It Ain’t Easy Being Green: The Covert Co-opting of Postmodernity

by Dan McLintock

In Ken Wilber’s book “Integral Spirituality” he puts forth a intriguing model of the evolution of consciousness over the last 250,000 years. Each color-coded level (or altitude) of development can be tracked on the chart attached below, but I’ll give a brief synopsis of the first few colors/levels because what I really want to address is the one that a great many of us “spiritual people” are currently in and struggling to break out of; the postmodern green stage.

The Developmental Stages of Consciousness

For the sake of time and relevance I’ll start with the red “tribal” level which has been around the last 15,000 years or so. Impulsive and ego-centric, those at this stage of development are all about power, immediate gratification, calling the shots, winning and domination. Think epic heroes, feudal lords, punk rockers, gang leaders or kids during their “terrible twos”.

Next is the amber “traditional” level which came online around 5,000 years ago. Both religiously fundamentalist and patriotic, those at this level of consciousness have no problem sacrificing themselves for a cause; god or country. Control of others (and themselves) through guilt, black and white thinking and strong sense of right and wrong characterize these folks’ behavior and perspective. Think of Puritan America, Dickensian England or the “moral majority”.

Moving on up is the orange “modern” level which first showed up about 300 years ago. The bottom line here is success and autonomy. Capitalistic and more scientifically minded than their amber neighbors, these orange folk are all about goals and results as well as harnessing nature’s secrets in order to live the “good life”. Think Ayn Rand, Wall Street, colonialism or Rodeo Drive.

The Postmodern Green Stage

And that brings us to the relatively new, green “post-modern” level which came into its own only about 50 years ago in the late 1960’s. This stage of development is characterized by some truly beautiful and moving principles; equality, community, harmony, compassion, sensitivity and the front end of some powerful forms of spirituality. They’re what guided and effected change during some of the great progressive social movements of the late 20th century and continue to today.

I’ve been a moderately liberal ‘green’ for most of my adult life. I was raised by two borderline hippie parents; my dad a navy-pilot turned conscientious objector and mom a child of alcoholism turned house-church Christian – both of them active in civil rights, peacemaking and environmentalism. They were also both deeply traumatized and thus unconscious the majority of my childhood which of course meant I inherited much of their asleepness and generational pain and patterns.

So as a young adult who carried the programmed core deficiency stories of being ‘unwanted’ and ‘not mattering’ since he was a kid, these green principles and those who held them out to me were super appealing – here were people who cared; who listened, empathized and offered asylum not to mention would unite with me against a common enemy (which was, I later found out, my deepest addiction: having an enemy/living life from the perspective of a victim and therefore suffering).

Covert Co-opting

Never will I down any of the above, noble green ideas/concepts – to this day I hold them as high and necessary values, I just want to point to the fact that they can become traps when co-opted by the ego, turned into dogma and then driven by undealt with, unconscious pain/suffering. When this happens, even the concepts of love and equality can be used as weapons though this is usually hidden, especially from the person in whom the program operates. This covert co-opting of concepts/beliefs by the ego is what Wilber refers to as the green “getting sick”.

We’ve all heard people rationalize punishment with “I’m only doing this because I love you”. You rarely, if ever, hear “I’m only doing this because I was punished and programmed to regularly punish myself and thus am compelled to punish you (and everyone else too) under the guise of love.” We sick greens are MASTERS of unconsciously couching our pain and compulsion to punish and dominate in righteous-sounding philosophies like “justice”, “empowerment” and “accountability”. And we’ve likely been doing it so long and had so many co-signers that we start believing our own press. I did for a long time and though it was strangely intoxicating, it was intensely painful and ultimately self-defeating.

The Mean Greens

Father Richard Rohr writes; “A combination of unseen arrogance and individualism keeps people trapped at this level. It seems we have just enough enlightenment to reject everybody below us as naïve, and at the same time we can’t imagine anyone being smarter than we are. The mystical, non-dual levels look ridiculous to academic and sophisticated Greens. Wilber also calls this “flatland” because it’s contemptuous of both higher and lower levels. “Mean Green” people will not let go of either their separateness or superiority. Their ego is still in charge.”

