Accelerating Evolution (AE) of Integral Consciousness

How insight into our amazing creative past can open us to an integral enlightened future.

Carter Vincent Smith

 In these turbulent times, world culture is evolving faster in a decade than it used to do in a century or even a millennium.
This accelerating change is now being driven at web-speed by the creative desires of six billion global citizens striving for better lives and a better world.
Resisting these powerful developmental forces can greatly increase our stress and suffering due to change.
Understanding the AE model can help us ride and  guide these inevitable evolutionary changes with wisdom, grace and even joy.

This website presents the foundational ideas for a book on Accelerating Evolution.  Your comments, suggestions and support are welcome.  I would welcome an academic to work with in researching   and presenting these ideas.
Please contact me at
[email protected]


1. ACCELERATING STAGES OF EVOLUTION.The evolution of stages of consciousness is accelerating geometrically.  

    Cells evolved for billions of years and animals for millions, human tribal cultures evolved for tens of thousands, agricultural states for thousands, industrial states for a couple of centuries — and the current trend of globalization has been developing for only a few decades. Current evolutionary change is thousands of times faster than at earlier periods. 

    Integral and developmental theorists such as Gebser (culture), Piaget (cognition), Kohlberg (morals), Maslow (needs), Beck (ethics) and Wilber (integral) have shown how each stage evolves into the next. The AE model (see sidebar) reworks the Wilber stages slightly to create an simple geometric model that provides insight into the accelerating pace of evolution.

Our mutual effort for a better life creates higher technology, higher economics and (surprisingly) higher morality and spirituality.

    Cultural evolution is driven more by creative effort and communication than by the random genetic mutation and sexual selection that drove the earlier biological evolution stages. It starts with a creative urge for better lives with better technology — arrows, wheels, plows, engines, computers, etc. — and this higher tech leads us in an integral fashion to a higher levels of economics, and then (surprisingly) to higher moral and spiritual levels — to new levels or stages of consciousness. 

    Over the last 50,000 years, starting with a few million humans communicating with words and drums, our accelerating creative technology has driven (or allowed) us to move to higher and higher economic, moral and spiritual levels. Our view of “who is human” has expanded from tribe to ethnic group to state to world.

    For countless millennia, tribal shamans sanctified cannibalism (it did give a conquering tribe a nutritional evolutionary edge). But when plow-agriculture allowed one man to produce food for many, enslaving the conquered became much more advantageous than eating them, and so Egypt’s Osiris forbade cannibalism as the vilest evil. At the next evolutionary turn, in the modern rational/ industrial era, the productivity of free labor far exceeded that of slave labor, and priests and politicians denounced and outlawed slavery throughout the world.

AE Cultural Stages

approx.start time

(ya = years ago)


(See Tables 1&2  at right for details)

Magic  50,000ya Tribal — Hunter


Mythic  5000ya Agriculture State



Rational 500ya




►Industrial State



►Integrates and

  values all stages

Spiritual Stages   future 2100? Trans-rational

  /Spiritual Insight

    Today, our accelerating evolution is driven by the combined power of over 6 billion creative minds communicating at internet speeds. Experts say our rate of technological discovery is doubling every decade, average world income will quintuple by 2050, and that the predominant stage or level of consciousness is rapidly maturing from early rational or modern to post-modern. The AE model predicts that by the last half of this century these powerful creative forces will open us to the mature rational or integral stage and even spiritual levels of consciousness — and soon racism, sexism and even violence will become as morally repugnant as the infanticide, cannibalism and slavery of our earlier stages.

3. EVOLUTIONARY CHANGE WITH GRACE. The accelerating changes in this century do not have to be unnecessarily painful — they can be graceful and even exhilarating. 

    While recent evolution has brought improvements, a high rate of change often means high turbulence. Over the last 50 to 100 years, global life spans have doubled, average global per-capita incomes have increased tenfold, and democracy has flourished. But there has been much temporary pain as cars replace horses, manufacturing moves south and then overseas, peasants move to city slums, dictatorships are overthrown and political and financial systems are stabilized.

    Possibly even more suffering arises temporarily as our fundamental values and view of the world shift like a kaleidoscope to accommodate computers, cell phones, crumbling World Trade Towers, Chinese Olympics, tech support from Bangalore, or a pimply  kid urging us to vote for a black guy named Obama. Our world view and core values are evolving to new levels in decades instead of centuries or millennia.

