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To Maslow, “transcenders” are regularly motivated by values and experiences that go beyond the satisfaction of basic needs and the fulfillment of one’s unique potential. These “metamotivations” include a devotion to a calling outside oneself, a seeking of “peak experiences”, and a commitment to the values of Being, or the “B-values”, including truth, goodness, beauty, justice, meaningfulness, playfulness, aliveness, excellence, simplicity, elegance, and wholeness — as ultimate goals in themselves.

Maslow observed that when he asked transcenders why they do what they do and what makes their life worth living, they often cited those values. There was no further reason why they devoted so much time to their work; the values were not in service of anything else, nor were they instrumental in achieving any other goal. Maslow believed that satisfaction of the “metaneeds” are necessary “to avoid illness and to achieve fullest humanness or growth. . . . They are worth living for and dying for. Contemplating them, or fusing with them gives the greatest joy that a human being is capable of.”

…grumbling about a lack of safety, status, money, power, respect, acceptance, and affection does seem to be of a different sort than grumbling about a profound lack of beauty, humor, goodness, justice, uniqueness, wholeness, and meaningfulness in the world. — Scott Barry Kaufman

The quality of our lives does not come from chance. It is created in spirit and detail by the quality of our thoughts. Our hearts think. The words we use in the privacy of our minds have karma. They have an aura that broadcasts our soul to the world. We ourselves may be shocked at what happens to us, but, if so, we haven’t been paying attention to the web we were weaving all along.

Cultures revolve around certain thought-forms. Language carries a vision for those who use it to think and communicate, but it’s more than code. It’s a dance of sound and gesture that puts forth a paradigm of meaning, a vision that has structure and limits.

Our Western culture believes itself complete, unconscious of all the relational beauty it excludes. Power, money and respect seem to be our focus. Play, humor, creativity, beauty, justice and meaning take a back seat to the mechanics of getting and keeping money, power and status.

If we are going to create a better world we are going to have to create a kinder inner world. Our thoughts are the building blocks of the world we live in. We need to refuse to incorporate and repeat the hackneyed thoughts of the culture. We need to be aware of our lack of originality. Our mental landscape is cluttered with cruel and stupid ideas, ideas that are destroying the beautiful world we are given.

We all play a part in this drama. We all have a responsibility to notice the quality of our actions and thinking. Pollution is both outer and inner. We are just as responsible for our inner ecology as we are the desecration of the natural world.

Meditation and reflection are possible correctives for humans. Living and making mistakes is recommended, as long as we then contemplate how we think and act.

It’s not enough to say “be good, be just.” That elusive quality in our being that others see and react to is invisible to us unless we take some private time with ourselves. That quiet time can offer discoveries of what qualities we embody.

We are often not who we think we are. We are playing a role we’re not aware of. How else would the world have gotten in this condition? We’re killing it by being feckless and without care. The world needs us to be better humans.

This is our challenge at the moment. This is the question put to us by the coronavirus. If we can’t give a good personal answer now, the question will circle around and pose itself to us again in a more urgent form. Better to look in the mirror now and give a humane answer.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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