Mature Soul Society
The Mature Soul Society
BY JOHN ROTH
One of the tenets of the Michael Teaching (MT)
is that the world's social organization is going to evolve into a "Mature
Soul" society. This series of articles is going to examine that concept and
flesh it out.
This chapter talks about background issues
in the Michael Teaching that underpin the actual analysis of the "Mature Soul
Reincarnation and the
One of the core concepts of the MT is a form
of reincarnation. The reason I say "a form" is that, in the MT, personality
doesn't reincarnate. Rather, Essence creates personalities somewhat in the
same way that a person playing a Role Playing Game (RPG) creates a new
character when a previous one is killed. That new character has different
stats (overleaves), but the player (Essence) remembers lessons learned from
prior characters and applies them. Each character starts off at the beginning,
but if the player has learned, each character progresses farther before being
Through a succession of lifetimes, Essence
learns more about how the game is played. Past lessons learned are available
to subsequent lifetimes. A lesson that's been learned in a past lifetime shows
up as talent or a feeling of familiarity -- the person knows how this goes,
even though they may not have seen the situation before.
One major focus of the learning paradigm is
that there is a series of lessons about the relationship of the individual and
society that are cumulative. These are encapsulated in the five
Old. A lot of
students are a bit uncomfortable with the terminology, but it is the standard
terminology, and I'm not going to propose a different set of terms.
At the Infant Soul stage, society is
basically what was inherited from the several million years of evolution
leading to Homo sapiens before we became ensouled. Society is never examined
or thought about, and if one tries to teach an infant soul to do so, the
results are, at best, superficial. The typical setting for an early Infant
Soul is in a hunter-gatherer society. Late infant souls can be found in, for
example, slum areas where there is a high need for day to day survival skills.
They can also be found in areas with major long-term social disruptions and
"failed states." Each of these environments brings the necessity of dealing
with Survival level lessons.
At the Baby Soul stage, the person learns
how to live as a member of a specific society. The society's rules are
regarded as sacrosanct, and there is a strong tendency to punish deviants.
There's also a strong tendency to try to enforce proper behavior with threats
of hellfire and damnation. Baby souls tend to fit into socially defined roles,
and frequently define themselves as their role, rather than as unique
individuals. The Baby Soul grows into a notable ability to analyze the rules
of his society, but does not have much ability to adapt to changes in the
rules. In fact, they tend to be rather irritated when the rules change under
them, especially if it's done without notice. The typical setting for a Baby
Soul is in an agricultural society which has villages and small cities. They
can also be found in large, bureaucratic organizations with many rules and
which present at least the impression of stability over time.
At the Young Soul stage, the person begins
to realize that they are an individual, not just a component of a society.
They learn how to achieve personal goals, hopefully within the context of
their society. This is frequently called an achievement perspective.
Achievements can be anything from raising a perfect family, becoming the Ruler
of the Universe, or so rich that Scrooge McDuck seems like a pauper. In other
words, Achievement is personal, and what one person sees as an achievement
another may see as unnecessary, futile or even counterproductive. Young Souls
tend to be very astonished when their pursuit of their goals undercuts their
standing in society, or even destroys some essential part of society. The
typical setting for a Young Soul is a major metropolitan area.
Having learned how to accomplish goals,
Mature Souls turn their attention to creating the perfect relationship. This
starts with themselves, and eventually culminates into their relationship with
the world community, or at least as much of it as they can reach in a
particular lifetime. In concert with Baby Souls, Matures regard social
cohesion as more important than individualism. However, they don't regard the
current rules as anything really special, and they spend a huge amount of time
discussing how they'd like to change them, frequently with a great deal of
vigor, drama and angst. Mature Souls tend to like cities and large gatherings,
and tend not to like people who want to do whatever it is differently -- at
least without discussing it to death first.
The Old Soul cycle is a progressive
stripping away of all of the inessentials from the previous four soul ages, to
reach the essence of the lessons learned. Old Souls are engaged in being
themselves in the context of their society. If they don't like the way their
society is organized, they're just as likely as Matures to try to discuss and
make changes, but if that doesn't work, they're likely to go somewhere else
where they can be themselves.
One way of encapsulating this is to observe
that Infant, Young and Old souls are individualists, but for very different
reasons. Baby and Mature souls are much more conformist, although they have
very different attitudes about adapting to group norms.
Another really major point about Soul Age is that it isn't a set of rooms
where you move from one into something totally different by going through a
door. Instead, it's more of a continuum, where a particular level in a soul
age is a central tendency that one can see if one looks, but there are other
factors that are spread out on either side of it.
Note that there's another stream of channeling that does compare it to a
series of rooms, in the sense that the Role in Essence has its own set of
Internal Monads, and that traversing these in the positive pole is required to
shift to the next level in the current Soul Age.
Soul Age Is Rising
One underlying assumption is that the average soul age is rising, and the
rate of change is also accelerating. It took 50 to 60 thousand years to get
through the Infant period, and about 8 thousand to get through the Baby
period. The Young period has been going for around three millennia at about
one level every four to five centuries or so, and now it seems to have
accelerated once again to maybe one level every century.
Part of the answer is population. It requires an available body to
incarnate into, and when the population was small, there were fewer available
bodies than there were essences that wanted to use them. The consequence was
that lifetimes were at fairly long intervals.
Once agriculture was invented and the population started expanding, more
energy rings joined the party (energy rings have 85-90 thousand essences
each), but even so the population began to approach the number of essences
that wanted bodies, so lifetimes began to be closer together which compressed
the amount of time it took to go from first Infant through cycling off.
With industrialization, there is another massive explosion in the available
number of bodies. This time new energy rings are not joining up, so the time
between incarnations is not only contracting even more, many essences have
multiple lifetimes running concurrently. This is resulting in another
One of the reasons new Energy Rings are not joining is that the number of
places where a new Infant soul can get its initial lessons have been steadily
shrinking as more of the planet becomes developed and the hunter-gatherer
tribes that are an Infant Soul's preferred starting place are pushed to
extinction. This isn't recent; it started happening with the expansion of
agriculturists from the Fertile Crescent into Asia and Europe 5 to 6 thousand
years ago. At present, there is supposedly only one relatively pristine
hunter-gatherer society left on the planet, and it's being threatened by
expansion encroaching on its traditional grounds.