    Some of us want to shout; “STOP!  Let’s take a breather. Go back to simpler times. Times when fundamental values were stable.   We fantasize about simple medieval times of an orderly church-state and plow agriculture — or even magical times of the tribal hunter-gatherer.

    But the creative power of six billion text messaging inventive minds simply cannot be stopped. We can’t push the technological baby back into the womb, but each of us can open our own minds and hearts and skillfully help midwife a new integral and spiritual era of collective and individual peace by the end of this century.

    The transition is happening — the question is whether we will meet the change with ignorance, resistance and suffering — or with wisdom, grace and joy.

4. EVOLUTION BEYOND THE  RATIONAL STAGE —  FUTURE SPIRITUALITY.  A delightful mystery that will build on and extend our current rational stage.  

    Western enlightenment freed itself from the Mythic Church and heralded scientific rationality, industrialization, and equality for slaves, minorities and women. But it ceded spirituality to the Church — leaving the Rational stage with a spiritual void that is only now beginning to heal with new direct spiritual experiences such as meditation.  As our accelerating technology provides unprecedented abundance, it seems likely that more and more people will explore this direct spirituality as a way of enriching their lives — a spirituality that integrates western science with eastern methodologies.  [Science is already starting down this path with studies of mindful-awareness meditation, neurology and  positive psychology. ]   

   The AE model indicates that mathematically (based on historical trends) we may evolve to a trans-rational or Spiritual Era by the end of this century and reach a transition or “Omega Point” by the middle of the next century — far sooner than the philosopher-priest-paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin expected.

   Bear in mind, however, that the AE model is a Rational Stage conception — and what happens when a substantial percentage of the world’s citizens achieve some sort of spiritual insight or enlightenment is basically a delightful mystery — as unknowable as our global culture of cell phones, jets, space stations and the internet would have been to Plato.

    So the primary focus of this paper will be on experiencing the coming decades of rapid change as we evolve to the  mature Rational or Integral stage  with as much wisdom and grace and joy as possible.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Recognition and support for the basic AE ideas summarized above have been expressed by such widely diverse sources as EnlightenNext magazine, MIT’s  Technology Review and the Integral Theory Conference.

The remainder of this paper briefly defines “Integral”  (in the box below) and then examines:

  • Our past and present performance on earth. (Is life really getting better?)

  • Our possible future evolution.

  • Our personal and community challenges in riding and guiding the future changes with wisdom and grace.


‘Integral’ is used in at last two different ways in this paper.
  1) The ‘integral’ way that the evolution of stages occurs, and
  2) The ‘integral’ or mature rational stage of consciousness evolution.

1) Integral evolution of stages. The concept of consciousness evolution by stages, from body to mind to spirit, originated in the wisdom traditions and has been revised and expanded by modern scientists, psychologists, and philosophers.  Consciousness evolutionist Jean Gebser first proposed the historical stages of archaic, magic, mental/rational, and integral.  Theorist Ken Wilber has integrated many of these ideas and popularized the word “Integral” to describe them. 

 Integral stage evolution means that each stage is based on and incorporates the previous one (per Arthur Koestler’s holon theory).  [E.g. Atoms form cells which form complex animals which evolve into hominids. Human tribes develop into ethnic-states and then into global civilization. ]

The manifestation at each stage is also integral in the sense that it develops in many facets – primary among these are the four quadrants: 


1. “I”  Interior-Individual –
  intention, consciousness, …
2. “IT”  Exterior-Individual
behavior, brain, technology, …
4. “WE”  Interior-Collective
cultural, morals, …
3. “ITS”  Exterior-Collective
social, economics …


The interplay between interior and exterior seems to ratchet us to more and more complex systems.  Higher consciousness can manifest higher technology – which in turn can stimulate even higher consciousness.  Plow agriculture expanded our consciousness from tribe to ethnic group — and globalization is expanding it even further.

The interplay between competition and cooperation has also stimulated development.  Robert Wright in “Non-Zero” proposes that our striving to selfishly compete (say for status) playing zero-sum (win/lose) games results in lower status members learning to altruistically cooperate by playing non-zero-sum (win/win) games in order to defeat a stronger competitor.  [Intertribal war has the same stimulating effect on intra-tribal cooperation.]

