December 9, 2013

Mandela Was A Self-Actualized, Dancing Wu Wei Master

Nelson Mandela was a rare human being that left giant shoes to fill.
It would have been nice if poverty had died before Nelson Mandela did, but at least he nailed the issue before he left. The fight is up to us now, to follow his footsteps and commit to becoming fully functional human beings, and powerful agents of change.

Nelson Mandela was a rarity. Like other highly evolved humans such as Gandhi and Mother Theresa, some say Mandela achieved the pinnacle of human achievement. It has nothing to do with possessions or money.

Using humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow's term from the 1940s, Mandela was "self-actualized".

Qualities of The Self-Actualized

  • Secure at all lower level needs
  • Compassionate 
  • Creative
  • Controls impulses
  • Comfortable in solitude 
  • Socially harmonious
  • Naturally powerful
  • Beyond needing the approval of others
  • Highly aware of own thoughts and the world beyond
  • Find meaning and purpose in life regardless of the situation

Maslow himself theorized that only 2% of the population would ever attain self-actualization. However, engaging in the pursuit of self-actualization, even if not fully achieved, still makes us better, more effective human beings.

In the same vein, Mandela could be considered what I call a Dancing Wu Wei Master. He had the mental and physical movements of a wise, old Taoist teacher. His actions were spontaneously, effortlessly, and naturally of benefit to all he contacted.

Wu Wei is the Taoist principle of the action of non-action. It is going with the flow rather than following a premeditated course.

Qualities of The Wu Wei Masters

  • Act without a sense of self
  • Give without any conditions
  • See without a preference
  • Respond perfectly to situations which arise
  • Actions are in alignment with the cycles of the natural world
  • Has realized one's place in the web of life
  • Thoughts, words and actions do no harm, and are spontaneously virtuous

From everything I have heard, Nelson Mandela was a model human being. He practiced forgiveness and compassion, and through that changed the world. He left giant shoes to fill, but we can boldly step into them, honour his life, and work toward our own self-actualization and induction into the group of Dancing Wu Wei Masters.

Along the way we will transform ourselves and the world around us. Nelson would be pleased.


  1. Thanks for this! What an amazing man the world has lost, but how fortunate to have had him for so long. I have always liked this quote of his: "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."


    1. Karen,

      He was a smart man that knew the benefits of forgiveness and compassion. Thanks for sharing the quote and your comment.

  2. Anonymous12/09/2013

    How better to honor Mandela's amazing life than to live our best lives?!


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