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Maslow’s Research on Self Realization

Abraham Maslow did a beautiful research on human need. His hierarchy of needs is represented below

Economists say human needs are unlimited, where as the resources to satisfy the needs are limited . Lot of research has gone into understanding human needs. One simplistic form of research is that human beings need food, clothing, shelter, security and esteem. Unfortunately the degree of each need differs from person to person and also the control one has in obtaining these needs also is limited. So as to say that sometimes whatever a man does he cannot fulfill these needs beyond a point. For example a lot of the fulfillment of needs depends on birth itself, one’s IQ levels, the opportunities to learn and grow. So probably God sets a limit as to how much one can fulfill these needs. That’s not to say that one should not try hard, probably one should try hard enough to achieve the maximum that one is destined for.

Animals have only three needs, they need to be fed regularly, their sexual impulses have to be satisfied and they have the need to show themselves better than their creed. That’s why male animals always enter into fights to show its superiority. Probably animals and birds are happier lot since their needs it selves are limited and could be fulfilled to a great extent. Animals have a strong sense of danger that human’s lack. Through meditation it is possible to get that animal instinct which would keep us alert like animals. Chinese Zen master had the animal sense of danger and could fight out like them.

His first level of need is the physiological need, which means food and sex and probably shelter. Unfortunately in many under developed countries this need itself is not fulfilled. There are restrictions on free relationship between a man and woman, countries are poor and are not able to keep the population well fed. Lot of people in developing countries don’t have proper shelter. Of the total world population I think at least one third are not able to meet this level of need itself.

His next level of need is the security need. It is important that citizens of any country feel secure and happy. There must not be fear of violence, danger etc. If humans are at constant threat this need will keep them unhappy.

The next level of need is the social need. Everyone whether introvert of extrovert needs to relate to people. Everyone needs companions, friends, relatives. Though all the energy flow may not be positive, but what is the use of life without arguments and disagreements. This need is sometime not fulfilled when one goes and settles in foreign countries. It takes time to adjust to cultural differences and takes time to be socially active.

The next level of need is the esteem need. Everyone wants to be respected. Everyone wants to be loved. But unfortunately the ego differences between people subdue respect for others. People say with flavor give respect and take respect however the feeling of I am Ok and you are Ok never comes in. Always the positions are I am Ok and you are slightly less than OK. Pandit Ravishankar in one of his lectures said the greatest thing that Indian youth lack is a sense of esteem. Unless one respects oneself one cannot expect to be respected by others

The most exciting and sort after need that Maslow claims as highest is need for self-actualization. Once self-actualization happens one attains the final peace that every human craves for. Self actualization can be best described as knowing who am I , what am I here for and probably feel a glimpse of God himself. As of now there are only two ways to achieve self actualization one is through meditation and other is through free and unbridled service to humanity. Hindu Mythology claims of a number of people who actually attain self actualization. It is said these saints still are around in a state of meditative silence. When one goes to a temple one can clear see the meditative state of mind of these saints and Gods.

One interesting thing to observe is that it is not always that one has to climb the Hierarchy Actually Tibetan monks actually aim straight for self-actualization. They undergo severe penance for attaint self-actualization. Again some times one needs to give up one need to satisfy others.

The crux of the story is that human needs follow certain Hierarchy and the extent the need gets satisfied depends on the person and a superior force.

Happiness/ Blissfulness

Just as Maslow proposed a hierarchy of needs, we can also construct a hierarchy of human state of mind as shown below. A happy and miserable state of mind is like two sides of same coin. It is driven by external circumstances rather than internal pleasure. It is also driven by ambition for instance you want to top your class or get a promotion you feel happy but at the same time if you miss the same you feel miserable. A happy state of mind is also driven by peer pressure. For instance you have studied in an engineering college and ten years after passing out you are earning far ahead of your classmates then you are happy. You don’t normally compare with people who are worse off than you but compare with only those who are better off than you. If you compare yourself with a beggar on a street who has nothing and feel happy that you are far better off than beggar is, then you really have a good heart and are on way to self –realization. The Buddha calls it a wheel of birth and death. We go on moving with the wheel, clinging to the wheel and the wheel moves on, sometimes we are happy and other times we are miserable and we are as if crushed between two rocks. A miserable state of mind is normally understood and appreciated because everybody has some or other misery and normally do not like to see a person too happy.  Happiness creates jealousy and hatred because you have also not experienced it and have probably seen more misery than other person.

