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Self-Actualization for the Benefit of the World

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Message Blair Gelbond

In the last analysis, the current global crisis is a psychospiritual crisis; it reflects the level of consciousness evolution of the human species. It is, therefore, hard to imagine that it could be resolved without a radical inner transformation of humanity on a large scale and its rise to a higher level of emotional maturity and spiritual awareness... Radical psychospiritual transformation of humanity is not only possible, but is already underway.

Stanislav Grof


Psychologist Abraham Maslow argued that most people are suffering from "a psychopathology of normality." He acknowledged the apparent rarity of self-actualized people, and sought to study the most psychologically healthy among us.

Self-Development and our World

In the '60s and '70s there was a relatively steep divide between individuals and groups who were politically focused (toward progressive goals) on the one hand, and those who were focused on expanding their awareness and becoming more whole. Each group felt that the other was missing the point. We can no longer afford this split.

It is no longer enough to bemoan or even document the state of the world. If we aspire to become catalysts in a world aching for wholeness, we are obligated to, as Gandhi suggested, "become the change we want to see." Nothing less will do. Only our wholeness and integration can create a climate in which others feel safe to let their own yearning for this state of being find expression.

Beyond this, how can we call on others to fulfill their highest potential if we have not gone through some of the fire of transformation ourselves? We need in other words to face our own shadow... to - as Sam Keen has written - make:

"an intricate study of the myriad ways in which we disown, deny, and project our selfishness, cruelty, greed, and so on onto others." This is not an endeavor for the faint of heart.

Our life must become our message. And we must find ways and means for our lives to inspire others.

Although each of us has an important contribution to make, what the world needs most is people who are as actualized and creative as possible. In a study by the current writer entitled, "Self-Actualization and Unselfish Love," the results demonstrated the absence of validity regarding the widely held belief in the essential opposition between "selfishness" and altruism.

It appears instead that the process of regarding oneself highly - with a sense of active caring and affirmation - far from being "selfish" and a turning away from others - allows a simultaneous opening of oneself toward others.

This research also emphasized Maslow's distinction between transcending and non-transcending self-actualizers. Maslow had added a further step beyond self-actualization, which he called" self-transcendence." He concluded that self-transcendence occurs at the "very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness."

Transcending self-actualizers live, so to speak, at plateau levels of transcendence or unity consciousness. Maslow described Aldous Huxley as an example of a transcending self-actualizer. He saw Eleanor Roosevelt as a non-transcending self-actualizer, who was effective in the world, but limited to this plateau level.

We are living in times when the darkness that has been hiding in the shadows is becoming visible. We are part and parcel of the world; naturally, as individuals, we too, have areas of darkness.

Self-actualization entails actualizing our potential: becoming aware of and owning all of who we are and can be. One aspect of this process is a willingness to acknowledge the parts of ourselves we avoid or deny, especially to ourselves. Similar to Keen, Jung said:

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I work as a psychotherapist with an emphasis on transformational learning - a blend of psychoanalytic and transpersonal approaches, and am the author of Self Actualization and Unselfish Love and co-author of Families Helping Families: Living with (more...)

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