by Owen K Waters
In the ground-breaking book, Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, “memes” are defined as the social equivalent of genes. Memes are cultural units of information which self-replicate from mind to mind on a vast scale, appearing within society as new trends of thought.
The progression of memes reflects the development of society from its primitive beginnings up to the present. So far, eight different memes have been identified and analyzed. Their characteristics are:
Meme 1 – Basic, personal survival
The most primitive motivation of just staying alive.
Meme 2 – Clan survival
Tribal and family bonding along with superstition-filled attempts to understand the powers of nature which threaten to overpower them.
Meme 3 – Courage, survival of the fittest
Mastering the environment, fighting to break free of constraints. Sensing many gods, all of which are models of power. This is where individuals first find their personal power but, seeing reality through a worldview of separation and limited resources, compete against each other in attempts to gain advantage. As a meme which is short on thought and long on passion, societies in this stage quickly fragment into territorial, feudal-type communities surrounded by competing, enemy communities.
Meme 4 – Finding order and purpose in life
Obeying authority, regulations and externally imposed rules of behavior and morality. Sacrificing the self to a greater cause for a deferred reward. Dedicating allegiance to one supreme God. This social meme started to spread within civilization 5,000 years ago. Eventually, alliances arose between large-scale feudal structures and those who wished to develop extensive religious power.
Meme 5 – Achievement, striving to succeed
Fighting to win, beating the competition, achieving independence. This meme started to spread significantly in the 1700s. It was made possible by the collapse of feudalism and also a sense of increased personal empowerment, which was a side-effect of the Protestant Reformation. It gained particular strength with the founding of the United States, whose Constitution and Bill of Rights intentionally empowered and protected individual liberty.
Meme 6 – Community and caring
Unconditional love, accepting others as they are, seeing the value of service to others, the beginnings of spiritual understanding. Freedom of the spirit from greed, dogma, contention and other distractions from spiritual centeredness. This meme started to spread in the mid-1800s.
The momentous leap into the second tier
Professor Clare Graves, the originator of this branch of social science, saw the first set of six memes as a first tier of human development. He called the transition of the human race into meme number seven a momentous leap, an entry into an entirely new set of memes, a new tier of consciousness. With this new tier comes freedom from all of the fears of the prior memes, and, finally, the freedom for human cognition to focus upon its possibilities in the world.
As more and more people shift into the second tier of memes, the underpinnings of society become spiritual rather than materialistic. The second tier is expansive rather than self-serving or merely survival-oriented. Service to the world community, to the planet as a whole, becomes the inspiration as people activate these higher memes of consciousness.
“Love and light” is not just a greeting to wish someone well, it is the byline of the emerging New Reality. The future of the human race is a bright one. It is love and light.
Meme 7 – Responsible freedom
Flexible flow, adapting to a world full of change. Big-picture views, the discovery of self-accountable, personal freedom. This meme started to spread after the global defeat of fascism in World War II. While most people started to look forward to the renewed chance to create personal prosperity, the beat generation of the 1950s emerged with its questioning of materialistic culture. This emerging movement examined Eastern philosophy, such as Zen Buddhism, in a search for answers to the mysteries of life.
In meme number seven, people act from an inner-directed core. Values come from fundamental, natural law, meaning that human rights are perceived as fundamental due to the fact that you exist.
By nature, seventh meme thinkers are self-accountable and independent within reason. They are honest in their communications and do not spend time on the rules of formality, unless they are important to those present. Seventh meme thinkers like technology for what it can do to improve life, and they value knowledge and competency above rank or status.
They enjoy the pleasures of life, without being bound by any of them, and pursue activities that express their inner joy. External fashions and trends have no bearing upon these choices. They have emotional control, meaning that they still express emotions, but these expressions are appropriate, and not uncontrolled outbursts.
This is a powerful meme in promoting the exploration of the greater possibilities of life. It creates information networks and networks of people which easily adapt to changing needs.
Seventh meme thinkers are concerned with the endangered world environment and want to restore viability and ecological order. Their purpose of living includes being independent within reason, knowledgeable as much as possible, and caring for others within practical limits. They are accountable to themselves as responsible individuals, yet embrace their community of associates. Rather than striving to have things or to achieve things, they prefer to pursue personal development along a pathway that is natural to them.
They can interact with people of the first six memes and speak their psychological language. They respect others’ world views and unique habits, customs and cultures, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.
This meme brings a high sense of self-esteem based upon information as much as emotion. It brings an enlightened self-acceptance which acknowledges and accepts their own shortcomings and faults as mere stages along the way to acquiring more skills.
Meme 8 – Holistic, global view
Spiritual awareness, learning through simply being as well as doing. Becoming conscious of the superconscious, trusting intuition. This meme started to spread in the cultural and spiritual awakening of the mid-1960s. Those seekers who found this pattern of thinking launched a whole new movement of spiritual awareness. This spiritual renaissance has the potential to develop the awareness to carry humanity through The Shift and into the New Reality.
This meme has a global village outlook, and seeks projects and solutions that will work well for the whole planet. It contains the vision to bring order out of chaos.
Because of the incredible power of the second tier of memes, these will accelerate the transformation of the world as they become more and more widely adopted.
Meme 9 – The mystery meme
The authors of Spiral Dynamics have identified meme number nine. They call this the Coral meme, but they have not observed it in large quantities of people, so they cannot yet summarize its characteristics.
However, using basic metaphysical principles, you can predict exactly what meme number nine will become.
Continued in: The Awesome Power of the Mystery Meme.
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