Consequently, the number of new entrants has pretty much dried up. There
are, in fact, many channels who insist that there have been no essences
starting their series of lifetimes since sometime in the late 20th century.
With no new entrants, or at least not enough entrants to balance the number
finishing up and cycling off, the average soul age will inevitably increase.
Yet another piece is that the possible population has outstripped the
number of essences by a very large amount. Most essences have several
lifetimes now running concurrently. This means that the three or four
lifetimes that it usually takes for a level of a soul age can be done at the
same time, rather than one after the other with major breaks between.
That's going to slow down, though, because the Earth simply can't support
the current population for very much longer. Where the population will
stabilize is anyone's guess. My guess is about 2 billion, but that's simply a
guess. I've seen a channeling that puts it at around 4 to 5 billion, which
seems awfully high to me.
If it does drop back to around 2 billion, it seems like the time to transit
a soul age will go back to around two to three centuries.
It seems like an awfully large number of new MT students look at the shift
from a Young to a Mature society as some kind of sudden, apocalyptic change.
Nope. Michael has said that it will be a gradual transition that will take
from two to five centuries.
While part of the reason for anticipating an apocalyptic shift is due to
Christian influence, there's a more obvious reason: the bulk of Michael
Students are mid mature to Old, and we're heartily tired of this Young Soul
nonsense! Gimme the remote and let's change the channel to something more
Unfortunately, attempting to put on the 7 league boots and move faster
doesn't work well.
Societies are not random. The way a society is organized supports learning
some kinds of lessons better than others. For example, hunter-gatherer
societies support learning survival lessons; anyone much above Infant soul age
would find them totally stultifying, although occasional Young and Old souls
do incarnate into them for various specific reasons.
The underlying assumption behind most of the world's societies today is
that individual achievement is the single most important factor to consider.
This is why we classify them as Young Soul societies.
The fact that they're focused on Young Souls doesn't mean that they don't
provide at least some support for the lessons that other soul ages need.
The statement from some channels that the U.S. is sixth level Young tends
to obscure the fact that the U.S., like all cultures, has a distribution of
soul ages, from mid Infant to last level Old. The culture in the U.S. has some
support for Baby, Mature and Old, although that support is in the general
context of a Young Soul paradigm. Support for Infant souls in areas like the
Appalachian back woods or some of the Native American cultures of the Four
Corners area and the Arctic is rapidly waning.
Mix of Soul Ages
Every country has a mix of soul ages among its population. To say that the
U.S. is late young doesn't do justice to the distribution of soul ages, which
go from Infant to Old. The modal soul
age is probably 6th or 7th Young, but there are lots of folks who are both
earlier and later than that.
The last channeling I had on the distribution of soul ages worldwide was
from J.P. van Hulle. This was some time ago, but I'm pretty sure I remember it
It would be well to take some of these figures with skepticism. I think
that J.P. van Hulle's figures are worldwide, while the Yarbro group's figures
are for the United States. However, it looks like these figures are off - I
have difficulty believing that the proportion of Infant souls in the U.S. is
as high as 10%, while it does make sense that the U.S. is tilted more toward
the Young end than the world as a whole, or at least Europe.
This is a somewhat distorted bell curve, so within the ages Infant and Baby
are loaded toward the end while Mature and Old have many more early Mature and
Old than late Mature and late Old.
It might seem that, since there are more Mature souls than Young souls, we
should be living in a Mature Soul society already. There are several reasons
why we aren't.
First, Baby souls tend to align with whoever sets the social goals, and
right now that's the Young soul contingent. For different reasons, Old souls
tend to like the relative freedom to be themselves that's more characteristic
of Young than Mature societies so many of them are also aligned with the Young
Second, the Mature souls on the planet are heavily weighted toward early
mature, and they haven't yet shaken off many of the Young soul beliefs and
behavior patterns that are characteristic of Young but not Mature.
Finally, culture evolves. It does not suddenly take huge jumps into areas
that most of the population finds totally incomprehensible, and which they
don't have the tools and background that let them handle it. Chapter 4 will be
about the evolution of the current Young soul to a future Mature Soul culture.
That doesn't mean that there can't be a spectacularly sudden shift of a
couple of decades or less. Chaos theory (The
Tipping Point) allows it, but there are clear signals that something's
building, and the underpinnings don't just come from nowhere. William
Strauss and Neil Howe document
this pattern in U.S. history in their book, Generations.
The 7 levels of the Mature Soul
Before she died, Sarah Chambers (the woman known as Jessica Lansing in the
Messages books) worked with Jose Stevens to channel the Seven Levels of the
Mature Soul. Then Jose and J.P. van Hulle worked to clarify it and extend it
to the Old Soul. J.P. presented the result at one of the Michael Symposiums
in, I believe, early 2000.
In looking at this, it's well to bear in mind that this isn't the same as
the levels within the Mature soul age. They progress at different rates. A
Mature soul will look at each of these before progressing to Old, but there
simply isn't a one to one correspondence. Also, of course, there could well be
- Right relationship with self.
- Right relationship with intimate others.
- Right relationship with other people you come
in contact with.
- Right relationship with your
- Right relationship with the opposite sex.
- Right relationship with the other cultures on
- Right relationship with the other beings,
plants, animals, etc with which we share the planet.
This is, as you can see, a progressive widening of horizons, and a
progressive process of alignment with wider groups of people.
Level 1 - Right relations with self
Modern psychology got its start in the mid 19th century. Freud is the one
that gets all the ink, partly because he was a great writer (in German -- the
official English translations are almost unreadable), and partly because he
built an organization and a structure. However, there were others that were as
important as Freud, or even more so.
The discoveries about how people actually work, and how problems can be
fixed relatively cheaply and with few side effects, is still going on. It's
quite fascinating, really. One of the things that's relatively clear is that a
lot of the "conventional wisdom" about people is simply wrong, and this
applies to what's current in the sciences as well as on the street.
The interest in that can be measured by the shelf feet of space in your
local super bookstore devoted to self-help books.
