Archive for the ‘self actualization’ Tag

Dispelling Darkness

Dispelling Darkness


Posted January 4, 2013 by dranilj1 in Photography

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Nature: Self-organizing Dynamic System

Marvelous Denmark

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Fairness means treating people equitably, without bias. Fairness means treating people equitably, without bias or partiality. It means actively working to set aside self interest or group loyalty when rendering a judgment. In day to day life, fairness manifests itself in simple ways such as taking turns, listening intently, sharing, and not taking advantage of others based on their weaknesses. Impartiality is a key part of fairness. Being impartial doesn’t mean having no biases—rather it means knowing what those biases are, striving to set them aside, and requesting outside perspectives as needed. While inspired by the ideal of justice, fairness is not sameness or always following the letter of the law. Fairness makes room for us to generate solutions and compromises based on reason and circumstance.

We have to go forward beyond reason in order to discover that mind and nature are both simply different movements of one absolute Spirit, a Spirit that manifests itself in its own successive stages of unfoldment and enfoldment. As Hegel would put it, Spirit is not One apart from the Many, but the very process of the One expressing itself in successive unfolding in and through the Many – it is infinite activity expressing itself in and as the Finite process of development itself or evolution. The Absolute is thus both the Alpha and the Omega of development. Evolution does have a direction; Eros as Spirit-in-Action…evolution is not simply the drive toward spirit; it is the drive of Spirit toward Spirit, manifested in a series of increasing wholes and integrations that express increasing degrees of Spirit’s own self-realization or self-actualization. Eros is fully present at each and every stage in the process, as the very process itself. Each stage of development or evolution is thus Spirit’s knowledge of itself through the structures and limitations of that stage. Each stage is therefore a thesis that eventually runs into its own limitations, which triggers a self-transcendence to a new synthesis, which both negates and preserves its predecessor. This dialectic, of course, is Eros, Spirit-in-Action, and the drive of Spirit to unfold itself more fully and unify itself more fully.

Thus, Spirit tries to know itself first through sensation, then perception, then impulse. At this point Spirit is still un-self-conscious…Thus the whole of Nature Schelling refers to as ‘slumbering spirit’. Moreover, nature is not a mere inert and instrumental backdrop for mind. Rather, nature is a ‘self-organizing dynamic system’ that is ‘the objective manifestation of Spirit’- ‘nature as a unified, self-developing super-organism’- but now set developmentally or evolutionarily afloat.

Thus nature is most definitely not a static or deterministic machine; it is ‘God-in-the-making’. All life processes are manifestations of the Divine Life, unfolding in space and time. But it is, says Schelling, Spirit slumbering because Spirit has not yet become self-conscious, the Kosmos has not yet begun to consciously reflect on itself. With the emergence of mind, Spirit becomes self-conscious. Spirit seeks to know itself through symbols, concepts, and reason, and the result is that the universe begins to think about the universe, which produces the world of reason and, in particular, the world of conscious morals. Thus, says Schelling, where nature was objective Spirit, mind is subjective Spirit and it is here that the mind and nature can seem to drift apart, to be totally unrelated, to stare blankly and uncomprehendingly across the subject/object dualism at the alien beings on each side of the divide. These two ‘apparent absolutes’ are synthesized in the third great movement of Spirit, which is the transcendence of both nature and mind and thus their radical synthesis or union ‘in which these two absolutenesses (absolute subjectivity and objectivity) are again one absoluteness’. This is also the identity of subject and object in one timeless act of self-knowledge of Spirit directly knowing itself as Spirit, a direct mystical or contemplative intuition, says Schelling, that is not mediated through any forms, whether those forms be the feelings of objective nature or the thoughts of subjective mind. There is an unmistakable and profound glimpse of the formless and non-dual groundless Ground.

