In the first post in this series, we explored Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In the second post, we looked at belongingness, transpersonal psychology, and transpersonal experiences. In this — the last — post, we’ll tie everything together in a section on belongingness & transcendence, followed by the conclusion.
Belongingness and Transcendence
In this section, we will explore some of the experiences of transcendence that relate specifically to belongingness. We will do this by reviewing a series of examples of transcendence. In the first example, Maslow (1968) refers to transcendence as transcending the ego or the self. Specifically, Maslow (1968) stated “The phrase ‘being in harmony with nature’ implies this ability to yield, to be receptive to, or respond to, to live with extra-psychic reality as if one belonged with it, or were in harmony with it” (p. 58). Meaning, if one transcended one’s ego, one would not only feel a sense of belongingness with the people around one’s self, but one would also feel a sense of belongingness with nature. In this example, we can see how there is a transpersonal element within belongingness.
In another example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to love being a kind of transcendence. Specifically, this refers to love for one’s child or for one’s friend (Maslow, 1968). According to Maslow (1968), “This can also be expressed intrapsychically, phenomenologically, as experiencing one’s self to be one of the band of brothers, to belong to the human species” (p. 59). Meaning, when one experiences a state of transcendence by way of loving one’s child or one’s friend, there is possibility that they are experiencing a state of belongingness with all of humanity. This state of belongingness is possible by one’s state of transcendence. Just as in the first example, this example also shows us how belongingness has a transpersonal element to it.
In an additional example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to a “special phenomenological state in which the person somehow perceives the whole cosmos or at least the unity and integration of it and of everything in it, including his Self” (pp. 63-64). In this example, not only does the person feel connected to all human species, but to the whole of the universe. “He then feels as if he belongs by right in the cosmos” (Maslow, 1968, p. 64). This is an example of transcendence leading to a sense of belongingness. The belongingness feeling is attained once the person has transcended. This is another example showing us transpersonal elements within belongingness.
In the next example of transcendence, Maslow (1968) refers to one transcending “individual difference in a very specific sense” (p. 64). Maslow (1968) stated that “the highest attitude to have toward individual differences is to be aware of them, to accept them, but also to enjoy them and finally to be profoundly grateful for them” (p. 64). This is, yet another way of attaining a sense of belongingness through transcendence. According to Maslow (1968), “Rising above them [individual differences] in the recognition of the essential commonness and mutual belongingness and identification with all kinds of people in ultimate humanness or species-hood” (p. 64). This illustrates another potential way of attaining belongingness by transcending individual differences.
In this section, we have seen that there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. Specifically, we have seen that there is an aspect of transcendence to belongingness. We have seen examples of how transcendence is present in belongingness by way of four separate examples. In the first example, we saw that one could transcend one’s ego or self to attain a feeling of being one with nature and feel a sense of belongingness with everything. In the second example, we saw that one could transcend by way of loving one’s child or one’s friend and in turn, feeling a sense of belongingness with all of humanity. In the third example, we saw that one could transcend to the point that one attains a feeling of oneness with the cosmos or the universe and in turn, feels a sense of belongingness with the whole of the universe. In the fourth example, we saw that one could transcend the individual differences between people to feel a sense of belongingness with all kinds of people.
In this paper, there was a brief description of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There was an explanation of each of the needs of the hierarchy: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. There was an expanded description of one of the components within love needs – belongingness. There was a brief explanation of transpersonal psychology followed by a description of a transpersonal experience, specifically, transcendence. There were then connections made between transcendence and belongingness to illustrate that there are transpersonal elements to belongingness. This was demonstrated by using examples of transcendence and belongingness.
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation, Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529.
Hartelius, G., Caplan, M., & Rardin, M. A. (2007). Transpersonal psychology: Defining the past, diving the future. The Humanistic Psychologist, 35(2), 1-26.
Hastings, A. (1999). Transpersonal psychology: The fourth force. In D. Moss (Ed.), Humanistic and transpersonal psychology: A historical and biographical sourcebook (pp. 192-208). Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.
Maslow, A. H. (1969). Various meanings of transcendence. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 1(1), 56-66.
If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.