2) The Integral-Rational Stage. The word “integral” is used in a different in way in the name: “Integral-Rational Stage” — what AE calls the mature level of the Rational Stage of development (See sidebar tables).  This is the first stage that integrates — or values and utilizes (rather than trying to annihilate) people at other levels of stage development. [See later discussion.]  

PAST [Has life really been getting better?]

In looking at the current complexity of problems, we sometimes wonder if all this accelerating technological development and globalization is actually reducing our suffering and increasing our life satisfaction — or is it simply disrupting our lives and destroying the ecology of the planet. We often yearn for a long ago “simpler time”.

But we certainly do not want to go back 3 billion years to when the early denizens of planet earth were microscopic pre-bacteria awash in thousand foot tides and sizzling volcanoes. Nor back 300 million years to when we were instinct driven lizards snapping up millipedes. Nor back 30 million years to when our predecessors were early monkeys competing for fruit and sex and status. Nor back 3 million years when our chimp-brained ancestors ventured onto the Serengeti plains competing for roots and sex and status (with our face firmly up against timeless present). Nor even 300 thousand years ago when our brains had grown human sized and we used our budding language skills to compete with each other and Neanderthals for meat and sex and status.

But how about after we had finally evolved into modern humans with complex language skills and a sense of time and self. Was life better then?

Thirty thousand years ago, during the AE stage called Magic or tribal, life may have been simpler, but not easier. Life expectancy was in the teens and most of us did not survive childhood. Social ranking and rivalry within the tribe was complex and challenging — and tribes competed fiercely among themselves for territory and resources. Our shamans did indeed revere nature, but often led us in rites of human sacrifice or cannibalism when we made a successful raid on a neighboring tribe.

Three thousand years ago, during the stage called Mythic or ethnic-state, the new technology of plow agriculture allowed a man to produce a surplus of food that helped spawn a ruling class of priests and warriors, record keeping and writing, patriarchy, city-states, and god-kings. Most of us were slaves or serfs, but even ruling class life was highly constrained by preordained rules and roles — and restricted food variety and a lack of modern medicine kept life expectancy in the low twenties. Our priests were our connection to heavenly salvation and condemned cannibalism, but they also blessed the institutions of slavery, racism, religious war, and patriarchy.

Three hundred years ago, during the early Rational stage, industrialization was increasing productivity enough (in some areas of the world), to start generating a middle class and the ideas of democracy and eliminating slavery.  But the oppression of poor, women, and non-ruling ethnic groups was still rampant. Childhood was still chancy, and childbirth or minor infections killed off adults, keeping life expectancy to the twenties or thirties. Both the priests of the old religions and the new “priests” of science and economics condemned slavery (bad economics), but still condoned patriarchy and racism.

Thirty years ago, during the middle Rational stage, improved technology and economic/political systems had increased productivity and communication to where hundreds of millions of people had a comfortable middle class lifestyle. And in the developing countries, the technology created “green revolution” and better medicine had started to reduced famines and extended the gift of life to billions. But prejudice still had free reign and the cold war threat of nuclear winter hung like the Sword of Damocles over all of the human race.

PRESENT [How are things today? How is the current population distributed among the stages.]

Today, 65% of us live in the relative freedom of democracy, compared to 12% a century ago. Today, thanks to better nutrition and medicine, the people in the world live 20 to 30 years longer than they did a half century ago. Today, despite concerns of unequal income distribution, 50% fewer of us (1 in 6) live in extreme poverty (less than a dollar a day) as we did only 20 years ago.

In this century, we trade goods and services with China, Russia, Germany, and Japan — in the last century we traded bombs and bullets.  In this century, the workers in Asia are starting to get the same opportunities as those in Europe and America did in the last. Television, trade, and the internet are tying the world together — forcing us to see all the worlds’ people as “human”

Only fifty years ago, a black or a female President or Secretary of State was inconceivable and a million Indians lost in famine was second page news. Today, Barack is President, Hillary runs the State Department,  and a bright young woman in Delhi guides me through computer labyrinths rather than hauling water from the village well.

The shock of 9-11 and Iraq has distracted us from the realization that many many more folks on this planet are getting the right to pursue happiness — as guaranteed by the US constitution. Far from perfect, but far better than the poverty, tyranny, and early death of a century ago.