Spirit goes out of itself to produce objective nature, awakens to itself in subjective mind, and then recovers itself in pure Non-dual perception, where subject and object are one pure act of Non-dual awareness that unifies both nature and mind in realized Spirit. Spirit knows itself objectively as nature; knows itself subjectively as mind; and knows itself absolutely as Spirit – the Source, the Summit, and the Eros of the whole sequence. We would also recognize these three large movements as sub-conscious, self-conscious, and super-conscious; or bio-sphere, noo-sphere, and theo-sphere; or pre-personal, personal, and trans-personal. Each stage of ascent builds upon and incorporates its predecessors. What is lost is the narrowness of the predecessor, on its claim to be the Whole. Each stage incorporates its predecessor but negates its partiality.

This is a truly stunning vision, a profound integration of Ego-mind and Eco-nature, of Spirit descending into even the lowest state and ascending back to itself, with Spirit nonetheless fully present at each and every stage as the process of its own self-realization and self-actualization, its own self-unfolding and self-enfolding development, a divine play of Spirit present in every single movement of the Kosmos, yet finding more and more of itself as its own Play proceeds, dancing fully and divine in every gesture of the universe, never really lost and never really found, but present from the start and all along, a wink and a nod from the radiant Abyss.”

Accept What You Are With Yearning To Be Better

Everyone can be more like their ideal self through conscious effort.  How many times have you heard, uttered, or thought the words ‘That's Just How I Am?”  At times, when one is confronted because of behavior another finds off-putting, he or she might reply or think, “It’s just how I am.” We can get focused on becoming more conscious.  The reason we are how we are is explained by numerous, often conflicting, theories.  There are well over twenty major theories of personality development.  Whether you are who you are because of genetics, your caregivers attitude toward potty training, the fashion in which you internalized objects, drives toward self preservation and/or self-actualization, simply because certain behaviors have been reinforced or not over the course of your life, or a combination of everything, you might want to begin to delve into what has led to being who you are. The goal of therapy is insight; to understand oneself, according to many philosophers, is the goal of life.  But is having the understanding sufficient, or even necessary? Understanding why you do certain things is certainly helpful. Explanations or terms explaining why one behaves in certain ways are comforting. It is nice to know that people put thought into explaining human behavior. However, simply understanding others are like you, and that you are this way for a particular reason doesn’t solve the issue. Is the way you are behaving how you want to be? 

There is a lot to be said for self-acceptance.  Recently I was with my brother’s grown children and their friends.  While discussing something in line I mentioned I was trying to talk less.  The little brother of one of the friends asked why I don’t just accept myself as I am.  This is beautiful and sound advice.  Often in therapy a goal is self-acceptance.  One would be hard pressed to find a self-help book that doesn’t advocate self-acceptance, if not loving oneself.  Again, self-acceptance is a worthy goal.  When someone says, “this is just how I am”, what is really being said? It could be posited that it is an excuse.  These words have even been prefaced by, “I can’t help it…” Some might view it as a cop-out.  In other words one might be saying, “I don’t have the motivation to change this aspect of myself.” Or, perhaps, one has attained some level of self-acceptance and simply knows he or she is this way, and accepts it even if others don’t.  Any and all of these explanations are fine, if there is sincerely no desire to change. 

My focus is on how automatic we behave most of the time.  It is estimated by neuroscience that 95% of human brain activity is adaptive unconscious.  To demonstrate this, simply consider how automatically you do most of your activity, including having a conversation.  Much of what is said in casual conversation comes automatically.  How many times have you wished you hadn’t said something? Or started to say something, got into the sentence, and realized it a bad idea? Much of what we say is simply triggered by our current interaction tapping into our historical interactions. This is our conditioning.  Everyone has been conditioned throughout life through interactions with others.  Even when a conversation is initiated it is done so out of conditioning.  How often do we consider the origins of what we are saying? Or whether it is necessary? Or what purpose it serves? Any of these questions would bring about further understanding of oneself and one’s conditioning. 

One of the goals of existential therapy is to overcome conditioning, and what most call their history.  This is more than simply resolving feelings from the past.  It is also the understanding that everyone has the ability to choose in every minute.  If acting out of conditioning, you are responsible for that.  But if you want to begin to overcome it, to be truly whom you choose to be, you have that power.  Becoming self-created takes a great deal of effort.  To the best of my exposure, short of monks or clerics no one will expend this type of energy around the clock.  But progress, not perfection, is a worthy goal.  Likely a balance of self-acceptance with wanting to be a better person is the healthiest mindset. 

