The foundational (red) level requirements are physiological; in a word, survival. In the absence of safety (the next level) all life is impelled to survive.
The next level of need is all about safety, which is essentially dependent on the fulfilment of the red level. Once your physiological needs are taken care of, you start to extend your efforts toward further fulfilment. At this stage though it’s still very much about instincts to protect yourself and those dearest to you, if necessary at any price.
Most people don’t successfully satisfy these two base levels and consequently never fully access the higher levels. I don’t care who you are, you have at some point had challenges in your life. The world can be a hostile place, and our safety is at times, in one way or another put in jeopardy. It is a brave, confident person who can have their safety shaken and still maintain the higher levels of self, rather than react with anger or violence of some sort.
The two base levels of need are reactive. The higher levels are creative. To transcend the lower levels is to choose to be creative rather than reactive. It’s to feel the reactive instincts but choose to act with the creative response of the higher levels.
The next level (yellow) is connection; camaraderie. It’s the acknowledgement that others are valuable and the desire to connect with them. Everyone has their own shit they’re going through, that’s what life is about. The most famous spiritual quote of all time by the Buddha, “Life is struggle” and no-one, anywhere is exempt from that. That’s the key to this level; acknowledge that we’re all struggling in one way or another, we’re not alone in our struggle and it’d be great if we could all give each other a little understanding and a helping hand wherever possible! Love is the energy that pulls us out of the struggle. It is self-empowering as well as all-empowering. It is the ultimate creative power. It is not, “I’ll love you if you love me”, it’s “I love you no matter what”. It’s “I love All, no matter what.”
Then green level is esteem and refers to how you feel about yourself. This is a delicate one because there is a distinction between esteem and ego. The ego feels goods when it is right, plain and simple. Nothing else to it – Even if it is to the detriment of other’s esteem, security or safety. As you see from Maslow’s words above though, esteem is only possible when you are respected by others. As much as we might like to believe our esteem isn’t dependent on the acknowledgement of others, it really is! Even if we don’t seek the acknowledgement of a real life human in the flesh, we are all abound to answer to the call of Collective Consciousness. We’re all connected in the most profound way and all always inexorably bound to the laws of reality. When we do good, cause any benefit, we are benefitting the whole, and reality acknowledges that.
The highest level of this model is self-actualisation (purple). It starts with ‘acceptance of facts’; which requires an understanding of the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth; we are all sharing this eternal struggle called life, we are all connected, love is the ultimate power and our sense of self is dependent on our making a positive difference to reality.
But beware, we may abandon our morality (purple) and become prejudiced to gain the approval of others (green). We may very well lie and deceive (abandoning the green) to acquire the friendship or sexual favours of others (yellow). We may abandon our friends (yellow) if we needed to make our bodies safe (orange). We may jeopardise our safety (orange) to acquired food (red).
If we look around at our fellow man, we can see that a lot of people don’t satisfy their basic physiological red needs: People don’t breathe, sleep, eat or drink well. If we cannot take care of these basic foundation needs, how will we ever build all of the other grander aspects?