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Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  585 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Proposing religious experience as a legitimate subject for scientific investigation, Maslow studies the human need for spiritual expression.
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1964)
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Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
This book is one of my all time top 3 reads. A must for everybody. A duty for every parent and every teacher ... we don't need another brick in the wall.

Abraham Maslow’s wrote in his 1964 title “Religions, Values and Peak-Experiences” about value free education: The most charitable thing we can say about this state of affairs if that American education is conflicted and confused about its far goals and purposes. But for many educators [and I have to include here the parent as the primary educato
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
An important topic (the transcendental) covered by an important dude (Maslow's hierarchy of needs!) - but overall disappointing. It was disappointing for two reasons: first, Maslow first establishes this normative, value-laden definition of the transcendental experience (the "peak experience") as something beyond the small minds of "positivists" (that is, empiricists, behavioralists, etc.). But then he tries to shoehorn that very same scientific method from that very same post-Enlightenment trad ...more
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
Many people will find this book enlightening and that if confirms their own New Age spirituality biases, but as a scholar of comparative religion, I can't rate this book very highly. First of all, it is very dated and there is so much more that we know about the psychology of mystical experiences since it was written in the 1960s (published in 1970). Second, like Erich Fromm, he has only a superficial knowledge of religion as a subject. It seems to be a failing of psychiatrists that they can't g ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: psychology
While traditional psychology has focused primarily on human disease, Abraham Maslow made a name for himself by researching psychological health, especially in its more extreme manifestations. As such, he is a refreshing read. Better than just another feel-good, self-help writer, he actually presents data, much of it his original work.

If he were a better writer, I'd give him the fifth star. Unfortunately, he is an academic writer and even his popular books have that characteristic air of detachme
Bob Nichols
The long and short on this short book is that "peakers" are good and "non-peakers" are not so good. Peakers are those who in some form or another, either through momentary or sustained experiences through time, maximize their full human potential. These are the self-actualizers. As to what constitutes this potential, Maslow lists them in Appendix G (truth, goodness, beauty, wholeness, dichotomy-transcendence, aliveness, uniqueness, perfection, completion, justice, order, simplicity, richness, ef ...more
Bart Everson
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in positive psychology, science and religion, peak-experiences
Brilliant, but also frustrating.

Don't expect an orderly scientific approach. Maslow barely defines his terms. Try as I might, I could not find a coherent, succinct definition of the "peak-experience" here, though one can infer much from the text. Maslow also throws around terms like B-cognition and B-values, which were opaque to me, perhaps because I'm not schooled in the discipline of psychology.

There are some suspect ideas about gender, especially in the final appendix. In fact, there are pro
Sep 14, 2018 marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
In a small gem of a book, Religions, Values, and Peak Experiences, Maslow listed twenty-five common features of peak experiences, nearly all of which can be found somewhere in William James. Here are some: The universe is perceived as a unified whole where everything is accepted and nothing is judged or ranked; egocentrism and goal-striving disappear as a person feels merged with the universe (and often with God); perceptions of time and space are altered; and the person is flooded with feelings ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
An important statement of how Abraham Maslow, the humanist psychologist, grappled with the truth of religious experience. In the hope of retaining its beauty and wonder, he sacrificed its personality. God became non-god. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche:

God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? the holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife; who will wipe
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter2015
Writing a book review on Jan 1, 2016 at 7:45am. I'm off to a good start.

I used to love Maslow's books because they point to higher values and transcendence and all that good stuff an 18-year-old aspired. But the implicit assumption in these types of books is that most people are empty and wasting their potential and only slightly better than automatons, with which I now do have a big problem.

Maybe I've already distanced myself from the more vacuous type, but there is not a single person among
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this in college, then again as a grown-up a few years ago. Maslow posits that human beings can have moments of insight, transcendence, and personal growth that are psychological instead of supernatural. Great book.
Dec 05, 2014 added it
Shelves: nonfic, excerpts
I tried--well, a little. Read the intro and part of the first chapter. I have respect for what I know of Maslow's work (basically hierarchy of needs and peak experiences), but going forward I'll be content to let others distill him for me.
Ian Reynir
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An impressive and influential book. It is relatively short and to the point. The concept of a peak experience, specifically regarding transcendent experiences, was very influential on my work.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Completed in 1964, Maslow's Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences is an ambitious little book that attempts to show, among other things, how "Organized Religion, the churches, finally may become the major enemies of the religious experience and the religious experiencer." If this does not make sense, you might consider, as I did, that friend who describes herself as "really spiritual but not religious." For a long time, I tended to find such people a little silly (if this is you, dear internet ...more
Heather Maschenik
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found the majority of this book to be quite interesting and thought-provoking. I did not find it to be particularly new-agey as some other reviewers have suggested. I felt it provided balanced criticisms on both organized religions and atheism/intellectualism. I would classify this essay as philosophy rather than psychology, due to the spotty data collection and subjectivity of the matters discussed.
The book became extremely phallocentric in the last chapter, which I found jolting as there was
Seekers of Unity
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great little work, read it twice. First in Tekoa when I spent the weekend at the Mandel’s and then again on the plane on the way back to Israel. Maslow got a little tired of studying psychologically unwell people all the time and decided for a change to study the most well people he could find. He found that these people had something in common, something which they’d experienced on occasion. Maslow labeled this experience, the peak experience, psychologies’ mystical experience lite. In the book ...more
Laura Verret
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mckays
Quite an interesting little treatise on the idea of the “peak experience” (a moment at which a subject feels himself at once distended from and in ultimate union with reality in such a way that they achieve startling clarity regarding questions of meaning, existence, good & evil, etc.) to which I was quite prepared to give, say, 3.5 stars. Then came Appendix I with its absurdist / appalling approach to gender relations and now I’m struggling to give the book two stars.

