Skipping Green on the way to 2nd Tier?


Hello. I’m new to the community and please forgive me if my question has been covered.

My question is: What is the essence of Green that allows someone to “skip it” yet reach 2nd Tier?

In a YouTube video from about 10 years ago, I heard Ken say that some people do not actually go through the Green stage. He said in the video he was not sure yet why this was or how it happens. Maybe I misunderstood, but when he “endorsed” IDW as coming from an Integral perspective — it seemed to reiterate this idea.

In Boomeritus and Theory of Everything, he says one must go through Green. In SES, he hadn’t adopted the color scheme yet and seems to speak of postmodernism as what would now be called Green. In Religion of Tommorow and several episodes of The Ken Show, he seems to define Green as: 4th person perspective; the ability to see systems within systems; and differentiation (without integration) of all other 1st Tier stages. My guess was that the definition of Green had evolved.

I think my confusion is that I mistakenly conflate Green with postmodernism and an often irrational obsession with compassion (not the virtue signaling type that comes from those not actually at Green). If this is accurate, I am guessing one can get to 2nd Tier without going through a period of “ditching rationality” in the name of compassion (?).

Yet the title “What’s Missing in the Intellectual Dark Web” and my understanding of his analysis in that series was that IDW is able to see Green but hasn’t fully integrated it.

Any help sorting this out would be much appreciated.


Per the Spiral Dynamics theory from which “Green” comes, you cannot skip stages. In fact, it’s better to think of the stage you are in terms of which is predominant, as all stages are said to simultaneously be operating and available, though some may be buried in one’s subconscious. Tier 1 stages, however, aren’t necessarily aware of the other stages, so it can seem like it’s a static hierarchy when it’s more like a holarchy that expresses a predominant stage depending on how the individual stages work together to create a worldview.

Elevation to later stages only happens when you encounter life conditions that your current stage can’t comprehend or solve for. This is one of the core premises of the Spiral Dynamics theory. Therefore, the only way to get to Integral is through Green, as Integral Yellow is a direct reaction to how Green thinks and tries to solve problems. One can certainly learn about the Spiral and talk about it intellectually at lower stages (and I would argue that Beck and Cowan, and even Graves himself, were in many ways only at Orange), but to truly internalize a stage’s evolutionary outcomes requires one to live the previous stages. Especially in Integral, this is necessary because one cannot be Integral without seeing the value and truths in the other stages.

This is why a lot of supposedly “Green” communities may actually be Blue / Amber, as Blue / Amber likes to follow a strong authority where Green doesn’t like authority at all (or, rather, it makes authority subconscious, as Green believes it is the only way, and as such, sets itself up to be the authority, collectively speaking). Until Blue / Amber experience the issues that arise with a purely authoritarian, future-focused worldview, they won’t make it to Orange and reclaim their individuality. And until Green experiences the aperspectival madness and hidden contradictions in its own worldview, it can’t advance to Tier 2 thinking.

When you regress through the foundational psychological theories that make up Spiral Dynamics, you also see what Abraham Maslow wrote about states vs. stages. Here, we can see that certain rungs of the Spiral latter can be experienced as a temporary state, whereas a stage is more foundational and permanent. I may have a hundred peak experiences where have a deeply spiritual experience, but that doesn’t mean that I am at a stage where I am constantly feeling that Divine presence and acting accordingly. We can see this clearly in the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic church over the years; while I have no doubt that many of these men had spiritual experiences, they nevertheless were stuck at lower Blue / Amber / Red levels of the Spiral ladder, as evidenced in the extreme by their inexcusable behavior toward children, which is a clear moral outlier despite the doctrines to which they adhered.

TL;DR, there isn’t a free ride up the ladder in Spiral Dynamics.


Thank you Russ. It is very helpful to have dialogue with someone as I’ve never met anyone that is interested in Integral metatheory. I’ve always interpreted the Spiral in the sequential and holarchical way you describe — but that comment Ken made 10 years ago stuck with me (I wish I remembered where I heard him say that). That comment and the recent IDW talk on Integral Life has been confusing to me — since I would say I’m late Green / early Teal with increasingly frequent experiences of a solid Teal / Yellow viewpoint — similar to your comment about viewing stages in a way similar to states.

While in Green “mode” it is difficult for me to see most of IDW as 2nd Tier. They definitely see the aperspectival madness, but seem to be coming from a healthy Orange (and some from Amber / Blue). When listening to voices at Integral Life, I can see the usefulness of what they say — but just can’t grasp how healthy Green is represented in their analysis.

Is it that one can be at 2nd Tier having repressed the healthy side of a stage (i.e allergies)? Or does it appear I am misinterpreting their Green expression?