To begin this endeavor one needs to become more conscious, and to act more consciously.  This is easier said than done. Everyone has a default setting which is returned to when a mindful, thoughtful, deliberate state is forgotten. The normal response to life is more automatically than deliberate.  So the first step is to become more conscious, and becoming more conscious can be done in several ways. A patient recently used an analogy he read when studying Zen: meditate with the same level of concentration if your hair were on fire.  This mindset can be brought into daily awareness.  One can simply engage in each activity as if his hair were on fire, not literally of course, that would simply be horror. Simply attempt to have the same level of attentiveness to the moment you would in a dire situation.  When the mind wanders from deliberate action, be reminiscent to be conscious. 

Another way to begin making progress in this area is to pick an aspect of personality you want to change, and remind yourself multiple times a day to be the change.  For example, perhaps you want to be more serene.  Before acting consider how you want to present.  Breathe and remind yourself to “be peace”.  Regulate breathing and contemplate more than react.  Combining these two interventions can lead to a more serene feeling and presentation. 

It needs to be kept in mind that the goal is progress, and it can be slow.  By being more conscious of who one wants to be, one is better able, through concerted effort, to be that person.  It is a worthy cause.  As George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is not about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”  It is also important to remember to accept yourself along with the desire to be better. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Hierarchy of Needs

 What we call normal in psychology is really a psychopathology of the average, so undramatic and so widely spread that we don't even notice it ordinarily.  This quote is by Abraham Maslow, the theorist who gave us the idea of the hierarchy of needs; once your basic needs are met you begin to seek higher needs, and the idea of self-actualization.  Maslow's point is that being normal, being average, although normally perceived as okay, is pathology.  Pathology can be defined as disease or sickness.  The dictionary's definition of psychopathology is "The study of the origin, development, and manifestations of mental or behavioral disorders," or "the manifestation of a mental or behavioral disorder." Most people would be offended if someone were to say that they were average.  Yet, by definition, most are.  Average in psychological terms is a huge category, encompassing the majority of the population.  Those that are not average are outliers.  Outliers are the small percentage at either end of the bell curve.  They are either well below average, or well above.  Average in this sense doesn't have much to do with not being an individual.  You can be an individual yet fall well within the average. 

So now that we are all feeling insulted, let's discuss what Maslow was saying and why it is so important.  Maslow's contention was that the ultimate goal of humans is to self-actualize, to become all they can in a lifelong process of self-improvement.  He also contended that all humans have this potential.  But before that can happen, other needs which are positioned below self actualization must be met.  These include physiological needs, needs for safety, needs for love and belonging, and the need for esteem.  Once these needs are met, the individual can look toward self actualization.  Not striving toward being all you can be is your Pathology.  He is using this bold statement to get your attention and to encourage you to take action. 

It can be assumed most people in America, have the lower needs met.  Most have enough food, water, and shelter.  Most do not feel constant threats to their safety.  Hopefully, you feel loved and a sense of belonging.  So with these needs met, we can move toward feeling esteemed.  This need encompasses self confidence, feeling competent, and believing at least some others hold you in high esteem.  Again, it seems reasonable that many readers have these needs met as well.  This is not to say you feel this way all of the time.  There may always be flare-ups of self doubt.  But it is understood that generally, most of the time, you feel confident in yourself and your abilities.  So, with all of these important needs met, why aren't more people becoming self actualized? 

The answer is simple: we become complacent with these lower, but important needs.  Then, instead of working toward self-actualization people become consumers: keeping up with the Joneses, being the first on our block to have the newest gadget, over-indulging in "entertainment needs" (movies, television, and trips) and otherwise trying to fill the yearning for a higher purpose with purchases, rather than self-improvement. 

Perhaps what is keeping the majority of people from self actualizing is that they are misinterpreting their yearning for self-actualization as a need for more of something else: More love, more things, more fun.  Therefore the solution is to cease filling the void with things, and instead, focus on you, and what you can be.  What are you doing that is creative?  What are you doing to exercise your mind? What are you doing to make the planet and your fellow humans better? What are you doing to be happier with you, rather than your possessions? Answer these questions and the movement toward self-actualization begins. 

