This lesson is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook Two: The Healing.
So far in this workbook, we have looked at key aspects of human development and pathology that have to be addressed if one is to proceed forward towards healing and connection. As identified in this workbook, the most important things to do are a) get help if you need it, b) detoxify your environment, c) analyze and address your addictions, d) work on removing self-deception and lying so you can be honest with yourself and others about what needs to be done, and e) identify and remove ideology. Of course, all this does not have to be done at once. These five healing items represent a considerable amount time and work. It is impossible to accomplish all of them in a short period of time.
We should note, it is not just that these focus points require time and effort. Most important to understand, each of these aspects of healing require ongoing and iterative personal and collective change. To put this another way, all the work does not fall to you. For the planet to make progress towards healing and connection, you need to make personal change, that is true; however, these personal changes must be accompanied simultaneously by incremental collective change as well, otherwise only limited personal progress can be made. You can make improvements in your home environment, for example, but if you go into a toxic soup at school, work, or in your social environments, you will take ongoing damage all the same.
Put another way, you can only go as far and as fast as the world around you is going. For you to make full progress towards healing and connection, the world has to improve as well. Keep this in mind if sometimes you feel like your progress is not as fast as you like. Do not carry all the weight and responsibility of change on your own two shoulders. Ultimately, it is a collective effort.
With that said, it is now time to turn our attention to a more positive aspect of the healing and connection process, and that is our human needs. It is very important to understand, we all have human needs. It is also important to understand, if you want to heal and connect, heck, if we want your kids to grow and realize their full human and spiritual potential and not become sick, diminished, and stunted human beings, it is important to make sure that all your human needs are met, in full, one hundred percent of the time.
We realize that some people may think this is a strident statement; nevertheless, it is true. The human physical unit, like other physical things on this planet, is a growing thing. Growing things have needs and if the thing is going to grow up healthy and strong, all its needs must be satisfactorily met, period. If you do not meet all the needs of a growing thing, that thing will not grow to its full potential, and in fact may become stunted, or even die.
This is not rocket science and should be obvious to anybody who grows anything, like plants, poultry, or even human beings. If you do not meet the nutritional needs of plants, for example, if the plants you are trying to grow do not get enough sunlight, nitrogen, water, and oxygen–if, in other words, you do not satisfactorily meet all their needs–they stunt and die, period. This is not open to debate. Either you meet the needs of the things you are growing, or they do not achieve full potential. It is as simple as that.1
When it comes to plants, it is easy to specify what they need. Plants need proper soil PH, sufficient sunlight and water, nitrogen, oxygen, and so on. The needs of humans, on the other hand, are not so easy to understand. Humans are more complex than plants. Humans have many things that plants do not have, like muscles, internal organs, nerve cells, brain structures, and so on. Consequently, human needs go beyond the simpler, primarily physical needs of planets.
Of course, at this point, the question becomes, what are our human needs?
When asked this question, psychologists and would probably turn to the work of Abraham Maslow for insight. Maslow, who was a psychologist active in the 1940s through 1970s, had two lists of needs, two hierarchies of human need, that he used to specify our human needs, these were the Hierarchy of Basic Needs,2 and the Hierarchy of Cognitive Needs.3
Maslow’s first hierarchy was his hierarchy of basic needs.4 This hierarchy initially included five sets of basic needs, including our physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. Later on,5 Maslow added the high-level need for “transcendence,” which on the LP we simply define as the need for connection. We include a graphic of the basic needs below.
