Understanding the Tone Scale

Tone Scale 1

The Tone Scale is such a vital tool to understand when dealing with other people and we all too often neglect this vital asset in our lives because either we don’t fully understand it or we don’t know how to apply it when faced with unpleasant encounters or irrational behavior.

So here is an explanation to help us along from Ron’s lecture given on 15 August 1951

“THE TONE SCALE – A Gradient Scale of Survival”:

“The word tone is one which is not misunderstood in the society. People know about high-toned individuals and they know about people who are low. … In short, there are a lot of derivations for this tone; it sort of sounds musical. When you say “Tone scale: levels of human behavior,” you get some amount of agreement on it.

Now, if you are teaching an elementary class in this subject, all you have to do is draw three lines.  …

That’s exactly it: how dead they are and how alive they are. … We are not talking about how half-dead people are; we are actually talking about how conscious they are. You realize that a person thinks as well as he is conscious. A person who is conscious thinks; people who are unconscious don’t think. … A person at the middle level on this graph is half-conscious. His analytical attenuations have set in to a point where his analyzer has shut down to 2.0 on the tone scale. … At the top he is all the way conscious and at the bottom he is completely unconscious—he is dead. Now, that is the tone scale. It goes from dead to one-quarter conscious, half-conscious, three-quarters conscious, conscious.

Up at the top, this level of consciousness is practically unheard of. Nearly everybody is just a little bit unconscious, the society being what it is”.

“So a person gets into lots of trouble when he is only half-conscious. … In other words, the fellow has a certain amount of liability in the society if he is going around in that state. … That is where that is on the tone scale: antagonism is being half-conscious.

Now, what about an individual who is less than half-conscious?”

“What does a fellow do when he is only a little over a quarter conscious and something goes wrong in his vicinity? He has an interesting reaction: he gets mad. He gets very angry, as a matter of fact. That is the emotion when consciousness is cut down into these strata: rage, anger, destruction and so on”.

“If a person gets down near the bottom, though, he is so unconscious he can’t even find something to get mad about. A little higher than that, he is confused about what he is going to get mad about, so he doesn’t get mad. And just below that he might cry, but that is about all. But down near the bottom he is too dead. He is too far off and he isn’t going to get mad at all.

But in this upper bracket of the tone scale, you find that he is pretty conscious, he is pretty alert; he is on the ball, he is on the qui vive (on the alert or lookout). He is the kind of fellow you wish you could hire.

Let’s derive the tone scale another way. The mood of an animal or a human being is not dependent so much on its capability. Now let’s take this graph again from another standpoint. We know something about the goal of existence being survival. …

Let’s take the modus operandi of survival: Survival depends on having something to help you survive and on not having something that won’t help you survive. … A non-survival item must be absent and a pro-survival item must be present. … Everything that is going to seriously inhibit his survival and that he knows is going to inhibit his survival has to be away from him. …

That is the way his life is arranged. What happens when you try to turn his life around, when you insist that he accept something that he considers to be a non-survival item? …The fellow considers this a non-survival action. What will be his emotional response? … What would be his reaction?

Adults become a little more fixed in their reactions. Their reactions have turned out to be pattern reactions, they respond quickly. The joys and griefs follow each other with terrifically rapid succession.

There is the tone scale reaction on the effort to obtain something desirable that he considers survival: happy, then maybe not quite so happy but serious, antagonistic, angry, deceitful, grief, apathy—doesn’t want it”.

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1 thought on “Understanding the Tone Scale”

  1. A hypothesis: one seeks survival, and when things are going well, without major obstacles that cannot be rather easily overcome, he’s happy. He’s in the upper bands of the tone scale.

    Usually, this applies to specific areas. So you may have an engineer who did not go past any misunderstood words in his studies, and he knows a lot about engineering, understands how it works, knows how it works, and gets all the pieces to fit together. He’s happy. His admin scales at work are functioning smoothly.

    But the same engineer may have domestic troubles. He got his ME (Masters of Engineering), but no one offered graduate degrees in MM (Marriage Management). He dreads going home. He stays late at work to avoid it. The area is a disaster. He is not happy at all. He considers himself a failure at marriage and contemplates divorce as a possible solution.

    Yet, presumably, when he got married, he was happy. At least we hope so. So what happened? Well marriage is a complicated area to try to sort out. On the one hand, you have men, and on the other hand, women. I don’t think anyone has solved it, analyzed it, fully understood it, made a predictable science out of it, not anymore than anyone has made a predictable science out of changes in one’s life or the differences in personalities we all exhibit.

    But one thing can be said: somehow, things in the engineer’s marriage began to go without solutions. This obviously also affected his wife. And if they had children before things started to go without solutions, then it affects them, too. Goals were somehow disappointed. Perhaps small ones at first, but disappointed nonetheless. Plans didn’t work out. There was a squabble over a vacation, perhaps, or about a new couch, or about a set of dishes. He forgot to take out garbage. There was some policy in place, but it wasn’t known or followed by each in the same manners. Projects went unfilled. The two each began to feel out-exchange about things.

    What is going on? Their admin scales began to not function. Blockages arose. Blockages went without solutions. And each of the couple began to go down-tone about their commitment. Her friends were fine, her work was fine, and she was happy there. But like her husband, she began to dread going home, or began to dread his return home. How do you sleep next to someone you “no longer love”?

    When a being finds his admin scales are blocked in an area, he begins to go down-tone in that area. He goes from contented, down to bored. If he can simply walk away, he probably will. That may apply to the simple misunderstood word. I have seen it, and heard it: “Oh, this doesn’t make sense.” And “Woomp!” the book goes down closed on the table top. if it’s about some project, something optional of no real survival importance or weight, no big deal, he can find another hobby. But if it is important, and carries weight, he is less able to simply walk away. He drops down from boredom to antagonism. He gets s-e-r-i-o-u-s about it. He’s ready to fight for it. So the guy resolves to take the book to the library where he can tackle it properly, and marches in and grinds for a few hours until he’s exhausted. He fails an exam. Fear sets in.

    Whatever the admin scale, be it a book or designing a roadway, if it has importance, if he is committed to it, he will be very reluctant to walk away. He drops from antagonism into hostility. He complains. He makes noise. If that doesn’t work (which is probably the case, depending on the blockage), he may drop further down into hate. And when he sees that isn’t working, he begins to fear.

    One sees this phenomenon in a dispute with another. It drops down to antagonism. When one party feels he cannot get past, when hostility fails, when hatred fails, when it becomes apparent that he will not get past and will lose … he begins to fear.

    When blockages to goals and purposes and an admin scale as a whole are unresolved, and that admin scale is important, even inescapable, the individual slides down-tone. When he is thoroughly beaten, he goes into grief, apathy, and eventually, death. When a being has a lifetime failure, that hangs over him in the future. One phenomenon is that as hostility leads to overt acts, he then reduces his own scope and reach. Blockages lead to failures. Over many lifetimes, more admin scales – more endeavors, more fields, more goals and purposes and ideal scenes – become either only partially accessible, or entirely inaccessible. Successes, on the other hand, tend to become stronger over time. So you get some things like the guy who “cannot draw a straight line” and the nine year old kid who beats a chess grandmaster.

    Auditing alone will go back and find the unresolved blockages, and remove them. The causes are many, and some are self-imposed by the being himself. But they can be found. And happiness such as we all experienced as very small children, exhilarated just for being alive, can be restored, and more.

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