The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.
New York, 1971. [MA]
[MA 7] It is now quite clear that the actualization of the highest human potentials is possible on a mass basis only under good conditions. Or more directly, good human beings will generally need a good society in which to grow.
[MA 51] The Therapeutic Attitude
I have used the words therapy, psychotherapy, and patient. Actually, I hate all these words, and I hate the medical model that they imply because the medical model suggests that the person who comes to the counselor is a sick person, beset by disease and illness, seeking a cure. Actually, of course, we hope that the counselor will be the one who helps to foster the self-actualization of people, rather than the one who helps to cure a disease.
The helping model has to give way, too; it just doesnt fit. It makes us think of the counselor as the person or the professional who knows and reaches down from his privileged position above to the poor jerks below who dont know and have to be helped in some way. Nor is the counselor to be a teacher, in the usual sense, because what teachers have specialized in and gotten to be very good at is extrinsic learning. The process of growing into the best human being one can be is, instead, intrinsic learning.
The existential therapists have wrestled with this question of models, and I can recommend Bugentals book, The Search f or Authenticity, for a discussion of the matter. Bugental suggests that we call counseling or therapy ontogogy, which means trying to help people to grow to their fullest possible height. Perhaps thats a better word than the one I once suggested, a word derived from a German author, psychogogy, which means the education of the psyche. Whatever the word we use, I think that the concept we will eventually have to come to is one that Alfred Adler suggested a long, long time ago when he spoke of the older brother. The older brother is the loving person who takes responsibility, just as one does for his young, kid brother. Of course, the older brother knows more; hes lived longer, but he is not qualitatively different, and he is not in another realm of discourse. The wise and loving older brother tries to improve the younger, and he tries to make him [MA 52] better than he is, in the youngers own style. See how different this is from the teaching-somebody-who-doesnt-know-nothin model!
Counseling is not concerned with training or with molding or with teaching in the ordinary sense of telling people what to do and how to do it. It is not concerned with propaganda. It is a Taoistic uncovering and then helping. Taoistic means the non-interfering, the letting be. Taoism is not a laissez-faire philosophy or a philosophy of neglect or of refusal to help or care. As a kind of model of this process we might think of a therapist who, if he is a decent therapist and also a decent human being, would never dream of imposing himself upon his patients or propagandizing in any way or of trying to make a patient into an imitation of himself.
What the good clinical therapist does is to help his particular client to unfold, to break through the defenses against his own selfknowledge, to recover himself, and to get to know himself. Ideally, the therapists rather abstract frame of reference, the textbooks he has read, the schools that he has gone to, his beliefs about the world these should never be perceptible to the patient. Respectful of the inner nature, the being, the essence of this younger brother, he would recognize that the best way for him to lead a good life is to be more fully himself. The people we call sick are the people who are not themselves, the people who have built up all sorts of neurotic defenses against being human. Just as it makes no difference to the rosebush whether the gardener is Italian or French or Swedish, so it should make no difference to the younger brother how his helper learned to be a helper. What the helper has to give is certain services that are independent of his being Swedish or Catholic or Mohammedan or Freudian or whatever he is.
These basic concepts include, imply, and are completely in accord with the basic concepts of Freudian and other systems of psychodynamics. It is a Freudian principle that unconscious aspects of the self are repressed and that the finding of the true self requires the uncovering of these unconscious aspects. Implicit is a belief that truth heals much. Learning to break through ones repressions, to know ones self, to hear the impulse voices, to uncover the triumphant nature, to reach knowledge, insight, and the truth these are the requirements.
[MA 62] One main characteristic of the peak experience is just this total fascination with the matter-in-hand, this getting lost in the present, this detachment from time and place. And it seems to me now that much of what we have learned from the study of these peak experiences [MA 63] can be transferred quite directly to the enriched understanding of the here-now experience, of the creative attitude.
It is not necessary for us to confine ourselves to these uncommon and rather extreme experiences, even though it now seems clear that practically all people [really?] can report moments of rapture if they dig around long enough in their memories, and if the interview situation is just right. We can also refer to the simplest version of the peak experience, namely fascination, concentration, or absorption in anything which is interesting enough to hold this attention completely. And I mean not only great symphonies or tragedies; the job can be done by a gripping movie or detective story, or simply becoming absorbed with ones work. There are certain advantages in starting from such universal and familiar experiences which we all have, so that we can get a direct feeling or intuition or empathy, that is, a direct experiential knowledge of a modest, moderate version of the fancier high experiences.
[MA 81] I think the problem of the management of creative personnel is both fantastically difficult and important. I dont quite know what we are going to do with this problem because, in essence, what I am talking about is the lone wolf. The kind of creative people that Ive worked with are people who are apt to get ground up in an organization, apt to be afraid of it, and apt generally to work off in a corner or an attic by themselves.
[MA 124] In order to be able to hear the fact-voices it is necessary to be very quiet, to listen very receptively in a Taoistic fashion. That is, if we wish to permit the facts to tell us their oughtiness, we must learn to listen to them in a very specific way which can be called Taoistic silently, hushed, quietly, fully listening, noninterfering, receptive, patient, respectful of the matter-in-hand, courteous to the matter-in-hand.
[MA 133] The Being-Values (as Descriptions of the World Perceived in Peak Experiences) [compare yama and niyama]
The characteristics of being are also the values of being. (Paralleled by the characteristics of fully human people, the preferences of full human people; the characteristics of selfhood [identity] in peak experiences; the characteristics of ideal art; the characteristics of ideal children; the characteristics of ideal mathematical demonstrations, of ideal experiments and theories, of ideal science and knowledge; the far goals of all ideal [Taoistic noninterfering] psychotherapies; the far goals of ideal humanistic education; the far goals and the expression of some kinds of religion; the characteristics of the ideally good environment and of the ideally good society.)