Lately I have been thinking of the spiral more as aspects than stages. It’s not really a ladder, it’s a spiral, so you keep going back over these aspects. I see it as flowing energy, so we flow through it deepening our connection at every turn. You need to keep letting the energy flow and if you create a block around a certain aspect then the spiral will start to deform.

I also think that once these aspects develop in culture they can be seen, therefor accessed from a witnessing space, but that doesn’t mean they are being felt and realized. This is what I sense is happening with a lot of IDW. They can see the issues of oppression, but they don’t feel into the pain and true suffering of what happens to that “dream deferred”. Green feels that suffering and is changed by it. It’s not something that can be skipped because that change is essential for the realization of our full humanness.

Once we unite the thrill of the dream and the anguish of the dream deferred our growth development starts to mirror our waking up into a unity consciousness. I know this isn’t exactly what Integral says, but personally, it what I experience, but I think it takes many trips “around the sun” to deepen all of this enough for lasting impact.


That is an interesting way to view the Spiral. My personal experience does feel like I’m making multiple trips around the sun and each time the grooves get deeper, making it easier to quickly navigate to the stage most useful at any given time.

Unhealthy Green appearing in culture to be observed by Orange or Blue IDW was my my initial view. They most definitely saw the concerns of Green and appeared to genuinely want to help — but didn’t feel it deeply.

However, the more I listen to what they say, I wonder if maybe they do feel it but have developed an ability to “pause” it in order to more fully access Orange rationality to find a remedy or solution. If so, I wonder if more trips around the sun provides easy access to that pause button.

Regarding your point about growing up mirroring waking up: Teal seems to be dominated by the cognitive line and does not require any waking up IMO. I have wondered though, if one can actually get to Turquoise without having had many experiences of unity consciousness.


In the Rebel Wisdom video where Ken discusses Jordan Peterson (around 33minutes), he is asked how Peterson can be Integral when he seems so anti-Green.

My paraphrase of his response:
Meta-systemic / 4th person / Green has the ability to reflect upon systemic / 3rd person / Orange. It can agree or disagree, but the key is the ability to reflect upon Orange. Peterson does that. He also has the capacity for paradigmatic and cross-paradigmatic — which move beyond just reflection and into tying them together.


Disagreeing with Ken is a fools stance for sure:)

I think Ken is describing cognitive development. I don’t doubt that, but I still question emotional development. It’s hard for me to see someone coming to a conclusion against marriage equality or dismissing #metoo and having the capacity for fully realized green but then again it is going to be the case that people will continue to view the world and come to much differing conclusions about the ways they want to express in it even if they are in the same space of development. If we look at them like aspects or ingredients, they may be mixing their cocktail differently then I do and in the end they use a bit too much cayenne for my taste:)

I do appreciate the needed critique of green, but I think that what’s being critiqued by the IDW is not just unhealthy green but green as a whole. This is the process to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy aspects, and them getting it wrong is a part of this process, but so it calling out what one thinks is wrong. Not embracing a “proud to be Islamaphobic” t-shirt is healthy green in my opinion the same way that punishing parents who scam test to get their kids in college is healthy amber. JP deserved to lose the job and the parents deserve to go to jail. I appreciate the intelligence they are bringing but I think there needs to be push back on their ideas too.


True, I think pointing out what is healthy and u healthy green is important.

Apart from that, The main thing that the green stage does when they “call out” people and things that are wrong and bad, is it creates a culture of non-inclusion. When at integral stage, we “call people in” instead. We u derstand how people can come from the place they do. We understand how, for example, islamaphobia comes to be in certain people and groups. Because of this understanding (gained from integral theory ect) we can create more inclusion in a culture… instead of what green does which is creates an us vs them culture.

There are so many different perspectives and as soon as you think your right, your wrong.


This “skipping green” thing is so interesting to me. I have been following integral for 25 years and it really goes to show how evolution is a creative act that cant be predicted! I think in the same way that other stages split into many different expressions that is what is happening here. There is clearly emerging a population that doesn’t want to be that sensitive to the suffering of people, but that isn’t preventing them from developing. That’s good news…maybe

The thing I notice the most about the IDW is they seem to have no real sense of trauma. I’m not an expert here, so I cant speak to it in a more profound way, but something is off for me.

An example is Brett Weinstein. It’s not that he was right or wrong, but in my opinion he was not attuned to the trauma expression (green). In my life I find people who are attuned to green handle these moments with far more grace and can create transformative experiences. This is what green does. It takes all the suffering of first tier and transforms it back into creative energy. Personally I wouldn’t skip it for anything!