The Train of Life
You probably are unaware of my interest in trains. It has always been my intent to combine my love of trains and gardening to set up my garden train someplace within my garden. If you don’t know what a gareden train is, ask me.
Anyway, That idea was thwarted when I found out I wasn’t permitted to rent the house I had just moved into, because the homeowners association didn’t allow renters.
So, I have waited until I had my own home and now I intend to get that train working someplace in my new yard.
A train is usually considered a vehicle that transports a series of cars loaded with goods, or occupied with people. But there is more to it than the usual definition of trains.
A train is often used as a metaphor to our life’s journey.
One boards a train at the beginning of their life and travels through various towns and stations picking up people along the way and losing others as they depart on their own journey at a station of their choosing.
The stations represent comings and goings departures and arrivals, starts and finishes; they represent and evoke deep feelings of separation and loss, whether parents and family, friends and foes, husbands, wives, and partners, or lost loves never to be near again on this Earth. Trains can be sad.
Or happy…knowing that people leave for reasons we may not know or understand, but always for the best and highest good for all.
If we consider the track we are traveling on, sometimes it’s straight and all we can see are the views directly outside our windows. No looking back and no looking into the future.
Sometimes that’s good. Isn’t it. Why would we want to look back at what was? Shouldn’t we be “in the NOW?” Looking at what is happening right now, outside our window and appreciating it for the lessons it provides.
And dwelling on the future isn’t good either. We can only do so much to determine what that future will provide.
But then……our track curves and we can see back, and maybe recall some lesson, some event that we needed to learn. Or maybe we recall, with fondness, someone we love, or a pet that was dear to our hearts that is no longer with us. Maybe we remember some fun times with friends and family.
Those are good memories and we should recall them. But to continually be looking back will only cause us to dwell in a past that….. has past.
As I tell my Tuesday class, it’s ok to enter ‘the Valley of the Shadow’, but do not camp there. We must make our way out to the light. Some will move through the Valley swiftly. Some will camp for a while. But we all must travel through to the other side, walk over the bridge and into the sunshine.
We have learned our lesson, we have grieved our losses, now it’s time to move forward.
The other view we get on curved tracks is looking forward to what is come up. We can see a bit into the future, so to speak. We see the scenery of what’s ahead.
Again, it’s good and fun, to daydream about our future. And, certainly it gets the creative juices churning. It can be very exciting to think about what is coming up for you.
I am getting very excited about being in my new home. Not excited about packing and unpacking! But thinking about having my own home again is very exciting.
But do I sit and dream about that all day long? No! If I did, this Lesson would not have been written, the dishes would not be done. In fact, dinner would not have been made!
The point being, living in the past or the future will not accomplish anything and will do nothing for our journey.
Remember the saying, ‘it’s the journey, not the destination that counts.’
If we continue on our curved track, say traveling up a mountain, we would continue circling up the mountain. This same idea can be used to explain our journey through understanding our developing spirituality.
The theory is called Spiral Dynamics.
With Spiral Dynamics, we see human beings evolving or developing through eight major waves of consciousness. And as the spiral travels forward, we can look back, or slip back into the previous level from time to time. And we can move forward from time to time, as we work on our self-awareness or have an ah-ha moment!
Each level is given a color code too, for easy reference. See what you think:
1. .Beige: Archaic-Instinctual . The level of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. Uses habits and instincts just to survive. Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life.
Where seen: First human societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, late-stage Alzheimer’s victims, mentally ill street people, starving masses, shell shock. Approximately 0.1% of the adult population, 0% power.
2. . Purple: Magical-Animistic. The belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena; magical spirits, good and bad, swarm the earth leaving blessings, curses, and spells which determine events. Forms into ethnic tribes . The spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Kinship and lineage establish political links. Sounds “holistic” but is actually atomistic:
Where seen: Belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, ancient grudges, good luck charms, family rituals, magical ethnic beliefs and superstitions; strong in Third-World settings, gangs, athletic teams, and corporate “tribes.” 10% of the population, 1% of the power.
