Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

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Feb 24, 2011

THE READER: The Farther Reaches of Human Nature - A H Maslow

This is one of the great books that I have recently on the Human Nature and innerself. What I really liked in this book, is that Maslow is trying to give us insights about Spirituality and innerself, peak experiences (kind of toned down enlightenment) scientifically. Its an amazing book that has impressed me immensely. Below is a little introduction and then moving on to give you the specific thoughts that has impressed me immensely… read on…

An indisputable fact about the work of A. H. Maslow is that it gives off sparks – very nearly all his writing gives off sparks. An attempt to understand this by thinking him simply as psychologist would probably prove futile; he must be first thought as a man, and then as one who worked very hard at psychology or rather, who rendered his growth and maturity as a man into a new way of thinking about psychology. He gave psychology a new conceptual language. He said at one place, “we must remember that knowledge of one’s own deep nature is also simultaneously knowledge of human nature in general.” Maslow, in one of his research paper, tells how he begins his studies of self actualization. To begin with he studied his two teachers as he could not be content simply to adore, but sought to understand. Why were these two people ‘so different from the run of the mill people in the world?’ 
Abraham Maslow

The resolve to seek answers to this question, it becomes clear, set the direction of his research in psychology, and disclosed, as well, the sense of the meaning of human life. Being a scientist, he sought a generalizing account of the excellences he had discovered in these two teachers. He began to collect other such subjects for study – and went on identifying and studying these people for the rest of his life. This sort of research, he often pointed out, gives you a fresh and encouraging view of the mankind. It shows you what can be.

The climax of self actualization is the peak experience. Peak experience is a splendidly naturalistic idiom, hospitable to all the similar meaning in the vocabularies of religion and mysticism, yet confined by none of them. A peak experience is what you feel and perhaps ‘know’ when you gain authentic elevation as human being.

One aspect of Maslow’s later thought deserves attention. The older he got, the more philosophical he became. It was impossible, he found, to isolate the pursuit of psychological truth from philosophical questions. How a man thinks can not be separated from what he is, and the question of what he thinks he is, is never independent of what he is in fact, even though this, intellectually, may be an insoluble problem.
– Henry Geiger

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Book: The Farther Reaches of Human Nature

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

The Farther Reaches of Human Nature
By A H Maslow

1 – Toward a Humanistic Biology
It’s my personally chosen task to ‘speculate freely,’ to theories, to play hunches, intuitions, and in general to try to extrapolate into the future. This is kind of deliberate preoccupation with pioneering, scouting, originating, rather than applying, validating, checking, verifying. Ofcourse it’s the latter that is the back bone of science. And yet I feel it is a great mistake for scientist to consider themselves merely and only verifiers.

If we want to answer the question how tall can the human species grow, then obviously it is well to pick out the ones who are already tallest and study them.

I must re-assert that we have come to the point in biological history where we now are responsible for our own evolution. We have become self evolvers. Evolution means selecting and there fore choosing and deciding, and this means valuing.

They (Sweethearts) are so fascinated with each other that examining, looking, listening, and exploring becomes itself a fascinating activity upon which they can spend endless hours. With a non-loved person, boredom will set in too rapidly.

Love for a person permits him to unfold, to open up, to drop his defenses, to let himself be naked not only physically but psychologically and spiritually as well.

Finally, most important of all, if we love or are fascinated or are profoundly interested, we are less tempted to interfere, to control, to change, to improve.

However, basically need-satisfied and already self actualizing people with such meta-motives as truth, goodness, beauty, justice, order, law, unity etc., may suffer deprivation at the meta-motivational level.

Something is considered to be a need if its deprivation produces disease.

2 – Neurosis as a failure of Personal Growth
I believe that helping a person to move toward full humanness proceeds inevitably via awareness of one’s identity (among other things). A very important part of this task is to become aware of what one is, as a species, of one’s capacities, desires, needs, and also of one’s vocation, what one is fitted for, what one’s density is.

It’s certainly possible for most of us to be greater than we are in actuality.

We often run away from the responsibilities dictated (or rather suggested) by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried in vain.

We fear our highest possibilities (as well as our lowest ones).

We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under conditions of greatest courage.

Delirious happiness can not be borne for long. Our organisms are just too weak for any large doses of greatness, just as they would be too weak to endure hour-long sexual orgasms, for example.

There are people who can not manage that graceful integration between the humility and the pride which is absolutely necessary for creative work.

