Level 6 is about protecting and building for all humans and other diverse groups, acting together and for one-another.
  • The individual — the ME — of each progressive odd number exhibits a wider range of power, control, and participation in self advancement than simple survival.  Level 3 is about competition, conquest, and winning on the battlefields of sport, war, and pre-capitalist economics.  Level 5 is about competition, conquest and winning on the bigger playing fields of capitalist economics, science, and technology.  Level 7 does not exist yet on a global scale —  we have not reached this level in the broader evolution of our species, but in individual terms, it is about the competition and conquest of ideas.  We are playing on the bigger field of human ideas and understanding.  It is a world of figuring out bigger questions.  Bigger patterns.  Patterns over time and distance.   L3 is pre-capitalist.  L5 is capitalist.  L7 is — you guessed it — post-capitalist.
  • The Graves Model itself, exists at Level 7.  And yes, there is an 8, but neither L1 nor L8 is really relevant or helpful for this discussion, so we’re just going to drop those for now and move on.
  • In general, the harshest critics of any level are those who have just moved to the next level.  Like someone who has just managed to kick an addiction to cigarettes is the first to insist that smokers are enemies of the state.
  • In general, odd numbers see both the previous even number and the next even number as enemies of all they stand for.  L5 tends to see L4’s laws, regulations, and morals as strangling and ridiculously rule-bound; and L6’s concern with “all-those-not-like-me” as wasting their time, money and energy on things that don’t matter to the bottom line.  L3 felt the same way about L2 and L4.  L7 will, if we last long enough as a species, feel the same way about L6 and L8.
  • In general, regardless of what level we exist at, we are able to operate at other levels when called for.  For example, anyone who has survived (L1) is able to shift into L1 when their survival is at stake.  Anyone who has lived at L2 will return to L2 for family gatherings.  Anyone can play tennis at L3.  Everyone probably attends church or balances their checkbook in L4-mode.  There are certain activities that pull us from our general operating level into a level that works best for that particular activity.
  • We all tend to believe that everyone is just like us — but that some are doing it very badly.  L2s think the entire world exists for them to use for their group’s benefit — but some individuals or countries  just don’t understand.  L3 thinks the whole world is there for them to fight, defeat, and conquer — the one with the biggest stick or gun wins.  L4 thinks the world just needs to follow their rules.  L5 thinks money will fix everything.  L6 thinks we are our brother’s keepers, and everyone is our brother — but (L5 especially) just doesn’t get it.  L7 believes they can fix it if they can just figure it out — and any other pursuit is a waste of time.
  • And — this is the important take-away — Every individual, regardless of level, and every social or cultural entity, regardless of level — has one belief in common:


And that, boys and girls, is where war and aggression come from.

And that’s the shortest explanation of the Graves Theory of Human Evolution I can give you.  It’s not complete.  I’ve made some outrageous simplifications.  But that’s the crux of it.  It’s a really REALLY complicated big picture cut down to a page or two of generalizations.

I thought I’d live to see the shift from Graves Level 5 to 6 as the dominant world system.  After all, we’ve been here at L5 since the Renaissance.  Sure, there have been many individuals who have existed happily and well at L6 and L7 for years — but not enough of those individuals for any but a few tiny countries or organizations to move up into L6 en mas.  Large collections of L7s work in close proximity in  few really forward thinking companies, research institutions or colonies, but in general they are Lone Wolf thinkers who specialize in pattern recognition, theoretical scientific work, and systems analysis and theory.

But since the Renaissance, L5 has been the dominant and overwhelmingly persuasive bully on the pitch.  In many cases, it has persuaded us that it is the only game in town — that if it isn’t working, it’s because it is being played badly — and with enough effort and elbow grease, we can get it working the way we want it to work.

But here’s the truth — the pattern holds.

The next step will be the de-throning of L5 as the dominant social system.

We were closer than we’ve ever been to that flip into L6 in 2016 with the candidacy of Bernie Sander for President of the United States.  With Hillary Clinton, we had a candidate who had split her time going back and forth between L5 and L6.  After all, her social ambitions were based firmly in L6 ambitions, but she spent her entire career fighting from within the L5 establishment.  With Donald Trump, we had a candidate playing solidly in L5 (albeit in a significantly unhealthy way.)  HERE is a write-up on Health at any Level.

