Thursday, June 14, 2007

Elusive Nirvana

Life is a constant tug-of-war between belonging and standing apart.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is depicted as a pyramid (copied from Wikipedia) starting at Physiological -> Safety -> Love/Belonging -> Esteeem -> Self-Actualization.

Even though I don’t completely disagree with the theory, I don’t think it is as straight and simple as is depicted by a pyramid. My observations show that it is range of mountains to conquer rather than a peak to surmount.

Each starts off with their own pyramids to climb. Given that each of us is unique in our preferences, needs, circumstances, our pyramids differ. Each one has different footprints for the 5 components that make our needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem, self-actualization). We constantly strive to climb to the top of our pyramids. And yet, as we climb up, on the way and in the process, we change our circumstances, our environment, our needs and hence the pyramid itself. The pyramid is a dynamic entity.

To simplify, we start on our climb up, we acquire the basic needs and finally a sense of belonging to our environment. Once we belong, we immediately strive to be perceived as 'unique' - a class apart, probably this comes from trying to fulfill the need for 'esteem'. As we acquire a sense of esteem and associated uniqueness, we start disassociating ourselves from our current environment and start identifying with a different set of people/ class/ society/ circumstances. As the dissociation becomes stronger, we hop on to the new environment.

In the new environment with all its associated 'newness' and awkwardness (which is really a new or modified pyramid) we start the same cycle by trying hard to belong .. And then to prove that we are unique and finally un-belong by moving to a yet another pyramid.

This is the circle of life - two steps forward, one step back. The 'Nirvana' or "Self Actualization' remains for ever far and elusive.

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