What is Happiness? (Part 6)

Continuing with my previous post regarding self-actualization, Maslow asserts, “An important existential problem is posed by the fact that self-actualizing persons (and all people in their peak-experiences) occasionally live out-of-time and out-of-the-world (atemporal and aspatial) even though mostly they must live in the outer world.  Living in the inner psychic world … i.e., the world of experience, of emotion, of wishes and fears and hopes, of love, of poetry, art, and fantasy, is different from living in and adapting to the non-psychic reality which runs by laws he never made and which are not essential to his nature even though he has to live by them. … The person who is not afraid of this inner, psychic world, can enjoy it to such an extent that it may be called Heaven by contrast to the more effortful, fatiguing, externally responsible world of “reality,” of striving and coping, of right and wrong, of truth and falsehood.”

The key point that Maslow is making is the following: those individuals at this final level of human development, reached by less than 1% of Americans by Maslow’s own estimate, have acquired certain human qualities through preparation by family and society, social interactions, activities leading to confidence and prestige, the acquisition of virtues, and the fulfillment of a personal mission or destiny.  This existence is one of Heaven – a world without effort, fatigue, striving, or coping.  Such is a life determined by the individual and not a life lived by the laws of others.  After all, this is Maslow’s final level of human development with no further human needs and desires to be satisfied.  A life that is lived absent any further needs or desires is truly a superhuman condition.

More to come!

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