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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Definitions and Spectrum of "We-space" - Collective Intelligence - Collective Consciousness

Definitions and Spectrum of "We-space" - 
Collective Intelligence - Collective Consciousness

This is one of a series of explorations of the phenomenon/capacity of "we-space" or collective consciousness (known by many other names as well. The entire list is here.)

Background for this blogpost's particular exploration includes optimally your looking over the Parameters of Description of We-spaces blogpost. And at the appropriate place below, please jump over to the stage-descriptions for Yellow/Turquoise and Coral/Teal We-spaces.

What's different about this particular blogpost is that I'm pondering some kind of generic, relatively "altitude-independent" definition, or failing that, some definitions which are stage-specific (to the stages of those trying to understand the defintion.) 

Also, related to that goal, and more than I've done before, I am trying to figure out some actual examples of how this phenomenon shows up in the culture and experiences of people at each of the Spiral Dynamics structure-stages. 


The definition needs to vary with the developmental structure-stage of the people who are going to find the definition useful.

For example, a definition in terms of Morphic Fields makes full sense only in a Turquoise world-space/worldview/structure-stage. (So it is gibberish to those at Yellow unless their spiritual line is high, and vaguely recognizable to those at Green whose spiritual line is high.)

Here's my best attempt at a definition which could make some sense at all 3 stages.

What is being referred to is a phenomenon of consciousness experienced by people who are in a group situation. In other words, it is an inner experience, and it can also be to some extent observed from the outside, just as an outside observer can tell when someone else is experiencing the phenomenon of consciousness known as anger, or love, or pity, or infatuation. 

We might, in spiritual terms, call it a thinning of the illusion of separation of one's own self/consciousness from All That Is, including all of "consciousness" or "sentience." That thinning can be temporary or permanent. It can be situational or ongoing for the individual. It has a lot to do with the states of consciousness accessible to the person, as well as their overall most general Center of Gravity of development of lines of awareness.

And because being in various states of awareness is a capacity of the individual, WS/CI can also be considered a capacity as well as a phenomenon

(Phenomenon would be defined philosophically as something considered as "real" within a worldspace delimited by a structure-stage of consciousness. So as a capacity of consciousness, again, this would not be experienced as an available and cultivatable capacity except as delimited by the structure-state of consciousness.)

And here's the exciting part, just like any capacity, it can be strengthened. And here's the even more exciting part: it is also is a capacity of groups which can be cultivated!

The question why one would want to cultivate this capacity, as individual or group, is usually answered in terms of dealing with our global crises which have the potential to exterminate our species and perhaps life on earth. But that is almost moot, as in fact the phenomenon and capacity are simply emerging all over the world, spontaneously, and people are experiencing it without having a clue what is going on and without knowing others are experiencing it, too. So, like Mount Everest, if we decide to climb it, our reason boils down to "because it's there." Because it is happening and it is generating urges and motivations within us, to further develop it. 

A definition in terms of "thinning of the veil of separation" could make sense at Green. A definition in terms of a Morphic Field of consciousness could make sense at Turquoise, which has accepted that consciousness is not bound to body, is not an "epi-phenomenon" of a complex nervous system, but has some kind of "independent" existence per se. SOME kind. 

So what would make sense at Yellow, in that worldspace, what phenomena could it refer to? The metaphor often used is "coherence," though that shades down into Green well, and up into Turquoise well, too. If a group's subtle-energy consciousness is "coherent," then we can say they are in a "we-space."And "coherence" of course is a concept within wave mechanics, for liquids, light, and sound. Its opposite might be turbulence or disharmony. So it appeals greatly to the LR systems-orientation at Yellow, and Yellow's desire to include everything in a well-working system.


I am not including all kinds of "in-group" or "belonging" experience within collective consciousness. CC or CI or WS is more than that. It has to include a shift in the subjective experience of individual identity, in the direction of a single group identity, to some degree, for whatever time period. As reported by many, the individual sense of identity is not necessarily obliterated (although it can be). It can be paradoxically enhanced, but as "part of the whole" inseparable from the whole.)

If we view this phenomenon as the dance of the subtle-energetic fields of all the group participants which they are normally unaware of, then every group has a we-space, by that definition. So perhaps whatever definition we use, has to differentiate whether the group is more, or less, aware of the phenomenon it/they are experiencing.