But Bernie Sanders was a horse of a different color in this race.  He makes no bones about being post-capitalist in a capitalist dominated world.  And he made no bones about pointing out the flaws in that system — for his entire career in politics.  This made him the ideal candidate for all those who have individually moved to the Graves Level where protecting and building a world where everyone is on equal footing — has equal advantages and opportunities — equal rights and protections under the law.  And for the first time in human history, one of the most powerful nations on the planet came very close to shifting from Level 5 to Level 6.  In fact, if the L5 US had been a healthy version of L5, rather than a panic-driven L5 running without the constraints of L4 morality, he might have succeeded.  But neither the Democratic nor Republican parties felt bound by right over wrong, legal or illegal, truth over lie, or fair and just over self-interest.

In short, Bernie Sanders felt bound by the rule of law and the fairness he was running to create.  Neither of the other two major candidates or their parties felt the same way.  Hillary and Trump were running in and for an L5 world.  Bernie was running in hope of an L6 emergence.

So again, THE PATTERN HOLDS.  L6 is where we are all heading, both as individuals and as a species.

One of the biggest bluffs L5 has run on humanity is the hyper-quotable: “Nobody ever said life was going to be fair.”


The idea that life isn’t fair  makes it easy for L5 to take what it wants, regardless of who it hurts.  So long as life isn’t fair — bullies reign.  If we start with the presupposition that there are winners and losers — then it’s okay within that presupposition for most of the population to be losers.  And it’s okay for winners to gloat.  And kick the losers in the butt to make sure they remember their place.

But the presupposition is a lie.  If life is sometimes unfair, it’s because its really really hard, not because it’s impossible.  And creating something that is really really hard and complicated and complex and far-reaching requires a higher Graves Level of complexity than L5 could manage.  It will take L6 — fully formed and reveling in the complications and tangles — to created fairness.

Expect justice to be the motive from healthy L4.

But expect fairness to be the motivation from healthy L6.

So if you are waiting for the  deus ex machina to drop down and save you from Donald Drumph, you can stop waiting.  This is all real and it is all going to happen.  His narcissism is going to be dangerous.  His ignorance is going to be a challenge.  But his presence is going to be.  Period.  The trick is going to be to survive it — both individually, and collectively as a country.  If there is homework, it will be waiting to see how far we can get the pendulum to swing.  Never mind “don’t let that pendulum hit you in the butt as you leave the White House, Donald!”  We want it to hit him so hard that L5 leaves with him as the dominant system in the US, and L6 is the only logical and reasonable step forward anybody can see.

So to all my friends that are still having trouble figuring out how to move on with their lives in a Trumpocracy — just know we are all still here, and the pattern holds.  We may not live to see it, but our children and grandchildren may yet discover that the world really can be a fair place.  A just place.  An honorable place.  A complex puzzle of life rather than a jack-bo0ted torture of a life.

The task ahead — the one that really gets us ahead, rather than earning us a spot in the loony-bin — is to do our best to live lives of fairness and hope, rather than lives of fear and victim-hood.  Do your L6 best — volunteer.  March.  Protest.  Give things away to people who need them.  Donate to organizations with a clear L6 focus and structure.  Support random acts of kindness and fairness.  Participate in your community and group and religion and school.  Feed somebody who’s hungry.  Learn constantly.  Reinvent yourself daily.  Save the planet.  Save the animals.  Save yourself.

In evolutionary terms, the only resolution to advancing complexity is to move to a higher level of existence.   Problems cannot be addressed from the level that created them.  It took L2 to create a place for L1 to live out their survival.  And it took L3 to progress beyond the boundary of the village.  It took L4 to stop L3’s conquests.  It took L5 to reign in L4’s structure.  Similarly, L5 can’t fix L5’s hoarding and bullying.  Only L6 can fix L5 problems.  And only L7 can harness the energy of all those minds and ideas held dear by so many people thinking and creating together.

If we can keep the planet alive long enough, we might be able to all live here together.  The pattern holds, and the pattern is bigger than this election.  It’s also bigger than the US.  Certainly bigger than any one mewling politician or disrupted event.  If you’re still stuck in the politics, pull up higher so you can see the bigger picture.  — and hold on to that bigger picture.  It’s the one that matters.

