just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness

The Nature of Privilege, Waking Up and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need

Published on 30/10/18
by randy

Abraham Maslow is often credited as the father of transpersonal psychology. This field was just beginning to bloom in the late ’60’s when I was taking courses in abnormal psychology. It dealt with how we can move beyond normal to higher levels of functioning as human beings. Given today’s climate of violence, it seems helpful to examine the ‘privilege’ of exploring ‘beyond normal’. He studied several people who excelled in human performance and came up with the following basic needs as prerequisite for moving to the highest level, self actualization. Some have referred to this as ‘waking up’.

The basic needs for survival are food and shelter followed by a sense of safety. Certainly, refugees fleeing the chaos of failed states are caught in this basic needs dilemma and we can understand the southern African and Central American migration as our refugee population has exploded to over sixty million people. The next basic need is belonging. We all may know what it’s like to enter a new community without a sense of welcoming. Certain populations now struggle as their tribe seeks belonging into a tribe of difference. In today’s society, with the explosion of technology, the effects of dramatic climate change, and radical changes in markets due to globalization, our capacity to adapt to these changes depends upon our skills at expanding our circles of belonging. There are those today who are filled with fear about these changes. They seek to protect ‘their tribe’ from other tribes. Some have referred to this as ‘nationalism’ vs. ‘multilateral’ orientation. No doubt, change is a huge challenge as our populations explode. Some will attempt to stop this change with antiquated legislation, border walls, outdated military spending, and inhuman methods in providing food, shelter and a sense of belonging to millions of humans suffering deep pain from lack of these basic needs.

I write this as a human of privilege. I wake each day in gratitude for the basic needs of food, shelter, and a broader sense of belonging. I maintain that anyone who has these basic needs met is in the category of privilege. Without them, it’s hard to move on to a larger sense of belonging. He then mentions the importance of self esteem. It’s hard to move to awareness when we’re filled with negative thoughts and emotions. Yet, when we can release our fear of the concept of ‘other’, grow our sense of community beyond difference, and pursue a spiritual path beyond concept or thought, we can begin to touch that creative space of ‘self actualization’. It’s a space where we can empty of attachments to being ‘right’, surrender our notions of the ‘right tribe’, ‘right religion’, ‘right politics’, and truly begin to explore the open mind. Whether in Christian mysticism, the Sufi tradition, a variety of Indigenous practices, Eastern spiritual practices, etc., when we explore beyond the words of religion we wake up to a bigger, deeper belonging. The self actualization is really a sense of the small self (ego) surrendering into big Self. As this happens the human being actualizes to the consciousness of non duality. Effectively, the awareness at this moment moves one from fear and greed to love and compassion. The awareness of interconnection, all things connected, is no longer a linguistic concept. The human can surrender in awareness to inevitable change (impermanence) and experience the felt awareness of Big Belonging. Maslow describes this creative moment as ‘peak experience’. Spiritual teachers describe this as an experience we can bounce in and out of as we continue the journey of self actualization.

Today, as humans push fear and resistance to change, the motivation and intention to ‘wake up’ becomes central to the stewardship of our planet. With the wake up comes awareness to move from complaint and persuasion, from special interest politics, from dogmatic interpretations of government, education and religion, to a flexibility and openness to meet rapidly accelerating changes in our world. The open, creative, flexible mind has the courage to temporarily suspend belief systems with the aim for ‘best for all, harm to none’.

That's it. What Next?

Please leave your comment so we know what you think about this article. Trackback URL: The Nature of Privilege, Waking Up and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need.