Loving Oneness Now
WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT FOR YOUR LIFE?
Once we have discerned what is True from what is fake or false, and once we are vigilant about aligning ourselves with what is True and Real, each of us then has to decide what is our main personal goal for living here on Earth. It is important to realize that our goals and purposes in life are closely linked with needs, wants and desires. The goal of owning a nice house and home is closely linked with our needs for shelter, family bonds, status, comfort, safety, personal hygiene and even aesthetic elegance. We may say on our first visit to someone's house, "My, what a beautiful home you have." And some of us make it a major purpose in our lives to own a succession of bigger, better and finer homes.
Obviously there are many types of goals for one's life and these exist on many levels. Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) first postulated his Hierarchy of Needs in 1943. It is still the most well-known list, and we can use it as a loose framework for the rest of our discussion here. Maslow and others modified his Hierarchy over the years so this is a kind of composite list which should be read from the bottom up. Maslow pointed out that our needs must be satisfied from the lowest to the highest (8 before 7; 7 before 6; 6 before 5; etc.) This is not really the case, except, perhaps in those who are materialistically ego-driven in Western Cultures. Peace Pilgrim, who was a very spiritual woman, owned nothing and needed nothing (see Q2J). The examples given below are my own, although Maslow and other commentators may have used these words as well. However, what follows on this Page is not just another rehashing of Maslow's material by yet another psychologist. Why? Because God is a Singularity. Read on!
1. TRANSCENDENTAL NEEDS (e.g., spirituality, esoteric, non-material)
2. NEED FOR SELF-ACTUALIZATION (e.g., inner growth, peace, eliminating neuroses etc.)
3. AESTHETIC NEEDS (e.g., beauty, quality, elegance, harmony; enjoying art, music, etc.)
4. NEED FOR KNOWLEDGE AND TO UNDERSTAND (e.g., true education, curiosity, enquiry)
5. NEED FOR ESTEEM, RESPECT AND RECOGNITION (e.g., from parents, peers, teachers)
6. NEED FOR LOVE AND NEED-TO-BELONG (e.g., parents, spouse, children, friends, group)
7. NEED FOR SECURITY, PROTECTION AND SAFETY (e.g., by parents, society, peers)
8. PHYSICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL NEEDS (e.g., food, air, water, shelter, health, sex, etc.)
It is not my purpose here to elaborate in detail on the above list, or add to the examples I have already given. And I will assume that those who are using their own computer with an internet connection to access this website have already experienced the six lower needs in their lives and have to some extent satisfied them in various ways, or are still in the process of fulfilling them. In fact, if you are already reading this Page, you are probably already involved with the top two levels of the hierarchy, namely, self-actualization and spirituality.
EGO-ENTRAPMENT IS POSSIBLE ON ANY OF THE LEVELS OF THE HIERARCHY OF NEEDS
While we humans deliberately remain separated from God and Reality, our egos are usually powerful enough to entrap us and preoccupy us on any one of the above levels or a combination of them. Not infrequently this preoccupation becomes an psychological addiction and it is worth while to give examples of such ego-involved preoccupations. You will need to call in your power of discernment to realize that all these examples of preoccupation involve the ego even when they occur at the transcendent and self-actualization need levels. A need on any level is a need, and the title words of the above list (such as NEED FOR LOVE, NEED FOR SELF-ACTUALIZATION) of any of the levels do not imply that that need has been completely satisfied, realized or fulfilled. Please do not indulge in all-or-nothing (black or white) thinking in this section; there are many ego-shades of gray in these growth processes. Also note that entrapping preoccupations are not good or bad or "sinful" -- they just tend to absorb all one's attention at the expense of your discovering within yourself a wider spiritual Vision poetically described as, "the Kingdom of Heaven within you." The list below should be read from the top down.
PHYSICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL NEED EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going preoccupation with food, cooking, drinking, house and housing maintenance, sickness, healthiness, diets, exercise, and so on. Many of us get excessively hooked on physical and bodily needs and functions, almost all of which are just maintenance. Some preoccupations with physical activities may be mistakenly thought of as "high-level spiritual" -- for example, regular fasting, or physical pain and suffering. Most of these physical ego-preoccupations can become addictions if utilized to escape from anxiety and insecurity.
