Transcendence – Self Actualization

When I saw this was a virtue of strength, I was a little pessimistic. I was wondering how transcendence could be a strength, muchless a virtue, but since this blog is “How to be the person that people want to be around.” I have stated this before, I am not there yet, so this is a learning experience for me as well. But how does transcendence work?

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Like I said I was a little pessimistic, because of what I have experienced in my past. I remember working in Sedona Arizona – at the height of the “New Age Movement.” There were self proclaimed yogis and shamen, I met people that believed crystals could do everything from balance themselves to fixing their car. I have met “Angels,” mystics and even a couple who claimed they were from another planet and piloted the “mothership.” 

They all talked about transcending to a higher astral plane. They didn’t seem all that, and I felt they were all humbug. However, is there something to this state of transcendence? Can transcendence really be a virtue of strength, or is this whole thing just hogwash? I’ll let you be the judge.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

To understand the idea of Transcendence, we need to go over Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow mapped out the needs that people have. He described them as deficiency needs and growth needs. Deficiency needs are Physical  or physiological needs, security and safety, social needs, and esteem needs. Then there are growth needs: Cognitive needs, aesthetic needs, self actualization needs, transcendence needs. We will look at these separately.

Basic needs

Physical needs: These are basic survival needs – in other words, these are basic to life. If these are not satisfied, then the human body cannot function correctly. These are: food, drink, clothing, shelter, warmth, sex and sleep.

Security and Safety needs: When this need is met, the people experience order, predictability and control. This can be fulfilled with family and society, such as with medical care, police, and schools.

Physiological needs

Social needs: This need is for love and for feelings that you belong. This is the need for friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, the ability to give and receive affection and being part of a social group (girls night out).

Esteem needs: Maslow separated this need into two classifications: Esteem for oneself such as dignity, achievement, mastery and independence. The second is for reputation or respect from others.

Growth needs

The growth needs require uncommon qualities. These qualities are independence, awareness creativity, originality and courage.

Cognitive needs: knowledge, understanding, curiosity and exploration. Because we as humans need to increase our intelligence; with this quality, we gain a better understanding of the world and those around us.

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Aesthetic needs: Beauty is all around us, this quality helps us not only see the beauty, balance and form, but to find it and appreciate it.

Self Actualization needs: The realization of potential, self fulfillment, personal growth and peak experiences. This is the desire to accomplish everything that a person can do.

Transcendence needs: A person is motivated by values which transcend beyond personal self. This is where they stop thinking about themselves and start valuing others, helping others and being others centric. Transcendent people are also intune with nature and they are closer to God through communion with him.

However the grown needs can be difficult for some people, because it can lead them to thinking that life is meaningless or even the extent of their lives and even the end of their own life. Because they cannot handle this psychologically, they never progress past the basic and physiological needs.

“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Ecclesiates 1:14

Transcendence and Self Actualization is difficult, the road is long and difficult. The journey will definitely tell you something about yourself. Some people cannot make it that far, and that is alright for them. Some people will go all the way and it might take them an entire lifetime to get there. Because it is a difficult path, it is a true sign of strength and a virtue.


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