If you still have trouble getting started or maintaining progress, it is possible that there are unconscious forces that lie within you that are keeping you stagnated.  One suggestion is to enter therapy so you can discover these blocks, remove them, and get back on track.  Making the unconscious more conscious is one of the most beneficial aspects of therapy.  So often today we view therapy simply as a place to vent or get some direction with other life problems.  But at its best, therapy is geared toward insight, toward understanding yourself, and to becoming self-actualized. Good luck on your journey.


Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.  Many people spend a good portion of their lives looking for themselves, hoping to stumble upon their true passions and purpose. Who am I? What do I want out of life? What can I do next to keep my life moving forward? These questions take up our hearts and minds, especially in times that call for personal change.  But, what does creating yourself really mean? What does it look like? What do you have to do make this happen? 

When we were children, we were able to bring forth whatever was in our imagination at the time.  Well, this tendency to actualize our imagination will not end there.  For example, I’ve tried many things in life, to explore my true passions and purpose.  Some of them turned out well and others went by the way side. But, what became clearer to me overtime was that my purpose and passion lay in the know-how of creating oneself.  I have learned much about this process. I want to share some of it with you, today. 

Creating oneself isn’t purely an act of imagination.  The process of creating yourself uses both your imagination and reason. The more emotional intelligence you have, the better able you are to do this. You go to the heart to sense your desires, and then to your brain to make sure you have talents and resources to carry them out.  Creating oneself has a learning curve.  If you try and fall, get up and try again. You will increasingly know your life direction and passion, so that what you try next is more in line with your authentic self.  Now, I recall that in undergraduate and graduate school, fellow students would ask for my notes or for me to explain some concept to them.  They discerned that I took my studies quite seriously. In particular, I remember walking a fellow student through Critical Care Project. I didn’t do it for her.  Instead, I spent hours with her showing her the process.  By evaluating how this desire fit in with my talents and resources, I came up right.  This hunch led to a 7-year internist career that helped me to see how to unfold my life further from there. 

Creating yourself is like strengthening a muscle. You have to exercise the process to make it work better for you.  When you choose an experience to unfold that really expresses the authentic you, your passion and purpose will be there. What is more, these more authentic experiences contain the seeds of your next self-actualization venture.  Now, you will know more quickly what to do next to unfold your life.  The learning curve shortens.  You hit the jackpot, here. 

Seize the moment for creative change, before it passes.  I don’t agree with some new-age philosophies that you can do or be anything you want and leave behind prior commitments in order to do so. We are limited by our commitments and the social context in which we live.  This has always been the case.  Nothing worthwhile comes that easily.  You have to learn how to work with the confinements of your life and imagine possibility from there.  This is the challenge of unfolding your life creatively.  Also, you don’t have infinity to actualize yourself in life.  There are built in developmental stages that call for you to advance your life in some way, like going to college, finding a career, building a family, or retiring.  Then, scattered throughout these challenges are openings for creative change that resulted from the decisions you’ve made.  You may have married and now want to divorce. Or, you became an accountant and now want to be a musician. These times that invite you to try new things exercise your skill at defining life as you see it. 

There is really only so much time you have to create yourself in life.  The older you get, or more complicated your life has become, the harder it is to shake it up in new ways. Thus, you have to seize the moments that lend themselves to this activity in your life.  Remember, the only true freedom that any of us has in life is the right to choose, the right to self-actualize our creative self through the decisions that we make.  If you want your life to be moving forward positively and be rich in meaning and purpose, you have to own it.  Start creating experiences that expand you psychologically and spiritually, rather than just hoping to bump into the right people and situations that will unfold your life for you.  I assure you that when you do, this creative process will enliven you.  You will have a deep sense that you did what you could do to live the best life possible, no matter what happens to you.  No one can take the dedication you give to your life away from you. Start today! After all, this is your life. 

I hope you liked my post today. I welcome your experiences, thoughts, and comments to share with me.  Thank You For Stopping By.