1. Truth: honesty; reality; (nČkedness; simplicity; richness; [MA 134] essentiality; oughtness; beauty; pure; clean and unadulterated completeness).
2. Goodness: (rightness; desirability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty); (we love it, are attracted to it, approve of it).
3. Beauty: (rightness; form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness, perfection; completion; uniqueness; honesty).
4. Wholeness: (unity; integration; tendency to oneness; interconnectedness; simplicity; organization; structure; order, not dissociated; synergy; homonymous and integrative tendencies).
4a. Dichotomy-transcendence: (acceptance, resolution, integration, or transcendence of dichotomies, polarities, opposites, contradictions); synergy (i.e., transformation of oppositions into unities, of antagonists into collaborating or mutually enhancing partners).
5. Aliveness: (process; not-deadness; spontaneity; self-regulation; full-functioning; changing and yet remaining the same; expressing itself).
6. Uniqueness: (idiosyncrasy; individuality; noncomparability; novelty; quale; suchness; nothing else like it).
7. Perfection: (nothing superfluous; nothing lacking; everything in its right place, unimprovable; just-rightness; just-so-ness; suitability; justice, completeness; nothing beyond; oughtness).
7a. Necessity: (inevitability; it must be just that way; not changed in any slightest way; and it is good that it is that way).
8. Completion: (ending; finality; justice; its finished; no more changing of the Gestalt; fulfilment; finis and telos; nothing missing or lacking; totality; fulfilment of destiny; cessation; climax; consummation closure; death before rebirth; cessation and completion of growth and development).
9. Justice: (fairness; oughtness; suitability; architectonic quality; necessity; inevitability; disinterestedness; nonpartiality).
9a. Order: (lawfulness; rightness; nothing superfluous; perfectly arranged).
10. Simplicity: (honesty; nČkedness; essentiality; abstract, unmistakability; essential skeletal structure; the heart of the matter; bluntness; only that which is necessary; without ornament, nothing extra or superfluous).
11. Richness: (differentiation; complexity; intricacy; totality; nothing missing or hidden; all there; nonimportance; i.e., every [MA 135] thing is equally important; nothing is unimportant; everything left the way it is, without improving, simplifying, abstracting, rearranging).
12. Effortlessness: (ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty; grace; perfect and beautiful functioning).
13. Playfulness: (fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humor; exuberance; effortlessness).
14. Self-sufficiency: (autonomy; independence; not-needing-anything-other-than-itself-in-order-to-be-itself; self-determining; environment-transcendence; separateness; living by its own laws; identity).
[MA 213] I assume that the idea of personal improvement, one person by one person, is not a practicable solution of the problem of improving the society. Even the best individuals placed under poor social and institutional circumstances behave badly. One can set up social institutions which will guarantee that individuals will be at each others throats; or one can set up social institutions which will encourage individuals to be synergic with each other.
22 Theory Z [MA 280]
[MA 280] I have recently found it more and more useful to differentiate between two kinds (or better, degrees) of self-actualizing people, those who were clearly healthy, but with little or no experiences of transcendence, and those in whom transcendent experiencing was important and even central. As examples of the former kind of health, I may cite Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, and, probably, Truman and Eisenhower. As examples of the latter, I can use Aldous Huxley, and probably Schweitzer, Buber, and Einstein.
It is unfortunate that I can no longer be theoretically neat at this level. I find not only self-actualizing persons who transcend, but also nonhealthy people, non-self-actualizers who have important transcendent experiences. It seems to me that I have found some degree of transcendence in many people other than self-actualizing ones as I have defined this term. Perhaps it will be found even more widely as we develop better techniques and better conceptualizations. After all, I am reporting here my impressions from the most preliminary of explorations. In any case, it is my tentative impression that I am more likely to find cognizing of transcendence not only in self-actualizing but also in highly creative or talented people, in highly intelligent [MA 281] people, in very strong characters, in powerful and responsible leaders and managers, in exceptionally good (virtuous) people and in heroic people who have overcome adversity and who have been strengthened by it rather than weakened.
To some as yet unknown extent the latter are what I have referred to as peakers rather than nonpeakers, and Yea-sayers rather than Nay-sayers, life-positive rather than life-negative (in Reichs sense), eager for life rather than nauseated or irritated by it.
The former [non-transcenders] are more essentially practical, realistic, mundane, capable, and secular people, living more in the here-and-now world; i.e., what I have called the D-realm for short, the world of deficiency-needs and of deficiency-cognitions. In this Weltanschauung, people or things are taken essentially in a practical, concrete, here-now, pragmatic way, as deficiency-need suppliers or frustrators; i.e., as useful or useless, helpful or dangerous, personally important or unimportant.
Useful in this context means both useful for survival and useful for growth toward self-actualization and freedom from basic deficiency-needs. More specifically, it means a way of life and a world view generated not only by the hierarchy of basic needs (for sheer physical survival, for safety and security, for belongingness, friendship, and love, for respect, esteem, and dignity, for self-esteem and feelings of worth), but also by the need for the actualization of ones personal, idiosyncratic potentialities (i.e., identity, Real Self, individuality, uniqueness, self-actualization). That is, it refers to the fulfilment not only of ones species-hood, but also of ones own idiosyncratic potentialities. Such people live in the world, coming to fulfilment in it. They master it, lead it, use it for good purposes, as (healthy) politicians or practical people do. That is, these people tend to be doers rather than meditators or contemplators, effective and pragmatic rather than aesthetic, reality-testing and cognitive rather than emotional and experiencing.
The other type (transcenders?) may be said to be much more often aware of the realm of Being (B-realm and B-cognition), to be living at the level of Being; i.e., of ends, of intrinsic values; to be more obviously metamotivated; to have unitive consciousness and plateau experience (Asrani) more or less often; and to have or to have had peak experiences (mystic, sacral, ecstatic) with illuminations or insights or cognitions which changed their view of the world [MA 282] and of themselves, perhaps occasionally, perhaps as a usual thing.