What a kettle of fish.
Jason Comely
The first third of the book Maslow rails against organized "big R" religion. He is overly-extreme in his criticisms (Maslow admits as much in the preface) and I almost gave up on the book because of it. Good thing I didn't, as his studies on peak-experiences and the peakers who have them is fascinating.
Sam Jennings
Interesting viewpoint

This is an interesting viewpoint with plenty of resources and references from the psychological to the religious.
However, with so many references the central idea is too repetitive.
Manuel Brenner
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Insightful, concise, well-written and filled with many quoteworthy paragraphs. Great in conjunction with Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy", as it connects the psychological concept of "peak experiences" with the experiential foundation of pretty much all major religions
Mihai Cosareanu
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's written in a very complicated manner with a complex vocabulary. I can't say I understood much from it and it was very hard to focus. Maybe I need to read it again when I'm older, until then ... 2 stars.
Ray Du
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Not well written, but some great ideas here and there.
Mina Zamani
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like it's view
Mark S.
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maslow at his best!
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Bob by: David Abelson
A thought-provoking exploration of the confluence of "religion" (with a small r)and science in the latter part of the 20th Century, as evidenced by "peak experiences" (both natural and drug-induced). Maslow writes persuasively of the importance of small r "religious values" in education, and in life generally.
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I first encountered Maslow studying Self-Actualization in college; Maslow included an element of "Re-Sacrilization" as an element, i.e., an ability to rediscover faith after leaving it earlier in life. He continues this respectful treatment of religion, here, while warning about the negative consequences of an unthinking faith life, or focusing in such a way as to disavow one's very humanity.
Allison Hawn
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I felt like rereading this examination on the relationship between science and spiritual experiences after several years. Maslow definitely makes some excellent points regarding the fact that the dichotomy between science and spiritual (read: religious) experiences is a false one. I do feel that Maslow was a bit repetitive in his points, but he did use excellent examples to back them up.
Shaun Marais
This book felt like a waste of time to read.

In it Maslow writes about his views about religion and peak experiences and imagines what a different society would look like.

Maslow’s view of men and women no longer holds as definitions of masculinity and femininity have changed.
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
peak experiences and "peek" experiences. all good things.
Aug 05, 2010 marked it as to-read
Referenced in "Deeper than Words" (Steindle-Rast) p.80.

On request from Library 8/9/10.
Mar 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
Zero stars. Utter new age garbage. Shocked and disappointed.
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In 1908, Abraham H. Maslow was born, the first of seven children, to immigrant Russian Jewish parents, in New York City. He received his BA in 1930, his MA in 1931 and his Ph.D in 1934, all in psychology, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Maslow taught full time at Brooklyn College, then at Brandeis, where he was named Chair of Psychology in 1951. Maslow, a humanist-based psychologist, is ...more

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“The search for the exotic, the strange, the unusual, the uncommon has often taken the form of pilgrimages, of turning away from the world, the 'Journey to the East,' to another country or to a different religion. The great lesson from the true mystics, from the Zen monks, and now also from the Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists -- that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred -- this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.” 5 likes
“The empirical fact is that self-actualizing people, our best experiencers, are also our most compassionate, our great improvers and reformers of society, our most effective fighters against injustice, inequality, slavery, cruelty, exploitation (and also are best fighters for excellence, effectiveness, competence). And it also becomes clearer and clearer that our best 'helpers' are the most fully human persons. What I may call the bodhisattvic path is an integration of self-improvement and social zeal, i.e., the best way to become a better 'helper' is to become a better person. But one necessary aspect of becoming a better person is via helping other people. So one must and can do both simultaneously.” 5 likes
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