Every Creative Artist, Every Great Artist is in a Certain Way Insane…


There are many questions about self-actualization.  The first: Is self-actualization a basic need of man? First, try to understand what is meant by self-actualization. A. H. Maslow has used this term “self-actualization.” Man is born as potentiality. He is not really actual–just potential.  He may become something; he may attain actualization of his potentiality or he may not attain.  The opportunity may be used or it may not be used and nature is not forcing you to become actual.  You are free. You can choose to become genuine; you can choose not to do anything about it. Man is born as a seed.  Thus, no man is born fulfilled–just with the possibility of fulfillment.

If that is the case…and that is the case…then self-actualization becomes a basic need. Because unless you are fulfilled, unless you become what you can be or what you are meant to be, unless your destiny is fulfilled, unless you actually attain, unless your seed becomes a fulfilled tree, you will feel that you are missing something and everyone is feeling that he is missing something.  That feeling of missing is really because of this, that you are not yet actual.

It is not really that you are missing riches or position, prestige or power. Even if you get whatsoever you demand–riches, power, prestige, anything–you will feel this constant sense of something missing within you, because this something missing is not related with anything outward. It is related with your inner growth. Unless you become fulfilled, unless you come to a realization, a flowering, unless you come to an inner satisfaction in which you feel, “Now this is what I was meant to be,” this sense of something missing will be felt and you cannot destroy this feeling of something missing by anything else.

So self-actualization means a person has become what he was to become. He was born as a seed and now he has flowered. He has come to the complete growth, an inner growth, to the inner end. The moment you feel that all your potentialities have become actual, you will feel the peak of life, of love, of existence itself.

Abraham Maslow, who has used this term “self-actualization,” has also coined another term: “peak experience.” When one attains to oneself, he reaches a peak–a peak of bliss. Then there is no hankering after anything. He is totally content with himself. Now nothing is lacking; there is no desire, no demand, and no movement. Whatsoever he is, he is totally content with himself. Self-actualization becomes a peak experience, and only a self-actualized person can attain peak experiences. Then whatsoever he touches, whatsoever he is doing or not doing–even just existing–is a peak experience for him; just to be is blissful. Then bliss is not concerned with anything outside, it is just a by-product of the inner growth.

Buddha is a self-actualized person. That is why we picture Buddha, Mahaveer and others — why we have made sculptures, pictures, depictions of them–sitting on a fully blossomed lotus. That fully blossomed lotus is the peak of flowering inside. Inside they have flowered and have become fully blossomed. That inner flowering gives radiance, a constant showering of bliss from them. All those who come even within their shadows, all those who come near them feel a silent milieu around them.

There is an interesting story about Mahaveer. It is a myth, but myths are beautiful and they say much which cannot be said otherwise. It is reported that when Mahaveer would move, all around him, in an area of about twenty-four miles, all the flowers would bloom. Even if it was not the season for the flowers, they would bloom. This is simply a poetic expression, but even if one was not self-actualized, if one were to come in contact with Mahaveer his flowering would become infectious, and one would feel an inner flowering in oneself also. Even if it was not the right season for a person, even if he was not ready, he would reflect, he would feel an echo. If Mahaveer was near someone, that person would feel an echo within himself, and he would have a glimpse of what he could be.

Self-actualization is the basic need and when I say basic, I mean that if all your needs are fulfilled, all except self-realization, self-actualization, you will feel unfulfilled. In fact, if self-actualization happens and nothing else is fulfilled, still you will feel a deep, total fulfillment.  That is why Buddha was a beggar, but yet an emperor.

Buddha came to Kashi when he became enlightened. The king of Kashi came to see him and he asked, “I do not see that you have anything, you are just a beggar, yet I feel myself a beggar in comparison to you. You do not have anything, but the way you walk, the way you laugh makes it seem as if the whole world is your kingdom and you have nothing visible–nothing! So where is the secret of your power? You look like an emperor.” Really, no emperor has ever looked like that–as if the whole world belongs to him. “You are the king, but where is your power, the source?”

