virus: Repost: level 3 minds

Richard Brodie (
Wed, 20 Nov 1996 12:09:15 -0800

John Schneider wrote:

Could you please repost the 'real definition' of level 3? I have
not been on the list terribly long, and have probably only seen
the contradictory definitions. Anyway, I don't see why any old
mind can't learn flexible modeling, position shifting, and
consciousness of purpose, and consequently I don't see why we
need a level 3 distinction meme.

>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 benefits.
>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 remain.
>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
>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?