Archive for Needs

Pace-Maker

Posted in All, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2011 by marushiadark

“Can you hear it?  Hear this rhythm?  It’s the rhythm of time … and life.” ~ Fatman, Metal Gear Solid 2.

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this animated lecture called The Secret Powers of Time, by Philip Zimbardo.  I watched it, trying as best I could not to analyze it, but to just empty my cup and take it all in as new information and a different perspective.

The general gist of the lecture is that there are six different “time zones” that people live in and that this has a profound effect on the way those people view the world, conduct themselves, where they live, how their mind works, and so forth.  I won’t go into too much detail about that.  If you wanna know, you can just watch it yourself.  This post is mainly my reflections on it.

From my own experience, I can attest that cities in the southern portions of countries tend to have a much different experiences of time than people in the northern portions.

Let’s compare two such cities: Savannah, Georgia, and New York, New York.  Both are major cities, but the overall pace of Savannah is much slower, much calmer, much more relaxed.  Even the appearance of the city seems to reflect this difference.  Where New York is crammed and full of skyscrapers, Savannah is much more open, with the tallest buildings being scarcely above twelve floors.  The whole city of Savannah seems to shut down somewhere between 6PM and 10PM, with few exceptions, whereas some place like New York is still alive and active during that time; in fact, it’s often just beginning to wake up.

This is just one example taken in brief.  I’m sure if you’ve traveled at all in your life, you can think of many examples like this.  You could probably also notice the subtle differences in pace between some place like New York and Philadelphia, where the change in latitude is smaller, but the relative pace is still proportional.

So a general rule, what Philip Zimbardo said about north-south relations of time seems accurate.

It makes sense from a physical standpoint too, since as you go north, the distance between lines of longitude grows shorter.  You can cover more ground (in a polar sense) in the same amount of time, ergo you are more productive.

But one thing I noticed as Zimbardo was talking is that this is a relative value.  Time is a factor in pace, but so are other things like climate, population, and the availability of resources.  For instance, Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole is a highly efficient machine compared to New York, but the same can’t be said for Albany or Toronto.

Perhaps the most valuable insight in Zimbardo’s lecture is how he highlights the way in which younger generations are geared to think digitally and thus at a faster pace than their parents and grandparents, who are accustomed to analogue.  That every second is precious and waiting is a pain is something I think will only become worse (or better) as time goes by.  Soon, it won’t be seconds we’re counting, but microseconds, especially with the advancement of computer technology wherein computers begin to piece together complex patterns that only the human brain can do right now.

Technology doesn’t make things better, it just makes things faster.  Technology only makes things better where lack of speed and efficiency in accomplishing a task was the fundamental problem in the first place.

The same fundamental problems exist for humans everywhere.  The disparities between the pace of life in the north and south, I think, are ultimately largely a matter of differences in the way in which people have resolved these problems.  How they’ve assessed what their needs are and how to go about acquiring them.  The same can be said of the conservative vs. liberal model, or of the traditional vs. modern model.  Such extremes are only paths and we take a left or a right at any given fork based on what we want or need in any given moment.

I’m sure all of you reading this right now, if I asked you to, could come up with a list of values, beliefs, and practices that you agree with and those you disagree with, and in full assessment of said lists, you’d find that, more than anything, you probably aren’t fully to one side or the other in any of those models I just described.

Some of you may consider yourself pious, religious persons, for instance, yet you don’t dive into the deep end of the pool and live monastically in a convent, eating mush and practicing asceticism.  Do you?

Conversely, those of you who abhor religion probably see the value, either from a rational perspective, or otherwise through intuition, that certain rules and morals like “don’t hurt people on purpose without a good reason” are good and necessary and that, whether you’re aware of it or not, society is living and functioning because of such rules and principles.

All things in moderation, including moderation.  Your pace should change with the circumstances.  When you drive a car, you go one speed in a school zone and another on the highway, and somewhere in between all other times, right?  You adapt your pace with the changes in the road, and you adapt your pace of life, and your temporal focus in much the same way.

