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Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix G. B-Values as Descriptions of Perception in Peak-Experiences
The described characteristics of Being are also the values of Being. These Being values are perceived as ultimate and as further unanalyzable (and yet they can each be defined in terms of each and all of the others). They are paralleled also by the characteristics of selfhood (identity) in peak-experiences; the characteristics of ideal art; the characteristics of ideal mathematical demonstrations; of ideal experiments and theories; of ideal science and knowledge; the far goals of all ideal, uncovering (Taoistic, non-interfering) psychotherapies; the far goals of the ideal humanistic education; the far goals and the expression of some kinds of religion; the characteristics of the ideally good environment and of the ideally good society (62 ).
The following may be seen either as a list of the described attributes of reality when perceived in peak. experiences, or as a list of the irreducible, intrinsic values of this reality.
1. Truth: honesty; reality; (nakedness; simplicity; richness; essentiality; oughtness; beauty; pure; clean and unadulterated completeness).
2. Goodness: (rightness; desirability; oughtness; justice; benevolence; honesty); (we love it, are attracted to it, approve of it).
3. Beauty: (rightness; form; aliveness; simplicity; richness; wholeness; perfection; completion; uniqueness; honesty).
4. Wholeness: (unity; integration; tendency to oneness; interconnectedness; simplicity; organization; structure; order; not dissociated; synergy; homonymous and integrative tendencies).
4a. Dichotomy-transcendence: (acceptance, resolution, integration, or transcendence of dichotomies, polarities, opposites, contradictions); synergy (i.e., transformation of oppositions into unities, of antagonists into collaborating or mutually enhancing partners).
5. Aliveness: (process; not deadness; dynamic; eternal; flowing; self-perpetuating; spontaneity; self-moving energy; self-forming; self-regulation; full-functioning; changing and yet remaining the same; expressing itself; never-ending).
6. Uniqueness: (idiosyncrasy; individuality; singularity; non comparability; its defining-characteristics; novelty; quale; suchness; nothing else like it).
7. Perfection: (nothing superfluous; nothing lacking; everything in its right place; unimprovable; just rightness; just-so-ness; suitability; justice; completeness; nothing beyond; oughtness).
7a. Necessity: (inevitability; it must be just that way; not changed in any slightest way; and it is good that it i5 that way).
8. Completion: (ending; finality; justice; it's finished; no more changing of the Gestalt; fulfillment; finis and telos; nothing missing or lacking; totality; fulfillment of destiny; cessation; climax; consummation; closure; death before rebirth; cessation and completion of growth and development; total gratification with no more gratification possible; no striving; no movement toward any goal because already there; not pointing to anything beyond itself ).
9. Justice: (fairness; oughtness; suitability; architectonic quality; necessity; inevitability; disinterestedness; non-partiality).
9a. Order: (lawfulness; rightness; rhythm; regularity; symmetry; structure; nothing superfluous; perfectly arranged ).
10. Simplicity: (honesty; nakedness; purity; essentiality; succinctness; [mathematical] elegance; abstract; unmistakability; essential skeletal structure; the heart of the matter; bluntness; only that which is necessary; without ornament, nothing extra or superfluous ).
11. Richness: (totality; differentiation; complexity; intricacy; nothing missing or hidden; all there; "nonimportance," i.e., everything is equally important; nothing is unimportant; everything left the way it is, without improving, simplifying, abstracting, rearranging; comprehensiveness).
12. Effortlessness: (ease; lack of strain, striving, or difficulty; grace; perfect and beautiful functioning).
13. Playfulness: (fun; joy; amusement; gaiety; humor; exuberance; effortlessness).
14. Self-sufficiency: (autonomy; independence; not needing anything other than itself in order to be itself; self-determining; environment-transcendence; separateness; living by its own laws; identity).
The descriptive B-values, seen as aspects of reality, should be distinguished from the attitudes or emotions of the B-cognizer toward this cognized reality and its attributes, e.g., awe, love, adoration, worship, humility, feeling of smallness plus godlikeness, reverence, approval of, agreement with, wonder, sense of mystery, gratitude, devotion, dedication, identification with, belonging to, fusion with, surprise and incredulousness, fear, joy, rapture, bliss, ecstasy, etc.
One recurring problem for all organized, revealed religions during the last century has been the flat contradiction between their claim to final, total, unchangeable, eternal and absolute truth and the cultural, historical, and economic flux and relativism affirmed by the developing social sciences and by the philosophers of science. Any philosophy or religious system which has no place for flux and for relativism is untenable (because it is untrue to all the facts). But the human yearnings for peace, stability, for unity, for some kind of certainty, all continue to exist and to seek fulfillment even after the religious establishments have failed to do the job.
It may be that data from the peak-experiences will one day offer a possible resolution or transcendence of the dichotomy between relative and absolute, historical and eternal. The B-values derived from the peak-experiences, as well as from other sources (62), may supply us with a perfectly naturalistic variety of "certainty," of unity, of eternity, of universality. Of course, all these words will have to be understood in a particular way that is novel and unfamiliar. And yet, enough of the old, yearned for meaning is retained to supply the fulfillment that the organized religions used to claim they could supply.
Of course, these "ultimate truths," if they are confirmed, are still truths within a system. That is, they seem to be true for the human species. That is, in the same sense that Euclidian theorems are absolutely true within the Euclidian system. Again, just as Euclidian propositions are ultimately tautologous, so also the B-values (See Appendix F) may very well turn out to be defining characteristics of humanness in its essence, i.e., sine qua non aspects of the concept "human," and, therefore, tautologous. The statement, "The fully human person in certain moments perceives the unity of the cosmos, fuses with it, and rests in it, completely satisfied for the moment in his yearning for one-ness," is very likely synonymous, at a "higher level of magnification" (59), with the statement, "This is a fully human person."
For the moment, I shan't attempt to go beyond these "species-relative absolutes" to discuss the absolutes that would remain if the human species were to disappear. It is sufficient at this point to affirm that the B-values are absolutes of a kind, a humanly satisfying kind, which, furthermore, are "cosmocentric" in Marcel's sense, and not personally relative or selfishly ego-centered.
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