Another interesting observation is that most of the questions in Michael
channelings have to do with Level 1 and Level 2 concerns. I take that as an
indication that these are still hot issues, not done deals. Also, the lack of
questions on Level 3 concerns and above means that Levels 1 and 2 are still
not firm foundations on which to build.
Level 2 - Right Relations with intimate others
People live in families. Intimate others means your core family: the people
you see across the breakfast table every morning.
The opening wedge in this was probably the family therapists of the mid
20th century. The field is really going gangbusters, but it's hard to sort out
the wheat from the chaff. One thing that comes across in channeling is that
the "until death do us part" meme is counterproductive, except when it comes
to raising children, and not always then.
Level 3 - Right Relations with the people you see and
work with on a daily basis
This includes everyone from the girl at the checkout counter to the people
in your workgroups, and there's been a lot of actual change in that area in
the last 50 years. Chapter 4 will go into this in depth.
Level 4 - Right Relationships with the society as a
Quite frankly, this seems to be a black hole. The Communists tried it, and
turned it into an unmitigated disaster. Reputedly, Mohammed had a lot to say
about it in the context of the culture of the time, but it was more in the way
he and his Companions operated; not in what got written down in the Koran, or
even in the Practices. There are probably a lot of lessons that can be learned
from Gandhi in this area, but what gets talked about is more non-violent ways
of doing inter-cultural social combat.
The current Culture Wars phase in the U.S. seems to be an attempt to sort
out a society wide direction, but it's based on a winner-take-all paradigm
that's doomed to fail - the eventual losers will just come back unless they're
Intentional communities seem to be a fertile place to experiment. So far,
the experiments I've seen have not been all that pretty. I really wish I'd
have gotten to Twin Oaks when we were still holding annual Michael meetings
there; it seemed like a fairly interesting place.
There are supposed to be a few communities in the Netherlands which are
getting organized on Sociocratic principles (see Chapter 4), and I've heard of
some experiments that were to take place in India.
Level 5 - Right Relationships between the sexes
This looks like it's misplaced -- it ought to be somewhere back around
level 2 because most intimate relationships are sexual in nature.
However, it isn't. You can't deal with one level without having a firm
foundation in the preceding level. This is the reason why the various Women's
movements have had very mixed success -- there isn't a firm foundation of a
well integrated culture or sub-culture that they can use as a platform which
can be evolved in a more useful direction.
Consequently, most people relegate them to just another instance of the
same old identity politics. That doesn't mean that they haven't made
beneficial changes, but changes made in a Young Soul context only stick until
the next leader comes along and wants to change it again.
Also, I'd classify GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transexual) activity as
the same thing, although pushing against a lot stronger headwind.
Level 6 - Right relationships with all the human
cultures on the planet
Ah, international politics. Everything from terrorism to Global Warming. A
Mature Soul approach to this is just as much a black hole as the level 4, and
there's no indication that anyone is even thinking about it.
Progress is made one step at a time.
One of the interesting tidbits that Michael channeled through J.P. is that
it's possible that there will be one global culture, simply because, as a
Level 3 aggressive species, it's highly unlikely that we'll ever have peace on
the planet while there are multiple cultures.
Level 7 - Right Relationships with everything else
that lives on the planet
This is where a lot of ecology and other similar causes live. Once again,
without a solid platform at Level 4 and eventually Level 6, there isn't a hope
of developing an integrated approach that's going to stick.
There are three specific terms that go under
the umbrella term of "average." There's a joke that illustrates this. Bill
Gates walks into a homeless shelter with an entourage of flunkies. What's the
average income of the people in the shelter?
The mean is what you get when you add up all
the incomes and divide by the number of people. It's probably over a million
dollars per year -- Bill Gates is just that rich.
The median is the dividing line where half
of the people are above that line, and half are below it. It's probably in the
$20,000 to $100,000 range. Bill Gates' entourage is loading the group with
people that have significant income, in addition to the social workers that
are always present, but in a minority.
The mode is zero. The most prevalent income
is, of course, the homeless in the shelter.
Soul Society Chapter 2
BY JOHN ROTH
So what is a mature
soul society likely to be like?
First, remember that, like anything people
do, there will be lots of variations, so it's not possible to give a lot of
detail. Also, it's a moving target; the first sustainable societies that I
would label Mature will not look all that different from the preceding Young
soul societies, while the last ones before the transition to an Old soul
society will not only look very, very different, they could very well be
incomprehensible to people today.
What I'm going to say in this chapter is
primarily from my memory of channeled tapes made in J.P. van Hulle's Advanced
Class around 20 years ago, extrapolations of the basic Michael Teachings, and
other pieces that I'll introduce as I go along.
In a recent channeling, Michael Toth
compared our current society to a symphony. Not in the sense that it sounded
good, but in the sense that there were many different instruments playing a
composition with many different themes. Currently, the themes that resonate
for Mature Souls are just beginning to be heard. Over time, they will
inevitably swell until they become the dominant themes, but they will never
entirely drown out other themes that resonate for other soul ages and other
Over the years, I've used a different
comparison. Most of us are familiar with transition scenes, where little
blocks of the new scene replace corresponding blocks of the old scene. At some
point, the new scene suddenly snaps in, and we recognize it as a scene while
there are still pieces of the old one present. Exactly when the new scene
"snaps in" depends more on what you're expecting than anything that's inherent
in the actual scene -- some people will see the new pattern earlier, some
Both of these metaphors illustrate one basic
fact: our society is a mosaic of bits and pieces which support different soul
ages, different roles, goals and all of the other pieces of the Michael
Teaching. In a lot of cases, there are options: the opulent areas that support
Young Souls flaunting their Achievements contrast strongly with the urban
jungles and slums that give late Infant Souls necessary lessons in day to day
survival in an advanced society. The United States, for example, has been
channeled as having an excess of Artisans and Warriors, and a dearth of
Servers. Correspondingly, it's not at all surprising that we tend to
specialize in labor saving devices, and that we attract "illegal" immigrants
that do server type work for us that we're not willing to do for ourselves.
