CODA: A foot with Don Beck in the Middle East

Coda / March 2006

Rafael NasserOn November 12, 2004, the day Yasser Arafat was buried in Ramallah, I landed in Ben Gurion airport. Ten days earlier I had watched a team of professional movers disassemble my cozy Manhattan apartment and stuff the contents into 117 cardboard boxes bound to follow me across the Atlantic to my new home, Tel Aviv. After the movers left I stood alone in the bare-walled living room and in the eerie silence I questioned my decision to relocate. Only my closest friends knew that rationality wasn’t the principle guiding my move; my decision was informed by the call of intuition. The synchronicity of these two events – my arrival and Arafat’s departure – made an odd impression on me. I was overcome by the sense that I was been guided to the Holy Land by the veiled hand of Destiny. My lingering doubts about the move evaporated. I was sure I was in the right place, though I still didn’t know why.

I found a sunlit flat in south Tel Aviv and settled into my new life. Winter crossed over into spring. One afternoon, as I was nostalgically leafing through a dog-eared Wilberian tome, I decided to learn more about the local Integral community. Although I was hobnobbing with a group of hip trend setters I longed for the company of Integral companions. A few weeks later at a lecture on Integral Kaballah at Rabbi Marc Gafni’s center in Jaffa I met Oren Entin and Neri Bar-On, the co-founders of the Integral Israel Salon. I recognized them as kindred souls and I joined their group. After a few meetings I noticed a pattern recurring whenever we met. Invariably any topic we brought up for discussion eventually shape shifted into the same subject matter: Spiral Dynamics and the Middle East conflict.

Spiral Dynamics is a theory co-developed by Don Beck that models the way value systems evolve in individuals and societies. According to the theory values are adaptive codes of intelligence that develop in sequential order to deal with problems of increasing degrees of complexity. Each value system is like a pair of prescription glasses that filters consciousness through a unique perspective. The theory identifies seven value systems that have evolved cross-culturally over the sweep of human history and an eighth that is emerging. For ease of reference the eight systems are assigned color codes, each of which represents the core value that governs the social dynamics at that level of development. They include: Beige (survival), Purple (safety), Red (power), Blue (authority), Orange (progress), Green (humanitarianism), Yellow (integral development) and Turquoise (holistic self-awareness).

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