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?

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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.

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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.

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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!


I believe at the core of it, we can’t skip Green on the way to Tier 2. What we can skip, however, is the aperspectival madness that postmodernism to the extreme teaches, and the underlying external-is-the-only-reality flatlanding Green fails to let go of from prior Orange (in Green I think this flatlanding becomes subconscious). We mustn’t forget that healthy Green is not only lovely, but necessary for a completely Integral worldview.


If I read this right, a person can navigate through, and incorporate the perspective of Green, without getting into the Social Justice Warrior outrage, the constructivist “all ideas are equal realities” nonsense, or the overly sensitive resistance to comments that may offend somebody. I never did get lost in this worldview, the ideas Jordan Peterson takes so much offense at, and don’t know if I have more work to do with Green to really “get it.” With Blue (or Amber in the newer scheme), I definitely went through a major developmental phase that lasted 7 years. This included healthy values and ethics, respecting rules and values and traditions, etc.

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I find “skipping green” idea similar to bypassing & pre trans fallacy.

If one does not endorse pluralism, as the desire for (as oppose to actual capability of) acceptance of all stances and perspectives as simultaneously true, how can one integrate them and orchestrate them in one’s own consciousness to see the roles of each stage?

How long one stays in or matures from each stage is another issue. But I would contend that any desire to “rush it” can lead to bypassing, which is super common for people avid for self improvement with an unconscious self hatred as opposed to self acceptance.


Seems to be a recurring / evergreen issue.

Thanks for reviving this thread. The IL AI Recommender hadn’t kicked this one to me yet.

Fascinating topic really.
What is probability that I-You-We live at an altitude if we have not Included in a healthy way ALL of the lower altitudes?
What is the chance of bring overall society to a new altitude without Intentionally Including literally everyone?
What is probability the we can can we accelerate upleveling in healthily or does attempting acceleration increase probability of unhealthy trait inclusion?
Can we really “know” what our “goals” are for that “next” level? Can we create our mental noosphere with any sense of validity?

I think the “beginner’s mind” is kind of necessary not just with the next level, but to almost daily re-visit things we learned incorrectly at prior levels, or residue from childhood experiences. .

Ken Wilbur has said he thinks about 2% of the population is Integral. I myself think it’s much lower. Maybe 2% of the people Ken interacts with are.

I think one of the biggest hurdles for people who are at a new altitude is convincing people that they should be listened to. Amber doesn’t want to listen to Green at all, for example. Someone can claim to be integral, but nobody is going to follow them unless it makes sense at their level.
I do think pockets of society can level up without society as a whole. Being Integral would mean that they could subsume and transform what was within their sphere, but not beyond. I think in such communities the process could be greatly facilitated.

Its not that they are skipping green but are expressing green in a different way.

Academics at high end universities tend to be mostly green yet that’s not a expression of green that we stereotypically associate with it.

We have Intuitive/Feeler Greens, we have Logical/Thinker Greens… so on…

If we merge/intersect both the Spiral Dynamics Model with Personality Type Models we get a clearer view of what is happening.

Example a Green INTJ and a Green INFP will look nothing alike on the surface, its only when we dig deeper into there structure and values do we see similarities.


Just to throw a point in this mass confusion from Ken’s work. There are four types of awakening. Integral in general has assumed they understand our society. Well I haven’t found anyone awake in the social in these circles at all. Thus with IDW you have people working on being socially awake. This doesn’t need levels of development to do. And of course people understand it to the degree of their capacity. This social blindness is deep. Deeper than Ken attained. So who are the socially awake that understand Integral?

Zak Stein
Marc Gafini
Daniel Shmachtenberger

These three are socially awake( not happening in Integral) and more mature in the work then Ken attained.

Some people think postmodernism is just a deficient form of the integral structure of consciousness. This is the opinion of a few people who prefer Jean Gebser’s version of integral.
From that perspective, there is no “skipping Green”…

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Yesterday I got to participate in an interesting Zoom call on the theme of who or what is really part of the Integral Community? It’s not like we took a vote or that someone handed down a ruling - just a lot of different perspectives shared. My opinion was pretty “big tent” - if a conversation is at least using Ken Wilber’s work as a jumping off point, good enough reason to include it here. This conversation is a case in point. Ken Wilber said a lot of things at one time or another, and I’m not sure they all are consistent with each other. So different people coming at the question of what green really is from different angles is a worthy discussion, one I find very intriguing.