Hierarchy of Basic Needs
Maslow’s second hierarchy of needs was his hierarchy of cognitive needs. In this hierarchy, Maslow placed two needs, the need to know and the need to understand.6 According to Maslow, the need to know is our basic, biologically rooted need to know things, like why is the sky blue, what’s 2+2, what are the sparkly lights in the sky, do I have a soul, etc. Maslow said our need to know was powerful, but it wasn’t our only cognitive need. Maslow said that once we know something, we also are impelled to understand that thing.7 According to Maslow:
The facts that we acquire, if they are isolated or atomistic, inevitably get theorized about, and either analyzed or organized or both. This process has been phrased by some as the search for “meaning.” We shall then postulate a desire to understand, to systematize, to organize, to analyze, to look for relations and meanings.8
Hierarchy of Cognitive Needs
Maslow would say these cognitive needs, like all needs on both hierarchies, were rooted in the evolutionary biology of the organism. That is most certainly true. The biological nature of our needs is obvious in the case of the physical needs for food, shelter, and safety, which are clearly required for the biological health of an organism; but it is also true of the higher needs, and our cognitive needs as well. Knowing and understanding your environment is most definitely a survival thing, and an instinctual thing. An organism that does not know and understand its environment, an organism that cannot meet its needs and adapt, is an organism not long for this world. Therefore, Maslow felt that the need to know and the need to understand are biologically rooted and instinctually driven, just like the more basic needs, like the need for shelter, or food and water.
It should be noted, Maslow was not saying anything particularly revolutionary or new when he said humans have cognitive needs. For example, way before Maslow, Einstein said that “There is a mystical drive in man [sic] to learn about his [sic] own existence.”9 To be sure, Maslow based his belief in these cognitive needs on his clinical research work, and rooted that in evolutionary biology, but even without that, the existence of these needs is self-evident. Everyone with a child above the age of two can see that the need to know and understand exist and are powerful drives. Whenever a child asks the questions “What is that?” or “Why is that?” or “Why am I here?” they are attempting to know and understand.
Over the decades since its conceptualization, Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs has come under fire, not because he was wrong about the needs themselves, but because the needs as they actually operate are not really organized into a hierarchy, as Maslow suggested. You do not meet the bottom needs first, and then only work on actualization and transcendence later on. If you want to be healthy and whole, you have to work on all the needs simultaneously.
Another problem with Maslow’s hierarchies is that over the decades, Maslow’s second hierarchy of cognitive needs has been totally ignored by psychologists and others. When you look up Maslow’s hierarchies on the Internet or in scholarly journals, you inevitably find only the basic hierarchy of needs, and only the earlier one, without the need for transcendence. Psychologists seem to be unaware of the second hierarchy, and often seem to ignore transcendence, for reasons we will not go into here.10
Maslow’s two hierarchies of needs are interesting and surely useful for conceptualizing human needs, but the conceptualization needs requires an update.
For one, the notion that these needs are organized into a hierarchy has to go. The needs are neither hierarchical nor prepotent.11 Instead, our needs are equi-potent, meaning we have to meet them all at the same time.
For two, separation of basic and cognitive needs into two separate hierarchies has to end, not only because there is really no good reason to separate them like that, but also, as we can see, separating them allows people to ignore the important cognitive needs. For these reasons, i.e., in order to eliminate the hierarchy and in order to avoid the avoidance of cognitive needs, we reconceptualize Maslow’s needs into a single integrated list of Seven Essential Needs. They exist and need to be satisfied all at the same time. The complete list is provided below.
Seven Essential Needs
- Physiological needs — The needs for food, water, air, sex,…
- Safety and stability needs — The needs for safe and stable environments
- Love and attachment needs —The needs for unconditional love, support, and belonging. The need for attachment to a family, group, society.
- Truth needs — The need to know and understand the world
- Self-Esteem/Power — The need to feel good about oneself, to feel powerful and efficacious in the world.12 Meeting this need requires freedom and support.
- Alignment —The need to be in alignment with your Highest Self##. The need to express who you truly are. The need to actualize our inner self and potential.13
- Connection —The need to make a strong and pure connection with your Highest Self.
A little more detail
The seven essential needs listed above are, indeed, essential needs. Some of the needs above are, however, categories of need. The categories themselves can contain several needs. Most of these categories are self-explanatory, but it is worthwhile looking at them in a bit more detail.
