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In the face of reality

Maslow talks about basic biological needs when one strives for food and shelter, which is understandable. Having satisfied there, one moves on to social needs which actually dominate him to no end at all.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 23:49 IST

We all know that money and material do not bring happiness. While scriptures talk about this, one just needs common sense to go beyond that statement to figure out that material can actually work negatively and give misery.  

Maslow talks about basic biological needs when one strives for food and shelter, which is understandable. Having satisfied there, one moves on to social needs which actually dominate him to no end at all.

Having to prove better than others, we go after more money, bigger house, better car, better status, recognition and power. I am not aware of one material whether land, house, vehicle or furniture which comes without its own legacy of problems, registration, maintenance, cleaning, dusting and finally what to do with that after our time. For every one piece of acquisition, I can always relate what happiness it has robbed from me, if it is beyond the biological need. Is it all to prove I am better than my cousin or a schoolmate or neighbour? There is no end. If at all I buy a Mercedes, the neighbour buys a Porsche.

Now, the more tragic part of Maslow’s law is, we can never climb into the next level of self actualization unless we cross the social need. We while away our lifetime without getting the best of ourselves in say sport, art or science or what have you, where the goal is anything other than money or material.

Some people go into CBD, Compulsive Buying Disorder, a serious psychological impairment.

This reminds us of Leo Tolstoy’s  How much land does a man need, where the chief offers the farmer as much land as he can cover by sunset. The greedy farmer who wants to go big time, begins his walk at the top of a small hillock and covers several miles of land despite the fierce heat. With ten miles left to go, he becomes exhausted and starts running, fearing that he will not return to the chief before sunset. He approaches the end just as the sun sets. Spotting the Chief laughing, he collapses to the ground dying from exhaustion. A worker digs a small grave, ‘Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed’. In fact, an urn would do for many, even less than six feet.

Mahatma was greatly influenced by Tolstoy. Should he be the only one?

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(Published 25 February 2024, 23:49 IST)

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