So which time zone should we live in?  Zimbardo seems to favor the future, but I think the present’s where it’s at.  When you look out, you see mostly just what is right in front of you in that moment, occasionally glancing to the left and right through your peripherals.  If you turn your head, you environment changes, but your anatomy hasn’t changed.  You’re still looking at what is directly in front of you in the immediate sense.  So I think it must be in life that we remain mostly in the present, while keeping the past and the future in our peripherals.

The past tells us where we came from and how we got to the state we’re in.  The future gives us a sense of where we are, or would like to go.  But the present just is.  And let it be.

The Needs of the Many

Posted in All, Economics, Health, Psychology, Science, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2010 by marushiadark

“Nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” ~ John 11:50

In my last post, I discussed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and its application to individuals.  An individual in such instance can mean a single person, but it can really apply to any entity considered as a whole.  A person is simply a collection of cells acting together for a single purpose.  Cells divide and cells die and we don’t give the process much thought in the course of our daily lives because we’re busy doing things at the level of our macroscopic state.  When you scratch your arm, you lose thousands of cells, but it alleviates the body.  When you cut yourself, the blood lost contains thousands of cells, yet a flesh wound repairs itself easily enough.

Often times, we appeal to higher powers and ask, as Christ did in his final moments, “Why have you forsaken me?”  But we are, ourselves, cells in a much larger body and sometimes it is necessary for a few cells to be shed for the sake of the whole.  Sometimes, the will of the whole is beyond the understanding of the individual cell; and so the cell must trust that the whole knows what it is doing and will realize that the good of its cells means the good of the whole and so will do its best to tend to the needs of as many of its cells as it possibly can.

“There literally are different worlds in which we live … but they’re complimentary.  Because I am my atoms.  But I am also my cells.  I’m also my macroscopic physiology.  It’s all true, there are just different levels of truth.” ~ John Hagelin, physicist

As we learned from Star Trek II and Star Trek III, there is a balance between the needs of individuals and the needs of the wholes that those individuals comprise.  Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.  To do the greatest good for the greatest number of people demands a more careful observation of what the actual needs of both the individual and the whole require.

In my post on energy, I explained how everything in the universe is energy and how consciousness is energy and thus implied how everything has consciousness and identity.  Everything in the universe is its own individual, made up of smaller parts, and it is also, itself, a component part of something much larger. Atoms are collectives of quarks, but components of molecules.  Molecules are collectives of atoms, but components of cells.  Cells are collectives of molecules, but components of organs.  Organs are collectives of cells but components of people.  People are collectives of organs, but components of society.  And so forth until you get to the whole of the universe and ultimately to God.

Half of the object’s identity is as a whole, half is as a part of some larger whole.  Both sides have their own needs which must be respected.  Without the health of our cells, we succumb to disease and die.  Without the whole, the cells won’t stand much chance of finding what they need on their own.  Symbiosis is the coming together of two or more individuals to form a larger whole that will serve the needs of all.  This is how nature and the rest of the universe manages to get along so well.  It is a lesson that we, as humans, do not always remember.

“The securing of one individual’s good is cause for rejoicing, but to secure the good of a nation or of a city-state is nobler and more divine.” ~ Aristotle

An idea is true based on its merit, not where it comes from, which is why I try to draw wisdom from all walks of life, not just one.  For me, one of those paths includes Christianity.  Another includes Scientology.  As Christianity has the eight beatitudes, so does Scientology have what are known as the eight dynamics (and you’d be surprised in what other ways they relate).

In Scientology, the dynamic principle of existence is survival.  The eight dynamics are eight different levels at which we might consider the needs for survival.  They are as follows:

  1. Self – The urge to survive as an individual.
  2. Sex – The urge to survive through family and offspring.
  3. Group – The urge to survive as part of a group.
  4. Species – The urge to survive as a species (e.g. Mankind).
  5. Life – The urge to survive as a life form and to embrace all life forms.
  6. Matter – The urge to survive as part of the universe and for all the physical universe to survive.
  7. Spirit – The urge to survive as a spiritual being (soul).
  8. Infinity – The urge to survive as part of God and the infinity of All.

