RE: virus: Re: level 3 minds

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 11:10:59 -0700

Jason McVean wrote:

>Is there any chance we could see a summary of what the various
>levels of minds are. I assume this is one of Mr. Brodie's
>inventions but all I can remember are insinuations that the place
>to be is in a level-3 mind and anyone who disagrees is hopelessly
>stuck in a level-2 or <gasp> level-1 mind. Any discussion of the
>topic seems to be greeted by a smug sort of pity. Is this a
>terribly naive level-2 request?

Here's the relevant section. To get the full experience, imagine
yourself going to your favorite bookstore, pulling out a copy of Virus
of the Mind, and turning to Chapter 12:

the learning pyramid

Mind viruses take advantage of people's learning styles, or heuristics.
By advancing the way you learn from the survival-and-reproduction
heuristic you were born with, you can effectively immunize yourself
against mind viruses.
You go through different levels of learning heuristics in your life,
each building upon the previous levels in a kind of pyramid. Stepping
from one level of the pyramid to the next requires not just learning a
different subject, but jumping to a whole new manner of learning, and in
fact a whole new way of looking at the world.

People outgrow their belief systems, like butterflies leaving the
Obviously, outgrowing a belief system does not mean the beliefs were
wrong or bad. There's value in mastering one way of operating, getting
so you can be that way with your eyes closed. We teach children about
whole numbers and let them master that world before we start talking
about fractions or real numbers. That doesn't mean integers are bad.

Outgrowing your belief system is more a transcendence than a
repudiation. You'll still remember how to operate as you had before, but
you'll see there's a bigger game available to play. As you'll see, the
prize of the Level-3 game-living a free, purposeful, fulfilling, and
meaningful life-is simply not available from Levels 1 or 2.

The first level of the pyramid is the genetic programming you were born
with. This level was learned for you throughout the course of evolution;
you don't need to do anything other than wander through life to get its

This level consists of the instinctual drives you and all animals
have-remember the four F's? This level lets you survive and reproduce in
the world of nature. Through attraction and revulsion, through hunger,
anger, fear, and lust, it's possible to survive with no further
learning. All of traditional education, from nursery school through
Ph.D. thesis, is designed to make the transition out of Level 1.

Some people stop here, never acquiring the self-discipline to master
Level 2. Level-1 people lack foresight, self-discipline and integrity.
They tend to live chaotic lives, unable to hold a job or keep a
relationship going. While they may enjoy the moments of life even more
than people in Level 2, they do not live powerfully.

If the four F's represented Level 1, then the three R's characterize
Level 2 of the learning pyramid. All academic subjects, acquired skills,
and fields of study make up Level 2. Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic,
not to mention computer programming, political science, psychology, and
religious doctrine, belong in this level.

Most people stop here. It takes so much work, so much time and effort,
to acquire all the knowledge and beliefs that make up a healthy Level 2,
that the task of transcending it all to make the jump to Level 3 seems
not simply difficult but ridiculous. Beyond that, people who remember
how much better life works in Level 2 than it did in Level 1 will be
reluctant to give up the comfortable framework of the belief system that
got them here.

People who get stuck in Level 2 feel like they're in a rut, burned out,
or that their lives lack meaning.

They become resigned or cynical. Often they are the ones who live
Thoreau's "lives of quiet desperation." They may cling indefinitely to
their religious beliefs, or to the currently popular anti-religious
belief that life lacks meaning, hoping their faith in what they believe
to be the Absolute Truth will eventually make things better. They may
attempt to repeat past successes, go back to school, learn new subjects,
or switch religions, but until they are willing to give up their
reliance on the truth of their belief systems, in Level 2 they will

At this point, you may be wondering which level you're in. Again, most
people are in Level 2. No one comes along and taps you on the shoulder
saying it's time to move up to Level 3. In fact, you will have
tremendous resistance to even considering that Level 3 exists, or if it
does, that you're not already in it. If you're living a life of quiet
desperation, you're in Level 2. If you often feel bored, unmotivated,
confused, resentful, guilty, unworthy, powerless, or like life lacks
meaning, you're in Level 2. If you're just doing what you've always done
without thinking much about what you want out of life, you're in Level 2
or 1.

I'm now going to say something about Level 3. If you're in Level 2, your
first reaction will probably be to compare what I say to something you
already know and form a conclusion about it. That is a Level-2 learning
strategy that does not work in Level 3. I invite you to read with the
possibility in mind that there's something here that's different from
what you already know, and just kind of sit with that awhile.

Level 3 is learning to look at life as something to be created out of
your personal programming and purpose-the two P's?-rather than as a maze
of knowledge, beliefs, goals, and challenges to be run like a rat. It's
complete personal freedom-freedom from societal pressures, freedom from
guilt, freedom from mind viruses. (You know the trouble with the rat
race, don't you? Even if you win, you're still a rat.)

In Level 3, you pick a purpose for your life and hold it as your highest
priority. If you commit strongly enough to this purpose, the cognitive
dissonance created with old memes that don't support this purpose will
result in some reprogramming. After time, you'll find yourself becoming
more and more effective at living your purpose. And again, I would
recommend picking a purpose that you find rewarding, motivating,
meaningful, and altogether fulfilling. You'll enjoy life and be good at
what you do.

Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA, USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?