There are several central facts of a Mature
Soul society that distinguish it from a Young Soul society. One is that it is
based on equality, rather than hierarchy. The second is that it is based on
people conforming to established social norms rather than rugged
These two look like they're in conflict.
Well, they aren't. Quite. The trick is that, in a Mature Soul society, the
social norms are a matter of agreement, not something that was inherited via
tradition or handed down from On High. The social norms are changeable,
however the principle of equality means that the changes have to be acceptable
to everyone before they're implemented.
A Mature Soul society is similar to a Baby
Soul society in one significant way: there are norms, and people are expected
to conform to the norms. People who deviate can be in serious trouble.
It differs from a Baby Soul society in
another very fundamental way, however. The members of the society consult with
each other and make changes to it on a fairly continuous basis. The
discussions tend to play out with the full force of Mature Soul drama and
Decision making is by consensus (for a not
unreasonable meaning of the term.) According to the channeling, while a lot of
different things are being discussed at any time, one will rise to the
forefront and then people will realize that they are in agreement. When they
realize that they've agreed on a direction, then they make it happen. The
trappings of mechanism to implement that decision are unimportant; different
Mature Soul societies will have different ways of executing.
What one won't see are the trappings of a
Young soul society. For example, decisions are not made by voting. Majority
rule inherently disenfranchises the minority. Likewise, there is no interest
in winning or losing at all costs, a point that's very easy to miss in the
drama of the discussion. That doesn't mean that there are no sports teams or
such like. There will still be Young souls whose needs have to be handled, and
young men will still compete for the attentions of young women. People are,
after all, still people!
Another point to consider it that a
realistic Mature Soul society, rather than a textbook example, has provisions
for Baby, Young and Old soul ages. It doesn't include provision for Infant
souls simply because most Mature Souls won't put up with the conditions that
Infant Souls find growthful. They find hunter-gatherer tribes and "urban
jungles" or slum areas to be offensive, and a Mature Soul society would clean
Baby Souls are accommodated by having full,
frank and pubic discussions of what people want to change, and taking due care
that the implementation isn't so rapid as to cause whiplash. One implication
of this is that changes are made relatively slowly. Another piece to
understand with Baby Souls is that they'll naturally align with the Mature
Soul segment of society rather than the Young Soul segment, once that gets
established as "the way."
Young souls are accommodated by having lots
of opportunity and recognition for personal achievement, with clear and
enforced boundaries of what is out of bounds.
Old Souls are accommodated by having lots of
breathing room for personal style, and also a respect for reasoned, rather
than impassioned, discourse as well as reasoned analysis of what's being
Regardless of the above, both Young and Old
souls will find Mature Soul society somewhat stifling, at least until enough
time passes for it to loosen up. Mature Soul societies tend to be very
conformist. Early Mature soul societies tend to be more conformist than later
societies, because the proportion of Baby and Young souls in them outweighs
the proportion of Old souls. As the proportion shifts, the society tends to
become more accepting of individual differences. At the same time, the pace of
change tends to pick up as the proportion of Baby souls drops.
In the rest of this
chapter, I'm going to look at several common situations and how they'd be
Today, businesses follow a corporate model,
where there is a group of stockholders who theoretically own the corporation
and exercise control, via a Board of Directors, over the affairs of the
enterprise. The reason I say that it's theoretical is that, in practice, most
large businesses have very diffuse ownership, and most of the owners aren't
interested in exercising management authority -- they take management's
recommendations for the Board, which means that the business is being run for
the benefit of executive management, including excessive compensation and
perks that are more appropriate to medieval royalty. If the theoretical owners
don't like what management is doing, they tend to sell their interest rather
than get involved with cleaning up the mess.
The Mature Soul alternative is neither
employee ownership, which has been tried and which has usually failed
miserably, or state ownership, which is what lead to the disaster of
Communism. The alternative is to eliminate the notion of ownership completely.
The reason is that ownership is a statement of inequality. There is, in fact,
an argument that's been advanced that ownership of a corporation is a
violation of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
So how does it work out? Well, first, any
large organization has to be a legal entity (not a person!), so it can make
contracts, own property, receive investments and repay investors, hire
employees and so on and so forth. The form of the legal entity is less
The critical issue is that organizational
policies have to be agreed to by all of the affected work units and their
employees. The principle of equality demands this: policies cannot be
established by a remote executive or Board of Directors. They also, of course,
have to be agreed to by the investors (if any) and be in accordance with the
applicable government laws and regulations. On the face, it looks like it
would be very difficult to get agreement among so many people.
As it turns out, there is an organizational
governance structure that's been demonstrated to work with corporations as
large as 10,000 employees and as diverse as manufacturing plants, police
departments, co-housing communities and retirement homes. I'll have more to
say about it in Chapter 3. Whether this is the system for Mature Level 3 is
something I don't know, but so far it seems to fit the requirements.
Once external ownership and totalitarian
executive management have been eliminated, many of the larger organizations
will start to dissolve. Economies of scale generally don't apply over an
industry-specific size. Larger organizations are simply the result of managers
who are playing the competitive game and trying for world domination. There is
no reason, for example, for multiple vehicle manufacturing plants that produce
almost identical products for the same markets. Nor is there a good reason for
plants to ship vast quantity of product over long distances.
Over a longer period, boundaries between
enterprises will start to dissolve, at least in some circumstances. There's
already a movement toward this that's called "supply chain management."
This reorganization is already beginning,
although it's not all that common even in The Netherlands where it got its
Government in a true Mature
Soul society will probably look nothing like it does today. One of the few
places where the Communists were right in their theory is the "withering away
of the State." Monolithic national governments will be replaced by a system of
specialist councils, each of which is concerned with organizing a particular
area that's of concern to the community. As most things in a Mature Soul
society, this will be more of a gradual transition than any kind of
The entire notion of
competition is a framework to allow there to be winners and losers, a
typically Young Soul notion. The mythology of competition celebrates it as
efficient, however, it's only efficient if you contrast it with the specter of
a completely stagnant monopoly which is resistant to change in any form. It's
not that these don't exist. They do, but they're either Baby Soul
organizations that resist change as a matter of policy, or Young Soul
organizations where the people on the top are trying to protect their
The Right Relationship concept in a Mature
Soul context would insure that a business treated its customers and suppliers
with respect, including improving its products and services to meet its
customers' needs better. It wouldn't need the threat of another company
gobbling up its market share to keep it moving.
