Maslow and the Chakras

awkward_pose_3-001Human nature strives for structure and understanding. In studying the seven chakras, which are thousands of years old, I’m struck by how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need aligns with this ancient tradition.


First, consider the seven Chakras:

tapestrylife.wordpress.com1. Muladhara – Tailbone / earth / smell/ fundamental needs to stay alive                                                                        2. Swadisthana – Sacrum / water / taste / emotions, dreams, sexuality                                                                         3. Manipura – Belly / fire / sight / ego identity                     4. Anahata – Heart / air / touch / selflessness                       5. Vishudda – Throat / ether / hearing / communication and truth                                                                                        6. Ajna – Third eye / transcendence / intuition / higher self  7. Sahasrara – Crown of head / soul / unconditional love / direct link to divine

Now, consider Maslow’s original Hierarchy of Needs (1943):

changefactory1. Physiological – air / drink / food / sleep / shelter     2. Safety – security  / order / stability / freedom from fear                                                                                         3. Social – belonging / affection / love                          4. Esteem – mastery / independence / status / dominance / self-respect                                                    5. Self-actualization – realizing potential / self-fulfillment / personal growth / peak experiences


There are direct correlations between Muladhara and our physiological needs, Manipura and safety, Anahata and social, Vishudda and esteem, and Ajna with self-actualization. One could argue that Swadisthana and Sahasrara also fit into the ladder but I think they possess less clear correlations, which makes sense given the culture Maslow represents – an early twentieth century discomfort with sensuality at the base end and the Sahasrara notion of an individual unified with the whole as the apex chakra.  After all, Maslow was dealing with personal psychology, not spirituality.


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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am an architect and father from Cambridge, MA. The blog's name, The Awkward Pose, refers a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build leg strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity out from under our feet. The objective is to achieve balance without stability. The blog features entries that address opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. Entries emphasize my personal experience in yoga, my evolving connection with Haiti, and my observations as a citizen of the United States.
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2 Responses to Maslow and the Chakras

  1. Barry Kibel says:

    You are correct about Swadisthana, but not about Sahasrara. In Maslow’s later work on spirituality and peak experiences (what one experiences at the top of his pyramid), he evoked the B-values to best capture this. These values include wholeness, completeness, perfection, truth, etc. which clearly are reflections of unified consciousness. I wrote a small book on this topic, which you might find of interest: BE-Value Psychology, available from Amazon Books or Kindle.

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