CURRENT STAGE DEVELOPMENT.   To develop to a new stage, a culture needs a substantial and viable  group of adults to have developed to the new stage.  (See story of Joey in sidebar).

An individual child’s consciousnessdevelops from the pre-verbal sensori-motor stage to the AE MagicStage at about 3 (verbal, pre-conventional Piaget’s intuitive-conceptual-preoperational) ; then to the AE Mythic Stage at about 7 (conventional, Rule-Role, Piaget’s concrete operational); then to the AE Rational Stage at about 12 (post-conventional, Piaget’s formal operational logic). 

At the Rational Stage we can view things from other perspectives and can compare and question the absolute truths (rules/roles) of our own and other Mythic views. This can lead to scientific precision and impartial world-centric judgments of fairness and care. In the more mature Pluralistic Rational Stage we can view things from even more perspectives and by Integral Rational Stage we start to integrate and value all the stages.

The stage evolution for cultures is even more complex. While Plato and his friends certainly used rational thought, they were a tiny fraction of that population, and the cultural level of technology and economics at that time could not sustain a large number at the rational level.

That threshold only came two millennia later when the emerging conscious developments in Europe and their persistent (and bloody) questioning of the old order of church and state, rules and roles, led to the reformation, the printing press, the scientific method, commerce and eventually the industrial and democratic revolutions. This increased economic incomes — emancipating slaves, peasants and women from their assigned lot in life. [Sadly, the early rational stage (like any rebellious adolescent) identified the spiritual with the Church — and tossed out the spiritual baby with the religious bathwater — a legacy we are still struggling with today.]


Table 2.  CURRENT STAGE DEVELOPMENT (see sidebar).  Shows the distribution of population and power among the stages (based on 2000 data).

    While the Rational Stage held 71% of the social power by 2000, only 31% of the world adult population had reached that level — mostly in the developed world. Magic thinking is still evident in developing tribal countries or inner city gangs. Mythic thinking is still strong in former communist countries or fundamentalist Islam or Christian areas.

Pluralistic, the more mature Rational Stage, started first by infiltrating universities and governments. A tiny minority in 1950, by 2000 they held some 15% of the power (more in Europe).

Integral, the most mature Rational Stage, is now starting to make an appearance. While only 1% of the population and 6% of the power in 2000, they could easily double every 10 or 15 years as the world economy grows. At that rate, it is possible that Integral thinking could hold a majority of world power by 2050, when the whole world’s per-capita incomes reach current US or European levels.

FUTURE [Will the trend continue? Integral by 2050?]

There is significant evidence that our stage development shows no signs of slowing down as we move into the new millennium. Let’s look at technology, economics, morality, and spirituality:

Technology.  Ray Kurzweil (“The best at predicting the future of artificial intelligence” says Bill Gates ) has shown that technology innovation is doubling every 10 years — and he claims it will grow faster in the future — so by 2050 we will experience more technology progress in four months than we are experiencing in all of our whirlwind 2000-2010 decade.
    Faster communications seems to be a key. For example, a scientist recently announced a superconductor breakthrough on the web and then rushed to prepare a paper for an upcoming conference. Arriving at the conference a month later, he was astonished to find a dozen other research papers based on his web announced discovery.

Economics. Technology and increased global communication — together with increased political and economic freedom and fairness, have unleashed the creative power of the world’s people to vastly increase our economic production. There are nearly 2 billion internet users and 4 billion cell phones in use today — one cell phone for every adult on the planet!. Cell phones not only help high powered entrepreneurs, but can greatly increase the market sales of a village fisherman by cutting out middlemen and locating the best market.


World Population

World income
(per capita)
(constant 2003 $)















$120/day (projected)

By 2050 the average world income per capita (in current dollars) is projected to increase six fold — more than a current European’s income. Globalization has fueled this recent increase — with workers in Asia and Latin America starting to see the same opportunities as those in Europe and the US saw in the last century. [But change engenders pain. See the “Challenges” section below for the major problems of inequality, conflict, and environment.]