So, as a capacity, which LINE of development would this be located in? There, the answer seems interesting. It is not just the spiritual line, which is the most obvious. Because it pertains to group experience, it has to be also in the social-relational line of development. Any others? Moral line as such? 

Thus we can begin to see around us, examples of this phenomenon or capacity which we didn't have any concept for, any label for, so it was under the radar of our conscious thinking minds, and perhaps we didn't notice or pay attention when we were observing or experiencing it. It just faded into the fabric of so much of life which we don't put into words.


I started this exploration here. Going further, we can perhaps begin to differentiate different kinds of we-spaces by their developmental stages as we-spaces, somewhat independent of the stages represented in the various lines of the individuals involved. I already explored the Second and Third Tier We-spaces using that taxonomy, in the blog posts linked below. 

In fact, I suggest that any taxonomy of consciousness we've been applying to individuals can also be usefully (even if limited usefulness) applied to this group consciousness, obviously with some new ones also necessary as we are now dealing with an emergent higher-order "holon." The Spiral Dynamics Integral taxonomy has already extended itself from individual to social scale, this way.

Given what we know about states, if we describe the differing 3-4 states of consciousness which Integral Theory identifies in its system of understanding, a "thinning of the veil" can occur anywhere anytime. When a thinning of the veil of separation occurs, the individuals naturally drop into a prior already-existing state/phenomenon/capacity for communing, communicating, coordinating, cooperating. (And as I've indicated, and so have others, the very naturalness of this shows up as the feeling of ecstasy!) It just gets experienced and interpreted within their worldview and in the "reality" specified in their worldspace created by that worldview.

So let's explore some possible examples.


I'm guessing that sometimes, this kind of consciousness, appropriate for that stage, might have showed up in prehistoric bands as the kind of coordinated activity we see in school of fish or flocks of birds. 

For humans at later stages who are reduced to Beige in extremis, such as lifeboat situations or concentration camps or many refugee camps, I might look to see what the dynamic interplay is between the individual-survival motivation-consciousness which people get into, and the natural human tendency toward kindness and generosity, which most certainly makes its appearance even in those direst of group conditions. That makes me suspect any "we-spaces" might consist of just two or three people at a time. I do know that incredibly strong bonds form among individuals who do interact kindly with one another, in such dire situations.

On the other hand, if "rebellion" sets into such a group under those conditions, I would expect something far more potent in the way of a "we-consciousness" than even the mob psychology mentioned below for Red, because of the stakes involved.

I guess it's not spoken of much, but most people's most-commonly-experienced we-space is probably their sexual relations/interactions. Because these go back into Beige roots, that kind of we-space has its own spectrum of consciousness, and I'm not going to complicate this blogpost by exploring that here. I am writing a book about it (the whole spectrum of sexuality, not just the we-space aspects.) (But if you are curious about the more mature stages of this, I might refer you to Dr. Jenny Wade's book Transcendent Sex: When Lovemaking Opens the Veil.


Purple/Magenta cultures have their own ways of generating collective consciousness experiences. They use natural consciousness-altering substances which have the effect of thinning the veil; they use drumming and other hypnotic-trance-inducing activities, such as whirling or dancing, or exhaustion or pain (think Native American Sundances.) They sometimes also "cherry-pick" the individuals who are allowed to (expected to, compelled to) attain these states, by sensing which individuals are closer to it in their usual lives. These cultures use the collective consciousness experiences primarily for magical purposes, to influence "the gods" or to travel to "different realms" and bring back predictions or info relevant to the tribe (such as where herds of animals are located.) Individuals can do that too, of course, but also, it can be done in large or small groups.

Oh, also collective consciousness is induced by various rituals such as the peacepipe, for group decision-making, such as the tribe "council" reaching decisions in a more coherent state than they normally have as a collection of individuals.

Collective consciousness also seems to operate sometimes in hunting bands, where individuals just get hunches for how to act, in ways which end up coordinating their efforts in "miraculously" successful ways.