SECURITY, PROTECTION AND SAFETY NEED EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going preoccupation with locks and security systems, burglar-proof houses, crime and punishment, self-defense arts, other defenses, strong police and military, hand-guns, mace, guard dogs, high walls, lots of insurances, large nest-eggs, and so on. Because of deep inner insecurities and fears of being attacked, robbed, or violated some of us become excessively engrossed in protecting ourselves. This is a belief in the safety of separation and self-protection, not in the Safety of God.
LOVE AND THE NEED-TO-BELONG EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going preoccupation with getting egoic pseudo-love to fill your ego's love-bucket (see Section on Love-Buckets - G03), giving pseudo-love in order to get it back (if you don't love me, I won't love you), seeking love-substitutes such as money, possessions, pets, joining lots of social organizations, collecting people, excessive ego-gregariousness, talking a lot on the phone, lots of romantic relationships, and so on and on. These, in excess, are ego-gratifications which are substitutes for the inner Love of God.
ESTEEM, RESPECT AND RECOGNITION NEED EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going constant preoccupation with needing praise, approval, adulation, appreciation, applause, strokes, fishing for compliments, wanting recognition and validation, seeking and attaining fame, being the center of attention, running after "gold medals" of all kinds, showing off, shyness, needing respect, chasing honors and rewards, swelling with pride, being star-struck, desiring titles or higher rank, social climbing, knowing the right people, collecting celebrities, loving publicity; being vain, conceited, fashionable, learned, intelligent, or powerful all for show. These are all ways of trying to fill up one's ego-love-bucket (G03) with many kinds of pseudo-love coming in from the "outside" as a substitute for the inner Love of God.
NEED FOR KNOWLEDGE AND TO UNDERSTAND EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going preoccupation with knowledge of any kind which excludes God's Knowledge. This one is a little difficult to explain, and a lot of discernment is called for to understand the difference between seeking knowledge solely for the purposes of a wide variety of ego-gratifications, and seeking that same knowledge (and more) for understanding spiritual information and for Waking up. For example, do we read only novels or do we also read spiritual books? Do we get our college degree just to have an income, or do we also regard our work as a contribution to Awakening the human race? I remember the day a banker friend realized that enlightened banking could serve God's impoverished Children -- and followed through on the idea by giving loans to poor people. They proved to be more trustworthy than many affluent clients.
AESTHETIC NEED EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: This includes any strong, on-going preoccupation with aesthetic activities, hobbies and surroundings as ego-boosting mood-lifters. Unfortunately, all too often, we allow our involvements with and appreciation of aesthetic activities and perceptions to remain only at a very worldly level. We walk through a natural forest, gaze at a glorious sky, or stroke a warm body and do not see God there. We applaud a marvelous film or ballet without having seen God-in-Action. We listen to a song or a symphony without hearing the Sounds of God. We examine a split seed or a live cell with a microscope and are not in awe of God's Creation. Few of us realize we are immersed in the Singularity of God, and even fewer understand the full implications of that Fact, especially in terms of our individualized God-given Freedom -- even the Freedom we have to be unreal egos.
TRANSCENDENTAL NEEDS AS EGO-PREOCCUPATIONS: Any strong, on-going preoccupations with "spirituality" as ego-pursuits are included in this category. An ACIM student once said to me in a half-joking voice, "Alex, I want to Wake up before all my friends do!" Unfortunately, the ego is quick to climb onto its own version of the "spiritual bandwagon" and toot its trumpet, unless one is very vigilant. Any ego-satisfactions that accompany the process of Waking-up can sidetrack or stymie that process. Remember that the ego has to be dismantled (with the help of Spirit -- see G04) so that God can Wake us up -- once we are have no further interest in being egos. Gratitude and Love, not pride or "holier-than-thou" attitudes, are the hallmarks of the true Spiritual Christ or Buddha.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE NEEDY BEHAVIORS THAT ARE "SINFUL," WHICH GOD WILL, NO DOUBT, PUNISH?