Morality. Higher technology and economics seem to still be driving morality upward. As the fall of the Iron Curtain dramatically showed, to compete economically, countries need to nurture the creative energy of all their citizens by establishing a fair playing field of democracy, justice, fair economics, and a free press. In another positive shift, for example, companies in the 1950’s paid management consultants to improve efficiency, then in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to respect, value, and benefit from the creative energy of women and minorities.  Now, in pursuit of the new Asian markets, companies pay hard money to change their internal cultures in order to learn how to respect and value distant people as their equals. If a company today does not change and widen its value of others, it will lose out to the companies that do.
    A recent competitive trend for companies is
“transparency” – where a company has no secrets from its customers or employees — but works with them for the mutual benefit of all. This amazing trend is being forced by the bright glare of internet communications and shows happy signs of spreading to governments as well.  A second positive trend is “corporate social responsibility”
where companies voluntarily try to improve the quality of life for employees and society at large.

Globalization and instant communication is forcing, or rather allowing, all of us to see all the earth’s human beings as equals who are deserving of respect and compassion. It is my contention that we have always been touched by this compassion, but only in recent times has the economic base been established that can nurture and stabilize it at a higher stage.

Spirituality. The Rational stage began some 500 years ago with a rebellion against control of the Mythic stage priests and Church with its “Big Daddy God.”  Luther proclaimed their misbehavior, Galileo their misconceptions, Machiavelli their un-Godliness, and Guttenberg helped spread the word. But in our rebellion, we conceded true spirituality — the connection we all feel to our Source (or God) — to the priests and books of the Mythic religions.
    The rift has been deep and long lasting. Ordinary folk have often felt forced to choose Rational Science and lose Spirit — or choose Religion and lose Rational Science.

The great wealth in places like the US has shown us how a surfeit of material things can alleviate material suffering, but does not provide emotional peace and happiness. While a few Americans have sought that sense of peace in a direct experience of the ultimate in meditation or contemplation, many more have turned back to the fundamentalist Mythic church (and some even further to tribal era shamans).

Today, as we ratchet our way slowly to the mature or Integral level of Rational, there are signs of the healing of this century’s old rift. UCLA scientists are researching the impact of mindful-awareness meditation on the brain. Neuroscientists invited the Dali Lama to keynote their conference. And on the other side, Father Keating is teaching Catholics a meditation called Contemplative Prayer to directly experience God’s love.


Integral by 2050?  Spiritual by 2100?  Based on the projected huge increases in technology and economics — and the increasing number of people moving into more mature Rational levels — it seems possible that we could mature to the Integral-Rational stage by mid-century.

Integral is the first stage of consciousness that values all stages. The Mythic stage is quick to kill all infidels (tribal or scientific), and even the Pluralistic-Rational condemns other stages (i.e. The “politically correct” atmosphere of many universities scathingly marginalizes any divergent views.)

The Integral Stage values all levels. For instance: Magic for their imagination, Mythic for their needed rules (like stop lights), Individualistic-Rational for their technological prowess and energy, and Pluralistic-Rational for their diversity of viewpoint.

If Integral achieves world power, we will finally have a chance for world peace. We will have a good chance to avoid global meltdown and we will have a chance to eventually move on to the Spiritual levels — individually and culturally.

But it will take continued technological and economic progress. Only when we tear down border fences because developing countries make enough money at home, will we have a chance to move into an Integral-Spiritual era of peace.

We will need the experience of global wealth to realize that things and power are not a lasting source of happiness. Only when we experience this dissatisfaction can we let go of our craving for wealth and pass thru biblical “eye of the needle” to true spirituality.

CHALLENGES [Can the forces of push/pull help us let go of our resistance to developing to Integral and Spiritual consciousness?]

It sounds so easy; we just ride the stage escalator to Integral and Spiritual – to peace and happiness. Actually, like the birth of a child, the birth of a new stage requires blood, sweat and tears.
    Today we have terrorism, famine, AIDS, genocide, war, racists, judgmental fundamentalists, greedy executives, avaricious corporations, environmental rape, global warming, huge wealth inequalities, angry gangs and poverty even in rich countries — as well as angry tree huggers, social activists, and anti-globalists.
    Globalization itself, which I suggest will increase global wealth and help reduce these problems, causes enormous disruptions and changes: lost jobs in America; the inner turmoil in values when a Chinese peasant moves to a city; the sense of betrayal and frustration of the Islamic middle east; or the use of modern technology to murder tribal rivals or even blackmail the world.

