top of page
  • Writer's pictureZenho Chad Bennett

Interview on Integral Life; Spiral Dynamics; opinions of Jordan Peterson leveraged into a DDP.

I was recently invited to an Integral Life podcast with Keith Martin-Smith, author of the new book, When the Buddha Needs Therapy. We covered some the perils and promises of integrating the paths of spiritual development (Waking up) and psychotherapy (Cleaning up).

There’s an edited version here and to get the full interview, you can visit Integral Life:

Obviously, I champion development. One of the current difficulties we seem to be navigating in terms of Nourishment (Deliberately Developmental, Principle 4), is discerning which information is relevant and which we should pass up. This makes it frustrating to choose which maps to follow in the areas of spiritual, cognitive and self-development. It can be overwhelming. We settle for Netflix.

Below is a bite-sized nugget of developmental nourishment as well as some fun ways to dive deeper if you choose. In the interview with Keith, you’ll spot some shorthand lingo, some terminology, and even some colors which have specific meanings to development.

There are basically three levels of adult ego development driving the culture war in the western world today. Once you spot them in culture, and perhaps in yourself, they’re so obvious and they explain so much.

Soon it becomes easy to see that each of the three worldviews contain parts of the truth and are simultaneously blind to the other perspectives. It’s astonishing that a) we understand each other at all, and b) our upset points to the fact that we seem never to stop trying! (Empathy indeed seems to be baked into our angst).

Why take the time to learn this? By onboarding one or more maps of how development works, you increase your capacity to unfurl the most capable, healthy and compassionate versions of yourself. You’ll understand other people’s perspectives more easily. We may one day even stop resenting our parents.

Can’t we all just get along? Perhaps. But let's not be naive, it’s gonna take some elbow grease. Understanding human development is one of the big puzzle pieces revealing the enormity of what it’s going to take. In a word, practice. Lots of it.

So here’s a very shorthand, over simplified, articulation of three major worldviews from a recommended and highly validated system, Spiral Dynamics. Bear in mind, people are never just colors and the levels are not to be used to judge each other as much as to understand each other. There are levels preceding and succeeding these three but they are a good start if you're new to developmental maps.

Practice hint: If I am the person judging others regarding their level, I assume I am the cause of the culture war.

Traditional/Conventional- (shorthand color: Blue) Today in the West, these individuals may identify as “conservative”. Black and white rules; orientation toward belonging to one’s own group based on a “higher creed” such as religion or nationalism. In its healthy form think loyalty and the 1950s American sitcom, “Leave it to Beaver”, while it’s unhealthier versions give rise to blatant homophobia, sexism and racism. It’s important to note that this level of cognition does not yet have the flexibility to easily include members outside of its group- it is ethnocentric.

Rational/Achievist- (shorthand color: Orange) After the developmental requirements of Blue have been largely satisfied, individuals and cultures may grow into this next stage. Whereas Blue is about belonging to a predetermined value system, Orange favors individualism, rationality, and science. Competition (capitalism) is seen as the fairest system. In its healthier aspects, Orange consciousness is responsible for producing the entirety of the “modern” world- think longer life spans, New York City, goods production. In it’s unhealthier forms, people are valued only for what they produce, over-competitiveness, corporate greed, environmental degradation, dominator hierarchies.

Postmodern/Pluralist- (shorthand color: Green) The next stage, which attempts to correct the shortcomings of Orange (as Orange does to Blue), is the highest stage driving the culture war. Green favors equality and has the new capacity of “systems thinking” which allows it to consider more perspectives simultaneously. This accounts for how the environment becomes of significance and for how cultural relativism comes online. This stage identifies as “liberal”, and feelings trump thinking. In its healthy aspects think sensitivity, personal growth and John Lennon’s “Imagine”. In its more pathological aspects we see Antifa, mistrust of all hierarchies (not just the bad dominator ones), and the contradiction of preaching equality for all (except for those individuals who are Orange or Blue or not Green). Bear in mind that perhaps only 15% of the population in the United States has evolved to Green.

If you’re intrigued, here are two ways to deepen your understanding of Spiral Dynamics right now.

1) Order the book. It’s a worthwhile read and focuses on the values aspect of development which will help you spot the levels in culture.

2) A more immediate direct practice option is to watch the above video critiquing Jordan Peterson. This option will be especially fun if you either love or hate Jordan Peterson because it gives a rather in depth critique of him by using the Spiral Dynamics lens.

Enjoy and Happy New Year,


PS. Practice hint: I’m not saying I agree or disagree with JP and I’m not even saying I agree or disagree with the critique. I’m saying that doing to work, the cognitive backflips of thinking about things this way- in this case JP- is in itself a developmental exercise. In other words don’t be the person who is identified with whether you like or dislike JP… be the practitioner who is stretching cognition by simply considering a developmental view.

150 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page