An action is good if it promotes survival on all levels.  Given that our existence holds stock in all these levels, it would behoove us to tailor our actions so as to promote survival across the greatest number of dynamics as possible by weighing the needs of the self, our components, and the wholes of which we are a part.

“Most people today have no idea what they really want or need, for they have never been informed as to the true state of technology.” ~ Peter Joseph

I once watched a video lecture by the late William Cooper, a former Navy Intelligence Officer.  He began the lecture by asking if anyone could tell him when the first Stealth aircraft was created.  Most people said the 70s or 80s.  In actual fact, the Nazi’s had developed one during WWII.  According to Cooper, whatever the state of technology we think exists, it’s likely that the U.S. military is already about 25 years ahead of that.

In some cases, depending on the technology, it’s probably more like a hundred years.  But the point still remains that people are not educated on what’s actually possible and this colors their perceptions of what they believe they need.  Sadly, most people are simply not interested in advancing their knowledge beyond what little they already know.  Sadder still, the only ones that can change it are them.

“I can only show you the door.  You’re the one that has to walk through it.” ~ Morpheus

In the video slide show presentation Zeitgeist Movement: Activist Orientation Guide (linked in sidebar), filmmaker Peter Joseph attempts to outline, in greater detail than I have done, the basic needs of human beings as both individuals and as parts of a larger whole.  I don’t wish to repeat everything mentioned in the video, but it’s definitely worthwhile to watch and is perhaps more valuable information than what you might find in the average high school or college in America.  Consider it a 101 course in your pursuit of higher learning.

The Needs of the One

Posted in All, Economics, Health, Psychology, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by marushiadark

“What’s necessary is never unwise.” ~ Sarek, Star Trek (2009)

Think about that phrase for a minute: what is necessary is never unwise.  The term “necessary” goes hand-in-hand with the term “need” and how often do we use the term “need” in a given day?  I need a new cell phone.  I need to be with my friends.  We need a new computer.  America needs some new leadership.  The Democrats need to wake up.  Someone needs to do something about it.  You need to pay your bills.  You need to get a job.  You need to grow up.  You need to take responsibility.  You need this and that and the other thing.  We sure are a needy group of people, aren’t we?

The term “need” implies a thing that must be done; that failure to do whatever the word is attached to will result in the destruction or non-survival of something, most often implying that that something is ourselves.  But what is actually necessary for us to survive as human beings?  Is there any way that we can prioritize what it is that we really need.

Fortunately for us, there are people who already have.

“When the chips are down, these ‘civilized’ people will eat each other.  You’ll see.  I’ll show you.” ~ The Joker

In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a theory that has since come to be known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  It is a system of prioritizing needs that is now taught in introductory psychology classes and even basic marketing courses.  This system outlines five general levels of needs that human beings have and the priority given to them by most people, whether they are aware of it or not.  From lowest to highest, they are:

  1. Physiological Needs – The most basic needs of the body including food and water (energy), air, homeostasis, sleep, expulsion of waste, desire for sex and procreation.
  2. Safety and Security – This includes security (health) of body and mind of self, offspring, family, friends, and other perceived allies, such as coworkers.  Also including the protection of resources and tools, such as home or property, that enhance the survival of the same.
  3. Social Needs – Developing relationships, connections, and emotional attachments to others.
  4. Self-Esteem – The need to feel good about one’s self and to earn respect, dignity, and a sense of worth or value.  Feeling confidence and motivation.
  5. Self-Actualization – Maintaining principles, morals, ethics, and codes; spirituality, accepting facts and realities, and developing a sense of oneness with God and fellow man.

Despite its criticism, Maslow’s Hierarchy is a very good tool that we can use to evaluate the importance of our own needs.  We can even begin to understand the motivations and behaviors of others because the hierarchy doesn’t merely apply to the reality of a person’s needs, but also their perceptions of what they need.