Business competition won't exist in anything
like its current form. There is no particular reason to have more than one
company manufacturing a particular kind of vehicle in a particular
metropolitan area, for example. Similarly, really large business organizations
won't exist, and that includes governmental entities. It is much more
efficient for things to be handled as close to where the need arises rather
than decided in some remote boardroom.
On the other hand, at least initially there
will probably be fairly large organizations that deal with infrastructure
issues, where stability is paramount and where Baby souls can find a home.
Those are likely to be the last really large organizations.
To extend the vehicle example: today, the
top two companies worldwide are Toyota and General Motors. They both have very
similar lines of products, at quite similar quality levels. A good deal of
that is because the auto industry has caught up to Toyota: most of the major
manufacturers are so similar on quality that they can only be differentiated
by nit-picking on quite minor points, something that Consumer Reports is very
good at. Toyota has a bit of a lead in product development time, but that
might not last too long if the new GM CEO is more like Jack Welch than his
Once the industry reorganizes, I'd see a
group of maybe a half dozen or more vehicle manufacturers in each major
metropolitan area, each one specializing in a particular kind of vehicle and
with relatively little overlap. There would be a common group of suppliers as
well. What wouldn't happen would be either world-wide organizations simply
because the advantages of centralization are vastly outweighed by the
disadvantages. Likewise, long distance transportation would be minimized
simply because it's not only an unnecessary expense, but the time taken to
transport material bloats inventories of partly finished products as well as
raises the risk that a component may be obsolete or no longer wanted by the
market by the time it's delivered -- another definite minus.
The auto industry is well aware of what the
consumer really wants: to be able to walk into the dealership, talk with
someone to define an appropriate vehicle at an appropriate price, and have it
custom built and delivered in a week or less. That's not going to happen in a
Young Soul world; the supply chains in a global economy are simply too long to
allow it. In a Mature Soul world, it's a lot more likely to happen simply
because the necessary supply chains will be shorter. Meeting that one week
goal is not helped if the nearest assembly plant is, for example, three days
away, and if the manufacturer of critical subassemblies is another three days
away from the assembly plant.
Adam Smith is known for
the invention of the "invisible hand," a mechanism that is supposed to
regulate market economies. The notion that market economies are
self-regulating actually seems to be true -- in the sense that a drunk,
staggering from the high of a binge to the inevitable crash, hangover and vow
of "never again!", and then back to another binge, is self-regulating. Many
people tend to think that the "invisible hand" is the finger that God showed
The market economy is, however, central to
the way we do things today, so the earlier Mature societies will most likely
regulate it. What later societies will do is another question entirely.
Today's economy is based on money as the
eventual medium of exchange. The banking system is one of the places where
Young Soul excess shows its true colors today. I'm not even going to venture a
guess about how the banking system will be transformed, other than to say that
a lot of the controls today are counterproductive.
Michael has said that eventually we may well
get rid of money altogether. This is probably a real good idea, although I
find thinking about a society without money to be very, very difficult. It
most likely won't happen until fairly late in the Mature Soul period.
Soul Society, Chapter 3: The Transition
BY JOHN ROTH
The transition from a
Young Soul to a Mature Soul society has been under way for well over a
century. However, it's still very much in the experimental and learning stage.
What I'm going to do in this chapter is point at some of the experiments at
level 3: Right Relationships with people you interact with on a daily basis.
I'll also point at a number of failures, and try to explain why, sort of in
There have been numerous experiments in
living and working together as equals over the years. Most of them have been
relatively small, and done with dedicated and quite above average people. Most
of them have failed to scale or have not worked well with other than their
originators. While the people who created these experiments have been far from
ordinary, they have worked with very large organizations and with ordinary
One thing to pay attention to is that Young
Soul relationships are hierarchical -- there is always someone with more
power, and someone with less. Mature soul relationships are egalitarian --
everyone has relatively equal power.
Toyota and Lean.
The NUMMI experiment
Some years ago, General
Motors had an assembly plant in Fremont, California. It was, by all accounts,
the absolute pits from just about any measure you could name. They had about
20% more workers than they needed just so they could be sure that enough
workers would show up sober to run the plant on any given day. Union
grievances were sky high. Wildcat strikes were common. Quality was abysmal,
even in the context of GM's already bad quality in the early 1980s. Costs were
way out of line. Eventually, they shut it down.
A year or two later they reopened it as a
joint venture with Toyota. It had a sexy new name (NUMMI), and it assembled GM
vehicles but with Toyota management. They rehired most of the original
workers, including the troublemakers from the former era. Within a year,
quality went way up (defects per unit down by around 70%), morale was up,
union grievances were so rare as to be almost non-existent.
What was the difference? Part of it was
Japanese business culture, but only part. Japanese business culture was built
on the teachings of J. Edwards Deming, an American management consultant who
got his start as one of the central team behind the productivity explosion
that supplied the WW II war effort. He was then part of the team that helped
to reorganize Japanese business culture -- they appreciated the industrial
effort that went into the U.S. war effort.
The rest of it was, however, Toyota's
specific organizational culture. Toyota had learned a lot of lessons that are
almost the opposite of standard management practice. Those came from Toyota's
specific history, which goes back to Toyoda Spinning and Weaving. Toyoda
Spinning and Weaving made power looms -- gigantic pieces of machinery with
thousands of moving parts. The mechanics who assembled and serviced them had
to have years of experience before they could become really productive. There
was literally no way you could hire someone off the street and have them
become productive in three weeks.
This contrasts with Ford Motor Company,
which did exactly that: hired its workers and expected them to become
productive in three weeks or less. What's not always appreciated about Ford in
that era is that it existed in a time of high immigration: it was a social
good to be able to take immigrants right off the boat and get them a good
paying job. It's said that one could walk through the Rouge River plant and
hear 50 languages spoken, and that there were workgroups where no two people
spoke the same language, including the foreman.
Ford's error was not in serving the
particular needs of its place and time, it was that it set the expectations of
how things should be organized for much of the rest of the century.
The lesson that Toyota learned, and that
Ford didn't, was that the most important person was the one actually doing the
work: workers were highly skilled, needed years of experience, and were not
replaceable. Management's job was to organize, train and facilitate.
Here's an article about how the change
happened by someone who was in on the ground floor and helped make it happen:
How NUMMI changed its culture
So now they're going to
shut the plant down. If it was so good, why are they getting rid of it?
Well, there are some reasons. First, it was
good in terms of the early 1980s and GM. Today, its quality level is actually
below GM's average. That's not because quality has slipped at NUMMI; it's
because GM's average quality has risen to where it exceeded NUMMI's quality.
Here's an article that evaluates the decision, by the same guy who was on the
team that made it happen.
Toyota shuts down NUMMI
And if GM learned something, why
did it go bankrupt?
The take home from this,
in Michael terms, is that this is still a Young Soul world, and the man at the
top of a hierarchy matters a great deal. Jack Smith, the previous CEO, made a
lot of strides cleaning up the mess. His successor, Rick "everything's fine,
stay the course" Wagoner, the GM CEO who lead it into bankruptcy, simply
couldn't accept that there was more that had to be done, and couldn't see the
handwriting on the wall even when the wall was falling on him. I could name
others, like the guy who forced Steve Jobs out of Apple and almost ran it into
the ground, or the guy who took over from IBM's founder (T.J. Watson, Jr.) and
practically killed it before Gesthner managed to revive it.
When the Toyota leaders who had created the
Toyota Production System and Toyota Development System retired, their
successors foundered. Great leaders do not understudy great leaders. A system
that can't be handled by rather average people, albeit with good training, is
not sustainable. In fact, the entire notion of a "great leader" is a Young
The articles above don't tell
very much about the details. They aren't intended to. The series by James
Womack and Daniel
Jones on Lean is a good set of
The Machine that Changed the World
The Lean Enterprise Institute is
a major resource.
So why hasn't Lean taken
over the world? Well, there's a secret ingredient to the secret sauce. The
Wikipedia article on Lean is a great example of missing the point by
enumerating the trees and not seeing the streams that make the trees flourish.
The secret sauce is Respect for People, and
the secret ingredient is Toyota's attitude toward what that actually means in
everyday, operational terms.
The reason that it's a secret ingredient
isn't that Toyota won't talk about it. They talk about it incessantly. It's a
secret because it's practically invisible to people who are steeped in Young
And that's not because it's something that's
prototypically Japanese. Much of it comes from the work
of W. Edwards Deming. Deming formalized this during WW II as part of his
job on one of the War Production Boards, and took it to Japan after the war.
See the Wikipedia article, which seems to be a bit corrupt on Deming's actual
W. Edwards Deming
What doesn't come through
is this: the Toyota attitude is that the only thing that matters is the work
being done on the gemba, which is a Japanese term that translates roughly as
"where the real work is done." The real work is done on the shop floor, not in
the manager's or executive's offices. In fact, the first thing that a Lean
sensi will do is take the people out of the conference room that has been
carefully reserved for them, and do a walkabout to show the management what's
actually going on.
It's a hard lesson for conventional
executives to learn that management's job isn't command and control; it's long
range planning, training and facilitating getting the work done to the
Another major point that frequently comes
under the radar is that the best person to know how to do a job is the person
who does the job successfully. That sounds like a platitude until you realize
that it means that managers are not the best people to tell workers how to do
their jobs. Neither are staff departments, etc. These people are not the ones
that are on the assembly line putting parts together into widgets day after
It means that work units are responsible for
the procedures they use -- not their managers, not some corporate policy
department, not the design engineers, not some external auditor who's trying
to avert regulatory risk. It also means that two different work units doing
the same job might have different procedures, a notion that is so radical that
it's not even anathema to conventional thinking -- it simply can't be right,
It also means that deviations from Standard
Work aren't tolerated. Standard Work is whatever the current procedures are,
neither more nor less. The current procedures are, of course, open to change,
but the changes have to be discussed with the rest of the workgroup and agreed
to. There may have to be measurements, and there may also need to be buyin
from other workgroups that have shared responsibility.
This isn't a prescription for stagnation.
One of Taichi Ohno's more famous pronouncements is: "If you haven't changed
your procedures in the last month, you're wasting the company's money!" (Taichi
Ohno is the person behind the Toyota Production System.)
These are not easy lessons to learn. It
takes committed management to make the transition, and it's been said that it
takes around five years for the mind-set to sink in thoroughly enough for it
to be self-sustaining.
Sociocracy, a.k.a. Dynamic
It's called Sociocracy
in Europe, and it was rebranded in the U.S. because Americans seem to have a
knee-jerk negative reaction to any word with the suffix -ocracy (except
Democracy, which seems to be more worshiped than practiced, especially in the
workplace and the schools.)
Sociocracy was invented in the Netherlands
by Gerard Endenburg, partly as a result of his experience as a student at Kees
Boeke's school, which in turn was an implementation of the Quaker principle of
the Sense of the Meeting, and which gave everyone, including the students, an
equal voice in running the organization. This experience gave him as deep a
distrust of democracy as he had of autocracy. He researched a great many
experiments, and was dissatisfied with all of them.
As an engineer with his own company,
Endenburg Electric, he worked out how to make strict equality work in an
organization of 10,000 people. It took from the early 70s through the 80s.
Unlike Lean, which started out in large
companies and is still seen as primarily a business organizational tool,
Sociocracy can be applied to anything where two or more people need to
cooperate to achieve a common aim. In the Netherlands, Sociocracy has been
applied to everything from families, fairly large businesses (Endenburg
Electric has about 10,000 employees) including the Dutch units of several
multi-nationals, all the way through community development. This includes
organizations that everyone regards as necessarily authoritarian, such as
Consent Decision Making
Also unlike Lean, Sociocracy very explicitly
institutionalizes giving everyone an equal voice, while still managing to get
the job done and avoiding the problems of consensus decision making. It
explicitly rejects both authoritarian rulership and majority rule (suppression
of the minority) in favor of consent. It avoids some of the problems with
naive application of consensus by explicitly delegating the ability to make
operational decisions; only policy has to be agreed on by the full circle.