The Curse of the Internet

Not so long ago, I went on for a bit about people who use God, the gods, or whatever deity people think will give gravitas and the appearance of veritas to their own personal agenda, bias, belief, or politics. (See: A Few Words About Using God)

I have another holy bone to pick.  This one is about the bizarre American mind-fuzz on the subject of cursing.  That is cursing (as in: I call on the God of all that is right and just in the universe to damn you to a life of suffering and pain as the only righteous payment for the evils you have done….); not cussing or going on a God-damned rant.

Somewhere along the way after we came to the undergrown fork in the road between British English and American English, we immersed ourselves in intentional cultural amnesia, and forgot what cursing actually means.

When little hunched-over hags in fairy tales spit between their fingers into the dust of the road and pronounce a curse on someone — like “You will spin for a thousand lifetimes at your spinning wheel and the wool of your sheep will pass through your fingers until they bleed, and the bones wear down to nubs wrapped in shards of flesh — and not one inch of wool will ever skein into thread.”  Now THAT’s a curse.

Calling somebody an asshole — not a curse.

Calling on powers and universes and gods and demons and angels to inflict pain and torment and suffering and eternal damnation?  That’s cursing someone.

Telling somebody to go to hell — not a curse.  Just venting steam is not cursing.

Truly pronouncing punishment — passing judgment single-handedly and pronouncing the sentence for that judgment — that is pronouncing a curse.

And regardless of whether you are passing judgment in the name of your clan, the church, the party, the family, the brotherhood or sisterhood — no matter who you hold yourself up as speaker and judge for — unless you are the duly elected law or an actual god, pronouncing a curse is not your job.  And even if you are duly elected law, your job is not to curse.  –Your job is to exact justice — a punishment that fits the crime (after it has been proven legally), and then only punishment that is not cruel and unusual.  Payment of time, liberty, choice, possessions, fines, community service, the respect of your peers — that resonates as justice; the just payment for the offense is justice.

A curse rarely has the cool detachment of law.  And justice is rarely the goal of a curse.   A curse smells of revenge, emotion, and the heat of the moment.  It can even masquerade as fervor on behalf of the wronged.  A curse in the hands of someone out to avenge a wrong will never be just payment.  It will be born of hate, whether long-burning, or heated in a flare.  It will come of anger — unbalanced by grace, and fear — unbalanced by mercy.

We lost track of our history of using language to suggest to others their destiny.  We lost track of our ability to use language to emotionally hurt and metaphysically wound one another.   It’s no wonder we have such bullies in our schools, streets, and political debates.  It’s no wonder we spend hours of bandwidth on RANTS AND ANGER.  It’s no wonder we have music made of negative emotions, fears, violence and the injustice of the streets.

We’ve lost track of the power of what we create with our words, and the Pandora’s boxes we open with our words.

Worst of all, when we pronounce our curses into the airwaves, into the bandwidth of the internet or the twittering drivel of short-word damnation,  we are asking for agreement.  We ask for those we know to say YES! — and lend the power of their words, their upward-pointing thumbs, their LIKEs, their re-posts, their forwards, their shared empathy, their soul’s own energy, and their emotions — to our pronouncements.

Calling for agreement on a curse made of emotion in the moment —

That is not our job.

Curses — judgement — justice.  None of those things are our job.

You can observe and comment — always.  You can research and offer an informed opinion — always.  You can have an emotional reaction –as long as you acknowledge to others and to yourself that your words have lost their detachment and any hope of objectivity.  You can promise to look again with a cooler head and with more evidence.  You can promise to look at the situation from the outside, the inside, and every other side available.  You can step into the shoes of everyone involved.  You can be the cooler head, take the high road, use your faith or your intellect or your goodness to always forgive and move on.  There are a million choices.  There is always another choice besides naming yourself a judge, jury, and executor of the Will of God.

To claim to know the judgment of God — the way we’ve all see the folks at Westboro Baptist Church claim to know the judgment of their god — is to break the law of the god whose name one uses.

