Evolution in Consciousness & Awareness

Nov 6, 2019

Maslow’s Need Hierarchy

Dilt’s Neurological Model

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs signifies far more than a statement of needs. At a deeper level, it is about our evolution from the consciousness levels of egocentricity based on survival and safety, through psychological awareness of emotions and cognition, finally arriving at the eco-centric space of self realization.

In an earlier post, I had covered the needs aspects of Maslow with the self-inquiry process into values and purpose through the Dilt model. I routinely integrate these two models in working with clients to lead them to a deeper understanding of who they are and what they are here for.

There are many criticisms of Maslow as not being correct or even relevant. Refinements such as Graves’ and Spiral Dynamics have been proposed to expand on Maslow’s 5 hierarchical needs, and title them as levels of consciousness.

Personally, I do not see these as very different in essence – especially if we study Maslow more in depth with the hierarchy model as just one part of the larger Humanistic framework. Graves and others viewed the issues through different lenses and made very valuable contributions.

Graves: Spiral Dynamics: Beck, Wilbur

Graves: Barrett

Graves collected evidence to support Maslow’s hypotheses and found that there were inconsistencies between his concepts and reality in individual experiences. Graves’ model address Maslow’s need hierarchy as levels of existence. This was presented also as Spiral Dynamics, as an evolving flux state rather than a static one, and later expanded upon by Beck, Wilbur etc. Barrett applied this to the organizational system. Existential Universal Mapping EUM of Ashok Malhotra integrates the individual and organizational perspectives using the Graves’ model in a powerful manner.

Some of the major differences I see between Maslow and Graves are:

  • Maslow’s needs are seemingly fixed and one-way. I do know that Maslow developed a 7 hierarchy needs model and accepted that these needs are capable of shifting. Graves’ model allows for interplay of the levels, and movements back and forth. It is not a hierarchy. One level is not superior to another.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy is also interpreted as what is, is. Graves’ keeps looking at what emerges. This is more in line with Otto Scharmer’s emerging future of Theory U.
  • Maslow’s needs are generally individual. In a collective environment, individuals can stay at different levels. In Graves’ model, some of the levels are distinctively individual and alternate ones are distinctively collective.
  • In my experience, I found most of us are born into this world with three of the five needs fulfilled, with security, safety, and care receipt. From an early age we are fighting to establish level 4 of cognitive superiority. With insufficient foundation, any threat to level 4 manifests as a yo-yo back into lower levels. This sometimes tragically ends in questioning the need to survive. The only way out is level 5 seeking self actualization
  • Graves allows for people to stay at their levels and be fulfilled. We can live happily at the Instinctive Self knowing nothing about the Holistic Self. Our behavior will be self-preserving and ego centric, that’s all. After all, spirituality is a myth created and sustained by humans. Most other creatures live their lives in beige, level 1 of Instinctive Self, and often they are better off for it.

The Chakra concept of Tantra philosophy of Hinduism is in my experience a far more effective model, depicting both needs and awareness. It is an integration of our somatic, emotional, and energy states allowing for evolution at each chakra level and at a hierarchical level. Are chakras real?

For instance, transformation at the Root chakra shifts us from egocentric wants to eco centric needs; at the Spleen or sacral chakra shift is from fear to courage; at the Navel or Solar Plexus chakra from anxiety and stress to calmness; at the Heart from need for validation to compassion; at the Throat from competition to collaboration; at the Third Eye from control to inspiration; finally at the Crown from discontent and confusion to gratitude and acceptance.

The chakra process is both individual and collective, personal and transpersonal at each Chakra level as well as evolution from Root to Crown chakra. Wherever the kundalini energy is it can transform us.

We teach the chakra energization process as part of our Create Your Future program. In the longer version, Maslow, Dilt, Graves’ and several other interventions are used, with a final application of the Chakra process to cleanse, heal, transform and realize.

For more on this contact us.


Webinar on Cultural Transformation Using Barrett’s Levels of Consciousness Tools

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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