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The Comparison and Similarities of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the Chakra System

Updated on June 20, 2017

Introduction to the Chakra System

To compare Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the Chakra System, we must first understand each concept. For those unfamiliar, the chakras or chakra system are a group of focal points of energy in the human body. The concept is of Eastern origin specifically from India and is present in the religions of Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. The word chakra actually means “wheel” or “spinning vortex”. These chakras are believed to be part of the what is called the subtle body, subtle meaning, that which exists outside he physical realm. Channels of energy, called nadis, exist throughout the subtle body, much like nerves in the physical body. There are three important nadis called the Ida, Pingala and the Sushumna. The Sushumna runs in a straight line from the groin to the head and the Pingala and Ida coil in a snake-like manner around the Sushumna with the Ida on the left and Pingala on the right. Where these energy channels of the Ida and Pingala meet across the Sushumna, a chakra exists. These chakras are again similar to the way gatherings of nerves may form organs such as our brain, spinal cord and even digestive system. The state of the chakras directly affects some organ and part of the physical human body.

The Chakra System

Structure of the Chakra System

The chakras, in order beginning from the lowest in the body chakra to the highest, are listed below.

Root Chakra

This chakra exists at the base of the spine and is associated with the colour red. This state of this chakra affects the kidneys, intestines, adrenal glands and spinal cord. It is associated of security and ability to survive.

Sacral Chakra

This chakra exists just below the navel and is associated with the colour orange. This state of this chakra affects the bladder spleen and kidneys. It is associated with sexuality and creativity.

Solar Plexus Chakra

This chakra just below the chest at the solar plexus and is associated with the colour yellow. This state of this chakra affects the adrenal glands and the digestive system. It is associated willpower, self-esteem and self-discipline.

Heart Chakra

This chakra exists at the center of the chest and is associated with the colour green. This state of this chakra affects the endocrine, circulatory and immune systems. It is associated with feelings of love, empathy, forgiveness and compassion.

Throat Chakra

This chakra exists at the throat and is associated with the colour blue. This state of this chakra affects the thyroid, lungs and vocal cord. It is associated with communication, self-expression and judgement.

Third Eye Chakra

This chakra exists at the center of the forehead and is associated with the colour indigo. This state of this chakra affects the pineal and pituary glands. It is associated with intuition, wisdom, psychic abilities, imagination.

Crown Chakra

This chakra exists at the top of the head and is associated with the colour violet. This state of this chakra affects the pineal and pituary glands. It is associated with self-knowledge, self-understanding and self-actualization.

Introduction to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

With now a fair understanding of the Chakra System we turn to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Those with a background in management, finance or psychology may be familiar with the model. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was created by Abraham Maslow in his 1934 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation". The model describes the growth of the human individual which is based upon his/her needs, each required to be met or satisfied in a particular order to achieve constant growth or improvement by this individual. The concept states that any deviation from the model results in stagnation in the growth of the individual, that is, until the immediate next-in-order need is met. The model is broken down as follows in bottom-up order.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Breakdown of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

  1. Psychological Needs - These are needs that are necessary for human survival, without which the body cannot function efficiently and will eventually fail. These include food, shelter, water, air, clothing and sex.
  2. Safety Needs - These are needs that to afford a person some security, and give a sense of certainty and expectation for their future. This includes safety of their health, finances and freedom of fear.
  3. Love and Belonging Needs - These are needs of love, belonging and acceptance in social groups. It includes friendship, intimacy, trust and affection.
  4. Esteem Needs - These are needs of having respect from others, self-respect and self-esteem. It includes mastery, self-confidence, status, independence and freedom.
  5. Self-Actualization Need - These are needs of fully achieving one’s own potential. It includes self-growth and self-fulfillment.

Later on the hierarchy was expanded to include Cognitive needs, Aesthetic needs and Self-transcendence needs. Cognitive Needs are needs for wisdom and understanding, curiosity and desire for meaning. Aesthetic needs are needs for beauty, artistic expression and appreciation. Self-transcendence needs are needs to help others achieve self-actualization.

Maslow's Extended Hierarchy

Comparison and Similarities of Maslow's Hierarchy and the Chakra System

With now a fair understanding of both the Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy and the Chakra System we may now view them side by side. While it may not look this way at first glance, both of these concepts share remarkable similarities. That in itself is somewhat odd, since they both originate from perhaps the most differing culture in the world, that is, the Eastern world and the Western one. Even more so is the fact that the first accounts of the Chakra System can be seen as far back as an Eastern text titled “The Vedas”, which existed around 1500-500BC.

We now delve into the similarities.

At the bottom of Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy at levels one and two, we find psychological needs and safety needs, which are needs of the body necessary for survive and needs for security. In the Chakra System at level one we find the root chakra which is responsible for safety and survival. In the Needs Hierarchy at level three, we find needs of love and belonging. This corresponds to the second and fourth chakras, which are the heart and sacral chakras which are responsible for love and belonging. In the hierarchy at levels four and five we find the needs of cognition and esteem, which correspond to the third and sixth chakras, which are the solar plexus and throat chakras. Level six in the hierarchy are the aesthetic needs which resonates with the functions of the throat chakra as well. The final two levels of the hierarchy which are the needs of self-actualization and self-transcendence are both similar to functions of the third eye and crown chakras.

It is clear to see that, while not perfect matching, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Chakra System do share extensive similarities. Both the concepts are seen somewhat as laws in their separate realms of psychological science and spirituality. We now witness one of the few times where science and spirituality agree.

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