The physiological needs, for example, are the biological needs of your body for food, water, air, etc. These are important needs because without them you cannot physically survive.
The safety and stability needs are your biological needs for security, stability, steady finances, steady work, the resources you need to get by and live, etc. These needs are important not only because not meeting them (i.e. not having a good job, not having a stable environment) causes toxic stress which damages your physical unit, but also because if you spend too much time working and struggling and fighting against chaos, you have no energy left for other things, like family, love, alignment, and connection. It goes without saying that if you are working sixty or seventy hours per week, if you do not live in a stable environment, if you do not have enough money to live comfortably, you will not have a lot of energy for other things. Safety and stability also means an environment without violence of any sort. As noted in the chapter “E” is for environment, this means no physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, or spiritual abuse, period.
Your love and attachment needs are your needs for unconditional love and support, your need to belong to and be attached to a solid family (ideally), or a supportive group of friends (second best). This is a biological need just like all your other needs. Humans are biologically wired, for survival reasons, to need to be a part of families, to need to be part of groups. This is not only because children remain dependent on adults for at least three decades, but also because it impossible for a person on their own to survive “out in the woods.” Even a sole-survivor type of guy still needs things like shovels, guns, bullets, axes, and so on, that can only be produced with the help of a society of some sort. Humans need a family, a community, and an economy, to survive, they need to be attached to groups, and this need has been programmed in by evolution.
Of course, love is not just biology and attachment. As you will learn later, your Highest Self is a part of a powerful, compassionate, expansive, loving, and connected Fabric of Consciousness and the love in that is intense and cosmic. Thus, your need for love is not just a need to receive love, but also a need to express that love. Your body has biology that allows you to fully express that cosmic love, though it is shut down in most people by toxic socialization. It can be restarted, however, as part of healing and connection practice. As part of your psychological and spiritual growth, you will restart it. Just keep in mind, when that love starts to flow, do not cut if off for any reason. Allow the love and compassion to push on through.14
Moving right along, your truth needs are your human need to know and understand the world. As we have seen, these needs were suggested as important by Abraham Maslow in his second hierarchy of cognitive needs. Maslow suggested two needs there, the need to know and the need to understand, but we feel these two needs are really reflective of a single need for truth, which is self-evident. You can see this need express itself even in very small children as they grow up with questions about this and that, and you can see it in adults as they struggle to understand the world and get at the truth.
Just like all your other needs, your truth needs are biologically rooted needs important for individual and collective survival. An organism that does not know and understand its environment is an organism not long for this world.
In addition to your love and attachment needs, you also have self-esteem and power needs. These are your needs to feel good about yourself, like you are a good person, that you have competence and skill, that you are growing and manifesting your full potential. Again, this is a biological need, a programmed instinct. We are all driven to be good at things, whether that is hunting, gathering, or corporate finance. The need to be good at things, the need to build talent and competence, makes survival in the world more likely. In earlier times, this would have meant getting good at hunting, gathering, growing food, and making the things we need to survive. In the modern world, there are many more things to get good at, like engineering, psychology, teaching, and so on. It does not matter what you get good at. In order to fulfill this need for self-esteem, you just have to get good at something.
The need to be competent and feel good about yourself extends and is part of your need to have power in the world. All living organisms need to feel confident in their self and existence, and they need to have the power to work and create the world that they want. When you have power, you have the ability to survive, thrive, and create the world you need. This is an important and programmed biological function. Even amoebas have the power to influence and create the world they live in.15 Humans have the same need.
After your self-esteem and power needs comes your need for alignment. Alignment is your first, how shall we say, fully spiritual need. This need is essentially the need to be “synced-up” with your Highest Self, to be in alignment with your Highest Self.16
It can be hard to wrap your head around what alignment actually means, but alignment is easiest to conceptualize by using an autonomous vehicle metaphor. An autonomous vehicle is a car with artificial intelligence (AI) capable of monitoring and driving the car. In this metaphor, you think of your body like it is the car and you think of your bodily ego like the car’s AI. You think of your Higher Self (your soul, or Atman) as if it is the driver of that car.