[MA 283] 1. For the transcenders, peak experiences and plateau experiences become the most important things in their lives, the high spots, the validators of life, the most precious aspect of life.
2. They (the transcenders) speak easily, normally, naturally, and unconsciously the language of Being (B-language), the language of poets, of mystics, of seers, of profoundly religious men, of men who live at the Platonic-idea level or at the Spinozistic level, under the aspect of eternity. Therefore, they should better understand parables, figures of speech, paradoxes, music, art, nonverbal communications, etc. (This is an easily testable proposition.)
3. They perceive unitively or sacrally (i.e., the sacred within the secular), or they see the sacredness in all things at the same time that they also see them at the practical, everyday D-level. They can sacralize everything at will; i.e., perceive it under the aspect of eternity. This ability is in addition to not mutually exclusive with good [MA 287] reality testing within the D-realm. (This is well described by the Zen notion of nothing special.)
4. They are much more consciously and deliberately metamotivated. That is, the values of Being, or Being itself seen both as fact and value, e.g., perfection, truth, beauty, goodness, unity, dichotomy-transcendence, B-amusement, etc. are their main or most important motivations.
5. They seem somehow to recognize each other, and to come to almost instant intimacy and mutual understanding even upon first meeting. They can then communicate not only in all the verbal ways but also in the nonverbal ways as well.
6. They are more responsive to beauty. This may turn out to be rather a tendency to beautify all things, including all the B-Values, or to see the beautiful more easily than others do, or to have aesthetic responses more easily than other people do, or to consider beauty most important, or to see as beautiful what is not officially or conventionally beautiful. (This is confusing, but it is the best I can do at this time.)
7. They are more holistic about the world than are the healthy or practical self-actualizers (who are also holistic in this same sense). Mankind is one and the cosmos is one, and such concepts as the national interest or the religion of my fathers or different grades of people or of IQ either cease to exist or are easily transcended. If we accept as the ultimate political necessities (as well as today the most urgent ones), to think of all men as brothers, to think of national sovereignties (the right to make war) as a form of stupidity or immaturity, then transcenders think this way more easily, more reflexively, more naturally. Thinking in our normal stupid or immature way is for them an effort, even though they can do it.
8. Overlapping this statement of holistic perceiving is a strengthening of the self-actualizers natural tendency to synergy intrapsychic, interpersonal, intraculturally and internationally. This cannot be spelled out fully here because that would take too long. A brief and perhaps not very meaningful statement is that synergy transcends the dichotomy between selfishness and unselfishness and includes them both under a single superordinate concept. It is a transcendence of competitiveness, of zero-sum of win-lose gamesmanship. [MA 288]
9. Of course there is more and easier transcendence of the ego, the Self, the identity.
10. Not only are such people lovable as are all of the most self-actualizing people, but they are also more awe-inspiring, more unearthly, more godlike, more saintly in the medieval sense, more easily revered, more terrible in the older sense. They have more often produced in me the thought, This is a great man.
11. As one consequence of all these characteristics, the transcenders are far more apt to be innovators, discovers of the new, than are the healthy self-actualizers, who are rather apt to do a very good job of what has to be done in the world. Transcendent experiences and illuminations bring clearer vision of the B-Values, of the ideal, of the perfect, of what ought to be, what actually could be, what exists in potentia and therefore of what might be brought to pass.
12. I have a vague impression that the transcenders are less happy than the healthy ones. They can be more ecstatic, more rapturous, and experience greater heights of happiness (a too weak word) than the happy and healthy ones. But I sometimes get the impression that they are as prone and maybe more prone to a kind of cosmic-sadness or B-sadness over the stupidity of people, their self-defeat, their blindness, their cruelty to each other, their shortsightedness. Perhaps this comes from the contrast between what actually is and the ideal world that the transcenders can see so easily and so vividly, and which is in principle so easily attainable. Perhaps this is a price these people have to pay for their direct seeing of the beauty of the world, of the saintly possibilities in human nature, of the non-necessity of so much of human evil, of the seemingly obvious necessities for a good world; e.g., a world government, synergic social institutions, education for human goodness rather than for higher IQs or greater expertness at some atomistic job, etc. Any transcender could sit down and in five minutes write a recipe for peace, brotherhood, and happiness, a recipe absolutely within the bounds of practicality, absolutely attainable. And yet he sees all this not being done; or where it is being done, then so slowly that the holocausts may come first. No wonder he is sad or angry or impatient at the same time that he is also optimistic in the long run. [MA 289]
13. The deep conflicts over the elitism that is inherent in any doctrine of self-actualization they are after all superior people whenever comparisons are made is more easily solved or at least managed by the transcenders than by the merely healthy self-actualizers. This is made possible because they can more easily live in both the D- and B-realms simultaneously, they can sacralize everybody so much more easily. This means that they can reconcile more easily the absolute necessity for some form of reality-testing, comparing, elitism in the D-world (you must pick a good carpenter for the job, not a poor carpenter; you must make some distinction between the criminal and the policeman, the sick man and the physician, the honest man and the fake, the intelligent man and the stupid one) on the one hand, and on the other hand, the transfinite and equal, noncomparable sacredness of everybody. In a very empirical and necessary sense, Carl Rogers talks about the unconditional positive regard that is a priori necessary for effective psychotherapy. Our laws forbid cruel and unusual punishment; i.e., no matter what crime a man has committed, he must be treated with a dignity not reducible below a certain point. Seriously religious theists say that each and every person is a child of God.
