All of us need to make sense of the world around us and make sense of ourselves and our place in the world. We use existential modes in order to do this, which are organised around two different kinds of needs; ‘having-needs’ and ‘being-needs’.
Having-needs are needs that are met by having something, and are typically associated with the archetypal patterns attributed to the astrological sign of Taurus. At their heart, ‘having-needs’ are innately connected with survival. We need oxygen, water, food and shelter (amongst other things), without which we cannot survive. Meeting these types of needs requires us to classify, identify and categorise; food for example is divided up into categories like fruit and veg, carbs, proteins, sweet and savoury etc, while other things are categorised as tools such as cooking utensils, and yet others as luxuries and status items. In essence the need for things is driven by the ongoing life necessity to solve problems; if I can acquire a bike then I can get from A to B quicker than walking, and if I can acquire a car then not only can I travel faster I can also more easily travel longer distances; the having of things then is primarily to solve perceived problems.
Understanding core essential needs can be a gateway to freedom
Being-needs are quite different from ‘having-needs’, and they are met through becoming something. They too have a survival aspect, but rather than physical survival, ‘being needs’ are driven by a need to survive psychologically. For example we need to become knowledgeable or mature as life progresses; we cannot stand still otherwise we will suffer with depression and loss of meaning and purpose. ‘Being-needs’ also include the need to experience love (as opposed to desire or sex); the pursuit of love is deeply connected to the need to become something more through relationships (attributed to Libra and Scorpio). It is interesting to note that we ‘make love’ and ‘have sex’, highlighting the different approach we have to love, and how sex can be seen as a commodity.
To be in a loving relationship is to satisfy the need for meaning, maturity and personal growth - in this way love can be seen as a flow between two people of reciprocal realisation; through the natural mirroring of a significant other, we become something more in each passing moment. Unlike ‘having-needs’, we don’t think in terms of categories and commodities; we don’t look at the person we love and think we can easily replace them with someone else, because we don’t interact with someone we love in the having-mode. In essence being-needs are not about solving problems but about making life meaningful so that we are willing and able to stay the full duration of our time on Earth, without wanting to check-out early.
There is nothing wrong about the having-mode; we need food and water to live, and life is more comfortable when we have a warm dry house to live in etc. However in modern society we tend to overlook or devalue ‘being-needs’ and as a consequence put too much energy into ‘having-needs’ and even go so far as to try and satisfy our ‘being-needs’ through having more and more things, which simply does not work. In this way we suffer with modal-confusion, and in fact our modern culture is orientated around this phenomenon. Corporations and businesses using advertising, deliberately encourage this confusion: it serves market interests if we are confused in this way. For example notice how almost all adverts attempt to lure us into fulfilling our being-needs through having something. Think about the notion of success or maturity conflated with the idea of an expensive car, or the perception of youth and vitality with hair and skin products, or the notion of being more sexy with new clothes or some alcoholic drink etc.
There is a very real problem with modal confusion, because if we are always looking to the acquisition of things in order to feel more life meaning, then we will simply be unable to progress; more and more stuff won’t make us happy, because happiness is intrinsically linked to life purpose and meaning.
It can be a significant game-changer when we understand that we have legitimate ‘having-needs’ as well as ‘being-needs’ that must be met in different ways; only then can we dispel the modal confusion and set about attending to our ‘being-needs’ for a more fulfilled life.