The next state of mind is pleasure. Pleasure can come from food, comfort or money and sex. Just like happiness has misery attached to it pleasure has pain attached to it. Osho calls normal sex as sexual sneeze where you release all your inbuilt tensions. When you have less of one pleasure you want more of others. For instance you have less of sex then you may be more attached to food or comfort or money. It is just like rushing from one sensation to other sensation. Pleasure or pain is just a stimulation of senses by external forces.  Pleasure also has a negative element attached to it, which comes in form of vices like drinking, smoking and drug addiction. It is just escapism where if you feel some misery you take in alcohol to forget the misery. Pleasure keeps you in a neurotic stage always clamoring for more. You need more and more pleasure and nothing satisfies you. You have so many desires and most of it is unquenchable that you are always in misery.

Joy is the next state of mind and it has both internal and external element attached to it. For instance you are seeing a cricket match and your favorite Sachin Tendulkar hits a century you feel joy, though you have not hit that century you have a vicarious feeling and feel joyful. Similar thing happens when you hear your favorite music. It appeals to you internally and it is possible to sing the same if you attain a Buddha mind.  

Ecstasy and bliss are totally internal. They are far higher and far deeper. They have a quality that an ordinary man rarely feels it and only a self realized man can understand it . It is like singing music for nobody, without boundaries of ragas and thalas (Rythms), creating your own raga and leaving your footprint in the sands of time.  It can happen only if you develop some sense of internal silence. It can happen only when there is no darkness inside you, when you are no longer attached or bounded by anything.  It has nothing to do with the rich and poor as both rich and poor are subject to wheel of pleasure and pain. I feel the rich are more miserable because they have to take efforts to remain rich.  Ecstasy and bliss comes in only when all boundaries are gone, just like the universe is infinite and started with nothing bliss would come only when all your rules of society embedded in the brain disappear and nothingness remains.  Ecstasy and bliss are freedom, you are free from rules, rules that society teaches you, rules that your school or college teaches you. A Mona Lisa cannot be painted by using head alone, it requires something beyond head, it requires imagining that nobody has done before.

A blissful person is normally noticeable by the way he walks, by the way he sings, by the way he talks. Meditation can bring about a change, but you have to find your own way out.  For instance the Buddha was fasting and practicing austerities and torturing himself in every way. He had become skinny and weak. Some guru would tell hatha yoga would help, others would recommend some other form of meditation. Finally he decided to drop everything and after six years he slept well. No practice no exercise the next day there was no need to get up early also. For the first time under the Bodhi tree he felt freedom from all seeking, effort, searching and pursuit. Everything became effortless. After whole nights sleep there was total peace, no worry about future, nothing to be done and living in present. To attain bliss and ecstasy one really has to turn focus internal and meditate, one can also practice Yoga and Tantra, any form of yoga even Janana Yoga is good enough. Whether a blissful person will be like laughing Buddha always laughing? This question needs to answered rather relatively, we had many self realized persons in the past , Shiva was very angry God, Vishnu was a smiling God and Brahma was a meditative God and so applies to Gods  of other religions. Laughter and bliss need not mean the same. Bliss is an internal thing, it is connection to supreme consciousness and awareness of universal consciousness, you can be moody and blissful , you can be angry and blissful or you can be always laughing like laughing Buddha and be blissful. It is completely an internal thing, it is what is called Shanthi in Hindi, once you attain that Shanthi and love of supreme you don’t need any other thing. All I can say is in future many would adapt to Spiritualism and become blissful.