This sacredness of every person and even of every living thing, even of nonliving things that are beautiful, etc. is so easily and directly perceived in its reality by every transcender that he can hardly forget it for a moment. Fused with his highly superior reality-testing of the D-realm, he could be the godlike punisher, the comparer, noncontemptuous, never the exploiter of weakness, stupidity, or incapability even while he realistically recognized these gradable qualities in the D-world. The way of phrasing this paradox that I have found useful for myself is this: The factually-superior transcending selfactualizer acts always to the factually-inferior person as to a brother, a member of the family who must be loved and cared for no matter what he does because he is after all a member of the family. But he can still act as a stern father or older brother, and not only as an all-forgiving mother or motherly father. This punishment is quite compatible with godlike transfinite love. From a transcendent point of view, it is easy to see that even for the good of the transgressor himself it may be better to punish him, frustrate him, to say No, rather than to gratify him or please him now. [MA 290]
14. My strong impression is that transcenders show more strongly a positive correlation rather than the more usual inverse one between increasing knowledge and increasing mystery and awe. Certainly by most people scientific knowledge is taken as a lessener of mystery and therefore of fear, since for most people mystery breeds fear. One then pursues knowledge as an anxiety-reducer.
But for peak-experiencers and transcenders in particular, as well as for self-actualizers in general, mystery is attractive and challenging rather than frightening. The self-actualizer is somewhat apt to be bored by what is well known, however useful this knowledge may be. But this is especially so for the peaker for whom the sense of mystery of reverence and of awe is a reward rather than a punishment.
In any case, I have found in the most creative scientists I have talked with that the more they know, the more apt they are to go into an ecstasy in which humility, a sense of ignorance, a feeling of smallness, awe before the tremendousness of the universe, or the stunningness of a hummingbird, or the mystery of a baby are all a part, and are all felt subjectively in a positive way, as a reward.
Hence the humility and self-confessed ignorance and yet also the happiness of the great transcender-scientist. I think it a possibility that we all have such experiences, especially as children, and yet it is the transcender who seems to have them more often, more profoundly, and values them most as high moments in life. This statement is meant to include both scientists and mystics as well as poets, artists, industrialists, politicians, mothers, and many other kinds of people. And in any case, I affirm as a theory of cognition and of science (for testing) that at the highest levels of development of humanness, knowledge is positively rather than negatively correlated with a sense of mystery, awe, humility, ultimate ignorance, reverence, and a sense of oblation.
15. Transcenders, I think, should be less afraid of nuts and kooks than are other self-actualizers, and thus are more likely to be good selectors of creators (who sometimes look nutty or kooky). I would guess that self-actualizers would generally value creativeness more and therefore select it more efficiently (and therefore should make the best personnel managers or selectors or counselors) and yet to value a William Blake type takes, in principle, a greater experience with transcendence and therefore a greater valuation of it. Something like [MA 291] this should be true at the opposite pole: A transcender should also be more able to screen out the nuts and kooks who are not creative, which I suppose includes most of them.
I have no experience to report here. This follows from theory and is presented as an easily testable hypothesis.
16. It follows from theory that transcenders should be more reconciled with evil in the sense of understanding its occasional inevitability and necessity in the larger holistic sense, i.e., from above, in a godlike or Olympian sense. Since this implies a better understanding of it, it should generate both a greater compassion with it and a less ambivalent and a more unyielding fight against it. This sounds like a paradox, but with a little thought can be seen as not at all self-contradictory. To understand more deeply means, at this level, to have a stronger arm (not a weaker one), to be more decisive, to have less conflict, ambivalence, regret, and thus to act more swiftly, surely and effectively. One can compassionately strike down the evil man if this is necessary.
17. I would expect another paradox to be found in transcenders: namely, that they are more apt to regard themselves as carriers of talent, instruments of the transpersonal, temporary custodians so to speak of a greater intelligence or skill or leadership or efficiency. This means a certain peculiar kind of objectivity or detachment toward themselves that to nontranscenders might sound like arrogance, grandiosity, or even paranoia. The example I find most useful here is the attitude of the pregnant mother toward herself and her unborn child. What is self? What is not? How demanding, self-admiring, arrogant does she have a right to be?
I think we would be just as startled by the judgment, I am the best one for his job and therefore I demand it, as by the equally probable judgment, You are the best one for this job and therefore it is your duty to take it away from me. Transcendence brings with it the transpersonal loss of ego.
18. Transcenders are in principle (I have no data) more apt to be profoundly religious or spiritual in either the theistic or nontheistic sense. Peak experiences and other transcendent experiences are in effect also to be seen as religious or spiritual experiences if only we redefine these terms to exclude their historical, conventional, superstitious, institutional accretions of meaning. Such experiences [MA 292] can indeed be seen as antireligious from the merely conventional point of view or as religion-surrogates, or religion-replacements or as a new version of what used to be called religion or spirituality. The paradox that some atheists are far more religious than some priests can be easily enough tested and thus given operational meaning.
19. Perhaps another quantitative difference that may show up between these two kinds of self-actualizers I am not at all sure of it is that the transcenders, I suspect, find it easier to transcend the ego, the self, the identity, to go beyond self-actualization. To sharpen what I think I see: Perhaps we could say that the description of the healthy ones is more exhausted by describing them primarily as strong identities, people who know who they are, where they are going, what they want, what they are good for, in a word, as strong Selves, using themselves well and authentically and in accordance with their own true nature. And this of course does not sufficiently describe the transcenders. They are certainly this; but they are also more than this.
20. I would suppose again as an impression and without specific data that transcenders, because of their easier perception of the B-realm, would have more end experiences (of suchness) than their more practical brothers do, more of the fascinations that we see in children who get hypnotized by the colors in a puddle, or by raindrops dripping down a windowpane, or by the smoothness of skin, or the movements of a caterpillar.
21. In theory, transcenders should be somewhat more Taoistic, and the merely healthy somewhat more pragmatic. B-cognition makes everything look more miraculous, more perfect, just as it should be. It therefore breeds less impulse to do anything to the object that is fine just as it is, less needing improvement, or intruding upon. There should then be more impulse simply to stare at it and examine it than to do anything about it or with it.