To be in alignment, the car and its AI must do what the driver wants. If the driver turns the wheel left and the car goes left, the vehicle is in alignment. If the driver programs the car to go to Costco and the car goes to Costco, the car is in alignment. On the other hand, if you tell your car to take you to Costco and instead it drives you downtown to the park, your car is out of alignment. To be in alignment, the car must be doing what the driver wants it to do, one hundred percent of the time.
It is the same with your physical body. For your physical body to be in alignment with your Highest Self, your body must do what your soul wants it to do and be what your soul wants it to do.
This sounds like something that should be relatively simple, but it is not. Just like there are reasons why your car might be out of alignment with the intent of the driver (malfunction, breakdown, etc.), there are reasons why your physical unit and your bodily ego might be out of alignment with the consciousness the drives the physical unit.
For example, if your Highest Self, your soul, took a body to be a musician and you are spending your life working as a mechanic, perhaps because your parents did not have the time or energy to support your early training, or because you have to work a hard job to support a family, you are out of alignment.
On a more psychological/spiritual level, if your physical vehicle is damaged by toxicity and abuse, and if as a consequence of that abuse you are angry, resentful, and lashing out violently towards others all the time, you will also be out of alignment, because your soul wants none of that. Your soul, your Highest Self, is a loving, compassionate, being of pure light and consciousness. Just like you do not want your car suddenly veering off into a crowd of bystanders and hurting them, your soul does not want its body being hurtful and mean to others.
Alignment is a very important spiritual concept and we will talk more about alignment in LP Workbook Three when we focus in on the need for awakening, accountability, atonement, alignment, and some of the other key aspects of connection. For now, just keep in mind that your body has a built-in need to seek alignment with your Higher Self. Just like you have to put energy into meeting all your other needs, you also have to put energy into meeting your need for alignment. As we will see in more detail in LP Workbook Three, this means not only finding out what you came here to do and doing that, but also acting and thinking in concordance with what your Highest Self wants you to do.
Finally, in addition to your spiritual need for alignment, you also have a spiritual need for connection. As explained in LP Workbook One, connection means a connection between your bodily ego and spiritual ego. As always, this essential need for connection is biologically programmed, for several reasons, most important of which is that being connected makes you smarter, more capable, and more adaptable.
For some this might be a radical statement, and in a way it is. Although scholars have researched connection (i.e. mystical experience) over the years, there hasn’t been much focus on how connection might enhance creativity, mental health, and even intelligence. Even so, commentators have, over the years, pointed out that connection brings insight, enlightenment, and even enhanced cognitive ability.17 This makes logical sense. If your higher self is an entity of vast cosmic intelligence and wisdom, which I would argue it is, then making a connection to that higher consciousness is definitely going to make you, or rather, your bodily ego, smarter. Obviously, anything that makes your body smarter enhances your ability to survive and thrive. Thus, because it enhances adaptability and survival, over the course of evolution, your body has been programmed to seek and establish connection. Your body has a need to connect.
And note, no matter what you might have heard in the seminary, secret temple, or Masonic lodge, this is not something that only a “chosen few” can do. Connection enhances survivability and so, as many scholars and mystics have commented upon over the years, the ability to connect is a natural talent of human beings.18 All living physical things have the ability and need to connect with Consciousness, even something as simple as amoebas.
Put another way, connection is never a question of talent or ability. It is just a question of the natural and healthy development of the physical unit. As long as you meet all the needs of the physical unit, connection happens automatically, in little snippets when you are younger, but more fully once your brain and central nervous system is fully developed, typically in your late 30s or early 40s.19 I say “usually” here because, as will become clearer as we progress through our study, on this planet, your ability to connect is thwarted by a toxic socialization process that, among other things, is violent, neglectful, and often chaotic. Toxic socialization causes physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage to the physical unit. It is this damage, and not some superstitious notions of “chosen ones,” or “grace,” or whatever, that is what prevents the adult from achieving a strong, consistent, and pure connection to consciousness.