3 – Self-Actualizing and Beyond
Being – values: Self-actualizing people are, without one single exception, involved in a cause outside their own skin, in some thing outside of themselves.

- Behaviors leading to self-actualization
1)      Self-actualisation means experiencing fully, vividly, selflessly, with full concentration and total absorption.
2)      Self-actualisation is an ongoing process. To make growth choice instead of the fear choice a dozen times a day is to move a dozen times a day towards self-actualisation.
3)      To talk of self-actualisation implies that there is a self to be actualized.
4)      When in doubt, be honest rather than not
5)      One can not choose wisely for a life time unless he dares to listen to himself, his own self, at each moment in life and to say calmly, ‘no I don’t like such and such’
6)      Self-actualisation is not only an end state but also the process of actualizing one’s potentialities at any time, in any amount. It does not mean doing some far-out thing necessarily, but it may mean going through an arduous and demanding period of preparation in order to realise one’s possibility. Self actualization means working to do well the thing that one wants to do.
7)      Peak experiences are transient moments of self actualization. They are the moments of ecstasy which can not be bought, can not be guaranteed, can not even be sought.
8)      Identifying defenses, and after identifying, finding the courage to give them up.

4 – The Creative Attitude
The difference between inspiration and the final product e.g. Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ is an awful lot of had work, awful lot of discipline, an awful lot of training etc…

Science is a technique, social and institutionalized, where by even un-intelligent people can be useful in the advance of knowledge.

Observation: The creative person, in the inspirational phase of the creative furor, loses his past and his future and lives only in the moment.

It (the mystical experience – lets say) is always described as a loss of self or of ego, or some times as transcended of self. .. There is universally reported a seeing of formerly hidden truth, a revelation in the strict sense, a stripping away of veils, and finally, almost as always, the whole experience is experienced as bliss, ecstasy, rupture, exaltation.

One main characteristic of the peak experience is just this total fascination with the matter in hand, this getting lost in the present, this detachment from time and place.

Creativeness is therefore systemic quality of the whole person; it’s not added to a person like a coat of paint or an invasion of bacteria

6 – Emotional Blocks to Creativity
Primarily, the sources of creativeness of the kind that we are really interested in, i.e. generation of really new idea, are in depths of human nature. In it’s deeper self.

Any technique, which will increase self-knowledge in depth should in principle increase one’s creativity by making available to one self these sources of fantasy, play with ideas, being able to sail right out of the world and off the earth; getting away from common sense.

Common sense means living in the world as it is today, but creative people are people who don’t want the world as it’s is today but want to make another world.

An idea is just the beginning in a very complex process of working out.

8 – Fusion of Facts and Values
The term peak experience is a generalization for the best moments of the human being, for the happiest moments of life, for experience of ecstasy, rupture, bliss, of the greatest joy.

The best way for a person to discover what he ought to do is to find out who and what he is , because the path to ethical and value decisions, to wiser choices, to oughtness, is via “isness,” via the discovery of facts, truth, reality, the nature of the particular person.

Many problems simply disappear; many others are easily solved by knowing what is in conformity with one’s nature, what is suitable and right.

Do you want to find out what you ought to be, then find out who you are!

Religion’s heaven which one is supposed to enter after life is over – life itself being meaningless – is actually available in principle all through life. It’s available to us now, and is all around us.

A job entered into for the sake of earning a living, can be loved for its own sake. Even the dullest, dreariest job, as long as it is worthwhile in principle, can be sanctified, sacralized (notified, changed from a mere means into an end, a value in itself).

A damaged organism isn’t satisfied just to be what it is, merely damaged. It strives, presses, and pushes; it fights and struggles with itself in order to make itself into a unity again.

Self actualizing people were 1) Very good perceivers of reality and truth, and also 2) that they were generally unconfused about right and wrong, and made ethical decisions more quickly and more surely than average people.

The facts themselves carry, within their own nature, suggestions about what ought to be done with them.

9 – Notes on Being-Psychology

When does love brings blindness : The point at which the corner is turned is when the love becomes so great and so pure (Un-ambivalent) for the object itself that its good is what we want, not what it can do for us, i.e., when It passed beyond being means and becomes an end (with our permission).

Our loved thing sometimes looks so perfect that we are afraid to touch it for fear of lessening it.