Consent isn't that easy to understand the
first time one comes across it. The definition of consent from "We the People"
is: "Consent is granted by an individual to a proposed action when all their
argued and paramount objections have been satisfied. Consent is assumed if
there are no objections remaining." Also: "It does not imply agreement or
solidarity, but only that a proposed decision is the best one that can be
achieved under the circumstances."
This contrasts with consensus, where the
objective is to get agreement, and where there tend to be long drawn out
discussions, arguments and other maneuvers by highly motivated and vocal
people to try to get everyone else to agree with their preconceived solution.
Many applications of "consensus" seem to be more exercises in endurance, and
eventually evolve into avoiding stepping on other people's hot buttons.
Consent, on the other hand, is driven by
objections to a formally presented proposal. Objections are worked through,
modifying the original proposal as necessary, until either the proposal is
withdrawn or there are no more objections. Once there are no objections, the
proposal will succeed, because there is no longer any reason to withhold
The process of evaluating proposed decisions
is highly structured to insure that everyone has a voice, that the discussion
is not dominated by a few individuals, and that everyone actually voices their
There are two
organizing principles behind Sociocracy. The first is that the basic
organizational unit is called the circle. That's a not very good translation
of a Dutch term "kring." It's an arena where events happen, but it doesn't
have the implications of contests and strife that the English term arena has.
I tend to think of it more like the circles in a circus, except that it's not
all that exciting to watch. In this case, boring is good.
A circle is an operational unit where
everyone has a common aim. A circle makes its own policy decisions based on
consent rather than consensus. This doesn't look like a major difference, but
it has profound implications. Consent means that a proposal is going to pass
unless someone has either a reasoned (facts, data, etc) or paramount (I simply
can't do this) objection. It specifically elicits objections from everyone and
works them through until all of them have been dealt with or the proposal has
Circles should be limited to around 40
Scaling the organization: Double
Larger organizations link hierarchically
using a principle called double linking. The circle manager actually works for
the next higher circle in the organization. Her consent is required in both
circles to any policy changes. Likewise, the lower circle elects two
representatives to the higher circle; they fully participate in both circles
and their consent to policy changes is required in both circles. This last
principle needs to be understood: it means that there is no way of
implementing a policy that everyone in the organization doesn't agree to.
This principle saved Endenburg Electric when
the Dutch shipbuilding industry collapsed due to Japanese competition in 1976.
That industry represented about 50% of Endenburg Electric's business, so the
Governing Circle (the equivalent of a Board of Directors) decided that they'd
have to lay off a lot of people.
The principle of double linking meant that
they couldn't just do it - the proposal to lay off people had to be agreed to
by all the circles in the company. What actually happened was that someone in
one of the lower circles made a proposal, and his circle elected him as a
representative to the next higher circle to present it. Repeat all the way up
to the Board. His proposal was accepted. They used part of their emergency
reserve to give a lot of the guys who would have been laid off sales training
and then sent them out to drum up more work. They succeeded in getting enough
new business that most of the layoffs were averted and their customer base
became much more diverse -- which was also a good thing.
One reason why it's interesting is that some
of us have at least a nodding acquaintance with it, since it's one of the
threads existing at Twin Oaks, although it's not the way Twin Oaks was being
run (or so I hear).
The following articles give some
North American Sociocracy Center
Applying Sociocracy as an individual
We The People: the Sociocracy Book
Twin Oaks page
The Twin Oaks pages give a
fairly good overview of how parts of it work, however, the North American
center site gives a lot more detail, including a reference to the book, We
Another reason that it's interesting is that
it can be applied to just about any organization, from families up to rather
large corporations. It's also not possible for someone to mistake it for just
another way to improve productivity: it does not talk about productivity at
all. It talks about how to structure organizations of any size so everyone has
roughly equal power.
For a company that's also
flouting the conventional wisdom, and doing quite well at it, you could look
at Semco, somewhere in South America. I don't know them well enough to comment
on them in Michael terms, but from all accounts they're weird. They're also
successful. Very successful.
Level 3 Summary
So that's three
experiments that I think will have a major influence on how the coming Mature
Soul society handles Level 3 issues.
Do they work?
Well, sorta. They're like the little girl
with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very,
very good, and when she was bad, well, she wasn't very good.
Lean is very good at executing, it's not all
that good at setting direction. In fact, it's pretty much about optimizing
operations, and Concern for People is somewhat of a side issue. Sociocracy
should be much better at setting strategic direction because the double
linking principle should result in people with wider vision being elected to
represent their circle.
Another major issue is that they're in a
Young Soul matrix. Both the GM and Toyota examples show that a new CEO can
destroy the good work by simply not understanding the real roots of what makes
things work. Toyota's current problem, for example, is that the CEO who
replaced the founder when he retired decided to go after worldwide market
share at all costs (a typically Young Soul goal) and neglected the emphasis on
quality at all points in the process.
It's very easy for someone outside the
process to miss the fact that Lean is actually more consistent with American
and Western European values than it is with Japanese values. When management
tries to implement Lean in an American or European plant, the general reaction
is going to be extremely positive but also very cautious: is this too good to
be true? In many parts of the world, the reaction is simply: huh? As part of
its expansion plans, Toyota put plants in areas where that underpinning of
democratic values simply doesn't exist. The results were, unfortunately,
Toyota never used to
have to do recalls.
Endenburg Electric won't have that problem.
The founder, Gerard Endenburg, turned ownership back to the company some years
ago -- it's now an employee owned company. Further, it's generated its own
external support infrastructure: there is a network of other companies doing
the same thing, trainers and lots more in the Netherlands.
The principles are simple. The execution is
complicated. Eventually, it all makes sense, but it takes a while and it takes
training and practice.
Another problem is that the mindset isn't
standard. Every plant and workgroup is on its own. Isaac Newton is reputed to
have said: "If I have seen further than most, it is because I have stood on
the shoulders of giants." Without the "this is the way it's done" as an almost
invisible background that's taught in the schools, shown on the media and
simply accepted and done without a lot of comment, each and every
implementation is swimming against the stream.