So Buddha said, “It is in me. My power, my source of power, whatsoever you feel around me is really within me. I do not have anything except myself, but it is enough. I am fulfilled; now I do not desire anything. I have become desire-less.”

Really, a self-actualized person will become desire-less. Remember this. Ordinarily, we say that if you become desire-less, you will know yourself. The contrary is truer: if you know yourself, you will become desire-less and the emphasis of tantra is not on being desireless, but on becoming self-actualized. Then desirelessness follows.

Desire means you are not fulfilled within, you are missing something so you hanker after it. You go on, from one desire to another, in search of fulfillment. That search never ends because one desire creates another desire. Really, one desire creates ten desires. If you go in search of a desire-less state of bliss through desires, you will never reach. But if you try something else–methods of self-actualization, methods of realizing your inner potentiality, of making them actual–then the more you will become actual the less and less desires will be felt, because really, they are felt only because you are empty inside and when you are not empty within desiring ceases.

What to do about self-actualization? Two things have to be understood. One: self-actualization doesn’t mean that if you become a great painter or a great musician or a great poet you will be self-actualized. Of course, a part of you will be actualized, and even that gives much contentment. If you have a potentiality of being a good musician, and if you fulfill it and you become a musician, a part of you will be fulfilled–but not the total.  The remaining humanity within you will remain unfulfilled. You will be lopsided. One part will have grown, and the remaining will have stayed just like a stone hanging around your neck.

Look at a poet. When he is in his poetic mood he looks like a Buddha; he forgets himself completely. The ordinary man in the poetic mood is as if he is no more there. So when a poet is in his mood, he has a peak–a partial peak and sometimes poets have glimpses which are only possible with enlightened, Buddha-like minds. A poet can speak like a Buddha. For example, Khalil Gibran speaks like a Buddha but he is not a Buddha. He is a poet — a great poet.

So if you see Khalil Gibran through his poetry, he looks like Buddha, Christ or Krishna. But if you go and meet the man Khalil Gibran, he is just ordinary.  He talks about love so beautifully–even a Buddha may not talk so beautifully, but a Buddha knows love with his total being. Khalil Gibran knows love in his poetic flight. When he is on his poetic flight, he has glimpses of love–beautiful glimpses. He expresses them with rare insight, but if you go and see the real Khalil Gibran, the man, you will feel a disparity. The poet and the man are far apart.  The poet seems to be something which happens to this man sometimes, but this man is not the poet.

That is why poets feel that when they are creating poetry someone else is creating; they are not creating. They feel as if they have become instruments of some other energy, some other force. They are no more. This feeling comes because, really, their totality is not actualized–only a part of it is, a fragment.

You have not touched the sky.  Only one of your fingers has touched the sky, and you remain rooted on the earth. Sometimes you jump, and for a moment you are not on the earth; you have deceived gravity but the next moment you are on the earth again. When a poet is feeling fulfilled, he will have glimpses — partial glimpses. When a musician is feeling fulfilled, he will have partial glimpses.

It is said of Beethoven that when he was on the stage he was a different man, altogether different. Goethe has said that when Beethoven was on stage directing his group, his orchestra, he looked like a god. It could not be said that he was an ordinary man. He was not a man at all; he was superhuman. The way he looked, the way he raised his hands, was all superhuman.  But when he came back from the stage he was just an ordinary man.  The man on the stage seemed to be possessed by something else, as if Beethoven was no more there and some other force had entered into him.  Back down from the stage he was again Beethoven, the man.

Because of this, poets, musicians, great artists, creative people are tense–because they have two types of being.  Ordinary man is not so tense because he always lives in one:  He lives on the earth but poets, musicians, great artists jump; they go beyond gravity. In certain moments they are not on this earth, they are not part of humanity. They become part of the Buddha world–the land of the Buddhas.  Then again they are back here. They have two points of existence; their personalities are split.

So every creative artist, every great artist is in a certain way insane. The tension is so much! The rift, the gap between these two types of existences is so great–unbridgeably great.  Sometimes, he is just an ordinary man; sometimes he becomes Buddha-like.  Between these two points he is divided, but he has glimpses.





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