The Pull and Push Forces that can help the transition.

Change always incurs pain and stress. People do not let go of their established ideas or positions easily. It took centuries of blood for democracy to replace autocracy in Europe. But there are some forces that can help with the transition.
    The mystics say mankind connects heaven and earth. To open to a new stage we can benefit from both these forces:

1) Push from below. Growth in consciousness is supported by the ratchet effect of external manifestations like technology and economics that stabilize a culture and resists us falling back into earlier ways of thinking.

2) Pull from above. The attractive pull of our Source (God if you will) for opening to greater creativity and compassion (the evolutionary force).

Let us look at three major challenges and how these forces are helping us meet them:

Inequality. On a purely economic “push from below” basis, inequality is recognized as underutilizing the creativity of a country’s people and dragging down its productivity and growth. The pull of spirit can be seen in a general rise in compassion for the world’s disadvantaged.

Environment. For the first time in history, we are working at the world level to help the environment. Besides the push of economics and survival concerns, many people are starting to care, not just about all the world’s people, but about all the world’s creatures and about the planet as a whole ecosystem — about Gaia. This is a huge shift from prior times. (Hopefully we will take action before the water level rises above our heads!)

Conflict. It is difficult to go to war with someone you trade or work with.  No countries that have McDonald’s franchises have ever gone to war (almost).  A few years ago, the possible loss of outsourcing funds silenced an atomic shoving match between India and Pakistan.
    In places like India or Malaysia or South Korea or Latin America many of these problems have been alleviated in the last half-century. So it is certainly possible they can be resolved elsewhere in the next half-century.
    Increased communications and trade has pushed us to expand our concept of “who is human” and allowed us to open more to our natural compassion for other people.

Biggest Challenge.   Our biggest challenge in giving birth to the Integral and Spiritual stages will be in relaxing and opening our own consciousness — stretching of our tightly protected world views and habitual egoic patterns.

Any change causes pain, but resistance to change exacerbates it enormously. For example, on a daily basis I try to help recovering alcoholics and others (and myself) who are suffering (and causing others to suffer) because of their resistance to what has already happened in their world — to what “is”. They complain “My parents did not raise me right” or “Nasty people have done bad things that threaten my safety and happiness” or “My boss is mean” or “People don’t recycle” or “Life (or spouse or government or globalization) is unfair.”
    We clutch our self righteous judgments painfully to our heart — defending them with all the fury of our fearful ego and habitual childhood patterns of behavior.
    My goal is to help these folks (and myself) release their clutched fist and soften and expand their rigid egoic box — to let some space in for their center core of peace and power (some call it God). Then they can act with power and compassion instead of with fear and anger.

What is true on a personal level is also true on a global level. There is a tremendous opportunity for each of us to expand our view.

  • If we are an ecologist, humanist, moralist, or spiritual seeker, we can open more to the push from below. We can recognize that we will never have peace if Mexicans are so poor they risk their lives to get a green card; that an Indian engineer or a Chinese laborer or a Indonesian textile worker has as much of a right for a job as an Irish engineer or a Detroit laborer or an African-American textile worker; that the technology led green revolution has given billions of us the gift of life; and that globalization has given Indians, Chinese, and other people in the developing world the right to escape extreme poverty and pursue happiness.  [A few environmentalists have already heard this call — to become pro-technology, pro-growth, pro-human.]

  • If we are a globalist, technologist, scientist, or executive we can open more to the pull from above. We can realize that treating workers better and being more open and transparent can pay off in profits and improved corporate health; that we can all cooperate in saving the planet; and that each of us has heard the call of spirit — in a sunset or a redwood cathedral or a child’s smile. [Transparent companies and mindful neuroscientists are a wonderful start.]

  • If we are a fundamentalist of any faith, we will have the toughest job and the greatest opportunity: opening both to below, to the benefits of science, technology, and globalization and to above, to a direct experience of compassionate spirit.

It is my fervent hope that we can make this revolutionary transition without the bloodshed of earlier ones; that we will indeed open our minds to a new world view; that:

  • The responsible people in rich countries will respond to the opening of labor markets in China and India by re-training their own workers, not clinging to low skill jobs better done by (temporarily) lower cost Asians.

