White pine needles covered in light snow

Creation and Hierarchy of Needs

Our most driving need is the need to create.

It is what drives the Sum Consciousness, it is growth; creation is the most fundamental need/desire/obligation (? yes, obligation) of the Universe. It shows up in all of our human cultural stories – those Stories of Creation. It is an almost singular drive when it is expressed as reproduction in human terms. But creation is more than reproduction.

Creation is the primal act of making something – human ingenuity when necessity is mother; the desire to build knowledge; works of art; pragmatic art; fine art; art for art’s sake that has no users or admirers except in the eye of the maker. It is as much about why seniors find coloring in coloring books as enjoyable as do children – it is an act of creation!

In the womb, we create and co-create with the Universe and, more locally, with our mothers, to make ourselves. Outside the womb, we create our selves as we learn, grow, mature in physical, mental, and spiritual ways.

Creation is the act of the Sum Consciousness. And the Sum C having created itself and created individual beings, continues the act of creation through the collection of experiences of individual consciousnesses. This act of creation is universal as all beings do it and desire it. Things are physical acts of creation; emotions are energetic or mental acts of creation; and self is a spiritual act of creation.

It’s interesting to think about Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” in this context. He talked about creation as part of the pyramid (hierarchy) of needs, but we don’t see it in the graphic representations of it (at least I haven’t seen many representations of it). At the bottom of the pyramid there are the “physiological needs” that must be met. At the top of the pyramid is “self-actualization.” Several layers in-between provide insight into the other things we all need to survive and thrive – safety, love and belonging, and esteem.

A pyramid of needs starts with very basic needs at the bottom - physiological. Going up the pyramid are other layers including safetry, love and belonging, esteem and at the top self-actualization
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Graphic by factoryjoe.

Where does creation fit in this pyramid? In my mind’s eye, creation appears as a golden light that acts as a shaft of light up through the center of the pyramid. It holds the pyramid together and distributes light throughout. This might look more like a tree, particularly a pine tree with a trunk and branches extending outward. Still within a pyramid shape.

Another visualization might be the hierarchy pyramid completely surrounded by a golden light. The golden light is creation, and as such, permeates all the levels of the hierarchy. For example, people figure out how to get the things they need to survive – food, clothing, and shelter. The “figuring-out” part is what is creation. You can take every level of the pyramid and apply the idea of creation to that level. But whether it is a shaft of light that stabilizes and illuminates the pyramid or a golden light that completely surrounds it, the idea is the same – we are supreme creators of our lives.

But I have also said that life is an act of co-creation, so what’s that about?

Every act of creation is really an act of co-creation because we are of the whole and the whole is of us. It is not either/or, it is AND. We have to stop thinking in terms of  dichotomies such as either/or. (side note: the use of “and” still presents things as more than one, so it is still a dichotomy. Oh don’t complicate things!) As multidimensionals, we need to understand and embrace the act of co-creation.

Maslow based much of his work on Erik Fromm’s and Carl Jung’s humanistic psychology. Maslow said “…growth, self-actualization, the striving toward health, the quest of identity and autonomy, the yearning for excellence (and other ways of striving upward) must by now be accepted beyond question as a widespread and perhaps universal human tendency. (Maslow, 1954, p. xi)

Is education as an institution missing this point?

The drive/motivation toward acts of creation should not be stymied by the structures of the system of education. This is why I feel learning is always trying to break free of education.

Learning – an action to have or gain knowledge – is an act of creation. Education is a structure. Simply a structure to keep control of a large part of the population that could be creating. Exceptions may prove the point – people allowed to create by exploring ideas, testing, building, experimenting, do come up with creations that make life better or easier, solve problems that humanity and the planet face. They often do this outside the confines of academia. No matter how much the structure tries to flatten creativity, it will never be able to do so! We think the crisis in higher ed is centered around costs of an education, but the deeper truth is that education stifles the very nature of the learner to create.

I’m not sure getting rid of the structure will provide the perfect environment for the freedom to create. What ways are there to open the circle and let everyone be creative?


Work cited
Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Image citation
By User: Factoryjoe (Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons