Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Self Actualization

What is the most important, most wanted, most necessary and most essential thing in your life?

I have never had anyone answer me “air” so do not feel too bad if you were thinking about something else.
But the truth is that “air” is the correct answer – if you don’t believe me go to the kitchen put a garbage bag over your head, so you can't breath, and wait a couple of minutes :)

Here is a little pyramid of human necessities that psychologist Abraham Maslow created around 1940.

The tricky part about this pyramid is that you can’t climb to the top without first satisfying the bottom levels.
In other words, if you have to potty you can forget about creativity, love or morality.

Much of the Buddhist “desire” is the root of human suffering comes not from the simply desiring things.
– After words, desiring not to desire is a very strong desire in itself. -
But from neglecting this order of human self actualization.

Much of the life stress we are experiencing is derived from the fact that we are trying to accomplish – “we desire” – things at a higher level than the level that we have mastered.
In that perspective, “enlightenment” – which would be at the top of the pyramid in the self actualization level – would be a worse desire than the desire of “money” which is only on the second level of the pyramid.

Way too many people are jumping into achieving tasks that are way above their status.
Like starting a family before starting a career – which invariably adds a lot of stress to the relationship and can cause an early failure of the family.

So what has happened to me last year was a crisis triggered by the loss of security in my life, which had triggered problems at my confidence and self esteem level and threatened my family and relationships.

I had to go through a grueling examination of what was going on in my life – those of you that have followed me trough my trials and tribulations know exactly what I’m talking about.

I had to go a step back on my priorities and consolidate my financial “safety” level.
I got rid of all debt – credit cards, car payments etc.
Consolidate my mortgage by refinancing at a 4.35 % interest, 30 year fix loan.
Put some money into a liquid CD – and making a commitment to keep on saving to at least one year of security funds.
Get back on managing my stocks, IRA and 401K.

I know this might sound very unlike Buddha philosophy but consolidating my material life has put my family life on a better footing and had opened one more time my prospects for that elusive self realization.

So hopefully bay sharing our experiences we will learn and grow together, forge some friendships in the way, and feel not so lonely in our journey (troubles).

Sending you all of my love.


This Brazen Teacher said...

Did you snag Maslow's Hierarchy from my post... or are we psychically connected :-D

Brigit said...

I know the concept of the pyramid is to satisfy the lower level needs first, but I think we fluctuate between levels and when needs of a lower level aren't being met and for whatever reason can't be met, it makes it harder to maintain something on a higher level, but does that mean we should stop striving for that level? Say for instance self-esteem on a higher level when you can't get a job on a lower level. It seems like a catch 22 situation. How do you get a reasonable job without a certain amount of self-esteem.

Ted Bagley said...

As Maslow himself said,'My motivation theory was published 20 years ago, & in all that time nobody repeated it, or tested it, or really analyzed it or criticized it. They just used it, swallowed it whole with only the most minor modifications'.

Talon said...

We definitely need a solid foundation, but we also have to be clever enough to figure out what we're building on.

Buddha said...

@ Brazen – You did not know?
Yep! We are psychotically connected!

@ Brigit – Excellent comments and questions.
I’ll have to write another post to answer all of that.

@ Ted – Yep! Maslow was a very clever guy :)

@ Talon – He, he, he – That is a tremendous question :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

as the man said: sometimes all i need is the air that i breathe!
What your post means to me is finding that balance - which is also my understanding of Buddism

mickael said...

to take responsibility is useful.

yet, to trade one set of rules for another - is it a worthwhile deal?

good luck.

Argent said...

I agree with Pixies, a balanced approach is good. Buddhists call this the middle way,don't they? Any way worth its salt HAS to take account of the material things - to ignore the basics is to end up with a way that is of small use in the day-to-day, wherw we all live. Thanks for sharing.

Buddha said...

@ Pixie – When all you need is air you have reached enlightenment state.
(or the bottom of the pool, in some cases :)

@ Mickael – Rules are made to be broken!
I do not believe in rules.
I believe in directions.

@ Argent – Ah! The middle way.
Yes, all excesses are bad – When we will ever learn?

mickael said...


can you name the difference of these two?

good luck.

Buddha said...

Yes I can.
Can you understand it?

A person living by rules is like a car driven in the city.
A person living by directions is like a boat following the stars.

Ted Bagley said...

Except, Buddha, the stars are not pointing in a direction. Your finger is.

mickael said...

a fool like me can not understand. :)

whom do the stars follow?

name is the difference.

good luck.

Buddha said...

You got it all backwards guys!
I am the Brahman.
My eyes give the stars their light.
My finger gives them direction.
My being gives the universe its meaning...

mickael said...

:) indeed.

things always are the way you will them be. is there still something you dislike though?

good luck.

Buddha said...

Yes, there is one thing I dislike - ignorance.
But not like uneducated ignorance but the ignore-ance, if you know what I mean.

Ted Bagley said...

When you look in the mirror, is your reflection just backwards?