22. A concept that adds nothing new but which ties all the foregoing in with the whole rich structure of Freudian Theory is the word postambivalent that I think tends to be more characteristic of all self-actualizers and may turn out to be a little more so in some transcenders. It means total wholehearted and unconflicted love, [MA 293] acceptance, expressiveness, rather than the more usual mixture of love and hate that passes for love or friendship or se+uality or authority or power, etc.
23. Finally I call attention to the question of levels of pay and kinds of pay even though I am not sure that my two groups differ much, if at all, in this regard. What is crucially important is the fact itself that there are many kinds of pay other than money pay, that money as such steadily recedes in importance with increasing affluence and with increasing maturity of character, while higher forms of pay and metapay steadily increase in importance. Furthermore, even where money pay continues to seem to be important, it is often so not in its own literal, concrete character, but rather as a symbol for status, success, self-esteem with which to win love, admiration, and respect.
I assume that greater psychological health would make these kinds of pay more valuable especially with sufficient money and with money held constant as a variable. Of course, a large proportion of selfactualizing people have probably fused work and play anyway: i.e., they love their work. Of them, one could say, they get paid for what they would do as a hobby anyway, for doing work that is intrinsically satisfying.
The only difference I can think of, that further investigation may turn up between my two groups, is that the transcenders may actively [MA 294] seek out jobs that make peak experiences and B-cognition more likely. One reason for mentioning this in this context is my conviction that it is a theoretical necessity in planning the Eupsychia, the good society, that leadership must be separated from privilege, exploitation, possessions, luxury, status, power-over-other-people, etc. The only way that I can see to protect the more capable, the leaders and managers from ressentiment, from the impotent envy of the weak, of the underprivileged, of the less capable, of those who need to be helped, i.e., from the Evil Eye, from overturn by the underdog, is to pay them, not with more money but with less, to pay them rather with higher pay and with metapay. It follows from the principles so far set forth here and elsewhere that this would please both the selfactualizers and the less psychologically developed, and would abort the development of the mutually exclusive and antagonistic classes or castes that we have seen throughout human history. All we need to do to make practical this post-Marxian, post-historical possibility is to learn not to pay too much for money, i.e., to value the higher rather than the lower. Also it would be necessary here to desymbolize money; i.e., it must not symbolize success, respectworthiness, or loveworthiness.
These changes should in principle be quite easily possible since they already accord with the preconscious or not-quite-conscious value-life of self-actualizing people. Whether or not this Weltanschauung is or is not more characteristic of transcenders remains to be discovered. I suspect so, mostly on the grounds that mystics and transcenders have throughout history seemed spontaneously to prefer simplicity and to avoid luxury, privilege, honors, and possessions. My impression is that the common people have therefore mostly tended to love and revere them rather than to fear and hate them. So perhaps this could be a help in designing a world in which the most capable, the most awakened, the most idealistic would be chosen and loved as leaders, as teachers, as obviously benevolent and unselfish authority.
24. I cannot resist expressing what is only a vague hunch; namely, the possibility that my transcenders seem to me somewhat more apt to be Sheldonian ectomorphs while my less-often-transcending selfactualizers seem more often to be mesomorphic. (I mention this only because it is in principle easily testable.)
[MA 295] Epilogue
Because it will be so difficult for so many to believe, [I dont believe it, for one! It seems wishful thinking. See also MA 314 and 327] I must state explicitly that I have found approximately as many transcenders among businessmen, industrialists, managers, educators, political people as I have among the professionally religious, the poets, intellectuals, musicians, and others who are supposed to be transcenders and are officially labeled so. I must say that each of these professions has different folkways, different jargon, different personae, and different uniforms. Any minister will talk transcendence even if he hasnt got the slightest inkling of what it feels like. And most industrialists will carefully conceal their idealism, their metamotivations, and their transcendent experiences under a mask of toughness, realism, selfishness, and all sorts of other words which would have to be marked off by quotes to indicate that they are only superficial and defensive. Their more real metamotivations are often not repressed but only suppressed, and I have sometimes found it quite easy to break through the protective surface by very direct confrontations and questions.
I must be careful also not to give any false impressions about numbers of subjects (only three or four dozen who have been more or less carefully talked with and observed, and perhaps another hundred or two talked with, read, and observed but not as carefully or in depth), or about the reliability of my information (this is all exploration or investigation or reconnaissance rather than careful final research, a first approximation rather than the normally verified science which will come later), or the representativeness of my sample (I used whomever I could get, but mostly concentrated on the best specimens of intellect, creativeness, character, strength, success, etc.).
[MA 314] I have not deliberately worked with an ad hoc control group, i.e., non-self-actualizing people. I could say that most of humanity is a control group, which is certainly true. I do have a considerable fund of experience with the attitudes toward work of average people, immature people, neurotic and borderline people, psychopaths, etc., and there is no question whatsoever that their attitudes cluster around money, basic-need gratifications (rather than B-Values), sheer habit, stimulus-binding, neurotic needs, convention, and inertia (the unexamined and nonquestioned life), and from doing what other people expect or demand. However, this intuitive common sense or naturalistic conclusion is certainly easily susceptible to more careful, more controlled, and predesigned examination which could confirm or disconfirm.
[MA 320] The metapathologies of the affluent and indulged young come partly from deprivation of intrinsic values, frustrated idealism, from disillusionment with a society they see (mistakenly) motivated only by lower or animal or material needs.
This theory of metapathology generates the following easily testable proposition: I believe that much of the social pathology of the affluent (already lower-need-gratified) is a consequence of intrinsic-value-starvation. To say it in another way: Much of the bad behavior of affluent, privileged, and basic-need-gratified high school and college students is due to frustration of the idealism so often found in young people. My hypothesis is that this behavior can be a fusion of [MA 321] continued search for something to believe in, combined with anger at being disappointed. (I sometimes see in a particular young man total despair or hopelessness about even the existence of such values.)
Of course, this frustrated idealism and occasional hopelessness is partially due to the influence and ubiquity of stupidly limited theories of motivation all over the world. Leaving aside behavioristic and positivistic theories or rather non-theories as simple refusals even to see the problem, i.e., a kind of psychoanalytic denial, then what is available to the idealistic young man and woman?
Not only does the whole of official nineteenth-century science and orthodox academic psychology offer him nothing, but also the major motivation theories by which most men live can lead him only to depression or cynicism. The Freudians, at least in their official writings (though not in good therapeutic practice), are still reductionistic about all higher human values. The deepest and most real motivations are seen to be dangerous and nasty, while the highest human values and virtues are essentially fake, being not what they seem to be, but camouflaged versions of the deep, dark, and dirty. Our social scientists are just as disappointing in the main. A total cultural determinism is still the official, orthodox doctrine of many or most of the sociologists and anthropologists. This doctrine not only denies intrinsic higher motivations, but comes perilously close sometimes to denying human nature itself. The economists, not only in the West but also in the East, are essentially materialistic. We must say harshly of the science of economics that it is generally the skilled, exact, technological application of a totally false theory of human needs and values, a theory which recognizes only the existence of lower needs or material needs.
How could young people not be disappointed and disillusioned? What else could be the result of getting all the material and animal gratifications and then not being happy, as they were led to expect, not only by the theorists, but also by the conventional wisdom of parents and teachers, and the insistent grey lies of the advertisers?
What happens then to the eternal verities? to the ultimate truths? Most sections of the society agree in handing them over to the churches and to dogmatic, institutionalized, conventionalized religious organizations. But this is also a denial of high human nature! It says in effect that the youngster who is looking for something will definitely [MA 322] not find it in human nature itself. He must look for ultimates to a nonhuman, non-natural source, a source which is definitely mistrusted or rejected altogether by many intelligent young people today.
[MA 325] The spiritual life is... part of the human essence. It is a defining characteristic of human nature, without which human nature is not full human nature. It is part of the Real Self, of ones identity, of ones inner core, of ones specieshood, of full humanness. To the extent that pure expressing of oneself, or pure spontaneity, is possible, to that extent will the metaneeds also be expressed. Uncovering or Taoistic or existential therapeutic or logotherapeutic (34) or ontogogic techniques (20), should uncover and strengthen the metaneeds as well as the basic needs.
Depth-diagnostic and therapeutic techniques should ultimately also uncover these same metaneeds because, paradoxically, our highest nature is also our deepest nature. The value life and the animal life are not in two separate realms as most religions and philosophies have assumed, and as classical, impersonal science has also assumed. The spiritual life (the contemplative, religious, philosophical, or value-life) is within the jurisdiction of human thought and is attainable in principle by mans own efforts. Even though it has been cast out of the realm of reality by the classical, value-free science which models itself upon physics, it can be reclaimed as an object of study and technology by humanistic science. That is, such an expanded science must consider the eternal verities, the ultimate truths, the final values, and so on, to be real and natural, fact-based rather than wish-based, human rather than superhuman, legitimate scientific problems calling for research.
In practice, of course, such problems are more difficult to study. The lower life is prepotent over the higher life, which means that the higher is just less likely to occur. The preconditions of the metamotivated life are far more numerous, not only in terms of prior gratification of the whole hierarchy of basic needs, but also in terms of the greater number of good conditions which are needed to make the higher life possible, i.e., a far better environment is required, economic scarcity must have been conquered, a wide variety of choices must be freely available along with conditions that make real and efficient choosing possible, synergic social institutions are almost a [MA 326] requirement, etc. In a word, we must be very careful to imply only that the higher life is in principle possible, and never that it is probable, or likely, or easy to attain.
Let me also make quite explicit the implication that metamotivation is species-wide, and is, therefore, supracultural, common-human, not created arbitrarily by culture. Since this is a point at which misunderstandings are fated to occur, let me say it so: The metaneeds seem to me to be instinctoid, that is, to have an appreciable hereditary, species-wide determination. [wishful thinking?] But they are potentialities, rather than actualities. Culture is definitely and absolutely needed for their actualization; but also culture can fail to actualize them, and indeed this is just what most known cultures actually seem to do and to have done throughout history. Therefore, there is implied here a supracultural factor which can criticize any culture from outside and above that culture, namely, in terms of the degree to which it fosters or suppresses self-actualization, full humanness, and metamotivation. A culture can be synergic with human biological essence or it can be antagonistic to it, i.e., culture and biology are not in principle opposed to each other.
Can we, therefore, say that everyone yearns for the higher life, the spiritual, the B-Values, etc.? Here we run full-tilt into inadequacies in our langauge. Certainly we can say in principle that such a yearning must be considered to be a potential in every newborn baby until proven otherwise.[wishful thinking?] That is to say, our best guess is that this potentiality, if it is lost, is lost after birth. It is also socially realistic today to bet that most newborn babies will never actualize this potentiality, and will never rise to the highest levels of motivation because of poverty, exploitation, prejudice, etc. There is, in fact, inequality of opportunity in the world today. It is also wise to say of adults that prognosis varies for each of them, depending on how and where they live, their social-economic-political circumstances, degree and amount of psychopathology, etc. And yet is also unwise (as a matter of social strategy, if nothing else) to give up the possibility of the metalife completely and in principle for any living person. Incurables have, after all, been cured in both the psychiatric sense and in the sense of self-actualization, for example by Synanon. And most certainly, we would be stupid to give up this possibility for future generations.
The so-called spiritual (or transcendent, or axiological) life is [MA 327] clearly rooted in the biological nature of the species. It is a kind of higher animality whose precondition is a healthy lower animality, i.e., they are hierarchically integrated (rather than mutually exclusive). But this higher, spiritual animality is so timid and weak, and so easily lost, is so easily crushed by stronger cultural forces, that it can become widely actualized only in a culture which approves of human nature, and therefore actively fosters its fullest growth.
[MA 329] Since the spiritual life is instinctoid, all the techniques of subjective biology apply to its education.
Since the spiritual life (B-Values, B-facts, metaneeds, etc.) is part of the Real Self, which is instinctoid, it can in principle he introspected. It has: impulse voices or inner signals which, though [MA 330] weaker than basic needs, can yet be heard, and which therefore come under the rubric of the subjective biology.
In principle, therefore, all the principles and exercises which help to develop (or teach) our sensory awarenesses, our body awarenesses, our sensitivities to the inner signals (given off by our needs, capacities, constitution, temperament, body, etc.) all these apply also, though less strongly, to our inner metaneeds, i.e., to the education of our yearnings for beauty, law, truth, perfection, etc. Perhaps we can also invent some such term as experientially rich to describe those who are so sensitive to the inner voices of the self that even the metaneeds can be consciously introspected and enjoyed.
It is this experiential richness which in principle should be teachable or recoverable at least in degree, perhaps with the proper use of psychedelic chemicals, with Esalen-type, nonverbal methods, with meditation and contemplation techniques, with further study of the peak experiences, or of B-cognition, etc.
I do not wish to be understood as deifying the inner signals (the voices from within, the still, small voice of conscience, etc.). It seems to me that experiential knowledge is certainly the beginning of all knowledge, but it is definitely not the end of all knowledge. It is necessary, but not sufficient. The voice from within can occasionally be wrong even in the wisest individual. In any case, such wise individuals generally test their inner commands against external reality whenever they can. Empirical testing and verifying of experiential knowledge is thus always in order, for sometimes the inner certainty, even of a veritable mystic, turns out to be the voice of the devil. It is not yet wise to permit the private conscience of one person to outweigh all other sources of knowledge and wisdom, however much we respect inner experiencing.
[MA 333] We have seen that there is not an absolute chasm between man and the reality which is beyond him. He can identify with this reality, incorporate it into his own definition of his self, be loyal to it as to his self. He then becomes part of it and it becomes part of him. He and it overlap.
Phrasing it in this way builds a bridge to another realm of discourse, i.e., to the theory of biological evolution of man. Not only is man part of nature, but he must also be isomorphic with it to some extent. That is, he cannot be in utter contradiction to nonhuman nature. He cannot be utterly different from it or else he would not now exist.
The very fact of his viability proves that he is at least compatible with, acceptable to nature. He agrees with its demands and, as a species, has yielded to them at least to the extent of remaining viable. Nature has not executed him. He is politic enough, biologically speaking, to accept the laws of nature which, were he to defy them, would mean death. He gets along with it.
This is to say that in some sense he must be similar to nature. When we speak of his fusion with nature, perhaps this is part of what we mean. Perhaps his thrilling to nature (perceiving it as true, good, beautiful, etc.) will one day be understood as a kind of selfrecognition or self-experience, a way of being oneself and fully functional, a way of being at home, a kind of biological authenticity, of biological mysticism, etc. Perhaps we can see mystical or peak-fusion not only as communion with that which is most worthy of love, but also as fusion with that which is, because he belongs there, being truly part of what is, and being, so to speak, a member of the family:
... one direction in which we find increasing confidence is the conception that we are basically one with the cosmos instead of strangers to it. [Gardner Murphy]
This biological or evolutionary version of the mystic experience or the peak experience here perhaps no different from the spiritual or religious experience reminds us again that we must ultimately [MA 334] outgrow the obsolescent usage of highest as the opposite of lowest or deepest. Here the highest experience ever described, the joyful fusion with the ultimate that man can conceive, can be seen simultaneously as the deepest experience of our ultimate personal animality and specieshood, as the acceptance of our profound biological nature as isomorphic with nature in general.
This kind of empirical, or at least naturalistic, phrasing seems to me also to make it less necessary or less tempting to define that which transcends him as nonhuman and non-natural or supernatural as Heschel does. Communion by the person with that which transcends him can be seen as a biological experience. And although the universe cannot be said to love the human being, it can be said at least to accept him in a nonhostile way, to permit him to endure, and to grow and, occasionally, to permit him great joy.
[MA 334]... great peak experiences, illuminations, desolations, ecstasies, mystical fusions do not occur very often. A rather small percentage of clock time is spent in such exceptional moments even in the most reactive individuals.
[MA 343] I see in the history of many organized religions a tendency to develop two extreme wings: the mystical and individual on the one hand, and the legalistic and organizational on the other. The profoundly and authentically religious person integrates these trends easily and automatically. The forms, rituals, ceremonials, and verbal formulae in which he was reared remain for him experientially rooted, symbolically meaningful, archetypal, unitive. Such a person may go through the same motions and behaviors as his more numerous coreligionists, but he is never [MA 344] reduced to the behavioral, as most of them are. Most people lose or forget the subjectively religious experience, and redefine Religion as a set of habits, behaviors, dogmas, forms, which at the extreme becomes entirely legalistic and bureaucratic, conventional, empty, and in the truest meaning of the word, antireligious. The mystic experience, the illumination, the great awakening, along with the charismatic seer who started the whole thing, are forgotten, lost, or transformed into their opposites. Organized Religion, the churches, finally may become the major enemies of the religious experience and the religious experiencer.
But on the other wing, the mystical (or experiential) also has its traps which I have not stressed sufficiently. As the more Apollonian type can veer toward the extreme of being reduced to the merely behavioral, so does the mystical type run the risk of being reduced to the merely experiential. Out of the joy and wonder of his ecstasies and peak experiences he may be tempted to seek them, ad hoc, and to value them exclusively, as the only, or at least the highest goods of life, giving up other criteria of right and wrong. Focused on these wonderful subjective experiences, he may run the danger of turning away from the world and from other people in his search for triggers to peak experiences, any triggers. In a word, instead of being temporarily self-absorbed and inwardly searching, he may become simply a selfish person, seeking his own personal salvation; trying to get into heaven even if other people cant, and finally even perhaps using other people as triggers, as means to his sole end of higher states of consciousness. In a word, he may become not only selfish but also evil. My impression, from the history of mysticism, is that this trend can sometimes wind up in meanness, nastiness, loss of compassion, or even in the extreme of sadism.
Another possible booby trap for the (polarizing) mystics throughout history has been the danger of needing to escalate the triggers, so to speak. That is, stronger and stronger stimuli are needed to produce the same response. If the sole good in life becomes the peak experience, and if all means to this end become good, and if more peak experiences are better than fewer, then one can force the issue, push actively, strive, and hunt, and fight for them. So they have often moved over into magic, into the secret and esoteric, into the exotic, the occult, the dramatic and effortful, the dangerous, the cultish. Healthy [MA 345] openness to the mysterious, the realistically humble recognition that we dont know much, the modest and grateful acceptance of gratuitous grace and of just plain good luck all these can shade over into the antirational, the antiempirical, the antiscientific, the antiverbal, the anticonceptual. The peak experience may then be exalted as the best or even the only path to knowledge, and thereby all the tests and verifications of the validity of the illumination may be tossed aside.
The possibility that the inner voices, the revelations, may be mistaken, a lesson from history that should come through loud and clear, is denied, and there is then no way of finding out whether the voices within are the voices of good or of evil. (George Bernard Shaws Saint Joan confronts this problem.) Spontaneity (the impulses from our best self) gets confused with impulsivity and acting out (the impulses from our sick self) and there is then no way to tell the difference.
Impatience (especially the built-in impatience of youth) dictates shortcuts of all kinds. Drugs, which can be helpful when wisely used, become dangerous when foolishly used. The sudden insight becomes all and the patient and disciplined working through is postponed or devalued. Instead of being surprised by joy, turning on is scheduled, promised, advertised, sold, hustled into being, and can get to be regarded as a commodity. Sex-love, certainly one possible path to the experience of the sacred, can become mere screwing, i.e., desacralized. More and more exotic, artificial, striving techniques may escalate further and further until they become necessary and until jadedness and impotence ensue.
The search for the exotic, the strange, the unusual, the uncommon, has often taken the form of pilgrimages, of turning away from the world, the Journey to the East, to another country or to a different Religion. The great lesson from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, and now also from the Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.
The rejection of a priestly caste that claimed to be exclusive [MA 346] custodians of a private hotline to the sacred was, in my opinion, a great step forward in the emancipation of mankind, and we have the mystics among others to thank for this achievement. But this valid insight can also be used badly when dichotomized and exaggerated by foolish people. They can distort it into a rejection of the guide, the teacher, the sage, the therapist, the counselor, the elder, the helper along the path to self-actualization and the realm of Being. This is often a great danger and always an unnecessary handicap.
[MA 348] Finally, I would now add to the peak-experience material a greater consideration, not only of nadir experiences, the psycholytic therapy of Grof (40), confrontations with and reprieves from death, postsurgical visions, etc., but also of the plateau experience. This is serene and calm, rather than poignantly emotional, climactic, autonomic response to the miraculous, the awesome, the sacralized, the Unitive, the B-Values. So far as I can now tell, the high-plateau experience always has a noetic and cognitive element, which is not always true for peak experiences, which can be purely and exclusively emotional. It is far more voluntary than peak experiences are. One can learn to see in this Unitive way almost at will. It then becomes a witnessing, an appreciating, what one might call a serene, cognitive blissfulness which can, however, have a quality of casualness and lounging about it.
There is more an element of surprise, and of disbelief, and of aesthetic shock in the peak experience, more the quality of having such an experience for the first time. I have pointed out elsewhere that the aging body and nervous system is less capable of tolerating a really shaking peak-experience. I would add here that maturing and aging means also some loss of first-time-ness, of novelty, of sheer unpreparedness and surprise.
Peak and plateau experiences differ also in their relations to death. The peak experience can often meaningfully itself be called a little death, a rebirth in various senses. The less intense plateau-experience is more often experienced as pure enjoyment and happiness, as let's say, a mother sitting quietly looking, by the hour, at her baby playing and marveling, wondering, philosophizing, not quite believing. She can experience this as a very pleasant, continuing, contemplative experience rather than as something akin to a climactic explosion, which then ends.
[MA 349] Very important today in a topical sense is the realization that plateau experiencing can be achieved, learned, earned by long hard work. It can be meaningfully aspired to. But I dont know of any way of bypassing the necessary maturing, experiencing, living, learning. All of this takes time. A transient glimpse is certainly possible in the peak experiences which may, after all, come sometimes to anyone. But, so to speak, to take up residence on the high plateau of Unitive consciousness, that is another matter altogether. That tends to be a lifelong effort. It should not be confused with the Thursday evening turn-on that many youngsters think of as the path to transcendence. For that matter, it should not be confused with any single experience. The spiritual disciplines, both the classical ones and the new ones that keep on being discovered these days, all take time, work, discipline, study, commitment.
There is much more to say about these states which are clearly relevant to the life of transcendence and the transpersonal, and to experiencing life at the level of Being. All I wish to do here with this brief mention is to correct the tendency of some to identify experiences of transcendence as only dramatic, orgasmic, transient, peaky, like a moment on the top of Mt. Everest. There is also the high plateau where one can stay turned-on.