For instance, I recall watching an episode of Law & Order in which the prosecutor tried a homeless man who killed another homeless man for an orange.  The court acted in accordance with the letter of the law and held the man to their standards.  But as we can see from the hierarchy, that falls under Self-Actualization, while the homeless man was trying to fulfill his more basic Physiological Needs.  Had the prosecution understood Maslow’s Hierarchy, perhaps they would have given the man something to eat instead of a jail sentence, since that’s the only reason why he did what he did and I think any of us in a similar situation would have acted exactly the same way.

“For many people, one of the most frustrating aspects of life is not being able to understand other people’s behavior.” ~ Unknown

Levels one and two of the hierarchy deal with the part of the brain known as the amygdala.  This is also called the lizard brain, which contains the primitive and instinctual survival needs as found in birds, reptiles, and small mammals.  At this level, you are willing to forgo the needs of others in order to ensure your own survival and that of your most immediate friends and family (which also eventually give way to your own survival if the need is strong enough).  Between the levels, however, a person will often take risks to their safety in order to satisfy their physiological needs.  The brain decides that it needs energy or it will die and that it’s worth the risk of a little pain and discomfort to satisfy that need.  No one puts off buying groceries to pay their mortgage (and if you do, that may be the source of your problems right there).  They might tighten their belts and cut back in some cases, but when the chips are down, food and water come before house and home and most definitely before the law.  Even corporations will set aside morals and values and deals with certain clients if they believe it could jeopardize their income, which is the lifeblood of any company.

Levels three and four of the hierarchy deal with the limbic system and neocortex of the brain.  It’s the part found in dogs, primates, dolphins, and other higher mammals.  Basic social skills come at this level (a pack mentality).  Often times, people will degrade themselves in order to be part of a group, doing things that don’t necessarily make them feel good, but that stave off that feeling of being alone.  This is the mentality of frat initiates and high school students that will suffer through ordeals to be part of the cool kids.  They may give up their principles and their own self-worth, but at least they have the backing of the group.  Many people also abandon certain religious or political ideologies that no longer resonate with them.  If there’s a law that they don’t like, they try to change it.

The final level is a level that only exists in human beings and it’s related to the aspect of the brain that is responsible for creativity, reason, and imagination.  It’s what gives us our ability to problem solve, develop technology, art, philosophy, language, symbols, and everything else that makes us distinct from animals.  It has also allowed us to become detached from the balance that nature has so carefully maintained because we have overcome any and all predators with the only possible exception being ourselves.

“If the chips are down, then you might feel a little awkward at that sense of finality and being powerless to affect the outcome.” ~ Unknown, allusion to poker

There is a bit of wiggle room within this hierarchy.  Through training, a person or animal can be made to ignore or change its basic instinct through reward-punishment and the installing of mental aberrations and false ideas into the reactive mind.  But as I said before, the hierarchy also comes into play with regards to perception of needs.  A person might choose to follow a certain religious code, for instance, because they feel it will lead to greater survival for a longer period of time in some afterlife.  A mother might choose to step into harm’s way for the safety of her offspring because of a perception that the offspring is more important than her own needs.  Mohandas Ghandi famously starved himself in an effort to quell violence that arose between Hindus and Muslims in India, but it’s reasonable to assume that even he would have asked for nourishment before finally starving to death.

Moreover, people have often been coerced and blackmailed into performing certain actions under threat of their needs not being met.  Corporations like Monsanto specifically target our food supply, pharmaceutical companies make bad drugs that negatively effect our health, and governments allow the dumping of fluoride into our water systems because they know these are basic necessities of ours and that, if we don’t do everything it takes to ensure those needs are met properly, we will become weaker and more susceptible to outside influences.  This is why it is important we make a concerted effort to ensure that the more basic needs of every human being on this planet are met and then work from there.

All in all, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a useful tool in helping to prioritize our basic needs as human beings.  Things like cell phones and political leaders become less relevant in terms of our needs except in their ability to enhance our survival.

There are, of course, other lenses through which we might look at our needs and I will address some of those in my next post.