What does it look like to reach the highest levels of humanness? Or, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, self-actualization and transcendence? Could it provide a theoretical blueprint for the rest of us?
This is the second of two posts that will attempt to provide a synthesis of everything I've learned about these concepts to date. Fair warning: these concepts are incredibly deep. In fact, they are so deep that I've only been able to synthesize Maslow's own writings from The Farther Reaches of Human Nature with a portion of Scott Barry Kaufman's book Transcend at this point. More will continually be added over time, but I believe this provides a solid foundation to start.
It's important to note that self-actualization and transcendence can't simply be reduced to a checklist of to-dos. Instead, what you'll find is a detailed overview of descriptions and characteristics of these types of humans. This will help give us an understanding of what full humanness looks like—from there it's up to us to give ourselves an honest assessment of where we may already be living at these levels and where we have areas of opportunity.
It's also critical to note that these are the highest levels of human development for a reason. Many basic needs must be satisfied and integrated before one reaches them. And, ultimately, Maslow concluded that even self-actualization is not enough:
It must be stated that self-actualization is not enough. Personal salvation and what is good for the person alone cannot be really understood in isolation. . . . The good of other people must be invoked, as well as the good for oneself. . . . It is quite clear that a purely intrapsychic, individualistic psychology, without reference to other people and social conditions, is not adequate.
Maslow says that self-actualization seems to be 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.
As a side note, this aligns with Viktor Frankl's thoughts from Man's Search for Meaning:
What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.
Maslow differentiates between to kinds (or degrees) of self-actualizing people:
- Those who were clearly healthy, but with little or no experiences of transcendence (e.g. Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower)
- Those in whom transcendent experiencing was important and even central (e.g. Aldous Huxley, Schweitzer, Buber, Einstein)
We'll be covering #2 in this post. Let's dive into transcendence and what it looks like to be a self-actualizing transcender.
PREMIUM POST CONTENTS:
- What is Transcendence? (+ Infographic)
- Self-Actualizing Transcenders vs Self-Actualizing Non-Transcenders
- A Couple Watch-outs
- Transcendence of Basic Needs & Limits
- Living in the B-realm & embracing B-everything
- B-Exercises to Live More in the B-Realm
- Transcendence of Ego / Self / Identity
- Transcendence of Space & Time
- Transcendence of Culture
- Transcendence of Dichotomies
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