Posts Tagged ‘Maslow’

The presence of nothing . . . and everything

August 5, 2011

Nothing has to happen and everything will.

This phrase found me in the netherlands of meditation about four years ago. The Taoist wisdom in these words is both a marvel and a dilemma. Its infant implementation into my life currently exists of captured moments when I manage to stand still enough to note that nothing that is occurring in this moment has to happen, yet everything is happening. When I get to the end of each moment, everything has happened. There is nothing left that has not happened in its moment.

I get caught up in control: having to have certain specific events occur so that I can have a specific outcome. Moving past my physical survival and my human dependency upon water, food, shelter . . . all of those things at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I am sometimes absolutely frantic to make a specific outcome happen. For instance, I am always desperate to honor my commitments. I am particularly abhorrent to being absent for people who are dependent upon me for their well-being (I’m thinking children here and the occasional grown-up who has asked for a favor).

Practical applications of control include situations such as driving my vehicle, showing up for work, spending my money, and all that. What “has to happen” for much of my waking moments is that I survive intact, not harm others, do my job well, save for my future – all of the activities we call living. My continued breathing in and out must occur for there to be continued life within my body. But there is no rule that says my breathing has to happen for its own sake. In reality, none of these things have to happen. I don’t “have” to do anything at all. The motion of existence will continue regardless.

There are consequences to both action and inaction. In deciding what to do or not do, we all believe we can control the outcomes in our lives. We have a large history to support that belief. We witness the outcomes in other peoples’ lives, listen to their tales of how it happened, and sometimes apply their methods to living our own lives. That’s what self-help books are all about.

I have been testing the inaction of “nothing has to happen” in my life. Watching people I love stumble through their lives, it is so very hard for me to not interfere and try to fix them or their lives. I witness their behaviors, their attitudes, and I can nearly all the time guess what the outcome will be. There are formulas for success, I want to scream at them. But who am I to know what is best for them? Who am I to guess what their path should be? Some days, I note that even I have not always acted in my own best interests.

It is easier to spout wisdom than it is to apply it. I am working on unknowing what I believe I know. The place inside of me where nothing has to happen is wordless . . . a place where my preconceived ideas and worshipped fairy tales lie silent and useless.

If nothing has to happen in this moment, I am leaving space for something else to happen.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass


The presence of peace

July 16, 2011

World peace is possible. Just do things my way.

Frequently, I make the mistake of listening to the news. I occasionally read the news magazines.

Neither is full of sunshine.

Both are overflowing with violence towards ourselves.

My limited scientific knowledge of how we are all interconnected speaks to the truth that we are One. When we attack and harm another, we are essentially waging war against ourselves. If I commit an act of violence against another person, it is my own internal angst that makes me lash out. Something has disturbed my sense of peace and well-being. Self-defense and sociopathy aside, it is the fundamental lack of peace within each one of us that is a prime motivator to violence against ourselves.

I test this constantly. Anytime I feel anger and a desire to lash out at another, I find it is rooted in fear, a disruption of my internal sense of peace. As I listen to the news and hear about the inability of people to resolve their problems without harming another, I feel scared, helpless, and alone.

I wonder: What if each person found their peace within themselves? If we stay centered in our peace, perhaps we would lose our fear. In its place would be trust in oneself and the greater One that we are all motivated from our sense of personal peace. Of course, that fantasy fills me with peace. The problem is that it relies upon the actions of others. It is dependent upon how others are in the world, not how I am in the world. The real test is whether I can maintain my peace even within the greatest of fears. My honest self-assessment acknowledges that I would commit violence to defend the lives of myself and those I love. That includes fighting for food, water, shelter, and safety (first and second in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). And when I think about our world situation, I get the feeling that our violent behavior is born because we don’t feel safe. We want to assure ourselves that we will have enough food and water. There are people who will put up with atrocious acts committed against them just so they can maintain their food and water supply.

The reality is that there is enough food and water in the world to take care of everyone. That we misuse our water supply and grow food to capitalize wealth is our shame.

We created the games and rules of societal living. We created the system of money and wealth. We created the root of our fear.

Maybe it is time to create something else.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

Poverty consciousness

April 1, 2010

If you want to end poverty, you need to transcend the consciousness that creates poverty, the one that says: there is not enough for everyone or the one that says “I must have more than my fair share” as well as the one that says “I must have less than my fair share.”

Poverty consciousness plays on both sides of those who have enough and those who do not.

 A guy named Abraham Maslow created what he called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” At the bottom are biological needs like oxygen, food, and water. These are essential needs that must be fulfilled because without them, all of the other needs are irrelevant.

The next level consists of safety needs such as shelter and security. I think this is where a lot of people get stuck and begin the poverty consciousness. One might realize that wealth (money) can buy safety to a large extent. Others discover how they can survive in their limited world and choose to remain there because that is what they know and moving outside of that world threatens their safety needs. The push back from those who need wealth to feel safe probably starts here – they begin developing a consciousness that says “if I share my wealth with the others, I will have less and, thus, I will be less safe.” When someone with poverty consciousness tries to move outside of their world, they encounter this push back which feels threatening and often times is threatening. They retreat back to where they feel they belong.

The need for belonging, along with love and affection, is Maslow’s next level. Humans have the need to be with other people. While many people enjoy being alone, very few would want to feel lonely. We require connection. We want to love others and be loved. Once we have this love and feelings of belonging in our lives, we want to protect it. We want to keep it. These feelings can further isolate us within our poverty consciousness. As we begin to acquire wealth or remain in poverty, we draw to us and are drawn to those of the same status. When that boundary is threatened, we hug our status even tighter.

The need for esteem emerges from our need to be loved and accepted. We enjoy being respected by others. We require a sense of our own value and often base that value upon how others treat us. If we are where we and others feel that we belong, and there is the reinforcement of love and acceptance, we tend to stay there. Again, leaving that space, pushing that boundary aside, threatens everything we have come to know and rely upon.

Once all of these needs are met, Maslow says we are able to realize our need for self-actualization. Maslow describes it as discovering what a person was born to be, what he or she was born to do in the world. Sometimes, people make the mistake of believing that one must be wealthy or at least have enough money to relax to be able to undertake the journey of self-actualization. But even people who are in poverty who have had these needs met can take this journey. There are many who have.

People miss their chance for self-actualization because we, as a group, have not helped them meet their basic needs. We cannot impose fairness and equality on people. Fairness and equality have to come from within and we must come to agreement with each other as to exactly what defines fairness and equality. But I wonder what would happen to the world if we did level the playing field and worked to provide each person in the world with food, shelter, love, acceptance, and belonging.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass