Imagining the Tipping Point: How will Integral memes show up in popular culture?


Wow Coda – thanks for the thorough and wonderfully enlightening response. It has really helped me to think more deeply about my approach.

The first thing that came up for me when reading this is: I am so sorry to hear that people were mean and lashed out at you! Based on my limited interactions with you on this board, it is very hard for me to imagine how anyone could have interpreted (and mistreated you) in that way, given your sincerity, humility, and superb communicative skills. I am sorry to hear that :frowning: But for me, it was all a good reminder of “Upaya” and skillful means when doing this kind of work, which centers around diving into one’s most sensitive area: themselves!

Yes I agree completely. Here’s what I am thinking. If I am running a political campaign and trying to poll people, either online or even knocking on their doors with a canvassing team, 5 minutes is probably the limit. Also would include talking to random people on the street. I’m going more for speed and breadth, instead of precision and depth. As we talked about before, maybe the test could scale to reach different people depending on their time, and could be tweaked significantly so as to minimize inaccurate conclusions. I come from a traditional Japanese family so we are very wary of taking up others time :joy:

I tend to think of COG in terms of percentages, since we all have varying degrees of altitudes floating around within us at any given time. And how our ego’s are identified with those operating systems – 50% with orange, 20% at red, etc… The biggest % of their identification I would call COG.
In terms of morality and COG, basically my opinion is that if I only have 5 minutes and therefore could probe only 1 developmental line, it would be moral development and moral feelings, since in my experience, feelings are generally harder to overthink or lie about, and easier to access than self-identity. Also, I took some inspiration from Haidt after reading about him standing outside of a McDonalds and asking people moral questions, which to me is easier then “going for the jugular” and asking about their identity, values or life experiences (or any other line of development). In my experience, people are more open to that than other forms of very personal inquiry.
As I mentioned before with my homophobic friend, after learning about his intense feelings of disgust and hatred for LGBTQ people, I could then probe into what sponsored those feelings, which outpoured a lucid description of amber values, and how his identity is tied up with those values. Moral sentiments->values->identity->opportunities for transformation - basically, starting from moral feelings and using that as a shoe in to work to deeper levels (ego, consciousness). For me, this has worked better than anything else, but I am more than happy to change my approach or even completely scrap it.

In my experience, folks’ growth can be restricted by one or more developmental lines simultaneously and predictions of behaviors and attitudes are more accurate when you have a detailed assessment of which developmental line(s) are the limiting one(s). Assessing along a single line will only get you so far. I think @jasoncstone 's suggestion was about creating a series of polls which assess different lines of development, which might be more helpful in gathering data about the population (which is not necessarily your intended purpose, correct?).

Again I totally agree. One of my intentions is not only to collect data, but do so in a way that provides the most transformative 5 minutes of someone’s life. But I completely agree with what jasoncstone said.

If I had the time, this was my favorite part. I got all kind of answers – everything ranging from “Because my Guru said so, and because the Vedas say that the awakened Guru can’t say anything wrong, than its true.” To: “Because it oppressive, demeaning, and horrible.” One of my favorite answers someone gave me to why something was mental ill was “because I can’t see how they could support that – can’t feel what they feel.” Many of the more “new age” types I have talked to said: “Because spirit told me its evil” or “because my intuition says so.” Do you have any suggestions for what to ask next? Kind of throws a wrench in the conversation, so I usually just change topics or end it there :sweat_smile:

This is a wonderful point. I too have experienced this, but almost always with “Mean green Meme” – green values enacted from an amber or even red consciousness. I can see how this would be a problem with my style, as I could easily mistake their COG for their moral line of development as it pertains to a certain altitude (i.e. someone at red who espouses green values like you described). I personally have found this to be rather rare, but I think this is an issue that we would do well do dissect further. For example, I know someone who is a Buddhist teacher, highly intelligent with 2nd tier potential, but at times epitomizes the MGM, and goes full amber, dividing the world into black and white and good and evil while excessively moralizing every (ostensibly green) statement and propounding it in an absolutistic, obdurate tone. But still, this type of person is different than the typical amber person – even if they at times express an amber COG, the content of their values (i.e. green), and their moral impulses pertaining to that line, still makes them a “different animal” and would require a different method support or transformation. But I am so glad you raised this point, Coda, and will seriously reevaluate my approach given this insight.

