The transcendent stage

No society has yet reached this point, but it is possible to extrapolate what such a society would look like on the basis of individuals and groups that, although operating within a different stage, have moved in this direction, and also on the basis of the corresponding characteristics of individual development.

The main feature of such a society is a turn towards the universal. There is a similarity, in this respect, with the first stage (because of their proximity to the Intent), but this time it is a conscious, deliberate act. For example, personality (‘I') is considered only a form of the self (the equivalent of a mask at the first stage). Individuality is preserved, but it operates within a larger framework that is not imposed, but recognised (the synthesis between freedom and necessity). Rather than the nuclear family, the basic social unit is a community that does not rely on blood relations (or even physical proximity), but on shared experiences, goals and interests. Nationalism and other forms of social segregation lose their significance. This also applies to knowledge - the segregation of various disciplines and approaches (e.g. science and spirituality) is transcended. In the ‘axial age' the Greek philosophers, Buddha and K'ung-Fu-tzu heralded the three dimensions of development (the rings, experience, and intent) and their corresponding methods (reasoning, non-attachment, and commitment). The importance of all of them is finally recognised. This makes such a society less constructed and more permeable and fluid. Religions, including atheism and other ideologies such as Marxism, are not needed (the New Jerusalem does not have churches). They are replaced by spirituality (that may be secular, humanistic) and the awareness of the relation between the individual and the universal. So, although the universal is acknowledged, it is also recognised that such a relation may differ between groups and also between individuals. This means accepting cultural differences, but also a common core: trans-cultural underlying humanity. The image of God (as a social construct) is transcended, without denying the possibility of a universal agency.

An economic system is not based on the exploitation of, but working with the environment and others. Cooperation is balanced with competition on all levels. Art in such a society has a transcendent function (expressing the timeless, catching glimpses of infinity). While the temporal locus of the first stage is the present, of the second the past, and of the third the future, at this stage they are integrated. The social process is seen as a spiral (see below), which is, in fact, a combination of point time (characterising the first stage), cyclical time (the second stage) and arrow of time (the third stage).