The Path
 
Becoming a more conscious society
The general direction is to create individuals, societal institutions and cultural norms built around the lifelong process of taking more and more aspects of our outer reality as objects for our own conscious to relate to – to define and direct them rather than be defined and directed by them. It is at this level that we become most fully open to other people and the broader processes through which our worlds are made and unmade.
Overview

There are several models that speak to what ‘more conscious’ might mean at a societal level. There is a whole body of literature here, replete with nuances and caveats about the legitimacy of the models. Perspectiva is in the (slow, exacting) process of creating its own model, but for now we refer to one that is broadly complimentary; Kegan’s neo-Piagetian model of adult development which measures changed in ‘subject-object’ relationships within perception over time.

Please see figure one, extracted from Kegan’s book ‘In Over our Heads’ 

 

Fig 1: Overview of Kegan’s Developmental Stages

Such models are fascinating and raise many questions, but for now we simply want to help operationalise the idea of what it would entail to ‘build a more conscious society’.

 

In Kegan’s model there are two related tasks; to develop a culture that moves the critical mass of people from the socialised mind to the self-authoring mind, through education, new institutions and better media. This allows people to think systemically, and critically engage with ‘the social surround’ and thereby form fuller perspectives on how we should act. The weakness of this level is that it lacks a way of reflecting on its own limitations. Therefore, additionally, we seek to develop forms of thinking and perspective and training that help society in general, but particularly policymakers and politicians move from self-authorship towards the self-transforming stage. This is the paradigmatic level where we can understand how systems are generated and maintained as well as how they can change for the better.

 

In Graves’s model, most policy and social change is trapped in debates between the green (everyone and every perspective matters equally) and orange (let’s succeed on our own terms) levels, with periodic (and currently – 2016- growing input from lower levels, particularly Red). As indicated above, many operating at ‘Green’, which roughly corresponds to the lower levels of self-authorship in Kegan’s model, struggle to integrate the legitimacy and value of the earlier stages, and this disassociation often leads to unhelpful forms of projection. The task in building a more conscious society is principally to move those at green and orange towards yellow, which is referred to as ‘second tier’ consciousness – the level at which we realise that each of the prior levels have their own legitimacy and value. We are also interested in the deeper ‘indigo’ level sometimes described as ‘post-integral’, characterised by a deeper sense of transcendence and joy, but it is not our current focus because it is likely to require exacting spiritual practice over many years to achieve.

 

The general direction is to create individuals, societal institutions and cultural norms built around the lifelong process of taking more and more aspects of our outer reality as objects for our own conscious to relate to – to define and direct them rather than be defined and directed by them. It is at this level that we become most fully open to other people and the broader processes through which our worlds are made and unmade.

 

In case this seems too abstract, Kegan argues that while the other levels of development are ethically neutral, the self-transforming mind is inherently ethical because it is grounded in empathy and perspective taking and decentring of self-concern. Moreover, it is the level that allows us to think paradigmatically. In Grave’s model, we need to ‘get to yellow’ to cooperate more effectively at a political level – because we need to stop feeling our own worldview is threatened by the worldview of others. Again, it is paradoxically about individuality through community, above having a stable vantage point from which to connect with and through others.

 

The social and political goal, ultimately, is to bring into being a collective awareness and agency of the need to grow in this direction, and also to foster the existence of collective structural support for culture and individuals. If these goals still seem abstract, we can operationalise them in terms of the kinds of challenge required to grow, the kinds of relationship required to grow and the amount of time required to grow. Such thinking is already well underway, for instance in Laloux’s work on ‘reinventing organisations’ and Kegan’s continuing work on ‘An Everyone culture’. Moreover, policy implications start to arise once you start to ask questions about ‘holding environments’ offering the optimal levels of support and challenge, but we have a great deal of work to do to figure out the new curriculum for a society that was ‘deliberately developmental’. That’s one of our many creative aims.

Read our introductory guide to Perspectiva
 
“To make progress in the world, two of the biggest things that may need to be unlearned are first: how to conceive of issues often unhelpfully deemed ‘environmental’, and second: how to overcome the awkwardness some feel over sentiments that are broadly spiritual. How will those who are ambivalent about seemingly ‘green’ issues come to realise that they lie at the heart of economic and social renewal? And how can we make democratic politics feel less transactional and more soulful; less like an episodic ritual, and more like a meaningful form of life?
 
 
What does this look like in practice?
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