  • Our governments, pushed by citizens and NGO’s, will keep the playing fields fair and level and protect our environment from global meltdown.

  • The powerful, as they develop to Integral-Rational, will keep the peace and nourish global prosperity, while respecting people and cultures at all earlier stages.

  • And we will all open our consciousness to a new more compassionate way of experiencing life and each other.


Please check out my presentation to the 2008 Integral Theory Conference:

   "Is our accelerating technology driving us to a higher morality?"



for more details.














[Approximate start time - - years ago (ya).

bya=billion years ago. m=million. k=thousand


Each stage develops ten times as fast as its predecessor stage.

Each stage builds on its predecessor stage. Atoms form cells; cells form animals; etc. 

Each stage has interior and exterior manifestations. 




























[indefinite past]  Our universe of matter /energy starts with the big bang 14 bya, but current cosmological theory says the seeds were there earlier.  [Using the term  "consciousness" here is a stretch, but atoms do distinguish between self and other.]


[5 billion years ago The earth cools and 4 bya microscopic life/cells begin. About 2 bya nucleated cells and sex began - - larger, but still microscopic. [Cellular "consciousness" is pretty microscopic.]


[500 million years ago "Cambrian explosion" -- complex life (legs, eyes, spines, brains) forms from the cellular ooze. 350mya  animals crawled onto land. 200mya dinosaurs reigned.  [Reptilian brain, primarily instinct driven.]


































[50 million years ago]   Meteor kills off dinosaurs 65mya and gives mammals/ sex/ "love" a chance to flower. [Triune brain, emotional/ social drives.]


[5 million years ago Climate change impels apes to walk upright on the African plains.  [Bigger brains with globe spanning Homo erectus 1.8mya, signs/symbols but pre-conceptual. Early self consciousness.]

 [The fascinating new field of evolutionary psychology is examining how the last 5-10 million years affects our current genetic capacities for aggression, compassion, sex, etc. For instance, it is genetically advantageous for a man to be a supportive "dad" but an occasional opportunistic "cad". ]


[500 thousand years ago]   Evolutionary pressure produced big brained hunters that spread over the earth. Neanderthals, 350kya, had modern sized brains but changed little over time. The more verbally equipped anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa over 150kya, but did not flourish until the "Upper Paleolithic Revolution" 50kya.  

.[While the driving force for our evolving and expanding consciousness for the last 50,000 years seems primarily cultural, some scientists point out that the current rate of genetic evolution is 100 times faster than the 5 million years average -- and that there is substantial evidence that there have been critical genetic changes related to our cultural evolution from independent forager-hunters to regimented peasants to industrial workers and entrepreneurs.]


















[50 thousand years ago]
The "modern" human explosion of language, art, and invention. But infanticide, cannibalism, human sacrifice were common. Matured to "big chief" cultures. [Current magical tribal or child-like thinking. Pre-conventional. "I give you this joint of my finger Great Spirit" said the Crow Indian, "give me something good in exchange." ]

[5  thousand years ago]

Agriculture writing-empires civilization starts. With plow agriculture one man can produce food for several. Slavery or serfdom is the rule with bureaucratic priests controlling for autocratic patriarchy and God-Kings. Cherishes rules and roles. Current Islam and other fundamentalists world wide.  [Piaget's concrete-operational thinking. "Conventional" or "Traditional".]

[500 years ago
, but perhaps as late as 1650 ]

Printing-science-"age of reason"-democracy-market economy. Predominant first world thinking today -- developing from:

Individualistic (Modern) to
Pluralistic (Postmodern) to
Integral (Mature Rational).

 [Piaget's formal-operational thought.  "Post-conventional".]  (See Table 2 below for details)








but may start by 2100].   While a few individuals have achieved spiritual stages of development , just how this trans-rational highly moral culture will display itself is as unforeseeable as globe circling jets and the internet would have been to Plato.










Joey is a squirming bundle of energy who, like other children of five, views the world thru a magic-stage self-centered consciousness. For Joey, his bite can make a tomato morph into a frog, and Kermit the frog is as real as his sister, and his good behavior caused Santa to bring him a bike, and his bad behavior (he unfortunately believes) caused Daddy to leave him and Mommy.