After rereading this several times I think I may basically try to be Kohlberg 2.0 and just focus on moral development and its correlated stages (just 1 line). My main point of contention with Kohlberg is that his approach is IMO too mentally oriented (his is stages of moral reasoning, not necessarily stages of moral sentiments), and so an intelligent sociopath could theoretically deceive me with his moral dilemma type tests. Which is why, like Haidt, I lean towards moral intuitionism, since feelings are more raw and honest than abstract moral rationalizations, which anyone can learn to do. Like Haidt, I tend to believe that we reason about moral issues like lawyers more than philosophers - justifying our feelings instead of creating abstract principles which sponsor our feelings a la Kant. The idea is that asking first about moral intuitions sets the stage to probe more deeply into their underlying values and identity structures that sponsored those feelings, if that makes sense. Feelings give us something tangible to probe, immediately.

Whew! – I’m very happy that you (and others) are interested in this subject and are really doing the “field work” out in the world, creating openings and transformations through conversation, and also growing and learning about ourselves in the process. Much of my inspiration for these polls and tests is not only to collect information but to facilitate large scale cultural transformation. One of my friends did his Ph.d in small town community development using an Integral approach similar to all of this. We can talk more about it elsewhere :slight_smile:

Thanks again for all of the illuminating exchanges. I look forward to connecting with you more in private so I stop spamming this thread :wink:


Oh please don’t stop spamming this thread. This is very useful to all of us.


It’s really hard to say, because with every previous example of collective tipping points to higher stages, it was largely the products of that next stage that began to saturate culture, not the theoretical underpinnings of the stage. In other words, it’s the surface structures that gain influence, which in turn carve a channel for the deep structures to take root.

It was things like civil rights and The Beatles and Woodstock that made Green as influential as it was in the 1960s, much moreso than things like deconstructionism or pluralism or any of the other philosophical or structural elements of the stage. The rallying call wasn’t “go postmodernism!” as much as it was “all you need is love!”

So my sense is that, as integral continues to mature, the scaffolding of integral theory will likely become increasingly transparent, which will allow new and powerful expressions from the integral stage to come to the forefront and begin to permeate our culture.

But then again, who knows – integral appears to be the first stage that actually understands that it is a stage, so maybe that will have a somewhat different effect upon its unfolding, and it’s hard to predict what will be selected for by culture at large. But whatever and however it gets selected, there is a good chance that it won’t require digesting 600-page books in order to understand the message :slight_smile:

I think this is a great point Corey, and I would add some meat to your last point. Integral, for me, is the first evolutionarily-aware stage. As such, the structures you’re talking about may not be as transparent as they were for Green and Orange; in fact, what if what defines the integral “product” is its very “meta” nature?

What I find fascinating about this tipping point is the places where products are already showing up. One in particular is Internal Family Systems therapy in the psychology vertical (which I believe is in some ways pulled from Jung’s writings on alchemy, but I’m not 100% sure), where one examines their “parts” from the point of view of the Self (emphasis on capital S). The goal isn’t to get rid of seemingly undesirable parts, but rather to integrate them in the most healthy way possible.

IFS isn’t the only example; the Academy for Guided Imagery does something very similar, though they call the Self the Inner Advisor. The end goal is the same, though: by what means does one integrate competing parts of one’s consciousness to realize wholeness?

In both these examples, the key features of their product are integration and consciously-directed evolution, which are very visible (you can’t really do IFS or Guided Imagery without eventually finding out about the integration step).

