Seven Levels of Consciousness

Today there is a movement towards conscious capitalism. Many are benefiting from this movement, including onCore Ventures, but what is consciousness? According to the Oxford Dictionary: consciousness is “The state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.” My training in the art and science of coaching has taught me that the filters through which we view the world colors our awareness; and therefore our consciousness; as depicted on the following chart:


iPEC teaches that there are seven levels of consciousness and each level has three properties associated with it. iPEC breaks these seven levels into unconsciousness, awareness and consciousness. I find these confusing and believe they are all, in fact, levels of consciousness, to the point that I have created my own chart. I have intentionally put the higher levels of consciousness on the bottom, because there are advantages in each level.  In fact when Deepak Chopra teaches this concept he uses the term “earlier” levels of consciousness as opposed to “lower” levels.

20140727-shutterstock_155804528The lowest level, level one, in this hierarchy is Victim consciousness. It is characterized by the primary mindset of “I lose.” People with their primary energy level in this sphere often say things like “I could never do that,” and usually this strategy works just fine because someone else does “it” for them. I grew up with a father that had a lot of this energy and his life was controlled by it. Corporate America is filled with such victims.  In fact, many traditional companies intentionally tie the hands of their associates to the point where for many, this the “normal” way of showing up.


20140727-shutterstock_117223333The next level up is level two, Conflict consciousness. It is characterized by “You lose” as the primary thought pattern. Life is great for people primarily stuck in level two energy in companies or relationships with other people with a lot of level one energy. Both parties are equally miserable and comfortable with it.  But often times it seems like working in environments like these brings out the worst in most people and they are consistently wrestling with one another.

The downside to these levels – even if they work for you – is that you are under constant stress. This means your body is releasing cortisol, which does great things if you are running or fighting, but not so great things if you are just sitting there seething in a meeting or an argument. Cortisol shuts down your prefrontal cortex, insuring that you are pretty much unconscious of higher order thinking along with body basics such as digestion, excretion, blood flow to the extremities, and many other undesirable things.

As we become aware of our surroundings more, we begin to regain control and use of our prefrontal cortex, along with circulation to our nose and hands, we move into level three of consciousness which is Responsibility. This is where we take responsibility for our lives and begin to think in terms of “I win.” This is both good and bad because we are indifferent to how the other person is doing in our interaction, but it is, at least, good for us. We find it easier to forgive people and we begin to cooperate with others.

Further up the scale, level four, is Compassion consciousness – in which we now are focused on “You win”. In this level, we show up in service to others. An organization that I belong to for networking, BNI, has created a whole culture on this level of consciousness. The BNI motto is “Givers gain.” Great things can happen with this level of energy, however if we are unaware of our own needs and therefore fail to get what we want, we can easily descend into level one victim consciousness. The thinking goes something like this “If only I did more to save Charley, he would not have hung himself on the chandelier.” Ridiculous when you look at it on paper, and yet so many of us fall into this trap.

20140728-shutterstock_137478323Level five consciousness is Reconciliation. This is not a reconciling with God per say, but with the notion that we are all one. We can either win or fail, and both are just fine. There is tremendous acceptance of ourselves and others at this level. Great things can happen here. iPEC calls these three levels the awareness levels because we have to consciously decide to act. In these levels things happen for and because of us, not simply “to” us. This means our egos are in check and we are operating in a cooperative fashion with others. But as Voltaire and Uncle Ben (Stan Lee) teach us, “With great power comes great responsibility.” We must be ever diligent to our awareness in order to be successful. People with a lot of level five energy, (which is where I operated while in the corporate world) will descend, often rapidly, into level two conflict when stressed. If we both can’t win, then your gonna lose!

The two upper levels of consciousness do not require as much awareness on our part, in fact our ego really is a bystander to the process. In level six consciousness Synthesis takes place from a state of wisdom. This means that there is still some effort on our part to make things happen, but we are relying on our deep understanding of others and of life and our field of work to create.

At level seven, there is no effort needed and we exist in a place of Non-Judgement. This is not simply non-judgement of others’ actions but also of ourselves, and the universe at large. There is no “bad” or “good”. There is simply “is”. This is where true and effortless creation happens. This is the law of attraction and the power of intention in action. I believe it has to be in an area of our passion for life itself for it to happen. The header image featured above is an example of my photography in which I was absolutely passionate about my craft and the image simply appeared to me. It was precisely what I was searching for and yet, in level seven, we no longer need to actively search.

As a photographer, I like to think of these seven levels of consciousness as different lenses through which to view the world. The lower or earlier levels are primitive lenses and may distort the image, while the upper levels are like modern superb lenses with image stabilization and automatic correction of aberration and distortion. You can choose whichever lens or filter best suits the task at hand.

The ideas around these levels of consciousness were developed by Bruce Schneider the founder of iPEC and a master coach and therapist. They mirror the levels that were first reported by David Hawkins, PHD, MD in Power versus Force. Bruce developed an assessment to create a reading of levels, while David uses muscle testing to do the same thing. I am trained in both methods and use them in my coaching practice.

How about you? Have you experienced the higher levels of consciousness? Do you struggle with low level energy?

Image Credits: Header image – Frederick Geiger, all others – Shutterstock.

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