Category Archives: Spiral Dynamics

Spiraling Through the Parables 2: The Vineyard Workers

This is the second article of a series called Spiraling Through the Parables. In this series, we are looking at the Evolution of Consciousness as we study the Parables of our great teacher and way-shower Jesus of Nazareth.

When we consider a parable through the lens of the Evolution of Consciousness, we focus on the idea that human consciousness is not static. Our consciousness evolves as we move through our life experiences. Further, we go through recognizable and predictable stages of spiritual growth. Our understanding of God and ourselves changes in each stage.

As we look at a parable, we will draw from it meaning that is appropriate to our current stage of growth. It’s not that we move closer to the ‘right’ answer! Rather, whatever stage of growth we are in, we find the answer that speaks to us right where we are. We find the meaning that helps us deal with our present-moment challenges.

The Vineyard Workers

Today, we are exploring the Parable of The Vineyard Workers. This parable is known as a ‘Reversal’ parable. It presents a story that just seems wrong. When we hear it, something in us resists. Yet, we are told this story represents the Kingdom of Heaven. So the question we wrestle with is – How is that possible?

The following translation comes from The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? created and published by The Jesus Seminar.

Jesus used to tell this parable:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a proprietor who went out the first thing in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the workers for a silver coin a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And coming out around nine a.m., he saw others loitering in the marketplace and he said to them, “You go into the vineyard too, and I’ll pay you whatever is fair.” So they went. Around noon he went out again, and at three p.m. he repeated the process. About five p.m. he went out and found others loitering about and said to them, “Why did you stand around here idle the whole day?” They replied, “Because no one hired us.” He told them, “You go into the vineyard as well.”

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman: “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with those hired last and ending with those hired first.” Those hired at five p.m. came up and received a silver coin each. Those hired first approached, thinking they would receive more. But they also got a silver coin apiece. They took it and began to grumble against the proprietor: “These guys hired last only worked an hour but you have made them equal to us who did most of the work during the heat of the day.” In response he said to one of them, “Look, pal, did I wrong you? You did agree with me for a silver coin, didn’t you?  Matt 20:1-13 

What Does it Mean?

In the first article in this series, I introduced you to a model of human cognitive and spiritual development called Spiral Dynamics. That model defines several broad Levels of Consciousness. We are going to look at the parable of the Vineyard Workers from the point of view of four of these levels. At each level, we will ask the question, “How does this parable challenge me to grow? … i.e. What does it mean?”

Purposeful, Authoritarian (Blue)

What is important to us when this meme is our center of gravity?  Life is all about order. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. It is important to be in integrity. It is important to be fair. We work hard now to earn our just reward later.

At this level, the parable challenges our notion of what is ‘fair’Why did those who came late to the work still get the same reward? One meaning we might find at this level is that it is never too late to say ‘yes’ to God. Anyone who accepts God will be rewarded in heaven. We might also interpret this as a call to surrender. God is in charge. We will never understand God’s ways, and we do not need to. Our job is to surrender and accept.

Achievist, Strategic (Orange)

At this level, our most important value is self-empowerment. We use our intelligence and skill to create our good.

At this level, the parable challenges our notion of how we achieve our goodHow is it possible that those who worked one hour earned just as much as those who worked all day? That isn’t how the world works! One lesson we might take from this parable is to question what is the true source of our good – our labor or Spirit? If our good only comes from the efforts of our ego self, the parable makes no sense. If our good comes from Spirit, then the story encourages us to become co-creators with God.

We might also see that the silver coin represents all that we need in the way of supply – the divine flow. It makes no difference when we awaken and begin to work with God. The moment we open ourselves to the divine flow, and the wholeness of God is available to us immediately. Whether we have been working these principles for years, or it is our first attempt, anyone who aligns with God may draw on the infinite resources of Spirit.

Communitarian, Egalitarian (Green)

In this meme, we value equality. We passionately believe that everyone deserves an equal voice and an equal share of the pie.

This parable challenges our notion of equalityThe parable is a clear case of social injustice! On the one hand, we have the downtrodden masses working a full day for a silver coin. And on the other hand, we have an elite few working only an hour for that same silver coin. The proprietor is perpetuating systemic injustice! How can this be like the kingdom of heaven?!

The parable invites us to consider the idea of equality. Although people are to be valued equally, people are not all the same. It is calling us to honor diversity. The silver coin represents the equal value placed on each individual’s human worth. The different working hours represent our differing gifts and talents. Each of us has some things we are really good at and other things –- not so much. We have differing values and differing worldviews. When we try to make everyone the same, we inadvertently set people up for failure. So the parable challenges us to allow people their differences while still honoring their sacred worth. And we might also discover that the hardest people to honor are those who disagree with our belief that everyone is equal.

Integrative, Holistic (Yellow / Turquoise)

This is a level of consciousness that was not covered in the first article. It arose as a response to the previous meme’s tendency to try to make everybody the same. At this level, we see life as a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies, systems and forms. Our work is to integrate diverse people into healthy, cohesive groups. We meet people where they are at in consciousness. We respect the unique gifts of each level of consciousness. We honor people by providing them with the motivation that is most deeply meaningful to them

This parable challenges our notion of what a healthy, cohesive group looks likeThe proprietor is interacting with a wide variety of people at different levels of consciousness (represented by the different times of day). He is trying to integrate these people into a team, but it isn’t working. We can tell it is not working because people are complaining. There is tension in the team. By giving everyone the same motivation (the silver coin), the proprietor is failing to recognize that people at different levels of consciousness have different values and are motivated differently. How is that like the Kingdom of Heaven?