Organizationally speaking, though, I don’t know that I see much evidence other than some outliers. While Google, I think, wants people to think it’s integral, internally it doesn’t seem to be the case given some of the reactions to internal discussions that have been deemed “taboo.” Also, it seems many of the “ground breaking” books on organization theory today are rooted in Green thinking, especially books like Seth Godin’s “Tribes,” which really just rehash how the Purple dynamic shows up in Green organizations. The end result is still a flattening or complete elimination of hierarchy in favor of a collective, autonomous tribe or tribes; without some larger hierarchy or means by which internal tribes can be holistically integrated (like the Spiral Wizard from Spiral Dynamics), I don’t think it could be called Integral.

Anyway, just some of my recent thoughts on this.


Hey, how about if one of us writes a mass-market best-seller whose surface structure tells a gripping story while its deep structure is Integral?

For the past three years I’ve been writing just such a novel. My best estimate is that in about two years I will be ready to start actively seeking an agent. In the meantime, I’m starting to look for fellow travelers in the Integral community who would be up for vetting my novel and essays. If I succeed in this long shot, and my novel does get published, I want it to present the Integral world view in a way that serves the Integral community.

I recently took advantage of one of Robb Smith’s one-hour coaching sessions that he offered to those who are starting Integral businesses. Among other things he suggested that I join this on-line community and “tell them what you just told me.” So I just did – this post seemed like a good place to jump in.

Here’s the gist of the story that is burning to enter the world through me. Eleven thousand years ago, in the ancient near east, the first farming communities began appearing on earth. Humanity had begun the Agricultural Revolution, one of the six great passages from one era to another in our species’ history. My heroine dedicated her life to helping her people make the transition from foraging to farming (she was that era’s equivalent of an evolutionary). Her
people made her the first ever High Priestess. During a period of especially wrenching turmoil there was a regressive populist backlash. Her political enemy convinced the fearful people to make her the scapegoat for everything that seemed to be going wrong. She dies quite dramatically as a human sacrifice in the opening pages, and we follow her life story in the form of her past life review. Episodes of her earth life are interspersed with punchy, ironic commentary from the astral plane.

I want to tell a groovy story that lots of people will enjoy reading, while more discerning readers will see that this is also very much the story of our current events, as we go through our period of wrenching upheaval on our way to our own next emergent era on earth.

Yes, I’m hoping my story could take Integral mainstream by means of a popular work of entertainment.

Anyway, Robb just advised me to put this out there on the Integral Life Community forum, and this thread seemed like the place to jump in.

Is anyone interested?


@ksv That is a great idea! I really look forward to reading it once it comes out! Keep us posted :smile:

Interestingly enough, I have also had inspirations for an Integral novel of sorts. My initial thought is that it would be similar to a Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones epic fantasy genre, and the three main characters would each represent a certain stage:
Character one would represent the premodern world, based off of Aristotle/Stoic virtue ethics.
Character two would be a modernist, based off Voltaire.
Character three would represent postmodernism, based off Nietzsche.

There would also be additional characters representing each stage in a specific form: A Purple shamanic character, a Red tribal nomad warrior, an Amber holy man, etc… Everyone would argue, fight, and display an epic fantasy form of our current culture wars, and find a way to work through it towards an Integral stage. Each stage’s strengths and weaknesses would be highlighted through philosophical arguments, moral dilemmas, and epic fantasy action battles. Unfortunately, I have zero creative writing talent, but maybe one day ill have the inspiration to try anyway. Maybe a simple Integrally inspired children’s book would be more feasible for me.


Thanks, @HawaiianRyan!

Since you are a gamer, how about making a game out of your idea, rather than a novel? I could see your outline as a terrific FRP game. My husband and his buddies are very big into gaming so I am aware of its ability to reach plenty of people. Gaming is right up there with novels and movies in its potential for outreach.

And thanks for your enthusiasm for my idea. I will definitely be keeping y’all posted. But first I have to master dealing with social media. It was a stretch for me to figure out how to get find this online community and post anything at all.

My big project for the next few months is to start a blog in which the heroine of my novel will make snarky comments about current events from her stone age point of view. She’s feisty and also quite uninhibited – inhibitions weren’t invented until later.

Let me know if you would like to bounce around ideas for gaming characters based on the levels :grin:


I love the idea of creating a role playing game!