In group emergencies, too, the phenomenon shows up, and sometimes in group celebrations. One might say, since individual identity is quite rudimentary at this structure-stage where a person's primary identity is their place or role in the tribe, that a certain "collective consciousness" is the norm, rather than the exception it becomes at later stages.

In fact, this "pre-" version of collective consciousness is part of the retro-romanticizing of this stage, because humans do have, I maintain and others would agree, an innate longing for this kind of belonging, relating, acting, being aware.


At Red, collective consciousness often shows up, like for the hunters, on the battlefield, where miracles of hunches resulting in unpredicted coordinations can show up. Of course, on a battlefield, the sheer amount of pain going on mitigates against much merging of subtle energies!!

Many of the ceremonies of Red cultures (including the singing and dancing brought up from earlier stages) are designed to evoke collective consciousness, usually in service to some leader's goals. I would suspect that many "gangs" have their secret handshakes and "group memes" specifically to generate a collective consciousness they subjectively might label as "we are together." (One could argue that a gang is closer to a tribe, and more in Purple/Magenta stage....)

It is at Red where we see "mob psychology" happen. Demagogues and tyrants are masters at evoking Red we-spaces. I don't think I need to elaborate!

Where else?


At Blue, collective conscious is regularly evoked in worship and devotional ceremonies. It also is highly present, building on capacities from previous stages in "fraternal orders" especially for groups who experience danger together. The "Brotherhood" of firefighters, police officers, etc. is quite tight, quite closed, quite real and tangible and important to the members.

It is possible that at Blue, some experiences of collective consciousness are what leads to such things as suicide bombers. But they might be acting from individual motivation for getting into heaven; I'm not sure. What do you think?


Harder to spot, at this altitude. The emphasis on commerce can get Red-flavored, and the emphasis on rationality tends to emphasize individual consciousness.

However, the expansion of "identity" to larger groupings makes possible some new kinds of we-space/new kinds of we-space experiences. 

I/We need to ponder more, how we-spaces show up here. Women's Lib groups come to mind, for one example. I would bet some of them move into a thinned sense of separation from their group members....

And while they are not specifically Orange, we might stop here and talk about work-teams. And sports-teams. And musicians. Most of the "examples" of we-space consciousness we are familiar with, and cite, come from the very strong, very visible, collective consciousness we can see operating in sports groups and music groups from time to time. Jazz musicians riffing such that each player is enhanced yet experiencing that "the music played me," are the "poster children" for we-space consciousness, in most Integral-based discussions!

And yet the sports groups' we-space is mostly, I believe, the carry-forward from hunting bands, and the musician groups' we-space is mostly, I believe, a carry-forward from the Purple music-making groups. Of course, they appear and are experienced differently by people at these later stages of consciousness, that is a given of our framework, but the roots are there. And what those differences are, subjectively, would be an extremely valuable line of inquiry!!


Not hard to find here. Even the meme "Kumbaya-consciousness" exists (usually used perjoratively from Orange or Yellow.) Woodstock or any good pop concert. Meditation groups. Most any kind of Green group has its own version of we-space experiences. That's probably because the relatedness line is so emphasized at Green!


I have already defined/described those at length in these two blogs




OK guys and gals, here are some paints and paper, some glue and feathers. Add, subtract, multiply, divide, let's co-create. There are a LOT of rabbit-holes hidden above which absolutely need exploring. Most poignantly and importantly, what's missing above are the first-person descriptions of experiences I have suggested at the various stages. (I included more of those first-person descriptions in the Second Tier and Third Tier we-space descriptions linked to above.)

One of those rabbit-holes is the very edgy exploration of what the differing qualities and injunctions might be for the differing kinds/stages of we-spaces, and whether there are injunctions (conscious or subconsciously used) which are effective across multiple stages, and indeed the role if any of injunctions for a particular stage of we-space, again, consciously or subconsciously used. For example, we-spaces do seem to have a way of "descending" somewhat independent of conscious invocation of them; this is the "dominant monad" question.

Another pass through the territory which cries out for exploration is some stage-differentiated definition of health which can be applied to we-spaces through the spectrum.

I look forward to the enriching of this exploration with you!! Please do add comments, or contact me.

by Rev. Alia Aurami, Ph.D., Head Minister, Amplifying Divine Light in All Church
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