Real love then is (sometimes atleast) non-interfering and non-demanding and can delight in the thing itself; there for, it can gaze at the object without guile, design, or calculation of any selfish kind

Part IV
11 – Knower and Known
The world can communicate to a person only that of which he is worthy, that which he deserves or is ‘up-to’; to a large extent, he can receive from the world, and give to the world, only that which he himself is.

Culture is only a necessary cause of human nature, not a sufficient cause.

In the highest love between man and woman, or parent and child, as the person reaches the ultimate’s of strength, of self esteem, of individuality, so also does he simultaneously merge with the other, lose self consciousness and more or less transcend the self and selfishness.

Secondly, observe that this implies a disagreement with various theological statements which imply that transcending the limits of self means spurning or repudiating, or losing the self or the individuality.

Thirdly, observe that they are transient experience, and not permanent ones.

As Emerson said, “What we are, that only we can see” But we must now add that what we see tends in turn to make us what it is and what we are.

12 – Education and Peak Experiences
Associative learning in general is certainly useful, extremely useful for learning things that are of no real consequence, or for learning means – techniques which are after all interchangeable.

We know only too well that a parent can not make his children into anything. Children make themselves into something.

The best we can do and frequently the most effect we can have is by serving as something to react against if the child presses too hard.

Another profound leaning experiences that I value far more highly than any particular source or any degree that I have ever had was my personal psychoanalysis: discovering my own identity, my own self. Another basic experience – far more important was getting married.

Freud’s one big mistake, which we are correcting now, is that he thought of the unconsciousness merely as undesirable evil. But unconsciousness carries in it also the roots of creativeness, of joy, of happiness, of goodness, of its own human ethics and values. We know that there is such a thing as a healthy consciousness as well as an unhealthy consciousness.

The love for the body, awareness for the body, and a reverence of the body – these are good paths (not guaranteed but statistically likely to be good paths) to peak experiences.

It happens that that music and rhythm and dancing are excellent ways of moving towards the discovering of identity. We are built in such a fashion that this kind of trigger, this kind of stimulation, tends to do all kinds of things to our autonomic nervous systems, endocrine glands, to our feelings, and to our emotions. It just does. We just do not know enough about physiology to understand why it does. But it does.

I think the arts are so close to our psychological and biological core, so close to this identity, that rather thinking of these courses as a sort of whipped cream or luxury, they must become basic experiences in education.

I think dancing is the one I would choose first for children – just plain rhythm

13 – Goals and Implications of Humanistic Education
Classroom learning often has its unspoken goal the reward of pleasing the teacher.

Children in the usual classroom learn very quickly that creativity is punished, while repeating a memorized response I rewarded.

Since classroom learning focuses on behavior rather than thought, the child learns exactly how to behave while keeping his thought his own.

The ideal college would be a kind of retreat …. Moving toward the discovery of vocation, and once they found it, they could then make a good use of technological education.

Chief goal of the ideal college would be the discovery of identity and with it discovery of vocation.

Finding one’s identity is synonymous with finding one’s career, revealing the altar on which one will sacrifice oneself.

Finding one’s life work is a little like finding one’s mate

The trouble is that the human species is the only species which finds it hard to be a species.

Another goal of education is to refreshen consciousness so that we are continually aware of the beauty and wonder of life. Too often in this (our) culture we become desensitized so that we are never really see things we look at or hear the things we listen to.

The sexual orgasm can be extremely satisfying emotionally, but not illuminate the person in any way. In confrontation with pain and death, a non-ecstatic illumination can occur, as pointed out in Marghanita Laski’s book, Ecstasy.

Self actualized people, in other words, seem to do what they do for sake of ultimate, final values, which is for the sake of principles which seem intrinsically worthwhile.

The search for perfection, the discovery of adherence to values is the essence of the religious tradition.

To live the spiritual life, you don’t have to sit on top of a pillar for ten years. Being able to live in the B-Values some how makes the body and all its appetites holy.

17 – On Eupsychian Management
Human nature has been sold short, that man has a higher nature which is just as ‘instinctoid’ as his lower nature, and that this higher nature includes the needs for meaningful work, for responsibility, for creativeness, for being fair and just, for doing what is worth-while and for preferring to do it well.

Human being will always complain. There is no Garden of Eden, there is no paradise, there is no heaven except for a passing moment or two. Whatever satisfaction are given to human being, it’s inconceivable that they should be perfectly content with these.