@ksv Great idea! Unfortunately I haven’t played a video game for 10+ years, so have been out of the gaming scene for quite some time. But I do follow major e-sports tournaments from time to time, since they have become such a huge thing with so much money on the line. What is an FRP game?

@jasoncstone Yes I have thought about an Integrally based role playing game (world of warcraft and Diablo 2 dominated my teenage years). I also thought it would be cool to make a “spiritual” video game done in VR, where spiritual development is somehow built into the game/VR world, encouraging the players to develop their consciousness as the game progresses. Perhaps the player moves through different stages or levels that mirrors the historical progression of the spiral (hunter-gather to tribal to empire to state etc…) and has to master the core values/principles of each stage before moving on to the next. It would also include ways to cultivate states of consciousness (maybe part of it is attaching your brain to a brain wave recording machine i.e “Ken stops his brainwaves.”)

I also think it would be cool to develop some kind of Integral MOBA game like Dota or League of Legends where each character is based off a stage (or line or state or type). Since these are typically multiplayer games that require teamwork and coordination, the game will portray how these different AQAL characters can synergize (Integrate), so building a well rounded draft will require an Integral sensibility. For example, a certain character who portrays Red would be very explosive, does lots of damage quickly, etc… but has to be buttressed by an Amber stabilizing character so it can be channeled more effectively. So many ideas :rofl:


FRP = Fantasy Role Playing game. It all started with Dungeons and Dragons and has become a universe of its own. You create characters i.e. avatars according to certain rules and run them through a set of adventures, along with the avatars of other players. Although there is plenty of fighting, certainly in most FRPs, you are also collaborating with the other characters on your team. In other words, a balance between competition and cooperation. This has civilized a lot of unruly boys, who learned life lessons about not cheating and backstabbing, and thus didn’t have to learn them in “real” life.

Ever since your reply of three days ago I have been dreaming of an Integral Fantasy Role Play game. Characters at each stage would have their strengths and weaknesses, and their role to play. I could go on… seems to me that the FRP framework could be a terrific incubator for a popular game whose deep structure is Integral.


It occurs to me that some splendid exemplars of Integral have already shown up in popular culture. Like the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Anyone who hasn’t yet listened to the soundtrack, you have a treat in store for you.

Also the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon;” ditto about the soundtrack.(This musical, of course, was created by the creators of "South Park, which is arguably also Integral, at least in its deep structure). I cannot think of a more insightful and delightful demonstration of the role Amber plays in rescuing Red when it has gone toxic. And it’s so much fun! If you haven’t heard the song "Hasa Diga Eebowai, you owe it to yourself to find it and enjoy.

I’m also thinking of some of Leonard Cohen’s songs. If John Lennon’s “Imagine” is the anthem of Green, then a couple of Cohen’s songs could qualify as anthems for Teal. I’m thinking especially of “Hallelujah:”

“There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah.”

Or from “Anthem”

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

Although I’d like to wait for a less depressed and depressing bard, this will do to start with.

Anyone have any other nominees for already-Integral pop culture?


Well, I did compose a few rap songs about Integral lol. My dream is to make a professional quality music video for them - not sure how that would be possible but has been on my mind for a while. Unfortunately, I can’t upload the songs cause the mp3 file is too big for this board, but I can email it anyone who is interested.


okay, yeah, HawaiianRyan, I am interested.

Which brings me to a basic question: is there a way for us conversationalists to set up personal messaging via email, without having to post our email address on this public forum? I am a Boomer who is waaay behind the curve in social media, and need some hand-holding here.

If you can help me with this, I’d love for you to email me your Integral rap songs.

BTW do I remember correctly from a previous post that you live in Portland? I’m going to be there visiting nephews all the week of Thanksgiving.


Well this is interesting…

They are creating a meditation video game with their “multiplayer meditation app”, and want to pay people crypto currency to meditate through “contactless biofeedback.” Basically incentivizing people to go deep in meditation and wake up.

“Conscious™ allows users to meditate with realtime contactless biofeedback, take on transformational quests with friends, earn rewards for their efforts - and give to global causes that are important to them.”