Larry Mullins

July 28, 2009

RESPONSE TO ANIL

Good day Anil. Let me preface my remarks with a disclaimer. I know Western thinkers generally embrace models such as Maslow’s pyramid. However, when discussing a model, such as the pyramid, we must keep in mind that it is an imaginary concept that we are imposing upon reality. It makes us more comfortable, but it does not really exist.

On the other hand, when discussing immensely complex issues such as human motivation it is helpful to have an idea what conceptual model of the human psyche a particular individual subscribes to. My understanding of one Eastern view is that the essence of a mortal (forgive the brevity and crudeness) could be viewed as concentric circles, with the spiritual essence of the individual in the center, and increasingly grosser levels of matter enveloping it. Freud used a different, more simplistic idea of the ID, the EGO and the SUPER EGO, with no concession to a spiritual component. Maslow himself was a professed atheist, yet he hinted at transcendent qualities in the mortal being, while insisting that such qualities as the highest values were somehow biological in nature. I find neither Maslow or Freud’s models satisfactory, in that they fail to explain transcendent qualities in mortals that appear to impinge upon the materialistic situational field, especially in critical moments. Maslow and Freud also fail to explain the continuity of consciousness that we all experience and sense to be valid. The Eastern model comes close to explaining both phenomenon, but still seemed to fall a bit short.

Victor Frankl offered a much more viable option than any of the three above, in my judgment. He explained his model at length in the book he wrote immediately after his concentration camp experience, “The Unconscious God.” Later this book was republished a few years ago as “Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning.” (Not to be confused with his “Man’s Search for Meaning.” They are very different.) Frankl believed in two spiritual components are essential parts of mortal being, two “irreducible essences.” One was very similar to the Eastern spiritual essence … the changeless, personal “I am” that is uniquely us, yet part of the ultimate whole. Yet, Frankl declared that this immortal essence “should not be a judge unto itself.” He suggested that a second spiritual essence, objective, impersonal, and transcendent was necessary to guide the mortal. In this way he brushed aside ethical “rules” and declared the second ultimate essence capable of operating infallibly to provide mortal guidance in the present. I found this hybrid model (that is dual components of spiritual influence, one personal and the other objective and impersonal) in only one other place, “The Urantia Book.” This huge and challenging tome claims to be a revelation that synthesizes science, religion and philosophy. I find many useful ideas in it.

With these caveats in mind, I will attempt to offer you a response to your questions.

QUESTION: 1. How does his theory explain Victor Frankl’s case who chose to live at the top of the Maslow’s pyramid even when his most basic needs were not being fulfilled in the Nazi concentration camps. Galileo, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, were poor to the extent that their most basic needs were not being fulfilled when they produced some finest works in their fields contributions that can at least fit in the middle of the pyramid, if not at the highest levels. (By the way does he ever talk about the pyramid in his book. Some people say the concept of pyramid was added later)

Maslow’s model does not really explain instances of spiritual transcendence that makes possible virtual miracles of the human spirit. Unlike many people, I believe the self-actualizing process may engage on any level of the pyramid. I find the pyramid helpful in explaining immature behavior, but once we enter the self-actualizing process material cause and effect is less and less significant. The self-actualizer becomes lost in his or her quest. Ironically, we become more and more our real self as we become less and less concerned with its welfare. Maslow presented his pyramid about In 1943, in a paper that featured his Hierarchy of Human Needs. This would turn out to be the one piece of his work that nearly all his academic peers in psychology enthusiastically embraced. Yet, in my judgment, his later work was much more important.

QUESTION 2. Does a person shift to the next level of hierarchy when his needs in the current level get satisfied substantially or satisfied at least to the most basic level. In case it is substantial, what makes a human decide how much is substantial? How does he know that level has been achieved? Isn’t it something within him that decides it? If that is so how much control he wields in manipulating that feeling?

The different levels are defused, not clearly defined. Moreover, except for very basic needs, an individual does not consciously decide to move to another level. as one moves up the pyramid the “needs” become more like “urges.” If we are hungry, we clearly know it. But if we perceive we are not sufficiently respected, the urge is very subjective. How do we decide the situation of a lack of respect? It may be true, or it may be an immature feeling that is not justified. Therefore, we can hardly consciously decide that this emotional need has been satisfied in the manner a big hamburger satisfies our hunger. Indeed, it is “something in him” (as you say) that may enlighten his perspective of self-worth and appreciation. Virtually every distasteful thing a person does is when he strives to be loved and appreciated long after he should be striving to love and appreciate others.

QUESTION 3. Do we really need to go through these levels first hand or can we by pass them through our mental imagination?

In my judgment we cannot self-actualize in a vacuum. While it is possible to exercise integrity and excellence (truth and beauty) to some degree alone, it is very difficult to manifest goodness without a human relationship of some kind. Imagination is of immense importance to spiritual growth, but nothing can replace the reality of personal experience of human relationships. Personality relationships are ends in themselves, and transcend all other realities we can know as humans.

QUESTION 4. Don’t our actions often stem from the confluence of many needs–a
combination of needs from many levels?

Yes, I agree. And probably the most significant is the presence of a spiritual component in the mortal being.

QUESTION 5. Maslow’s theory tells us how most of us would respond in a certain situation but could we take “what people are likely to do in a certain situation” as “what they ought to be doing”? Our needs should be decided by what most of people may be doing at a certain level of human consciousness or should we see our needs in the context of a possible purpose we have been brought on earth?

In his later writings Dr. Maslow expressed the existence of two components that determine the behavior of self-actualizers. These remarkable human being are the flowers of humankind, only one percent of the population. The first component or attitude Maslow detected was the fact that all self-actualizers are committed to a mission (or purpose, as you describe it) larger and more important than self. The second component (which I call his lost discovery) was the self-actualizers passionate love for. and expression of, the MetaValues of truth, beauty and goodness, which in synthesis manifest as love. Self-actualizers become channels for the ultimate values and express them in their lives. Although Maslow believed MetaValues are biologically based, while I believe they come from our Creator.

I hope this is helpful.

Larry Mullins

July 26, 2009

Beyond the cults of self-improvement

Filed under: psychology,science,values — Tags: , , , , , , — LarryMullins @ 5:12 pm

Abraham Maslow has been unjustly blamed by some for fostering a “me generation” of ego-centered narcissism. Reasonable examination of Maslow’s ideas will show little correlation to the fads of “self-development” that are centered around ego-embellishment. These cults seem to form around gurus, or ultra-energetic motivators who leap upon a stage and assure their adoring flock that they, too, can be “great.” It is professed that if one can only become fearless enough, free enough, brilliant enough, and can visualize success vividly enough, one can find happiness. The facts of life do not support this notion.

The failure of the “ME” philosophy has now become as obvious as the insolvency of the Freudian “ethic.” Yet, in the face of our disillusioning role models, unhappy celebrities, and the continuous unraveling of the lives of rich and famous personalities, many aggressive would-be “achievers” persevere in worshiping the gods of power, narcissism, and fame — and to “keep score” with money and material possessions. See more at http://www.metavalues.net

July 23, 2009

The young want an optimistic message

The young people of this planet are ready for this message, this great new covenant of optimism—not bounded by traditional religion—yet unafraid to explore the realm of religious values, the domain of Meta-Values. When the youth hear the concept, their eyes kindle with hope, and with new energy and passion.
The time has come to offer the young, and those with young minds, a process of spiritual Self-Actualization that is accessible to anyone who seeks to unlock his or her inner potential—a process-design driven by an authentic Science of Values. Eventually, a study of Meta-Values will lead some of us, perhaps many of us, to a personal relationship with the source of Meta-Values. This source of Meta-Values is perhaps nothing less than the Highest Power in the Universe. See http://metavalues.net/video/1.htm

July 15, 2009

George Orwell And The “If Only” Delusion

George Orwell observed that: “Nearly all creators of utopia have resembled the man who has a toothache, and therefore thinks happiness consists in not having a toothache.” Many gurus subsist on the “If Only” Delusion. People come to believe that “if only” they had this or that thing, or if only they could lose fifty pounds, or if only they could win the lottery they could be happy. But we know that once the blocks to self-actualization are removed, we are at a starting point. Real happiness consists, according Tony Robbins, not in getting what you want but rather in becoming all that you can be. And the message of The MetaValues Breakthrough is that we all have a magnificent gift to give that no one else can give. Most of us never learn to unwrap this gift. When we do, then all else will be added. Check out “Ask Not what the Universe can do for You, Ask what You can do for the Universe,” at http://metavalues.net/video/1.htm.

July 14, 2009

Self-Actualizing is about Forgetting Self

Maslow has been unjustly blamed by some for fostering a “me generation” of ego-centered narcissism. These cults seem to form around gurus, or ultra-energetic motivators who leap upon a stage and assure their adoring flock that they, too, can be “great.” It is professed that if one can only become fearless enough, free enough, brilliant enough, and can visualize success vividly enough, one can find happiness. The failure of the “ME” philosophy has now become as obvious as the insolvency of the Freudian “ethic.” Yet, in the face of our disillusioning role models, unhappy celebrities, and the continuous unraveling of the lives of rich and famous personalities, many aggressive would-be “achievers” persevere in worshiping the gods of power, narcissism, and fame — and to “keep score” with money and material possessions.
Maslow taught something quite different. The process of Self-Actualization often fosters the peak experience, or “flow.” At these moments of highest actualization there is a self-transcendence, a self-forgetfulness. One becomes completely involved with service to humankind.

July 3, 2009

Why do People in the Wilderness Die?

A billionaire, a playboy and a technician were lost in the wilderness. The billionaire, in the movie “The Edge,” was depicted by Anthony Hopkins. He told his fearful companions: “People die in the wilderness from shame. They are ashamed to be lost, afraid and confused. They wonder: how did I get here? Why can’t I find my way? So they fail to do the one thing that can save them. They fail to think.” The movie was perhaps an allegory that Abraham Maslow would have appreciated. When he began his studies, Maslow accepted the conventional wisdom that it is natural for most people in our culture to feel unwarranted guilt, crippling shame, and stressful anxiety. As he studied Self-Actualizers, though, he detected that they were relatively free of this baggage. Over time, they developed an attitude of impregnable self-respect. This self-respect was not overbearing or narcissistic, but rather balanced by an equal degree of respect for other people. How does such extraordinary self-respect evolve? In the MetaValues Breakthrough you will learn that one of the untold parts of the “secret,” is to restore the natural, innocent self-respect we had as children while also increasing, to an equal degree, the respect we have for other people. Check out this free, short video: http://metavalues.net/video/2.htm.