The last topic covered the developing Self Mastery through training and integration of the five mountains. These are introduced in lesson three, and the deep dives are lessons five through nine. In this topic, I come back to review lesson four on the five plateaus.
The Five Plateaus represents both levels of conscious development as well as perspectives. The academic background of these is developmental psychology, eastern spiritual traditions such as Mahamudra Buddhism and Patanjali’s Yoga, Wilber’s Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics.
Each of these systems chunks the stages of development into differing numbers of levels, yet they are similar enough to map them to each other. The three most predominant, and simplest of such stages of human development are considered to be
- Ego-Centric – I am the center of the universe, or I only care about myself.
- Ethno Centric – my tribe or country is the center of the universe, and all others are flawed, ignored or expelled.
- World Centric – I include all of humanity, the earth and all sentient beings in my circle of care and concern.
Much of the nomenclature and naming conventions from the origin systems seem to have been designed to confuse the average Navy SEAL officer, so I have applied the KISS principle to simplify and name them with descriptive titles that attempt to capture the dominant theme for each plateau.
The plateaus move through Ego Centric, Ethno Centric to World Centric, and also correspond to a dominant mountain from the Five Mountains. There are healthy expressions of each plateau, and shadow expressions. Individuals more often get stuck at one of the first four plateaus. It requires dedicated developmental work to get unstuck and elevate oneself to the fifth plateau, where we want to be as Unbeatable Mind practitioners and leaders.
First Plateau – The Survivor
Anyone in survival mode, regardless of whether it is from poverty, temporary loss, being born in a war torn or desperately poor region, or having absentee parents, will be in First Plateau. Roughly 5% to 10% of the Western population is centered here, and a much larger percentage of poor or war-torn areas.
The dominant mountain of this Plateau is the Physical Mountain. That means that taking care of the physical body (surviving) dominates one’s field of awareness. Also, one is more likely to use the body as a mechanism to get what they want or need, as in the willingness to use force, or manual labor. People at First Plateau can be mentally and emotionally immature, or as stated above, drawn down to survival mode by famine or war. Whether they express the shadow of the first plateau depends upon their development before the crisis.
The survivor lives from an egocentric, self-centered world view. Life revolves around “me” and, perhaps, a very small “we” that looks like a close-knit family, tribe or gang. The survivor is motivated by raw survival needs, power projection or force, and takes things one day at a time. My family and I come first… “I’ve got mine” and I will get it at the expense of others if necessary.
Shadow aspects include nasty emotions such as shame, fear, anxiety, anger, and the willingness to wield fear, anger, and force to meet one’s needs.
Second Plateau – The Protector
Roughly 20% of the Western population is at The Second Plateau, the realm of the protector. This is an individual who will go to great lengths to protect the status quo. The Protector is the bureaucratic or church leader who spends their lives protecting the institutions of Church and State they have come to rely on so much – for physical and psychological stability and security. The teacher’s union protecting the institution of government education, the policeman protecting the public and the union protecting the policeman and educator are also Second Plateau. They include the religious zealot protecting his or her belief system, with a sword if necessary and the football fan throwing down at the slightest insult. As with the First Plateau Survivor, these are not “wrong,” just limiting.
The dominant mountain at this Plateau is the Emotional Mountain, where emotional decisions, rather than instinctual ones play the biggest role. The ego’s development is still self-centered but now has a strong ethnocentric leaning toward community, team, and Country. Those who plateau here are reliant on well-defined rules, regulations, and ranks. Security, stability, and status quo are motivators.
The sheepdog military warrior or civic protector is a positive example of a healthy Second Plateau attitude. The Second Plateau type is more likely to feel connected to a higher power than the first plateau, finding God through their Church… whose God is the only God.
Shadow aspects of this plateau include guilt and jealousy of the success, rank or role of others. Though these individuals may rail against the seven deadly sins, they will often be in breach of several.
The Protector has some unique skills to offer the world. They are great at goal setting, planning, maintaining meetings and agendas and keeping ground rules. They like to have a plan and stick to it. In the military, a conventional Army officer would most likely be Second Plateau, where a Navy SEAL would be Third, Fourth or Fifth Plateau.
Third Plateau – The Achiever
The third plateau is The Achiever who wants success and will get the MBA or start a business. They may become a Doctor, Lawyer or Professor. The Achiever is the “White Collar” class with about 40% in the West at this level.
The Third Plateau is outwardly focused, materialistic and values science over metaphysics or religion. The dominant mountain at this level is the Mental Mountain. The ego is still centered on the Self + Others with most at the Ethno-Centric level.
Motivators for the Third Plateau are self-reliance, independence, material success, and the real feeling of, or appearance of, getting ahead in life. Ambition and drive, collecting degrees, certificates, and signs of success such as the house, boat and second car, are outward signs of being centered here.
