Day 8 – One Teaching – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Yesterday we discussed the Wizard of Oz and the Tin Man’s discovery that he had a heart all along.  In his search for a heart, what he was really seeking was love.  Aren’t we all?  It is a basic human need and part of our Hero’s Journey.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow wrote a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation where he shares what motivates us.  Before he spells out the findings of his research, he first points out some conclusions from prior works as they relate to this study.  In our discussions of the “One Teaching,” I find these conclusions to be quite interesting.  They include but are not limited to:

  • “The integrated wholeness of the organism must be one of the foundation stones of motivation theory.”
  • “There are usually available various cultural paths to the same goal.  Therefore, conscious, specific, local-cultural desires are not as fundamental in motivation theory as the more basic, unconscious goals.”

It seems that Maslow agrees that as humans we are all on a similar Hero’s Journey driven by something at a deeper, unconscious level.  The product of A Theory of Human Motivation is what has become the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The essence of this work is that human beings each have certain needs that motivate us in a hierarchal order.  These needs are best understood when viewed in a visual format such as in the diagram below (which is from the Mike Michalowicz book Fix This Next.)

It makes sense that our primary needs are those that serve our physiology.  Until they are satisfied, it is hard to focus on anything else.  If you are hungry or tired, you aren’t likely to care about social interactions.  Therefore, the lower-level needs must be satisfied at least partially first.  Maslow’s paper is actually very short and easy to follow and for those interested in learning more, I highly recommend reading the full text.

Jumping back to the Tin Man and his search for love, we can see this need is part of Maslow’s hierarchy, about halfway up.  First, we must give our bodies what they require for survival, then we seek safety and stability.  After those two needs have been met, we seek love and belonging followed by esteem and self-actualization.  This hierarchy of needs seems like a Hero’s Journey in itself, starting with satisfaction of physiological needs and ending with self-actualization.  Not all of us will make it through all five levels.

So, what does self-actualization mean?  A Google search returns the Oxford languages definition which says, “the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.”

We are now eight days into this blog which is exploring the “One Teaching.”  We’ve looked at consciousness, the unconscious, the Hero’s Journey, our awakening souls, love, and self-actualization. Is there a common thread in all of these?

Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash

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