Do we really have a hierarchy of needs?

I am starting a blog in order to share whatever is striking me today about A Course in Miracles. I expect these posts to be short doses, so that you can afford the time to read them and I can afford the time to write them. It will appear on the Circle’s homepage but also here in the CCC, where I hope it will enrich our community discussion. (The version on the COA homepage is closed to comments.) This is a departure from our focus in the CCC blog in personal application and experience, but I do think it will contribute to our community, so I think it is a justified exception to our rule.

“As you integrate, you become one and your one need become one accordingly” (original version of T-VI.2:4). We naturally think of ourselves as having a variety of different needs. We probably even think of them in a hierarchy, ranging from lower to higher. Our needs seem to go from food and shelter at the bottom all the way up to spiritual realization at the top. By the time we’ve met the lower ones, we don’t have much left over for the higher ones.

Yet the foregoing quote is from a discussion that criticizes the notion of a hierarchy of needs (almost certainly having in mind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). It says that originally we needed nothing. We were with God. Then as we split off from God, we ourselves fragmented, splitting into a variety of levels, with each level having its own needs crying out to be met.

Yet these needs are all just distorted versions of the one need: “A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct” (T-1.VI.2:1). The need for food is a distortion of our need for the sustenance of God. The need for shelter is a distortion of our need for the safety of God.

These distortions of our one need come from a distorted view of ourselves as multileveled creatures. As we slowly relinquish this view and unify within ourselves, our needs unify as well. Our many needs begin to fade and morph into the one need. Can you imagine that—feeling all your many needs slowly fuse into one need, the need for God? Perhaps this is already happening. And as it does, all your  motivation and all your action becomes united behind the pursuit of that one need. No longer are your energies scattered in fifty different directions. Rather, they are like a single river flowing in one direction, toward the ocean.