Go sit on a jury — and you can pass judgement.  Go to law school and you can plead for justice as you see it.

Otherwise — it really isn’t your job.

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.

Graves Model Time Tables – L7


As we said earlier, this developmental model is not only a useful map to tell us where we have come from, and where we are now, but it also has predictive qualities. One area where the predictive nature of the model is interesting has to do with our perception of time.

First of all, let me provide a key to the tables that will follow:

Ø this is unconscious awareness.
:: and this is conscious awareness. The ability to see and understand.
-o- and this is conscious awareness, the ability to see and understand, combined with the ability to use what you see. You see it, understand it, and use it.
<> and this is something else. Like incorporated or congruent use. It’s not new or novel. It’s become part of the structural makeup. It’ not even use any more as much as it is a part of the person’s structure. It’s more like breathing. We do it naturally more than it being something we use deliberately.

At L1, there is only awareness – conscious or otherwise – of the present moment. Like this:

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

But for every level after that, the present is a given. We all presuppose the present in everything we do.

And you could make a case for L1 not really being consciously using anything. L1 may be purely reactive. But that’s somebody else’s research and doesn’t really have any effect on time. Now. At L2, we pick up the ability to see the past. Tribes may worship ancestors. Families may revere elders for their wisdom. Wisdom itself is accumulated past. So to be consciously aware of the past at L2, leads to L3, where we can not only see the past, but we can use it, too. All those conquerors don’t conquer without learning from past mistakes and inventing strategy based on that past. They use the past to get the present they’re wanting. After the new wears off at L3, then at L4 it becomes a given. Like this:

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
PRESENT -o- <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
PAST :: -o- <> <> <> <> <>

The L4’s get to see the future. The conscious awareness of the future is what makes law work. Anticipated punishment and reward. It’s what makes the concept of heaven work. Delayed gratification only works if you’re conscious of the future, but incapable of actually altering it.

But something else happens at L3. L3’s conquer the known world and build monuments to themselves. Pyramids. Statues. Coliseums. They want to proclaim their own greatness. Cast everything in the gold they’ve plundered. Use the slaves they’ve amassed to build these Ozymandius tributes. ‘Behold ye mighty and dispair,’ they say. But why do they expend all this energy and wealth to build monuments to be seen by the future, if they can’t see the future until L4?

Unconscious awareness. Even if not consciously aware of the future, there is an unconscious “sense” of something more. Both L2 and L3 have a perception of the future as a repeating seasonal cycle, and as the birth of the new accompanied by the death of the old. This unconscious awareness is all that is required of L3 to leave its markers on the landscape.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
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At L5, the future stops being something that we just see, and begins to be something we use. All of capitalism is based on the ability to use the future to build a better now. We have financial forecasts. We use poles and demographics to predict trends. We map the future and use the map to decide who to hire and who to fire, how to invest our money, and where to buy a house. By the time we hit L6, the future is the given. ‘Of course there’s a future,’ L6 says. ‘Of course there’s a future.’

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
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The unlabeled line represents other people’s time lines.

There’s Past—-Present—-Future. We draw it like this:

-o-– •–• – • – •–• – •– •– • –-o-– •–• – • – •–• – •– •– • –-o-

And at some point in L5, we start to get the feeling that everything we do and experience isn’t just points on our timeline. Every point is actually an intersection. And at every intersection there are other people’s timelines intersecting ours so that our actions and decisions effect not only our future, but other futures. If a supervisor pulls out his back and stays at work even though he is in pain, at L4 that would be a selfless act of loyalty to the company. He would be doing the right L4 thing. But at L5, if he stays at work even though he is in pain, and then snaps at one of his people and they feel like their job is in danger because they did so badly that they got yelled at – and they go home and snap at their children and kick the dog or get in a car wreck because they are so upset about their employment – the L5 won’t do the L6 thing and take care of his people. He may not feel sympathetically for their plight, or consciously recognize the part he plays in it. But there will be an unconscious awareness of the interconnectedness. He’ll probably feel guilt, and then go to a therapist who will let him justify it or ignore it.

But wouldn’t the same thing happen at L4? If he stayed at work in L4, wouldn’t it have the same effect? The people under him still suffer the same consequences whether he knows it or not.