3. . Red: Power Gods . First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe; powerful, impulsive, egocentric, heroic. Magical-mythic spirits, dragons, beasts, and powerful people. Archetypal gods and goddesses, powerful beings, forces to be reckoned with, both good and bad. Feudal lords protect underlings in exchange for obedience and labor. The basis of feudal empires –power and glory. The world is a jungle full of threats and predators. Conquers, and dominates; enjoys self to the fullest without regret or remorse; be here now.
Where seen: The “terrible twos,” rebellious youth, frontier mentalities, feudal kingdoms, epic heroes, James Bond villains, gang leaders, soldiers of fortune, New-Age narcissism, wild rock stars, Atilla the Hun, Lord of the Flies. 20% of the population, 5% of the power.
4. . Blue: Mythic Order. Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of “right” and “wrong.” Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Basis of ancient nations. Rigid social hierarchies; paternalistic; one right way and only one right way to think about everything. Law and order; impulsivity controlled through guilt; concrete-literal and fundamentalist belief; obedience to the rule of Order; strongly conventional and conformist. Often “religious” or “mythic”, but can be secular or atheistic.
Where seen: Puritan America, Confucian China, Dickensian England, totalitarianism, codes of chivalry and honor, charitable good deeds, religious fundamentalism (e.g., Christian and Islamic), Boy and Girl Scouts, “moral majority,” patriotism. 40% of the population, 30% of the power.
5. . Orange: Scientific Achievement. At this wave, the self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms, experimental, objective, “scientific” in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one’s own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events. The world is a chess-board on which games are played as winners gain pre-eminence and perks over losers. Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth’s resources for one’s strategic gains. Basis of corporate states.
Where seen: The Enlightenment, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged , Wall Street, emerging middle classes around the world, cosmetics industry, trophy hunting, colonialism, the Cold War, fashion industry, materialism, secular humanism, liberal self-interest. 30% of the population, 50% of the power.
6. Green: The Sensitive Self . Communitarian, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, networking. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, Gaia, life. Against hierarchy; establishes lateral bonding and linking. Permeable self, relational self, group intermeshing. Emphasis on dialogue, relationships. Basis of value communities (i.e., freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments). Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus (downside: interminable “processing” and incapacity to reach decisions). Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, Subjective, nonlinear thinking; shows a greater degree of affective warmth, sensitivity, and caring, for earth and all its inhabitants.
Where seen: Deep ecology, postmodernism, Netherlands idealism, Rogerian counseling, Canadian health care, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, cooperative inquiry, World Council of Churches, Greenpeace, animal rights, ecofeminism, post-colonialism, politically correct, diversity movements, human rights issues, ecopsychology. 10% of the population, 15% of the power. [Note: this is 10% of the world population. Don Beck estimates that around 20-25% of the American population is green.
7. Yellow: Integrative. Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies. Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. Differences and pluralities can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows. Egalitarianism is complemented with natural degrees of ranking and excellence. Knowledge and competency should supersede power, status, or group sensitivity. The prevailing world order is the result of the existence of different levels of reality and the inevitable patterns of movement up and down the dynamic spiral. Good governance facilitates the emergence of entities through the levels of increasing complexity. 1% of the population, 5% of the power.
8. Turquoise: Holistic. Universal holistic system, waves of integrative energies; unites feeling with knowledge; multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Universal order, but in a living, conscious fashion, not based on external rules (blue) or group bonds (green). A “grand unification” is possible, in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power.
Where do you think you fit in? Where is Unity’s belief system?
Isn’t it a shame that only .1% of the population is at level 8?
Can you understand a bit better that the person you have difficulty with is at a level maybe different than you for a majority of their time. And that you, sometimes are at that same level….
I think it helps in understanding the human condition.
If you wish more information on this fascinating subject, there are several books available. And for more on a spiritual perspective, you could check out Ken Wilber’s take on Spiral Dynamics and Spirituality.
Let me finish with this by an unknown author:
“The Train of Life”
“Life is like a journey on a train… With its stations… With changes of routes… And with accidents! At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.
“As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant I.e. Our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize that they vacated their seats! Which is very sad when you think about it.
“This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all the passengers… requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
“The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way – love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty — we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
“I wish you a joyful journey this year on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love. More importantly, give thanks for the journey!
“Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train!” Unknown