What does it mean to be self-actualized

Seventy years ago, Abraham Maslow gave us the hierarchy of human needs, and told us that it was human nature to reach for the stars, once our needs for security and love and community were met.

Blogging for Scientific American, Scott Barry Kauffman has updated Maslow’s message.   What do you think?  How are you doing?  How are the people doing whom you care most about?

  • Continued Freshness of Appreciation (Sample item: “I can appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have become to others.”)
  • Acceptance (Sample item: “I accept all of my quirks and desires without shame or apology.”)
  • Authenticity (Sample item: “I can maintain my dignity and integrity even in environments and situations that are undignified.”)
  • Equanimity (Sample item: “I tend to take life’s inevitable ups and downs with grace, acceptance, and equanimity.”)
  • Purpose (Sample item: “I feel a great responsibility and duty to accomplish a particular mission in life.”)
  • Efficient Perception of Reality (Sample item: “I am always trying to get at the real truth about people and nature.”)
  • Humanitarianism (Sample item: “I have a genuine desire to help the human race.”)
  • Peak Experiences (Sample item: “I often have experiences in which I feel new horizons and possibilities opening up for myself and others.”)
  • Good Moral Intuition (Sample item: “I can tell ‘deep down’ right away when I’ve done something wrong.”)
  • Creative Spirit (Sample item: “I have a generally creative spirit that touches everything I do.”)

“The goal of identity (self-actualization . . .) seems to be simultaneously an end-goal in itself, and also a transitional goal, a rite of passage, a step along the path to the transcendence of identity. This is like saying its function is to erase itself. Put the other way around, if our goal is the Eastern one of ego-transcendence and obliteration, of leaving behind self-consciousness and self-observation, . . . then it looks as if the best path to this goal for most people is via achieving identity, a strong real self, and via basic-need-gratification.”
— Abraham Maslow

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Shamans are Ubiquitous

Shamanism is the ‘technique of ecstasy’, involving the purposeful invocation and use of dreams and visions to solve problems.

Every tribal culture – alive or dead – has some broker of spiritual capital. The Indonesian Mentawai have their sikerei. The Inuit have their angakok. The Columbian Desana have their paye. The Mongolian Buryat have their böö. The American Sioux have their heyoka.

Here is an interesting and informative article about shamanism that takes the anthropologist’s approach, looking for sociological and evolutionary explanations but never considering the possibility that the realm into which shamans are tapping might be real, and the forecasts that they provide might be accurate.

When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the West, it comes with terror like a thunderstorm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier… You have noticed truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping … as lightning illuminates the dark, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.

What does Peace ask of us?

One hundred years ago today, an armistice was signed to end the War to End All Wars.  Unaware, the troops went right on killing, raping, and plundering.  But the Great War led to an up-wising, as people the world over figured out that they had been snookered into a murderous, devastating, tragic and pointless world war.  Numerous bills limiting war profits were introduced and narrowly defeated, and in 1934, Congress passed the Vinson-Trammell Act, which capped some war profits at 10%.  In 1928, the US led the world in outlawing all future war, with the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  This treaty remains in force today, and all acts of war are criminal, by US law and by international law.

After decades of lending money and supplying technology to Hitler, FDR taunted the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, and had his excuse for drawing the US once again into a World War. Temptation to profit from Nazism had finally created a situation in which war could be put forward as the only option.

The myth of a global communist plot was used to drag the American public into pointless, horrific wars in Korea and Vietnam.  After Vietnam, the American public was once again energized and passionately dedicated to peace, but a decade later Reagan was once again slick-talking the American people into sanctioned murder and plunder, this time invoking the Existential Threat to our Republic that came from the political choices made by people on the 15-mile-long Caribbean isle of Grenada.

The people have never demanded war of their government.  There has never been a popular war.  Every war has been justified with lies and authoritarian coercion.   Hence the rise of war in the 21st Century has been heralded by a suppression of democratic rule.  Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine all warned us that the Constitution was no lasting guarantee that We the People would control our government.  It is demanded of every generation that we rein in our own government.  Electoral politics today offers us no candidates for peace—even Sanders would not call out the American military machines for the criminal enterprise it has become.  (Jill Stein did that, but she was denied a seat at the table and a place in the debates.)

Hence it is our job to cultivate peace within our own hearts, to meditate on peace and visualize a peaceful future, to practice non-violence in our every interaction with humans and with nature, to engage in acts of protest and non-violence as necessary to end the perennial holocaust.

— Josh Mitteldorf

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The Internet of Trees

Mycelium is the neurological network of nature.  Interlacing networks of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes.  These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind.  The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment devising diverse chemical responses to complex challenges.  They can spread enormous cellular mats over thousands of acres of forest.  They not only provide channels by which individual trees (not necessarily of the same species) help one another in the forest, and they provide the intelligence that enables the forest to respond in a coordinated way to challenges of pest infestations, and even to shape their own climate.

I wonder what would happen if there were a United Organization of Organisms, where each species got one vote.  Would we be voted off the planet?

Mycelium Running, by Paul Stamets

Richard Stoker

Richard Stoker is what in the old days would have been called a polymath. Not only is he an accomplished musician involved in composing, teaching, playing and musicology, he also writes poetry, novels, short stories, articles, and reviews, and is an activist for human rights. Furthermore Stoker is an accomplished artist – his works can be seen on the sleeves of some of his CD recordings.    Read more

Today is his 80th birthday.

what’s a poem? a dream no less
not a verse? yet it’s more…
a soufflé turned out well?
a thrown honed pot? glazed and
fired to perfection not a ‘second’?
a new experience? a shattering blow?
a chilling cold that runs you
through and through? yet it’s more…
a coming together in the readers’ mind?
some say it’s a gift the first line
perhaps? yet it’s more…
a poem is a pearl? … but it’s more … it’s more

— Richard Stoker

Measure me, Sky

Measure me, sky!
Tell me I reach by a song
Nearer the stars;
I have been little so long!

Weigh me, high wind!
What will your wild scales record?
Profit of pain,
Joy by the weight of a word!

Horizon, reach out!
Catch at my hands, stretch me taut,
Rim of the world;
Widen my eyes by a thought!

Sky, be my depth,
Wind, be my width and my height,
World, my heart’s span;
Loneliness, wings for my flight!

— Leonora Speyer, born this day in 1872

Lady Speyer by John Singer Sargent.jpg