19 – Notes on Innocent Cognition
You can’t undo knowledge, you can not really become innocent again; once you have seen something, you can not undo the seeing.

The only possible alternative for the human being is to understand the possibility of going on ahead, growing older, going on ahead to the second naïveté, to the sophisticated innocence, to the Unitive consciousness...

20 – Further notes on Cognition
Any child’s reaction to pain, for instance, is total, without inhibition, without control of any kind. The whole organism goes into a yell or rage – A concrete reaction to a concrete here-now moment. This is possible because there is no expectation of the future, hence no preparation for the future, no rehearsal or anticipation.

This is all related to my concept of the creative personality as one who is totally here-now, one who lives without the future or past…. It is this innocence that it recovered in the second naïveté, or perhaps I will call it the second innocence of the wise old man who has managed to recover the ability to be childlike.

22 – Theory Z
I am more likely to find cognizing of transcendence  not only in self-actualizing but also in highly creative or talented people, in highly intelligent people, in very strong characters, in powerful and responsible leaders and managers, in exceptionally good (virtuous) people and in ‘heroic’ people who have overcome adversity and who have been strengthened by it rather than weakened.

The transcenders speak easily, normally, naturally and unconsciously the language of being (B-Language), the language of poets, of mystics, of seers, of profoundly religious men, of men who live at the platonic-idea level…

Transcenders are in principle more apt to be profoundly ‘religious’ or spiritual’ in either the theistic or non-theistic sense. Peak experiences and other transcendent experiences are in effect also to be seen as ‘religious or spiritual’ experiences if only we redefine these terms to exclude their historical, conventional superstitious, institutional accretion of meaning.

Post Ambivalent characteristic of all self-actualizers; this means that total wholehearted and un-conflicted love, acceptance, expressiveness, rather than the more usual mixture of love and hate that passes for ‘love’ or friendship or sexuality or authority or power, etc

23 – Metamotivation: The biological Rooting of the Value-Life
Gratification of the basic needs is not a sufficient condition for Metamotivation, although it may be a necessary precondition

All such people are devoted to some task, call, vocation, beloved work (‘outside themselves’)

The spiritual life is part of our biological life. It is the highest part of it but yet part of it.

Man can not be utter contradiction to nonhuman nature. He can not be utterly different from it or else he would not now exist.

Although the universe can not be said to love the human being, it can be said at least to accept him in a non-holistic way, to permit him to endure, and to grow and, occasionally permit him great joy.

On the other hand mystical (or experiential) also has its traps… mystical type run the risk of being reduced to the merely experiential. Out of the joy and wonder of his ecstasies and peak experiences, he may be tempted to seek them, ad hoc, and to value them exclusively, as the only, or at least the highest goods of life, giving up other criteria of right and wrong. Focused on these wonderful subjective experiences, he may run the danger of turning away from the world and from other people in his search for triggers to peak experiences, any triggers. In a word, instead of being temporarily self-absorbed and inwardly searching, he may become simply a selfish person, seeking his own personal salvation; trying to get into ‘heaven’ even if other people can’t, and finally even perhaps using other people as triggers, as means to his sole end of higher states of consciousness.

Impatience (specially the built-in impatience of youth) dictates shortcuts of all kinds. Drugs, which can be helpful when wisely used, become dangerous when foolishly used. The sudden insight becomes ‘all’ and the patient and disciplined ‘working through’ is postponed or devalued. Instead of being ‘surprised by joy,’ ‘turning on’ is scheduled, promised, advertised, sold, hustled into being, and can get to be regarded as a commodity. Sex-love, certainly one possible path to the experience of the sacred, can become mere ‘screwing,’ i.e. desacralized.

The spiritual disciplines, both classical ones and the new ones that keep on being discovered these days, all take time, work, discipline, study, commitment.

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  1. what a wonderful, informative review

  2. I do appreciate the review. some great thoughts. There are many things that make a lot of sense here and some that I am still trying to work with. not agreeing with everything but Maslow does bring an alternative view to psychology. I like the integration of philosophy. It almost completes the explanation of man.

  3. Thanks for providing this review on Maslow's psychological work, it is very interesting. I think this highlights how it is so important to help people however we can to be sure their primary needs are met, so that more can experience the levels that follow, toward creativity, even toward enlightenment. My favorite description of reaching higher levels of awareness and experience is Yoga Patanjali, funny, coming from a New Yorker scientist, but there it is!

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