TRINITAS: JUNG – MASLOW – BUDDHA
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” – C.G.Jung
Around the 1950’s the great Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung talked about the 4 stages of life. Let’s remember them:
Stage of the athlete – in this stage the man is mainly preoccupied with his outer appearance and the way he is perceived by the people around him. During this stage people can spend hours in the gym, beauty parlors and so on.
Stage of the warrior – here man is preoccupied with his affirmation, he wants to conquer the world and become known for what he does. He feels like in a permanent competition with the ones around him and wants to be the best. People try to win and maintain their independence, find a partner and build a family.
Stage of the affirmation – once here, man realizes that his accomplishments don’t come with a sense of fulfillment, so he becomes preoccupied with finding new ways to be noticed. Thus, he becomes interested in helping others and notices that the material goods that he fought so hard for don’t bring happiness. This doesn’t mean that he rejects his merits, only that he wants more. This stage is characterized by generosity. The selfishness of the young age vanishes.
Stage of the spirit – according to Jung this is the final stage of our life, a stage where we realize that none of the previous 3 can define what and who we are. We realize that we are more than our body, than our possessions, our friends, our country and so on. We come to realize that we are divine creatures, spiritual being having a human experience and not human being having a spiritual experience. Now we know that we are not what we believed we were. We are in this world, but not from this world. Now we have a different perspective. We can come out of our mind, our body and we understand who we really are and see things how they really are. We become observers of our own life. We see that we are not what we observe, but the observer of what we observe.
In other words, Jung explains life as a continuous change and the truth having a metamorphic value.
Also in the ‘50’s, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow saw the 5 evolutional stages of life, known today as Maslow hierarchy of needs. Let’s review these also:
The basic or physiological needs – every human being needs water, food, air, rest, clothes and sex. The importance of this stage speaks by itself. When these needs are not satisfied, one is no longer interested in other needs. In other words, hunger shadows ethics.
Security needs – security, order, physical and mental stability
The need for love and belonging – these are socio – psychological needs. As social beings we need to communicate, interact and belong. Family and friends fulfill these needs.
The need for respect and accomplishment – the need for esteem, like the status and level of success.
Self-actualization need – a cognitive need, where evolution and intellectual self-exploration has esthetic and spiritual values.
A few words on Maslow. Not that he didn’t deserve more, but he is not the subject of this post.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1908, the first born of 7 brothers, of Ukrainian parents. His childhood can be described by Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” movie.
He didn’t love his mother, seeing her as “a selfish, narcissistic person, unable to love somebody else than herself”. Declared as mental instable, he considered that being a man meant, in the first place, being physically strong. He tried body-building, but his mind drove him rather to the library than to the gym.
His genius was that he was among the few psychologists that studied healthy subjects, looking into the life of some personalities whom he considered as accomplished, like Albert Einstein, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Eleonor Roosevelt.
I overlapped Maslow’s needs with Jung’s stages and it looks like this:
It looks like they both came to the pretty much the same conclusion but named them differently. Also fascinating is that both realized that only a tiny fragment of the people get to the 4th stage of life, the absolute.
The majority stop at respect, abundance and comfort.
Long before the two great analyzers of human condition, antic cultures expressed much of the same truths. Looking back, we can find similar concepts in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
I am talking here about the chakras.
It was considered even back then that the whole universe is energy and the human body made no exception of this rule. Long before technology and science, ancient cultures knew that everything that moves carries the energy of life. This energy was then expressed as focal points or centers or chakras. Etymologically speaking, chakra is a Sanskrit word that translates as “wheel”.
These wheels are different from one Indian religion to another, many esoteric Buddhist texts mentioning 5 chakras., while the Hindu sources offered 6 or 7 chakras.
The most frequent are the 7 Hindu and Tantric Buddhist chakras:
- Muladhara – or root chakra is one of the 7 basic chakras. It’s symbolized by a 4-petal red lotus flower. It symbolizes security, survival, earthing, connecting to the energy of the Earth.
- Syadhishthana – or sacral chakra, a 6-petal orange lotus flower. It’s related to the unconscious, emotion, creativity, sexuality. It’s also represented by water and expresses fluidity.
- Manipura – solar plex chakra, a 10-petal circle. Associated with color yellow and fire, it represents the power of transformation. It symbolizes the mental activities, intellect, personal power, will.
- Anahata – chakra of the heart. In Sanskrit “anahata” means untouched, as the sound made by an untouched object. Its color is green and is related to love, relationship. Integration, compassion.
- Vishuddha – blue is the color of the chakra of the throat, it symbolizes self-expression, the expression of the truth, creative expression, communication, perfect shape, purity.
- Aina – of purple color, it is the chakra of the third eye, it evokes intuition, extra sensorial perception, inner wisdom and the connection to Divinity.
- Sahasrara – or the crown chakra is described as a 1000 petal lotus flower of a multitude of colors. It’s associated with universal connection with spirituality and pure conscience.
Why did I make this comparison?
Because I found it interesting. This, in the first place. In the second place I wanted to point to the spiritual emptiness of the West, of the civilized world.
This being said, Jung’s stages and Maslow’s needs are an image of society. Why do people stop when they fulfilled their need for respect, abundance and comfort? Why so few of us reach the stage of absolute?
What is the root of this evolutional plateau, if not worse, the inability of understanding life in its wholeness?
How come men conquered space, be mathematicians, physicists, inventors, well-known doctors, but remained very primal in understanding their inner existence?
Could technics be our sole purpose in life? Knowing the technological processes can somehow solve our psychological struggles, our inner pressure?
Is education the cause and the answer to all the above questions?
I met in my live so many “smart” people that could talk for hours about history, art, robotics, politics, but who are stuck when it comes to the relationship with the members of their family and even worse with themselves. Traditional education launched by industrialization cares about the exterior efficiency and totally neglects the inner nature of man. The education nowadays promotes consumerism and the stress caused by the financial “bulimics” creates men with a compulsory desire to buy.
Notice the Black Friday phenomenon and you’ll understand that education is closely related to the current global crisis. You learn in school what you can become and how to satisfy your needs up to the stage of affirmation and esteem. School teaches you how to gather and follow ultimately leading to conflict, disaster and the global chaos.
A new form of education is necessary and the true education must begin with the educator.
A healthy education helps the human understand his conflictual nature, understand the relationships with others, understand conditioning, fears, stereotypes. The pupil must be helped and guided, but if this is done by a teacher full of fears, prejudice and problems, education can only mean making everything go on.
Education causes a inner imbalance and the most advanced cultures are to advanced on the outer side to be able to understand the inner side and contemplation is a lost word.
Animals feel people, while people feel money or the lack of it.
No, we didn’t waste as a society, we never left first base.