To summarize what we have said up until this point in this unit, humans have seven essential needs. These needs are essential in every sense of the word. If you want to be healthy and whole, if you want to be happy and content, if you want to develop and express your true power and potential, if you want to enter what we call “Growth Mode,” which we will discuss in more detail in the final unit “G” is for Growth, you must have all these needs satisfied.
It is not rocket science.
If you are gardener, you know that if you want your plants to grow up healthy and strong, you must meet all their essential needs. Similarly, if you are growing humans, you must meet all their essential needs. If you do not, the physical unit will not reach its full potential and may even, in the worst cases of violence, neglect, chaos, and indoctrination, stunt, diminish, and even die.
To be sure, a lot more could be said about the consequences of toxic socialization and the failure of human society to fulfill all our essential needs. As we will see when we explore the LP model of mental health, these consequences are severe and include Primary Damage, Secondary Damage, and long-term biological and behavioural adaptations to the chronic trauma of violence and neglect. You can find more in-depth discussions of the LP model of mental health on the LP Readings page. For now, it is important to understand three things.
Number one, understand that meeting all the essential needs is not an individual, maternal/paternal, or even familial challenge. That is, you cannot meet all your essential needs on your own, and you certainly cannot meet the needs of your children (if you have them) on your own. The essential needs are comprehensive and require ongoing service and attention. In order for human needs to be fully met, we need an advanced economy and advanced society geared towards satisfaction of these needs.
It is a question of efficiency and economies of scale.
Unless you want to live as a hunter-gatherer out in the woods, in which case you will only have time to meet your most basic of needs, for food, shelter, and security, you need others to help you meet your needs. Having others involved means you do not have to spend your days struggling to meet your basic needs. Instead of spending all your time hunting, gathering, maintaining your shelter, and so on and so forth, you can buy food from the store, hire a carpenter, and otherwise engage in trade, thereby freeing up some time up for other pursuits. Having others involved means you do not have to cut your own trees, make your own wood, and build your own home, you can rely on others to help you with that. Having others involved means you can create efficiencies of scale.
Having “others” involved in the satisfaction of your human needs is what an economy and business are all about. A business is ideally created to meet some sort of need, like the need for bananas, or bread, or entertainment. Businesses exchange goods and services in an economy that is, also ideally, geared to meeting our collective human needs In an economy, we all work together doing the things we are good at in order to efficiently provide for each other’s needs. You might work as a nurse, tending to people’s healing and other needs. I might work as an educator, attending to your needs for education. Others might work as carpenters or electricians, attending to people’s need for shelter and things to sit on. Working together we efficiently meet our needs.
Number two, understand that the human species currently has the productive, technological, economic, financial, and administrative expertise to create a system that can provide sustainable satisfaction of the essential needs of all the billions of human beings now living on the planet. The only thing stopping humanity from turning its amazing technological, economic, financial, and administrative expertise towards full satisfaction of humanity’s seven essential needs is, and this is the third thing you need to understand, that our global society is currently geared not towards satisfaction of essential human needs, but towards facilitating the unfettered accumulation and wealth and the private enrichment of a few very addicted,20 very privileged people. As the former CEO of U.S. Steel infamously said, “U.S. Steel is in the business to make profits (i.e. accumulate labour), not to make steel”21
Without going into a heavy-duty analysis about the old energy System of accumulation and how it distorts human activity, frustrates human needs, and creates addicts of us all, let’s just say that while this old energy System remains in place, nobody can have their needs fully satisfied. This is so not only because the System as it is currently setup impoverishes the many in order to enrich the few, but also because the System distorts human needs and undermines human development in order to preserve itself and the accumulation that it enables.