Whether you are already on a spiritual path or just beginning to discover one, please do not assume that any of the above NEEDS are wrong, sinful, forbidden, naughty, or that you should rise above them by exerting only sheer willpower and perhaps eliminate them so as to "get into Heaven." Please understand that any behaviors that harm other people are only a signal that the "perpetrator" is psychologically ill and therefore needs psychospiritual therapy. (I admit here are rare exceptions such as, for example, identifiable neurological damage). In some recidivistic cases there may be a need for that person to be quarantined in comfortable confinement for as long as the psychospiritual therapy takes, even if it is a lifetime. Note, though, that punishment and ego-reconstruction therapies do not effect genuine cures, even though sometimes some symptoms may be successfully manipulated. In some cases there may be a natural maturation process going on, especially in teenagers and young adults (see E03). Also note that psychiatric medications mostly paper over and numb down some harmful symptoms and behaviors, usually at the cost of diminished psycho-physical functioning.
SHOULD WE NOT FEAR GOD?
Many traditional religions and other Parental Authority Systems usually inculcate in their followers a wide variety of dogmatic do's and don'ts and some even threaten Hellish consequences if these rules and rituals are not obeyed. God is pictured as a Firm polarized Parent Who loves you when you are "good" (i.e., you are always obedient) but Who punishes you when you are "sinful" (i.e., you disobey Him in some "bad" behavior). The major emotions behind this scenario are fear (as in, "Fear God's punishment"), as well as shame and guilt.
Once an ACIM student of mine named Alice, who was accompanied by her teenage daughter, was having a discussion with a fundamentalist religious friend about God destroying all the humans and animals on Earth with the exception of all the people and animals on Noah's Ark. Alice commented that she did not think that a Loving God would ever do that to His Children. The friend replied, "Well, God is a Just Parent who rewards goodness, but He punishes His Children when they are sinful; Alice, don't you reward and punish your children to keep them on a righteous path?" Before Alice could reply, her daughter chimed in and answered the question by saying, "Yes, Mom does discipline us, but she does not put us in the shower and drown us!"
Remember, God is Omnipotent, and if He sincerely wanted us to be "good" we would all be "perfectly good" humans. But God gave us Freedom -- so why would He then want to punish us for exercising the Freedom He Himself endowed us with.
Would God say to us, "Thou shalt not kill" and then not follow His Own commandment? Is God the kind of double-standard Parent Who says, "Do as I say but not as I do?"
WHAT IS THE SPIRITUAL ANSWER TO FULFILLING OUR NEEDS ON ALL OUR EIGHT NEED LEVELS?
The spiritual answer to all our needs on all Maslow's levels is to work your way through the need-levels in any of the particular permutations or combinations you individually experience them -- but with one essential proviso. You must ask for help from your Higher Self, your Guide, and/or God as you unfold and grow without becoming permanently hooked on any one or more needs. In terms of what to do about needs, there is much confused thinking out there in ego-land, most of it about addictions, preoccupations, ingrained habits, obsessional behaviors and psychological dependence.
But before I address these issues from a psychospiritual point of view I would like to point out that Jesus ate food and manifested fish, he stayed with his friends (such as Lazarus) in nice houses, he probably owned a house in Capernaum, he has said recently he did experience sex, he drank wine, he had an extended family and many friends he Loved, he was exposed to adulation and even abuse, he was tempted by his ego to seek political power, he was highly educated and spoke several language fluently, and he appreciated the beauty of flowers. But, in none of these fulfilled activities did Jesus become preoccupied with, hooked on any of them. Thus his spiritual mission here could unfold unimpeded by distractions and addictions to mundane wants, needs and desires. (See: Jesus the Christ Section D1) I would only add that Gautama the Buddha, as a very educated sophisticated crown prince experienced the human condition fully, then, after trying asceticism decided that modest moderation in all things, together with persistent meditation, was the key to Enlightenment. (See: Gautama the Buddha Section D2)
Of course, you are Free to eradicate various natural and acquired needs if you wish to do so, but if you decide to live only on Light, become totally non-sexual, or live alone in a simple unadorned room, please do not let your prideful ego climb onto the proverbial "spiritual bandwagon" to trumpet your virtue, make the asceticism a preoccupation, or enforce your ascetic behavior by means of your repressive inner authority system.
