Organic Spirituality 5: Self-Improvement
by: Gordon Wayne
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Here, we must depart from Maslow’s hierarchy because self-esteem and self-actualization are not exactly spiritual achievements. Besides, social acceptance should naturally reinforce an individual’s esteem and we can cover the development and maintenance of self-esteem under other topics such as family values. As for self-actualization, everybody must decipher this issue on their own otherwise it is not self-actualization. Although both are important in our complete development as a human being, spiritualism demands something a little deeper than our self interests.
Another reason for the departure is our mortal ego because it loves to believe that humans are superior to other species, which is true depending on the criteria. Realistically though, cockroaches can achieve the first level, reptiles can achieve the second, bird the third, and many mammalian species can achieve the fourth level. Some mammals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, elephants, and other evolved species may even achieve the fifth level in Maslow’s hierarchy of biological needs. While their achievements support our contention that we are the road toward organic spirituality, it does not recognize the unique potential inherent within the human spirit.
For these reasons, we want to diverge from Maslow’s theory with the fourth and fifth level of organic spirituality and create a uniquely human version of organic spirituality. We want something that capitalizes on humankind’s unique endowments, something that no other species can achieve, such as our capacity for improving circumstances. Perhaps this sounds narcissistic, and sometimes human improvements are purely selfish, but many improvements benefit many humans, including our descendants.
Before diving into this issue, we must briefly address a fundamental duality inherent in human nature, namely that we are social individuals. Every human is both an individual being and a social creature, which produces parallel facets in human spirituality, the individual facet and the social facet. In recognition of this duality, the fourth level will address the individual aspect of our spirituality and the fifth level will address the social aspect of our spirituality.
Before diving into this issue, we must briefly acknowledge a fundamental duality inherent in human nature, namely that we are social individuals. Every human is both an individual being and a social creature, which creates parallel facets in human spirituality, the individual facet and the social facet. In recognition of this duality, the fourth level will address the individual aspect of our spirituality and the fifth level will address the social aspect of our spirituality.
The fourth stage in organic spirituality is self-improvement, our personal journey into self-discovery, self-understanding, self-mastery, and ultimately self-actualization. Self-improvement, whether spiritual, social, professional, recreational, sexual, or secular comes from increasing our knowledge and all knowledge comes from learning. Therefore, the path to self-improvement, spiritual enlightenment, and self-actualization lies in learning, learning everything we can about everything and anything.
The fourth stage in organic spirituality is self-improvement, our personal journey into self-discovery, self-understanding, self-mastery, and ultimately self-actualization. Self-improvement comes from increasing our knowledge, whether spiritual, social, professional, recreational, sexual, or secular, and all knowledge comes from learning. Therefore, the path to self-improvement, spiritual enlightenment, and self-actualization lies in learning, learning everything we can about everything and anything.
We can learn about life, reality, the universe, the world, and human existence; we can learn more about plants and animals, stars and galaxies, about gardening, politics, childhood and parenting; we can learn about cognition, about animal intelligence, human intelligence, and artificial intelligence; we can learn about carpentry, plumbing, electrical systems, heating, cooling, and plastering; we can learn about nutrition, cooking, eating, drinking, celebrating, roasting, toasting, dining, digesting, and flatulence; we can learn about singing, dancing, acting, sculpting, painting, and music; we can learn about ancient religions, mediaeval religions and modern traditions, about praying, meditating, and rituals; we could learn more about Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, Europe, North America, and Antarctica; we could learn more about elephants, molds, mildews, whales, donkeys, monkeys, worms, weasels, caribou, penguins, corals, eagles, snakes, mollusks, bears, salmon and caterpillars; we could learn more about sapphire, quartz, marble, sandstone, and crushed gravel; we could learn more about justice, economics, politics, education, commerce, and recreation; we could learn about human psychology, monkey psychology, canine or feline psychology, which are very useful for people with pets; we could learn more about day and night, light and dark, ignorance and wisdom; we can learn about walking, running, swimming, biking, rowing, yoga, and sitting; we could learn more about humor and tragedy, smiling, laughing, and crying, loving and hating; we could learn about wine and cheese, beef and chicken, pork and beans, caviar and crackers; we could learn more about white holes, nebula, black holes, novas, stars, meteors and comets; we could even learn about learning, education, encyclopedias, dictionaries, libraries, universities and colleges; we could learn about Voodoo and Zeus, Thor, Allah, Buddha, and Gaia; we could learn about pyramids and coliseums, architecture, construction, destruction, and zoning bylaws; we could learn more about walls, carpets, tiles, paint, windows, insulation, lumber, roofing, and foundations; we could learn about monarchies and democracies, oligarchies, meritocracies, aristocracies, and anarchy; we could learn about careers and vocations, about nursing, administration, typing, horticulture, meteorology, philosophy, legal work, paralegal work, etcetera; we could learn about stupidity, silliness, happiness, laughter, crying, sadness, anger, frustration, bitterness, depression; we could learn about dishes, cutlery, bowls, plates, platters, cups and glasses; we could learn more about ear drums, noses, irises, tongues, lips, cheeks, chins, and foreheads; we could learn about nothing, or something, or everything, or we could learn more about learning more or learning less; we could learn about clouds, rain, rivers, streams, lakes, swamps, and oceans; we could learn more about omniscience because the ultimate in enlightenment is omniscience and omniscience knows everything about everything so the more we learn, the closer we come to omniscience and the closer we come to omniscience, the closer we come to absolute, perfect enlightenment; and if we ever discover omniscience, we can begin investigating the beauty of nescience, the wonder of not knowing about something because then we have something to explore, something to discover, something to captivate our curiosity, something to seduce our intellects, to challenge our wits, and engage our mind; and then we can realize that omniscience is the death of curiosity, wonder, discovery, amazement, the death of Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! I understand! I understand! Oh, great and glorious day, I finally understand!
What we learn is not as important as our willingness to learn because we are complex creatures living in a complex world and a complex society. Diverse knowledge is both very useful and necessary to understand and master the layers of complexity. Knowledge of anatomy improves our physical well-being, knowledge of psychology improves our psychological well-being, vocational knowledge improves our occupational value, and greater knowledge of human spirituality improves our spirituality. The greater our knowledge, the greater our ability to improve our quality of life, including our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lives.
Thus, if we learn anything, even trivial information that has no social, political, economic, or spiritual significance, then we are 70% of the way toward full organic spirituality. If we learn something that has social, political, economic, occupational, or spiritual value, then we are 80% of the way toward full organic spirituality.