Probably, but he wouldn’t be able to know that at L4 because there’s not even an unconscious awareness at L4 of other people’s timelines. Especially not of intersections. Even at L5 it’s not awareness. At L4, he’d never feel any guilt, and if the people under him are L4, then they’d never think to blame him. The problem for L5, as if L5 needed any more problems, is that there’s a sort of gnawing suspicion that things are not as rosy and simple as just using the future map to make decisions. By L6, multiple timelines is a full blown conscious awareness. All those predictive L5 models of the future become worthless because they don’t take into account all the myriad timelines of everyone involved. Where an L4 wouldn’t think to blame his boss, an L5 to some extent, and an L6 to the fullest extent, sees very clearly that everyone in his life has contributed to his problems and thus begins assigning blame and fault like numbers in a bakery. It’s only after the initial shock of recognition that a mature L6 steps back and takes responsibility for their own life again.

Then, by extension, the L7 must be able to use those multiple timelines . That’s the very definition of collaboration in the scientific community. And so we get people who make it their business to step into other timelines and use that information. That’s what this profession of profiling criminals is all about. And for that matter, that’s all those people who help lawyers select juries are doing. They’re looking into another timelines to see what that individual is likely to do in a given circumstance. And in a way, that may be what distinguishes L5 actors from L7 actors. The L5’s draw a map of what a character would do and they just follow the map. L7 actors actually step into an alternative timeline and become the part they’re playing. They don’t predict what a character would do, they just do it. That is the very definition of “method acting.”

We’re drawing a pattern that implies a continuing developmental structure. There should be another unconscious awareness here at L7 because it is a very consistent pattern.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
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Non-linear time?

L7’s are the first ones to have even an inkling that there’s some other way to do time than in a linear stream. Maybe it’s that the particles of time – the millions and billions of intersections out there between all the millions of timelines and events – aren’t the deep and wide grid of static events that we think they are. Here’s one drawing of multi-linear time:

The space between each of the intersections is so small that it’s really no space at all except for the ease of drawing. There is no distance between one moment and the next. In reality, this model should be a solid mass of particles pressed up against each other and with infinite intersecting points – which wouldn’t then be intersecting points at all, but just links of close proximity. And if you make the leap that it isn’t, therefore, linear at all – it isn’t static – it can be seen as linear if it needs to be, but it isn’t by nature linear – then movement across to a different timeline as the L6 and L7 temporal model allows is only one step away from movement across in a non-linear way. If all the particles of time are in some great soup-pot full of this liquid, a constantly bubbling broth of time and events, then what I step across to may just as well be Henry V’s England or Lao Tse’s palace as the office of a physicist in Geneva. If time is fluid, as matter is fluid, then linear is just a structure we impose upon it. It can be linear. Or it can not.

In the same way that light can be seen as particle or wave, – And depending on what you need to know about it, you can study it and how it behaves in either construct. You can use it and see it clearly in both constructs. You can understand it in both ways at once – and it still works.”
And what does this mean?

It means there is a logical deduction to be made when you see a pattern this solidly repetitive. It means there is predictive value to the pattern. It means we can be sure that there are no L9’s because there is no inkling, no hint and no clue what the next temporal construct would be.

But how do we know?

Because it starts to show up in similar places every time. In art. In literature and music. In the behavior of crowds. Think about the Renaissance. We’d just come out of the long, dark ages. The extreme unhealthyness of L3 and L4 gone sour. People were chattel. Slaves. Disposable and expendable. Then suddenly, there was the printing press.

Individuals began to read and learn. Universities came back into existence. People began to acquire property – not purely by conquest. Sometimes by purchase. Or barter. And they became the subjects of painting. Prior to that time, most of the paintings and sculpture were either L2 totems, L3 political tributes, or L4 organized religious tributes. But for the Renaissance when the first blossom of L5 kicked in, individuals suddenly became worth recognizing. Even in the first decks of playing cards in Italy, the face cards were small portraits of members of the household who paid the artist to paint the cards. We were, in our rush to enjoy our L5 wealth and success, already – albeit unconsciously – recognizing each other. We recognized what we were each experiencing. And it had never happened in that way before. At least never acknowledged.