For those of us who know the biblical story of the prodigal son, we see this playing out with the prodigal’s resentful older brother who essentially martyrs himself and (unlike his younger rebellious brother) does everything “right” in order to please his father. Approval is the drug and is widely available if we play the part believably enough. To quote T.S. Eliot “The last act is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” This is the destiny of the ‘sick’ green, though we usually don’t consciously know or see it.

The archetypes of those trapped at this level would be the classic Alanon member who typically identifies their alcoholic relative (and everyone else around them) as ‘the problem’ and then martyrs themself away as a form of control or manipulation. I once attended a Byron Katie event and met her afterwards explaining that I had used her inquiry work with fellow Alanon members (either husbands, wives or children of alcoholics) for years and without hesitation she responded “Oh poor things – they’re worse off than the alcoholics”. And we are! We usually can’t even see how addicted to our suffering (and to other sufferers) we are – at least the alcoholics have some idea of their own level of suffering and have found a temporary solution!

Of course another example of green sickness would be the more radically left liberal who demands equality, empathy and acceptance with all the authoritarian and punitive flair that they’re disgusted by in their conservative foes and then are shocked and outraged by any kind of pushback. As I deepened in my own deprogramming from my sick green perspective I actually begrudgingly started to see and understand what my handful of more right-wing friends and family were repelled by in myself and other harder-core liberals; our lack of integrity. It’s been pretty humbling.

Somewhere

I still feel a smidge uncomfortable talking about all this because

  • 1. I’m still climbing up and out of the pain/victimhood of this stage and

  • 2. I know how flustered and even angry I used to get when anyone came close to suggesting that my worldview, perspective and politics might be pain-driven and therefore dishonest.

They were.

And since I’ve been in and through it, it’s painfully obvious and almost embarrassing to watch other people engaged in this mode.

I want to be as clear as I can; I am not saying that the green stage of development and recovery isn’t an important and necessary step – especially for folks who have been through horrific abuse or trauma, be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or sexual. Having a safe place to disclose, share and be empowered to speak up about our pain and connect with others who have been through similar hells is probably part of the reason I (and many of my friends who have been through much worse) am (are) still alive. Nor am I suggesting going back to any of the red, amber or orange levels as a solution. Conservatism, materialism, groupthink and dominance actually feel a bit Stone Agey to me at this point. Anything belief/thought-based does, to be honest.

What I am putting forth is an invitation not to settle there (unless you really want to in which case, “Good luck, I love you and I’ll leave you to it 👋🏻.”) I’m appealing that we consider moving towards and inviting other people to join us, through inquiry and deprogramming, in going somewhere new…somewhere Wilber color-codes as teal/turquoise (see chart).

Somewhere not belief based at all, but where we can come from presence; our natural, childlike state. Where we can access actual love, acceptance and empathy, minus the sneaky codependence and martyrdom (which are both taught and learned and can be unlearned).

Somewhere we all already are beneath our programming and pain.

Somewhere “…on the red hills of Georgia” to quote Dr. King.

Transcending the Green

Rohr continues; “The 1% of people who transcend the Green Level to enter the Second Tier or “Being” levels do so by going through a major death to the ego. It is some kind of “Dark Night” experience beyond their control. Now they know that the Green idea of pluralistic equality is not the highest meaning of enlightenment. Yet they do not throw out the wonderful and needed values of human rights, equality, and human dignity. The Green level is the great advance made in the last fifty years, but we are not done yet!”

I’ll submit that this “Dark Night” experience/death and transcendence of the sick green ego perspective is NOT something beyond our control. If we really want to move towards love/presence, true unity consciousness and “sobriety” from suffering we can consciously choose to deprogram further. All it takes is the willingness, through inquiry, to radically forgive ourselves and therefore the “other” – to investigate and see where we’ve been wrong (hint: it’s where we’re suffering). After all, the extent to which we can be wrong is the extent to which we can be free.

