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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

January 28, 2004
Vol. 1, No. 190




Sister Rita Larivee Eight groups of consciousness

Sister Rita Larivee, SSA, NCR associate publisher

This week, Larivee is exploring new, emerging ideas that don't typically make it into the public arena. Follow these links to read:
w Part One: Learning more to discover more.
   w Part Two: Not new solutions, new questions.
Nine months ago, April 2003, the Human Genome Project, considered one of the greatest feats of exploration in history, was completed. It is described as "an inward voyage of discovery rather than an outward exploration of the planet or the cosmos. Now we can, for the first time, read nature's complete genetic blueprint for building a human being." (National Human Genome Research Institute)

The implications for this research reach far beyond our imaginations, and there can be little doubt that it will take generations of study to grasp, in any true sense, the full meaning of this accomplishment.

It has been suggested that we may one day eliminate genetic diseases. But does this also imply that we will one day select the physical traits of our children? It is easy to take a skeptical view that everything we learn will be for the benefit of the entire human family. History has shown more often than we'd like to believe that good intentions often go astray. But regardless, I am confident that the information received will provide great opportunity. It is simply a matter of choice.

The question, however, that I am asking myself is this: "What do we mean by a complete genetic blueprint?" Is it possible that the human genome is, in fact, only the tip of a very large iceberg, and that for all our effort, it is but a hint of the true blueprint, genetic or otherwise, for building a human being.

I say this because the Human Genome Project is not the only significant research project into the nature of humanity being conducted. It is certainly a well-known project, but this should be no measure of its importance in comparison to other endeavors.

Another fascinating study, but much less known to most individuals, is the Human (Global) Consciousness Project. It is viewed as the psychological counterpart to the Human Genome Project. Begun in 1998, the project has grown to more than 50 sites around the world, each reporting data on individual consciousness and the possibility of the human mind to have direct communication links with others. While there are shelves filled with books that describe endless possibilities for the human mind, few deal with the possibility that through our consciousness alone we may have the ability to affect change on the world despite great distance.

In a way, it can be frightening to learn of the multitude of projects taking place within the global community for understanding the true nature of the human race. Some projects may sound bizarre, but if we have learned anything over the years it is that first impressions can often be deceiving. What we see is often only one piece in a very large puzzle. The piece isn't wrong, but it can be misunderstood if seen separate from the rest of its picture.

Ken Wilber, one of the most creative spiritual thinkers today, uses consciousness theory as a means for describing the world. His work integrates the realms of body, mind, soul and spirit for a better understanding of human evolution, and he is considered one of the most widely read and influential philosophers of our time.

Wilber divides the entire human community into eight groups, each representative of a particular type of consciousness and the behavioral and societal patterns that emerge from within these groups. Standing on the wealth of knowledge gained from the great psychological masters of the past, Wilber attempts to tell us the story of the evolution of consciousness and its implications for the global community for building a better world.

Briefly explained, one-tenth of a percent of the adult world population (6 million) lives at the level of basic survival and that a distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Examples are new born babies, late-stage Alzheimer's victims, and the starving masses. These people have no power in the world. (Wilber refers to this group as beige. Each group has its own color.)

Ten percent of the world population (600 million) lives out of a magical-animistic consciousness. Magical spirits, good and bad, exist throughout the earth leaving blessings and curses that determine events. This level of consciousness is strong in third world settings and gangs. Typically, there is belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths and superstitions. This is also considered a tribe mentality often seen in athletic teams. This group (purple) has 1 percent of the power in the world.

Twenty percent of the world population (1.2 billion) lives with the view that the world is a jungle full of threats and predators. They interpret events as forces to be dealt with and have learned to enjoy themselves to the fullest now, taking whatever they can get without remorse. This group (red) has 5 percent of the power in the world.

Other Today's Takes by Rita Larivee
June 25, 03 Use closed sessions with caution
June 24, 03 Howard Dean and a reminder of the common good
June 23, 03 Baseball's best kept secret
May 21, 03 Kudos to Maine Rx
May 20, 03 Managed truth (a.k.a. 'lying')
May 19, 03 Celebrating spring rites of passage
Forty percent of the world population (2.4 billion) lives with meaning, direction and purpose. Outcomes, however, are determined by an all-powerful other or order. They live out of a righteousness that enforces a certain code of conduct based on absolute principles of "right" and "wrong." Adherence to the order yields rewards for the faithful. There is a rigid social hierarchy, it is paternalistic, and there in only one right way to think of things. Typically, this group is conventional and controlled by guilt. This group (blue) has 30 percent of the power in the world.

Thirty percent of the world population (1.8 billion) lives at a consciousness level of scientific achievement. The self leaves the tribe mentality and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms. The world is seen as a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be mastered and manipulated for one's own purposes. This group is highly achievement oriented and enjoys material gains. The world is a game in which there are winners and losers. This group (orange) has 50 percent of the power.

Ten percent of the world population (600 million) lives out of a sense of communitarianism, human bonding, ecological sensitivity and networking. The human spirit must emphasize feelings, and caring must supercede cold rationality. People must be freed from greed and dogma and come to cherish the earth and all of life. This group opposes hierarchies and prefers community bonding. Life is understood in relationship to others and the group tries to achieve decisions through cooperation and consensus. There is a strong emphasis upon multiculturalism and diversity. This group (green) has 15 percent of the power.

There are two more groups to describe, each quite distinctive in nature from the previous six groups. Those groups we will leave until tomorrow. In a way, we will take a quantum leap into the future of consciousness and the human family.

(Please note that the sum of the percentages is greater than 100. Many of us live and operate at multiple levels, depending upon the activity we are engaged in at any given moment. In a way, I can be green one day and blue the next. This is a gross simplification but helpful I hope.)

Rita Larivee is NCR associate publisher. She can be reached at

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