Full satisfaction of our essential human needs requires humanity to move beyond the current economic system. Full satisfaction of human needs requires an advanced and integrated global economy that is geared not towards private accumulation of abstracted labour (i.e. money), but towards satisfaction of humanity’s essential needs. As long as the planet remains in the hands of a few increasingly destructive addicts who have hijacked the collective resources of this planet to serve their own private greed, it is going to be a challenge for all of us. This challenge is something to keep in mind so that you do not get too frustrated, and do not descend in a negative spiral of blaming yourself or those around you. Remember, do what you can to improve your environment, address your addictions, move yourselves towards truth, clear ideology and satisfy your needs. Even small and incremental changes in our lives and the lives of our children and loved ones can make a big difference. Just remember, the System needs to change as well. The only way to move this planet forward and end the suffering, strife, frustration, and damage is to combine your individual efforts with our collective efforts to confront the addicts, heal the damage, and swap out the System so that we can all heal, connect, and safe the proverbial planet.
1Mike Sosteric, “The Seven Essential Needs,” The Lightning Strike, 2019, https://medium.com/@MikeSosteric/the-seven-essential-needs-a28638c991a3.
4A. H. Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” Psychological Review 50, no. 4 (1943): 370–96.
5A. H. Maslow, “Lessons from the Peak-Experiences,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 2, no. 1 (January 1, 1962): 9–18, doi:10.1177/002216786200200102; A. H. Maslow, “Various Meanings of Transcendence,” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 1, no. 1 (1969): 56–66; A. H. Maslow, “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature,” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 1, no. 1 (1969): 1–9.
6Maslow, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” 385.
9 See William Hermanns Einstein and the Poet (Boston: Branden Books, 1983), https://amzn.to/2n8MjnC.##.
10We can speculate why this might be. We think it is because of the uncomfortable implications of this hierarchy for personal therapeutic, and wider economic, political, and social practice. See Mike Sosteric and Gina Ratkovic, “What Does It Mean to Be Human: Abraham Maslow and His Hierarchies of Need,” 2018, https://www.academia.edu/35635479.
11Maslow said that the needs in his hierarchies were “prepotent,” meaning that you had to fill the lower needs before you could move and fill the “higher” needs. Psychologists have criticized this idea over the years and now believe that the needs are filled concurrently. That is, assuming you are not starving to death, and have basic shelter, you can work on satisfying all your needs at the same time.
12 I would define power as the feeling of self respect” Abraham Maslow, “Eupsychia—The Good Society,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 1, no. 2 (1961): 2.
13Abraham H. Maslow, “How We Diminish Ourselves,” The Journal of Humanistic Education and Development 29, no. 3 (March 1, 1991): 117–20.
14There is a great song about this by the Bellamy Brothers called “Let your love flow.”
15Roberta Kwok, “Amoebas Are Crafty, Shape-Shifting Engineers,” Science News for Students, July 19, 2019, https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/amoebas-are-crafty-shape-shifting-engineers.
16If you haven’t read LP Workbook One, now would be good time to do so.
17Karl Hanes, “Unusual Phenomena Associated With a Transcendent Human Experience: A Case Study,” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 44, no. 1 (2012): 26–47; Ali Shah Ikbal, Islamic Sufism (Tractus Books, 2000).
18Mike Sosteric, “Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition,” Spirituality Studies 4, no. 2 (2018), https://www.spirituality-studies.org/dp-volume4-issue2-fall2018/files/assets/common/downloads/files/4-2-sosteric.pdf.
19Lin Edwards, “Brain Is Not Fully Mature until 30s and 40s,” Medical Express, 2010. Since your brain is the primary site of connection.
20Mike Sosteric, “How Money Is Destroying the World,” The Conversation, 2018, https://theconversation.com/how-money-is-destroying-the-world-96517.
21David McNally, “Power, Resistance, and the Global Economic Crisis,” in Power and Resistance: Critical Thinking about Canadian Social Issues, ed. Les Samuelson and Wayne Antony (Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2012), 129.