If this calls your name and you’d like to deprogram and undo years’ worth of beliefs/identities/suffering addiction then I deeply understand where you’re coming from and will do any and everything I can to help you trust yourself and get free.

Love you regardless,

Dan

dmclintock1980@gmail.com

"Working with Dan has been nothing short of transformational. His open heart, honesty about his personal experience and permission to be real and not hide have helped me unlock those qualities in myself. And that has been a total game changer. I've been truly blessed, not only to have him as my KI Facilitator, but also as my mentor. Without a doubt, working with him has helped me to show up authentically, helped sharpen my tools and made me a better facilitator than I would've been on my own. I can't recommend him enough."
Darby Totten
Certified KI Facilitator

Dan McLintock is a Certified Facilitator, Trainer and the Co-Developer of the Kiloby Inquiries method/approach the New Model of Recovery along w Scott Kiloby. 

A Jacksonville, Florida native, Dan graduated Flagler College in 2004 with B.A. in Theatre Arts and English Literature and has played music professionally in bands for over 20 years. But his true passion lies in sharing the context, possibility and practicality of healing, awakening and release. 

Dan has worked one-on-one with clients in and out of the Kiloby Center since 2017 and has an unconditionally loving and earnest approach to healing trauma, dissolving the drivers of addiction/suffering and unhooking long-held toxic beliefs about ourselves, others and the world at large. 

He’s also worked intensively, side-by-side with Scott Kiloby for the past three years to develop the transformative tools of the Kiloby Inquiries as well as the principles and approach of the “New Model of Recovery” rooted in unconditional love and non-judgment. Much of this approach was borne out of Scott and Dan’s work with each other on their own personal traumas as well as their work with clients at the Kiloby Center. 

Scott and Dan have simplified, demystified and condensed some of the principles and practices of eastern/non-dual spirituality into an easily accessible set of tools most anyone can understand, learn and utilize to free themselves from their own suffering. 

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Valerie Vinger is a thriving survivor of life’s painful challenges and growth opportunities. She has worked with 12-step programs and is currently a 13-year stage-III cancer survivor. Her cancer recovery journey started with the traditional “cut, poison, burn” approach but eventually led her down a natural path to healing her body, her pain and suffering, and her buried emotions.

Valerie first stumbled upon Scott Kiloby at a workshop of his in Boulder, Colorado in 2012, which she says is one of the most transformative experiences she’s ever had. She is filled with gratitude for the person she has become through her journey with cancer recovery and with the Inquiries, which she describes as “coming home to myself.” She loves working with people who are ready for relief from their pain and suffering.

Julianne Eanniello is a Certified Trainer and Facilitator of both the Kiloby Inquiries and the Unfindability Inquiries (formerly called the Living Inquiries). She is also a Certified TRE Practitioner, and the developer of the somatic movement process called Natural Flow Movement. She works with clients all over the world on virtually any topic, including spiritual seeking, stress, anxiety, depression, pain and health related issues, traumatic experiences, repression, relationship issues, and general unhappiness with ourselves and our lives. She does this through online sessions, deepening courses, workshops and facilitator certification training.

About Julianne:

For most of my life I’ve wondered who I am and why I am here. As I was growing up, no one else seemed to be talking about these things, or even thinking about them, so I buried it deep inside and tried my best to fit in the way I was “supposed” to, all the while feeling like there was something desperately wrong with me and that I needed to fix it.

In my early thirties, the death of a young relative left me feeling hopeless and helpless, wondering what is the point of life if we’re all just going to die anyway? This launched me on a search. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just knew that there was a longing – a desperate longing for something that actually made sense about life. I learned several alternative spiritual and healing techniques. I meditated. I read books and watched videos. I eventually learned of non-duality teachings, and I read more books, watched more videos, and even sat with several ‘awakened’ teachers. Yet I was still searching, something still felt missing. I was looking for the key that would unlock the mystery of me and of life.

