From Beige to Purple: Consciousness

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths.

Gen 3:7

Beige and purple are two so called value memes in Spiral Dynamics. They stand for a certain complexity of thinking in humans as an answer to their life circumstances.

Mankind at beige is instinctual. Think of it as a baby that mainly reacts to circumstances, as well as what we can see in the animal kingdom.

In purple, humans become conscious. They start to distinguish between themselves and others as well as other things. Observation leads to simple explanations of their world, linking together even what sometimes does not belong together. Many magical and superstitious believes stem from this level of thinking.

There is a wonderful archetypical story explaining in hindsight the evolution of human consciousness growing from beige to purple.

It is in the bible.

Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve as the man and the women, lived in perfect harmony and oneness in the garden.

They develop language, naming all things. This is a precursor to duality, building a certain understanding of me not being them.

They start to see color and recognise patterns consciously. The serpent is recognised as a threat, while fruits are seen as desirable with their colors standing out from the green leaves.

The story was finalised in a time when right and wrong, sin and obedience were paramount, as they are driving forces of a latter value meme called blue that was cutting edge of evolution of human consciousness at the time of the Babylonian exile.

The story was therefore wrapped accordingly and made into a story of fall, guilt, disobedience, shame, and punishment.

But let’s unwrap this beautiful story from all those later additions and explanations.

Imagine the jump humanity made when it became conscious. Imagine that for the first time you consciously see that a woman is different from a man. Of course you had known that for ages, hence the pieces did not die out. But now you know.

This is very hard for us to understand because we all took that step very early in our childhood, maybe within the first months.

It must have blown the mind of those first people that reached consciousness.

More than ever before they looked for the safety of the tribe. But for the first time, they consciously saw others as enemies.

A zebra grazes without fear when lions are laying around. They do not associated those lions as dangerous. It’s not before the lion gets up that they run.

This is not because they have learned that lions are not dangerous unless standing. It is because they cannot anticipate a lion standing up.

People have learned to anticipate the future. Destroying the eggs of a serpent is for the first time linked to less serpents in the future.

Some of the explanations found do not really make sense to us any longer, but seemed natural at the time. Notice that I did not say true or right, because these concepts were not within reach at that time.

Bad things happened in nights with full moon. Full moon was dangerous, and seemed to be a time when the ancestry gods, those gone before, expressed their anger. A good time for sacrifices.

A priest died in duty for the first time. Why? It was found that he wore different kinds of fabric, while before, priest had only linen cloths. Thus, it is forbidden to wear different fabrics as a priest.

Some of those purple explanations of the world or reactions to circumstances found their way into the rules and laws of latter value memes, enriched and explained with the will of God. Again, remember the time of writing.

But back to our couple in the garden. They became conscious and not only realised their difference from animals, expressed by Adam like this:

So the person gave names to all the livestock, to the birds in the air and to every wild animal. But for Adam there was not found a companion suitable for helping him.

Gen 2:20


At last! This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh.

Gen 2:23

Soon they realised how different they were. Their eyes were opened, and immediately shame set in.

Shame is a very deep emotion that causes social distress and withdrawal. This is expressed in their hiding from their creator and their blaming each other.

They were expelled from the garden. Imagine unconscious animals in perfect unity with nature. It seems like paradise, even though nobody in this paradise realises that.

It is only in hindsight that they say: we seemed so innocent, and all was perfect. But now, I realise how much I sweat when braking the ground to get some food, and my wife consciously feels the pain of child birth.

This story can only be written in hindsight. There is the most banale reasons for that: it would take much more time for writing to evolve.

But in a more complex fashion, we can see four value themes at work here:

  • unconscious Adam that starts the journey in beige.
  • conscious Adam and Eve in purple.
  • the rebellion against God in red, the warrior value meme, including taking conscious decisions.
  • the notion of good and evil, of one God and one truth from blue with concepts like forgiveness and obedience.

And that gives us a hint on how to interpret the bible. Most biblical accounts portray a time through the lens of the writer and are read through the lease of the reader, while the time portrayed might have had a different sense all together.

Thus, seeing the bible as a collection of laws to live by falls short. It might have been for blue.

This is why the bible consists mainly of stories. Stories need to be interpreted. Stories need to be placed in a certain setting. Stories can reach into each value meme, when enriched by the interpretation of the reader.

Stories are rich.

Since we all in our lives take the step from beige to purple, this story at hand is not only a story that portrays some distant past, but speaks right into our lives.

We all have learned language and to name the things around us. We have learned that we are different from others. We learned the concepts of duality. We learned about purple shame and blue guilt, learned to anticipate the future, expressed in hope, fear, and worries.

We learned about right and wrong, and that life is not a piece of cake.

We made assumptions about life that in hindsight seem ridiculous, learned to take decisions, and obedience.

This is only the beginning of the bible. It’s archetypical and historical stories both take us on a journey. A journey through the evolution of consciousness both in mankind as well as the individual.

What a grand opening scene, setting the stage for us today. As relevant as it always was.