Thank You Ross Douthat – Part 2

After sitting with the previous blog entry my mind kept rolling. I thought about editing what I had written, but decided instead to simply create a sequel. I confess that the thoughts are not particularly organized, but wanted to put them out there.

What are the primary differences between Tier 1 and Tier 2 levels of consciousness? I would say, using somewhat Pathwork terms, that Tier 1 (beige, purple, red, blue, orange and green) are dualistic levels of consciousness – the arena of “either/or” thinking – thinking of experiences or people or oneself as either good or evil, right or wrong, pleasurable or painful, desirable or undesirable, and so on.

These Tier 1 levels of consciousness are also separating, hierarchical, and progressive – beige precedes and is separate from purple, purple precedes and is separate from red, etc. This hierarchical nature, while one is in a Tier 1 dualistic level of consciousness, creates a “better than/worse than,” “ahead/behind” “more mature/less mature” situation that in itself leads to conflict, jealousies, and misunderstandings among people who are in Tier 1 levels of consciousness. So someone sensing he or she is in “blue” feels somehow “superior” to someone he or she assesses as “red,” “purple” or “beige.” Usually it is someone at a lower level of consciousness thinking that the people at higher levels are arrogant and dismiss the entire idea of “hierarchy,” considering demeaning to humanity. It should be emphasized that Wilber and Beck discourage these comparisons (hence the use of meaningless colors instead of numbers), but nonetheless the hierarchical nature always seems to be an issue and obstacle to those in Tier 1 consciousness levels.

Development and growth from one level to the next is slow. The process is one of  “transcending” the level you are in and then, after reaching the next level, also “including” all the levels below your new level of consciousness. Hence Wilber’s use of the phrase, “transcend and include.

It should also be noted that you cannot truly understand the experience of the levels of consciousness above the one where you are, but only the level your are in and those levels from whence you evolved. After fully fleshing out your current level fully you are then, organically, discovering yourself rising automatically and spontaneously to the next higher level.

The means of growth in consciousness are always indirect. Wilber says that meditation is the fastest way he knows to organically evolve to higher levels of consciousness. He also suggests that one may evolve only one or two levels in a lifetime.

Tier 2 (yellow and turquois) levels of consciousness are very different from those in Tier 1. Instead of “either/or” dualistic states of consciousness of Tier 1, in Tier 2 one now is in a “both/and” unitive state of consciousness. Note Beck’s description of yellow: “Accept the inevitability of nature’s flows and forms, find natural mix of conflicting ‘truths’ and ‘uncertainties.’” These, then, are some of the characteristics of Tier 2 both/and Unitive states of consciousness.

What does the unitive “both/and” experience of the yellow tier feel like? Remember that so long as one is in a Tier 1 dualistic state of consciousness (the state we are all born into and usually die in) one shall not understand this Tier 2 level of consciousness as a felt experience. One way I would explain this state as I understand it is that the emphasis is on the experience of something per se, without resisting the experience if it is “painful” or clinging to the experience if it is “pleasurable.”  Another way to express this is to be in the NOW of whatever the experience is – sometimes stated as being in the NOW of WHAT IS.

This yellow state of Tier 2 gets expanded in turquois, the second Tier 2 level of unitive consciousness. Beck says that the experience at this highest level is characterized by, “blending and harmonizing a strong collective of individuals, focus on the good of all living entities as integrated systems, Self is part of larger, conscious, spiritual whole that also serves self.” Again this is a unitive state of consciousness. The “good of all living entities” is experiencing things as GOOD – and this GOOD is NOT the “good” of the dualistic “good or bad” Tier 1 level of consciousness. This GOOD relates to the benign nature of the Universe.

Ken Wilber looks at various worldviews offered by others, including those of Robert Bellah (Theory of Everything p.113). Bellah the person Douthat quotes as saying: “expressive individualism,” is the worldview “that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.” In speaking of Robert Bellah, Wilber says, “Robert Bellah … focuses on the mythic-membership (blue), with two of its principal types (republican and biblical), and the egoic-rational (orange), with two of its principal types (utilitarian and therapeutic; a subset  of therapeutic is green).” (the colors noted are in Wilber’s text). Note that all of these Bellah categories are Tier 1 levels of dualistic “either/or” consciousness. So when Douthat uses Bellah’s description for the HBO series “Girls” he may be limiting his observations to Tier 1 level of consciousness – and of course this would lead to interpreting the pain and agony in this HBO series as “proof” that individuality (Tier 1 orange) can really be undesirable (in the dualistic world of “desirable or undesirable”), preferring instead perhaps a strong dose of the more conservative Tier 1 blue level of consciousness (again deemed as desirable in the dualistic world of desirable or undesirable).

Perhaps this dualistic view is correct. However, what if Girls was in fact cast beyond Tier 1 levels of consciousness and instead presenting episodes in a context of Tier 2 yellow state of unitive consciousness where the emphasis is on experiencing what is – the pleasurable and the painful? This may be giving Girls the benefit of the doubt, but maybe there is some room for this series actually to be depicting Tier 2 both/and unitive consciousness.  This of course could be a real stretch, but could it be true? If so, this would take away Douthat’s basic argument for the benefits of a more conservative “unidividualistic” lifestyle.

How does Pathwork fit into all of this? I said that some of us enter Pathwork in order to find a “better” life.  That would be a typical Tier 1 aim – avoiding the pain, clinging to the good, and hoping more good will surface through Pathwork. But what happens in fact?  In Pathwork one has the opportunity to be “drawn into” Pathwork to “better” one’s life” – but in a way he or she has been “tricked” — not by Pathwork but by one’s own soul that is seeking growth. Typically the one entering Pathwork, being only at one of the Tier 1 dualistic consciousness levels, will be thinking of that “bettering one’s life” as the “good” side of the Tier 1 dualistic “good or bad” level of consciousness.

But when one gets into the work of Pathwork one is invited a different way. Here the way is not to resist the “bad” and cling more and more to the “good,” but rather to accept and be curious about the “bad.” Be curious about the “bad” — in oneself, in life or in another. In taking self-responsibility for beliefs, images, and behaviors that may have contributed to the painful experiences in one’s life one comes to understand the painful experiences and is able (through the purification process – mostly psychological work) to correct one’s beliefs and behaviors.

Of course after one changes one’s beliefs and behaviors the pains do not go away over night (their causes having happened long ago) but rather over time (lifetimes, if you allow). Hence the pain becomes the medicine needed to motivate one to correct beliefs so that over time pains are dissolved and pleasures are increased. There are other levels of the work (most notably the transformation required to change negative intentionality to positive intentionality), but even before that additional work, one comes to accept and face pain without resignation or hopelessness but as something that is actually bearable and useful for growth.

How might this apply to the HBO series Girls? Perhaps by the characters taking self responsibility and coming to accept the pain that may result from their wrong beliefs and behavior they come to actually choose to change their beliefs and behaviors and over time come to experience the joy they were seeking. But in the meantime – by truly experiencing the NOW of What Is – even though painful at times at one level, the dualistic level of consciousness, at a higher level, the level of unitive consciousness, it is not resisted as bad. And over time (years, decades, lifetimes)  one moves from yellow level of Tier 2 into the turquois level of Tier 2 consciousness and here experience the GOOD of all – the state of fulfillment and joy of growing throughout lifetimes. Joy and fulfillment is a state of being in life that is independent from life experiences.

So once again, Thank You Ross Douthat. Shared in love, Gary