And even though L5 didn’t really take hold in the world as a dominant force until centuries later, we had the history of having recognized each other’s value hiding in our collective memory. L6 made it’s appearance in the 19th century with the first true multi-linear jazz and with movies that could be shot from any point of view; with Charles Dickens literary protests of forced child labor and his Scrooge transitioning from L5 to L6; and with the most savage war in history being fought in the states to end slavery. The next great ‘inkling’ didn’t come until the early years of the 20th century when we saw the first glimmers of L7 and quantum physics. It is impossible to theorize quantum mechanics or Special Relativity without the ability to use multi-linear time. And at the same time we began to use multi-linear time, we began to recognize the possibility of something else. The possibility of non-linear time crept into literature in the form of science fiction. There had never been science fiction before L7’s emergence. In music it appeared as American experimental jazz, and in poetry it transformed into concrete and free form poems. Movies are shot as a non-linear collection of bits and then assembled like puzzle pieces.

Then Marshal McCluhan comes along and proclaims that the medium is the message in the global village. In one stroke he takes a handful of L8 fragments and forms them into a cohesive developmental step. He gives us all the L8 insight to bypass form and structure. He understands and explains that the L6L7 pattern – the medium – is both means and end. That if you can see and understand the pattern – then you can model it. Duplicate it. Borrow it and use it. Even manipulate it. But beyond that, he invents the popular concept of the global village. It’s a village full of presupposed and useable L7 patterns, but with the ability to see the village as temporally non-linear, all the L2 through L7 skills and abilities become a greater responsibility, because their impact is no longer a matter of effecting this time line or that time line. An action at L8 seasons the whole pot of temporal soup. It is a global village, but it’s even more than a global village. It’s a – something. A body. A single living organism and we are the cells. A cut on the hand can cause enough bloodshed to kill the whole. Pollution in the lungs can deny the brain of its necessary oxygen. A build-up of cholesterol in the arteries can put so much stress on the heart that it bursts – or decrease circulation to the point that a limb could die. And pleasure. And joy. And contentment. They spread through the body like tonic. We all feel victories together. We all feel sympathy together.

And look at the patterns L7 works with. The global village where an L8 action seasons the whole pot. Where a cut on the finger endangers the whole body. Where a butterfly flapping its wings in China changes weather systems all over the world. All of chaos theory is nothing but another L7 pattern where every action effects every other action and every idea effects every other idea. Where every observation effects every outcome. Where everything effects everything else.

And it is that realization at L7 which either paralyzes you or sends you straight into L8.

In the bigger Gravesean picture, the odd numbers, which have more to do with acquiring something new for the individual, gain a new set of personal skills. Then as they move to their next even number, they use those new skills for whatever group is next. L7’s acquire data, knowledge, technology, the ability to see patterns – and then those who go on to L8 somehow use that gain for the group. In this case, the global village. But temporal shifts are just the opposite. Acquisition of the new temporal knowledge happens at the even numbers, while the ability to use the new construct comes at the next odd level. L7’s are using multi-linear time as they are acquiring the ability to see patterns. L8’s are getting the ability to see and understand non-linear time as they begin to use patterning and modeling to help the global village. L9’s will be acquiring the next set of individual skills as they are learning to use non-linear time, and begin to sense the next temporal construct.

So by L8, past, present, and future linear time, as well as multi-linear time, are as natural as breathing. They’re all presuppositions of everyday life. Plus, there’s the added conscious awareness of non-linear time.

And would we know the new temporal construct if we saw it? Probably only from the L7 and L8.

It’s important to notice how rapidly the new systems are emerging. It is now possible, for the first time in history, for one individual to have been alive for the emergence of two new systems. If we count L7 from the first glimmers of existentialism, and L8 from the words of Marshal McCluhan, an individual could have been alive and able to observe both. The lesson here is that while it took thousands of years to get from L1 to L2, and then hundreds more to get to L3 and then to L4; a few hundred more to reach L5, and even fewer to get to L6 – the total time span from the emergence of L6 to the emergence of L8 is less than two hundred years. It is safe to assume that barring some natural catastrophe, if there is an L9, we will see it emerge within our lifetime.

L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 L6 L7 L8
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Where X is the unknown.