    In a year or so he will develop to the mythic-stage where he can consider other people’s viewpoints, and where Santa no longer is magic, and rules and roles and mythical Gods reign supreme.

    By adolescence, his cognitive development will hopefully triumph over raging hormones and make it to the rational-stage. Later, frogs will lead Joey to a PhD in zoology, and a taste for magic will lead him to Zen meditation and the trans-rational spiritual stages of consciousness.

    Joey’s 50 year individual development from zygote to zoologist to Zen master echoes our five billion year collective development from amoebas to apes to astronauts.


















































































































[Distribution of adult population and power in 2000.]

[Percentages based on Spiral Dynamics and Wilber's "Integral Psychology" (2000). Note that Wilber breaks the AE Rational stage into three separate stages.]

All children start in the pre-mental stages and mature up their current culture stage (more or less).

While world power has moved to the Rational Stage, many country cultures are still at pre-rational (tribal, authoritarian, etc.) And some segments of even advanced cultures are also at pre-rational (gangs, fundamental religions, etc.)

PRE-RATIONAL (Magic and Mythic) STAGES.

[59% of population / 29% of power.]

Most of these people are in the later Mythic (conformist-rule-role or "Traditional")  ego developmental stage. However some of these folks in tribal areas or inner city gangs are at the Magic Stage [15% of population / 2% of power.].

INDIVIDUALISTIC RATIONAL (early rational or "modern" ) STAGE.

[30% of population / 50% of power]

Provided the initial break from the mythic church-state with science, democracy and the market economy. Still the dominant view. Strong in business and governments.

PLURALISTIC RATIONAL (middle rational or "post-modern" ) STAGE.

[10% of population / 15% of power. Small minority 50 years ago.].

Softens the Individualistic- Rational stage with multi-perspective human bonding, anti-hierarchy, diversity, and eco-psychology. Controls universities. Strong in Europe.

INTEGRAL RATIONAL (mature rational) STAGE.

[ 1% of population / 6% of power. Very few 50 years ago – but could double every dozen years and be dominant within 50 years.]

Expands and matures the Pluralistic view to integrate and value other stages instead of denigrating them. A holistic prelude to Spiritual.


[Very few today. But could easily be measurable in 50 years as people develop beyond the Integral-Rational.] Deepens the Integral view to an actual experience or trans-rational direct knowing of an impermanent non-separate self -– that we are all one -- and evolving.

















"Mystics need to become more scientific. Scientists need to become more mystical." 
 Andrew Harvey




























The idea of linear time is a relatively recent idea -- born of god-king proclamations and rational science investigations.   

For the mystics:

"Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic."

A Course in Miracles.






























Omega Point. Those of you who are mathematically inclined may have noticed that the acceleration of stages is not just exponential but asymptotic - - with an implied transition singularity or “omega point" at about 2150. I see this as more like the “Omega Point" of Teilhard de Chardin – a pull of an evolutionary God force toward the highest level of “complexity-consciousness” that the universe can achieve -- and not the technological artificial intelligence singularity that Ray Kurzwiel envisions by 2050.
     Note that a transition time 2150  implies that all the previous stages should be shifted by 150 years. But beware of too much literalness about the inception of the spiritual stages or a final "transition point".  

     The very concept of time itself has shifted radically over the stages.  For the tribal shaman time was circular. For the mythic priest and even early modern scientist the world was only a few thousand years old.  Only in the last century did we start measuring the age of the universe in billions of years.  A future person with spiritual stage consciousness may find our current concept of linear time to be quaintly limited.



































































Osel Tendzin



























What we can do to reach the Integral and Spiritual Stages.


Rather than rejecting the spiritual as an irrational belief perpetrated by archaic religions, we can be open to a direct experience of the divine through meditation or contemplation.


Rather than fighting globalization with blood and terror, we can use globalization to help all the world's people find a better life.


Rather than defending outmoded American jobs, we can help other countries workers and our own consumers by retraining our workers.


Rather than clutching the scriptures as the only sacred view, we can be open to a direct experience of the divine through meditation or contemplation.


Rather than defending entrenched interests, we can help economic growth and our general welfare by maintaining fair laws and markets.


Rather than blindly protecting the environment, we can balance the needs of the people with the needs for the environment.


Rather than resisting the birth of a new era, we can midwife it with all our considerable compassion and skill.