On the other hand, some
of the issues are probably because there isn't a firm foundation of Level 1
sanity. Sociocracy seems to depend on having a fairly experienced facilitator
to run meetings; the Society of Friends (Quakers) need even more experience in
the Clerk since they're even farther from the mainstream. That would be a
whole lot easier if that was simply The Way It's Done, rather than an oddball
method that's swimming upstream against the current.
The take home here is that it's not
sufficient to sit back and wait for the Millennium. People have to get out
there and do this stuff for long enough to learn it and internalize why it
works on a gut instinct level. That's the only way it gets incorporated into
reincarnational memory so it's available the next time around.
I suggest Sociocracy partly because it can't
be implemented in a Young Soul autocratic fashion: the notions of equality in
decision making are simply too deep. The crisis at Endenburg Electric I've
mentioned above shows that: two of the outside directors resigned because they
just couldn't accept that one of the workers from the shop floor, with grease
under his fingernails, belonged in the board room.
It's also easy to get
started: you just need several like-minded people on a joint project that has
a single aim and which will last long enough to provide the experience.
There's a nice
page on the Sociocracy site that has suggestions for what to do when you
don't have a formal circle.
I don't know that either of them are "the
final answer." In fact, I suspect that they aren't -- it would be very
surprising if they were more than good first attempts and grist for the
learning process. Even Sociocracy, which I think is a lot closer, still seems
a bit too hierarchical. And it doesn't say much about how to handle local
governments, which is a subject that's been discussed a bit. There are
supposed to be several experiments, in the Netherlands in in India, that may
There have been some
really major failures on the road. The most obvious of them was Communism. The
Russian communists managed to make several really major mistakes.
First and foremost, they based their entire
philosophy on Enlightenment idealism: somehow the "state of nature" was a
state of perfection that people had fallen from. If you threw the rascals out,
people would somehow magically do better. This has very seldom worked: there
are very few military revolutions in history where the end result was better
than the previous state, at least until a fairly long time had passed. The
American Revolution worked because the revolutionaries weren't attempting to
either make major social changes, or get rid of the layer of society that was
actually managing things.
The second one they violated was that the
means has to be consistent with the ends: a totalitarian dictatorship cannot
create a state of perfect equality. Equality has to come from the ground up,
not the top down. This is one of the lessons that Jesus probably taught, that
Mohammed tried to teach, and that Gandhi actually did teach.
Marx thought you couldn't have a socialist
or communist state in an agricultural society, which is why he never looked at
Russia. The Russian communists came about because the Germans shipped them
from exile in France into Russia to energize the revolutionaries who were
already fighting the Czar and consequently destabilize the Russian front
during World War I. The resulting rulers never had a clue how to organize the
peasant agriculture into something more efficient and effective. They set up
large agricultural communes that were organized with political commissars and
which never listened to the actual workers, leading to persistent food
shortages that they had to make up with imports.
Another major problem
was that they tried to industrialize on a crash basis, using their "five year
plans." That had the wrong time frame. Five year plans are beloved of Young
Soul bureaucracies, but they didn't allow for shorter term adaptation by the
individual work units, nor did they have a realistically worked out long term
vision of how they were going to achieve the "withering away of the State."
Part of their rush to industrialize was
because of the Marxist ideology that said that Communism required an
industrial society to function.
Using our framework, it's easy to see one of
the root causes of failure: it was an attempt to jump right to Level 4 without
a firm foundation in Levels 1 - 3. Consequently they managed to do just about
everything wrong, and eventually got thrown out. The amazing thing isn't that
they failed, the amazing thing is that they lasted as long as they did. Of
course, a lot of that was because it was actually just another Totalitarian
dictatorship, with a facade of Mature Soul values that made it attractive to
Mature souls. Another reason is that the people (who were at a Mature level)
really wanted it to work.
The Way Forward
So when's it going to happen?
Channeling has been saying anywhere from 200
to 500 years, which is a major discrepancy. My viewpoint is that I'd say that
a country has a "mature soul society" when the governmental structure is based
on equality, not on hierarchy. I wouldn't wait until it's got everything fixed
-- that will be a long time coming, and I doubt if anyone, at any time in the
future, will really be ready to sit back and say: "we're done."
Strauss and Neil Howe (Generations)
are correct, I'd expect the next Awakening in the U.S. to be around 2050. That
will be the opening to invalidate the whole Young Soul hierarchical thing on a
culture-wide basis. The reorganization would follow around 2090. However, that
will require that there be a fairly widespread adoption of Sociocratic
methods, or similar. Without that, the Awakening will probably have the same
result as previous Awakenings: invalidate the current consensus, but leave
chaos in its wake.
There's an expectation that the Millennial
generation is going to make
serious changes. The Millenials, using Strauss and Howe's definitions, were
born beginning in 1982, so the oldest of them are now 28 years old. I think
they're going to play a major role in the upcoming resource shortage crisis,
and set a new social consensus for the next cycle, but I don't think that
they're going to take us all the way.
The next step, as far
as I can tell, is to work on consent decision making. It's a bottom up
process. It's possible for individuals to
use many of the principles of consent decision making without having to have
the formal structure in place.
Once people get familiar with how the
consent process works, then they're going to want to migrate the organizations
they work with to that structure. That's a cascading process that will move
through community organizations as much as it will move through businesses.
The eventual shift to a Mature Soul
governmental structure will happen as a natural result of more and more
organizations adopting one of the Mature organizational models I've mentioned
above. As the people get familiar with them, they're going to want to start
organizing their communities that way. At present, there's simply aren't
enough examples to indicate how that's going to work.
John Roth is a sixth level
old scholar with scholar casting, a goal of growth, in the observation mode
sliding to caution, and an idealist sliding to skeptic on occasion. He's
in the emotional part of intellectual center with a chief feature of
stubbornness. He's a wild card in the third entity of the first cadre of the
14th energy ring (which is the same ring most of the rest of us are in.)
Interestingly, John walked-in during the late 70's; before that the essence
running his body was a fourth level old king with a goal of discrimination.
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