One meaning we can take from the parable is that we have this idea that if we successfully integrate people into a healthy, cohesive group, all the tension will go away and we will live in peace and love and harmony for the rest of our days. This is simply not true. The parable challenges us to recognize that tension and chaos are a natural and necessary part of a healthy system. If tension and chaos are skillfully managed, they become the drivers for creativity and innovation. Without them, the system stagnates and dies.

Consider the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. What do you think it means?

Spiraling Through the Parables 1: The Seed Growing Secretly

This article is the first in a 4-part series called Spiraling Through the Parables. In this series, we will look at the Evolution of Consciousness as we study the Parables of our great teacher and way-shower Jesus of Nazareth.

What is a Parable?

A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus was not a Lawgiver. His teaching did not focus on telling people how to behave. He did not give people set answers. Nor did he tell people what to think. Rather, through his stories, Jesus presented people questions, and then he coached them as they wrestled with these questions.

Many of Jesus’ parables use the phrase The Kingdom of God is like… We know what it is like to live as a human being, focused on human concerns. What would it be like to live as a Spiritual Being, focused on spiritual concerns, in the midst of our humanness?

The Seed Growing Secretly

Today, we are exploring the Parable of The Seed Growing Secretly.

Jesus would say, “The Kingdom of God is like this:

Suppose someone sows seed on the ground, and goes to bed and gets up day after day, and the seed sprouts and matures, although the sower is unaware of it. The earth produces fruit on its own, first a shoot, then a head, then mature grain on the head. But when the grain ripens, all of a sudden that farmer sends for the sickle, because it’s harvest time.”  Mark 4:26-29, Thomas 21:8-10

What does it mean?  It depends. It depends on you! Where are you on your human journey? What struggles and challenges are you facing? Where are you on your spiritual journey?

This brings us to our study of the Evolution of Consciousness. As we evolve and grow, our understanding of Jesus’ parables changes. It’s not that we move closer to the ‘right’ answer! Rather, whatever stage of growth we are in, we find the answer that speaks to us right where we are. We find the meaning that helps us deal with our present-moment challenges.

Spiral Dynamics

To guide us in our study of the evolution of consciousness, we will be using a model called Spiral Dynamics. The premise of Spiral Dynamics is that human nature is not fixed. Rather, our minds have the capacity to construct new conceptual worlds. Essentially, Spiral Dynamics (SD) describes how humans are able, when things get bad enough, to adapt to a situation by creating greater complexities of thinking to handle new problems. As events occur that significantly alter our life conditions, we respond by evolving more complex problem solving skills and growing in consciousness.

SD grew out of work with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and is related to the idea of Multiple Intelligences. SD defines 8 broad ‘intelligences’ (memes) which have emerged through the course of human history. For humans today, all 8 of those intelligences lie within our minds as latent possibilities. If we experience the life conditions for which an intelligence is best suited, it will begin to emerge.

By intentionally taking on the point of view in each of these 8 memes, we can find new and rich meanings in the parables.

Instinctive/Survivalist human (Beige)

This level emerged some 100,000 years ago. People were primarily hunters and gatherers living in nomadic clans. Our primary concern was simply staying alive. Today we see this meme in babies — it is our level of consciousness at birth. In adults, we see this in people with dementia and people in the midst of deep trauma — people in survival mode. There is little or no sense of self or God.

For people at this level, the parable invites us to trust that the earth supports our survival needs. It calls us to pay attention to our environment and make use of what it provides.

Magical, Animistic human emerged (Purple)

About 50,000 years ago, there was a great shift in consciousness. It was triggered in many ways by two important factors. The emergence of the Ice Age led to increased competition for resources. At the same time, a mutation in the human brain gave us the first real ability to assign cause and effect. People were primarily artisans and shamans living in tribes. Today, we see this meme in toddlers as they question everything (Why? Why? Why?), but don’t yet have symbolic thinking. We also see traces of this meme in the sacred practices of indigenous tribes around the world. The world is a magical place. At this level, emerging right-brain tendencies with a heightened sense of intuition allows us to “hear” the voices of Spirit. We have a mystical sense of cause and effect, and develop emotional attachments to places and things — a sense of the Sacred.

For people centered in this meme, the parable calls us to focus on the mysterious nature of how the earth brings forth fruit. The grain is sacred. The earth that yields the grain is sacred. We create rituals to encourage and celebrate this process and our part in it.

Continue reading Spiraling Through the Parables 1: The Seed Growing Secretly

What does Peace mean to you?

“In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.’” Luke: 2:1-14

Today is the second Sunday of the Advent season, and the focus of this day and the week that follows is Peace.

So, as I’ve been preparing to give this lesson, I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about peace. What do we mean when we say ‘peace’? If you ask most people, they will agree that they want peace, that peace is a good thing. But if you dig deeper, you will find that people have very different ideas as to what that peace looks like.

Continue reading What does Peace mean to you?