My own instinct when addressing a very synthetic concept like “green” or “postmodern” is to unpack it with respect to its historical origins, underlying experiences, causal connections to other things, systemic foundations and so on. A couple things need straightening out in my view. One is - what is the relationship between psychological development (UL quadrant) and cultural evolution (LL quadrant)? Is “green” a developmental stage for persons, for societies, or both? And if both, do persons and societies somehow synch up with one another in fixed sequential ways?

Without proposing a complete solution here (it would take a book or two or many more …) It seems likely to me from quick and dirty observation that postmodern attitudes develop most readily in a modern social context. The modern creates the framing for the postmodern. But historical research convinces me that the modern played out differently in different parts of the world.

So for example, looking at Integral applied to Afghanistan (home country of some of my students), do they need to go through specific developmental sequences involving losing their religion (magenta to orange), becoming raging capitalists and scientific rationalists (full orange), deconstructing all those orange attitudes to become eco-friendly, SJW, cultural relativists, and only then maybe leveling up to second tier? Or can we just skip a bunch of that and jump in at the part where we are all very high-tech, culturally diverse together, and self-reflective enough to navigate both personal and cultural development levels? As a practical matter, I absolutely need to work from the second hypothesis - that step skipping is not only OK, but that it’s a current vital necessity. My students come from all over the world, many from places that never really went through the modern or the postmodern in any obvious way. And yet, together we are studying topics like AI and cloud services, which are supposedly the information underpinnings of teal and higher. How to square that circle?

My working hypothesis is that second tier has access to all prior vMemes because second tier has access to all the world’s knowledge (once through great libraries, more recently through internet) and because second tier has access to the cognitive skills and emotional maturity to process all that knowledge. My historical take on Western experience over the past 600 years or so is that the Western modern and postmodern involved a lot trial and error blundering that need not and should not be literally repeated by everyone else. Better we just harvest the better fruits of this Western experience (like critical thinking, experimental science, or linguistic sophistication) and teach them directly in current contexts. In summary, let’s just be second tier right now and arrange our education programs accordingly. Because honestly, what’s the real alternative?

I’ll make a few comments that may or may not be helpful to you.

According to Wilber’s theory, for both. In the West, if you as an individual are at the amber stage and below (50-60% of the population) then you might “synch up” with the culture as a whole a little better than people at the orange stage and above (40-50% of the population).

From this statement, you see/believe your Afghanistan students to be at the amber (or below) stage?
The thing I would point to is that capitalism and (more sophisticated) science and rationalism emerged during the orange stage, but are not the only markers of that stage (world-centrism, equal rights are others), and there have been and are people at the orange stage who are religious–giving up religion is not a requirement, although in the big picture view of things, this stage did in general put religion far away on the back burner. If you look at individual developmental theories within the Integral metatheory model, you find things like Piaget’s formal operations stage (in cognitive development) and conscientiousness in Cook-Greuter’s self-identity development theory, both of which are deeper structures underlying the orange stage, and these are in some respects better markers for that stage of development in individuals than any embrace of “raging capitalism” or such. So maybe some of your students have some orange qualities already? (and perhaps some green as well?) Just wondering.

I think the Integral stages are marked by an exponential perspective-taking, i.e. an Integralist can see, understand, take and embody the perspectives of 1st tier stages, as well as their own perspective (a meta-perspective so to speak). AI and cloud storage can be used by anyone regardless of stage. Cloud storage is basically a bunch of metal file cabinets in cyberspace, isn’t it, and filing seems very much an orange/rational stage creation to me as does cyber technology in general, and while AI can present different perspectives of different stages and synthesize them (and does a fairly good job of this, it seems), it does this based upon data it was trained on provided by actual people at those stages, and does not itself have a personal perspective. So I do not see AI as truly Integral, at least not at this point.

We associate the internet with the green stage, and yet the green stage in the West dates to the late 50’s and early 60’s at least, and the internet came much later: you undoubtedly know this, but only 1% of two-way communication through information networks was through the internet in 1993, 51% in 2000, and 97% in 2007. So I suspect we haven’t yet seen the technology that will be the true information underpinnings of the Integral stage, and I suspect it might be more centered in innate human abilities than technology. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.