Shadow aspects of this plateau include burnout, workaholism, environmental insensitivity, and greed. One example that bugged me was the Trump corporate tax cut dividends being reinvested in corporate stock to inflate the price of the stock. What an incalculable waste since the market soon tanked and all those billions, which were hard cash that could have been invested in people, instead evaporated.
The list goes on as this plateau has dominated our industrial and early information ages. Corporate espionage, state-sponsored intellectual property theft, hacking and social media manipulation. In fact, you could say that the entire capitalistic meme stems from the third plateau: It is a linear process where the raw material is extracted, manufactures, sold and used, then discarded in a toxic garbage heap.
On a positive note, Achievers have unique skills that include the ability to execute to get big things done. Conceiving a business plan, raising money, hiring, managing, leading, running a clinic or law office, teaching in front of hundreds, giving speeches, and things like that. This Plateau has built the world that we know.
Third Plateau archetypes will include the Leader, the CEO, the Entrepreneur, the Corporate Chieftain, the Scientist, and Scholar. Well known avatars include the likes of Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bernie Madoff and British Petroleum’s Tony Hayward of Deepwater Horizon fame.
Fourth Plateau – The Equalizer
This brings us to the Fourth Plateau, the realm of the Equalizer. Roughly 20% of the West is at this plateau. The Equalizer is a sensitive individual who would like everyone to be treated the same. It is the pluralist calling for nationalized health care, or the California liberal sanctuary cities in a stand-off against a Second Plateau Federal Government. The social activist who denounces anyone who is in business just to make a profit. Equalizers are the modern equivalent of Robin Hood, taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
The Equalizer is World-Centric, but not inclusive of those who aren’t like them. They will even put down their own country if it doesn’t agree with their viewpoint. They want to be included in a global community of do-gooders.
The Fourth Plateau motivations include sensitivity to racial and human rights (Black Lives Matter), care for the environment (Green movement, Global Warming), egalitarianism (Affirmative Action), and tolerance.
The shadow aspects of this plateau make it somewhat insidious. These include spiritual egotism, reverse racism (white people who feel discriminated against), class envy (victims of the 1%). The shadow aspects cause those stuck at this plateau to judge and express anger quickly. They will rail against, but rarely compromise with, those whom they disagree with.
On the positive side, the unique skills the Fourth Plateau include generating awareness of, and fighting for, important causes.
Role archetypes include the Philanthropist, the Do-Gooder, the Activist, the Social Entrepreneur, and the Monk. Classic avatars you will recognize include Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Black Lives Matter, and Greenpeace, with more popping up every day.
Fifth Plateau – The Integrator
The Fifth Plateau is the domain of the integrated Self. If you were to have a destination, it would be to elevate to this Fifth Plateau stage of development and stay there.
The Fifth Plateau Integrator transcends and includes the best aspects of the other four plateaus. The Integrator has likely developed well through all Five Mountains. They are world-centric and have care and concern for all sentient beings, for humanity and the Earth.
The motivators of The Integrator include: a skillful process in communications, curating the interdependence of complex systems, and seeking win-win relationships – where all stakeholders are content with the outcomes. The Integrator thinks with complex perspectives, seeing the second, third and fourth order consequences. Compassion, abundance, generosity, service… the virtues of the world-centric leader are expressed.
Emotions tend to be healthy at this level because the shadow has been, or is in the process of being, integrated. Note that you may ascend to the Fifth Plateau, but still have shadow issues to work on. That is the norm… it is very hard to eradicate all shadow.
Common emotions include wholeness, peace, presence, love, and abundance. The Integrator will still experience painful emotions but will be able to process these emotions in a way that doesn’t deny, project, or stuff them.
There are some aspects of the Fifth Plateau. First, there could be a lack of awareness of a shadow element which had not made itself apparent yet. Also, there could be a hyper-focus on one’s own personal development, to the exclusion of other important things in life.
Someone could have the mind of a Fifth Plateau Integrator, but a body that has been ignored for too long. In my opinion, that is a limiting factor because the body is part of the mind. Also, one could be “too” inclusive… missing the trees within the forest. Not every issue needs a committee of compassionate elders to solve it!
The other side of that coin is the possibility of narrow mindedness, thinking that viewing the world from the Integrator perspective means that everyone is right.
The Integrator has many unique skills critical for humankind to thrive in the future These include the ability to skillfully manage complexity, authentic leadership, and deep perspective taking, and making, for greater understanding. The Integrator will use these skills to help heal the planet, end our obsessive investment in sanctioned violence, and to connect globally at a deeper level.
Archetypes of this plateau include the Strategists, the Global Thought Leader, and Healer or Shaman. Classic avatars at this plateau include Peter Diamandis, Sir Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela, Admiral McCraven and Mother Theresa.