In my early forties, I developed a chronic health condition that left me unable to work for several years, and most days barely able to get out of bed due to extreme fatigue, brain fog and pain. I lost my banking job, and eventually lost my home. I saw a multitude of doctors to try to find out what was wrong with me, and used every tool in my metaphysical and alternative medicine toolkit to try to heal myself. My seeking became even more intense, and I was looking for a way to escape my pain.

In 2009, I met Scott Kiloby. Since I started working with him and doing the Living Inquiries, the seeking for enlightenment has stopped, and the question of ‘who am I’ is no longer relevant. My victim stories around my health started falling away. Once I started looking at my experience through inquiry, everything changed. I stopped chasing something ‘out there.’ I no longer seek some future state of happiness or peace. This is not to say that I don’t have problems, or ever experience pain. Quite the contrary. I still use the inquiries regularly, and now there is much less avoidance or resistance to what I’m experiencing. I experience more and more freedom in the present moment, exactly as it appears.

Having trained with Scott, I was one of the first to be certified as a Senior Living Inquiries Facilitator and Trainer in early 2012. In 2014, I moved to CA and became a business partner with Scott at The Kiloby Center for Recovery, where we worked with people suffering from addiction, anxiety, depression and more for the next 8 years.

I can’t imagine my life without these inquiries. They saved me from myself. If you are still suffering, searching, longing… I encourage you to give this a try.

As a young child I saw a picture of Jesus gazing lovingly at some children around his feet. I immediately longed for the unconditional love I saw in his gaze. At the same time, I was being read fairy tales, like Cinderella, and came to believe that romantic love would satisfy that longing for love.

So, I married my handsome prince at age 19. But then, by age 29, I found myself alone, as a single mother, with four young children. I was devastated and convinced that something was terribly wrong with me, to have ended up in such a predicament. 

I had learned to love and please others, but not how to love and respect myself. I was a “good girl,” and repressed my urges to have my own needs acknowledged and met. A wise teacher later told me, “We need to love everyone, including ourselves.” This was an amazing revelation for me!

Learning to meditate helped immensely to bring moments of peace, while I was sitting still, though I was still being triggered regularly in my relationships. Finally, the Kiloby Inquiries taught me how to turn my attention inside in daily life – towards the trapped thoughts and emotions I’d been running from – so that I could face and release them. It was like some tender, lost children began coming home, to take their rightful place in my inner world. 

I am honored and excited to be able to facilitate these wonderful inquiries for others.

Sumitra lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with some of her family. She has four grown children and six grandchildren. For many years she lived and worked in a yoga retreat community in California, and has taught yoga, meditation and Compassionate Communication in addition to facilitating the tools of the Kiloby Inquiries (since 2013).

Sumitra also loves working with couples and others with relationship challenges in a simple (though not always easy) deep listening practice that allows each person to be truly heard and acknowledged.

Alina is a certified KI facilitator & a founder of Presence Alchemy – An advance mindfulness platform dedicated to liberating suffering & limiting core beliefs through Kiloby Inquiries & non-dual awareness. Presence Alchemy was born eight years into Alina’s embodiment journey of an inner shift from ego to wakefulness. Alina works one-on-one with clients, hosts online intensives and training, and organizes local retreats & workshops.
Alec Rodrigues has been certified to facilitate inquiry since 2015 and brings a keen sense of intuition to his work. He believes that in connection, the deepest healing takes place, that the mirror of relationship is the best crucible for transformation. Through rest and inquiry, Alec has found the empowerment to meet others authentically and stop running so damn fast from the seeming “ordinariness” of life.

He currently lives in Washington state with his girlfriend and works as a training assistant for the KI Personal Mentorship Program, where he empowers enrollees by teaching them the KI tools.