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Humanity's Greatest Challenges Aren't Technical, They're Human

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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is incomplete as we commonly know it. Later in his life, Maslow wrote about a stage beyond self-actualization. Nichol Brandford explains how to arrive at this final place.

Many people think that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stopped with self-actualization. And that’s not actually true. He had another piece that was on top of self-actualization and that was self-transcendence. He just didn’t publish it widely before he passed away. It was something he started working on towards the end and so he published the hierarchy of needs before he finished his work on self-transcendence. He was one of the first people really to track flow and to track some of the more interesting and advanced altered states that human babies can get to. Things that you would find the terminology really similar to things that you’ve heard advanced meditators describe. And so he was working on self-transcendence. And he just didn’t publish it. So there’s actually another level on top of that hierarchy of needs. And so when I think of human psychology I really think of human psychology as a spectrum and it’s not a series of islands or unique locations. It’s really sort of a spectrum. And on one end you have what I call areas that require human support. So this is when people are facing severe stress, severe anxiety and depression. And then in the middle is what I call the human condition. And so that is loneliness, happiness, connection, empathy. The human condition is where we learn how to deal with our first heartbreak and the first time that we fall in love.

The human condition is where we deal with sadness and betrayal and loss. Basically all the things that happen to you as you grow up through life. The full spectrum of human emotion. That is the human condition. And there’s an infinite number of songs on the radio and poems and art that’s about the human condition. So that’s there. And then on this other side which I think really maps to self-transcendence and Maslow’s later work is the part of the people in the world who are really pushing on human psychology and what are the limits? Where are our boundaries? What is the frontier of human psychology? And I think a lot of direction that we get is from the contemplative communities around the world who really have been exploring and pushing on human psychology for as long as humans have been organized. And pushing on what it is, what does it mean to be human. The other day I talked to a guy who now has three Guinness Book records on endurance sports. And he meditates the entire time. And he just swam the English Channel in a Speedo and he meditated the whole time. So, you know, people are using mind training, meditation and other things to push into abilities that right now, today, one could say are limited to the few. Read the full transcript here.

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