Ask your Self the following questions: Is this my ego's will Father, not Yours!" In other words, whose controlling activity is being exercised in this asceticism -- God's or your ego's?" Is this just an external effort, and a display of virtue on the part of your ego, or is it a spontaneous effortless "outcome" from an inner deep Love and Peacefulness? These questions lead us to ask...
DOES REPRESSION AND PROHIBITION EXTINGUISH NEEDS, WANTS AND DESIRES?
No! At the most, the repression and prohibition of needs, wants and desires merely causes the people involved (both the Parental Authority System PAS, and those on the receiving end) to satisfy or fulfill those needs and desires in secret, usually in distorted "immature" ways. There is an erroneous belief in many religions and spiritual groups that Waking up or Enlightenment is solely the result of uprooting and totally destroying in oneself (and if possible others, such as children) an assortment of needs, desires and wants -- especially those that the religion or group consider "sins."
Of course, this expunging procedure, which relies on egoic willpower, dominance, guilt, fear and some mix of punishment and rewards merely drives the desires, impulses and behaviors underground where, all too often they fester and erupt in sporadic uncontrollable ways. This festering is often true in the case of repressed aggression in infancy and childhood -- see E03. In some cases these eruptions may be actually harmful to their owner-ego or to other people, while in other cases they may surface as seemingly "benign" shameful guilt-laden events. This is mostly the situation with our basic drives and natural needs, (such as food, sex, nudity, excretion, etc.,) when they are turned into "sins," often in the context of specific situations or particular locations.
Double standards of need satisfaction, behavioral false facades and hypocrisy abound in all societies, governments, institutions and families around the globe, with the result that almost every human being lives a triple life, one being our public persona, the second being our easy-going informality when with close friends and family, while the third is comprised of our very private secret activities. In the area of food these could be (1) pretending to be a well-mannered modest eater, (2) eating our "normal" portions casually, and (3) secretly eating favorite foods when nobody is around. I once had a client who firmly believed that when no one witnessed him eating in secret, it was not happening and did not count! When the external PAS did not see it, there was no guilt!
DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP ALL MY FAVORITE SATISFACTIONS?
Definitely not! That is, unless they are truly harmful to your physical, psychological or spiritual health, growth and well-being. By all means give up smoking, drugs, alcohol addiction (however mild), out-of-control debt, unnecessary food intake, and other damaging preoccupations. Join support groups and/or seek professional help, and seek the help of Spirit too. The key term here is "truly harmful" but do not use your PAS to ascertain harmfulness. Ask your Guide!
DO NOT TURN NATURAL NEEDS, WANTS, DESIRES AND THEIR REGULAR SATISFACTIONS INTO SUBSTITUTES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
This is the key. When we are preoccupied with our natural needs, wants and desires we have turned them into "idols" which we "worship" in place of God. Moreover, these ego-preoccupations have become substitute satisfactions for the Love, Light, Peace and Joy of God which we have excluded in our on-going separation from Him.
Therefore, even as we do enjoy satisfying our everyday needs, wants and desires, we need not become preoccupied with them. Rather, relegate them to a much lower level of priority compared with our strong continuous desire to end our collective and individual separations from God Who is our Creator and Source, and in Whom we Live. This is a subtle discernment, inasmuch as we need not deny our basic needs, but then we also do not need to idolize them.
Finally, once we Consciously Live in Loving Oneness with God, as individuated Minds within His Infinite Mind-as-Such NOW, we have unlimited access to Everything Everywhere in the Universe of Universes, including ecstatic Love, Joy and Happiness. That is True Abundance.
So, in the light of all the above information, ask yourself, "Do I want to Live in Loving Oneness with God, or do it want to continue living with the insanity of my fictitious ego?" If we choose for God, our Waking up only takes "a little willingness."
Loving Oneness Now -- Copyright © 2007 Alexander Bannatyne, PhD