Needs & Actions – Towards the Gift Tensegrity (3)

Timothy Wilken

If we are to create a safe and comfortable future, we must understand our connection to life. Our life connection is not only relevant, it is the crucial factor in determining a safe passage through the current human crisis. A fundamental way of looking at life is by examining needs and actions and their relationship to survival.

All living organisms have needs. The primary drive of all living organisms is to survive—to continue to live. To accomplish survival, living organisms require a zone of survivability. In science we call this zone of survivability the biosphere. The biosphere is the environmental zone where a living organism can meet its needs and act to survive.

Life on Earth can be divided into three general classes—these are the plants, the animals, and we humans. These three classes of life each require a different biosphere to meet their needs.

Plants need carbon dioxide from the air, sunlight, water, and adequate minerals from the soil. Plants are able to grow and reproduce by utilizing sunlight in the process science calls photosynthesis to create organic tissue .

Animals lack the plant’s power of photosynthesis. They cannot utilize sunlight to create organic tissue. They must eat food either in the form of plant or animal tissue. They further need oxygen from the air instead of carbon dioxide, and they require water.

Humans like the animals lack the power of photosynthesis. We too must eat food either in the form of plant or animal tissue. We also need oxygen from the air instead of carbon dioxide, and also require water.

The biosphere for plants must therefore provide sunlight, carbon dioxide, water, and minerals from the soil. It must also provide some shelter. It must not be too hot. It must not be too cold.

The biosphere for the animals, and for our humans bodies must provide oxygen, water, and food to eat either plant or animal. And for the animals as well as we humans, there must be some shelter—a safe place and time for the process of life itself—to breathe, eat and drink, to eliminate bodily wastes, to rest, and restore the body’s energy from the stresses of living, and to procreate if the species is to continue. The biosphere therefore must provide air, water, food, and shelter or neither animal nor human will survive.

Biospheres are also specific to individual species. One particular biosphere might support one species of organism well, but not another. So all living organisms have needs, and all living organisms act to meet those needs.


Let us now examine action more carefully.  Science, in 2001, reveals that “what is most basic is not material particles but activity. The older concept of a universe made up of physical particles interacting according to fixed laws is no longer tenable. It is implicit in present findings that action rather than matter is basic.”

Science has discovered action to be fundamental in non-living universe—light, particles, atoms, and simple molecules as well as within living universe—life itself—the living molecules, the plants, the animals, and we humans.

ïAction implies motion, movement, animation—process.

ïActions require energy to occur. No energy—no action.

ïActions have location in space. Actions always begin somewhere and end somewhere else. No location, no space—no action.

ïActions have duration. Actions always have a beginning and an ending. While some actions may occur in a very short time, they all require some time. There are no instantaneous actions in universe. No time—no action.

Because actions require energy, location or space, and time, synergic science sometimes uses the term energy event to describe what we commonly call action. R. Buckminster Fuller explains:

“Two different energy events cannot pass through the same point at the same time. When one energy event is passing through a given point and another impinges upon it, there is an interference.

“We find experimentally that two lines cannot go through the same point at the same time. One can cross over or be superimposed upon another. Both Euclidian and non-Euclidian geometries misassume that a plurality of lines can go through the same point at the same time. But we find experimentally that two or more lines cannot physically go through the same point at the same time.

“When a physicist bombards a group of atoms in a cloud chamber with a neutron, he gets an interference. When the neutron runs into a nuclear component: (1) it separates the latter into smaller components; (2) they bounce acutely apart (reflection); (3) they bounce obliquely (refraction); (4) they combine, mass attractively. The unique angles in which they separate or bounce off identify both known or unknown atomic-nucleus components.”

Therefore actions can not and do not occur in isolation. If they impinge on the environment or on others, they will effect or impact on the environment—they will effect or impact on others.

Actions can effect or impact on environment and/or on others in a negative and harmful way. It can effect or impact on environment and/or on others in a neutral or negligible way. Or it can effect or impact environment and/or on others in a positive and beneficial way. Therefore actions that effect or impact on others can produce the following results, using the language of games:

ïOther can lose. They are hurt by the action. They are less after the action than before.

ïïOther can draw. They are ignored by the action. They will be the same after the action as before.

ïïïOther can win. They are helped by the action. They are more after the action than before.

From the point of view of an individual effected or impacted by action, I can be hurt, I can be ignored, or I can be helped by the action.

ïActions that hurt are adversary.

ïïActions that ignore are neutral.

ïïïActions that help are synergic.

Because of the effect or impact that this action always has on the environment or upon other, we discover that action is always accompanied by two other phenomena—the reaction, and the resultant. The environment or other reacts at the beginning of the action. And the effect or impact on the environment or other at the end of the action produces a resultant.

Needs-Actions—the survival tensegrity

The main task of all living organisms is survival. Needs are continuously pulling on all living organisms to be met. To meet its needs, the living system must take action. Fourteen to Sixteen times a minute, I take a breath. Many times a day, I drink water. And two or three times a day, I eat food. My actions are discontinuous. Discontinuous means I have some control over when I act to meet my needs. I can eat now or a few hours from now. Survival for life forms can be described then as the process of continuous needs being met by discontinuous actions.

Life and living then is all about the continuing pull of our needs and the discontinuous push of the actions we take to meet those needs. Remember, a system of continuous pull balanced against discontinuous push is called a tension integrity or tensegrity in synergic science.

The needs of plants and animals are primarily physiological. Our human body shares the physiological needs of the animal. But what differentiates human from animal is our more powerful brain and mind. This dramatic difference in intelligence is reflected in our human needs.

Human needs

To survive for 24 hours, scientists have determined that the average human adult requires 1.84 pounds of oxygen, 1.36 pounds of food solids, and 6.86 pounds of water. For the majority of humans these basic needs seem pretty easily met. But few humans are satisfied with the basic needs as one very wise man once said, “Man does not live by bread alone.”

We humans need a lot more, and most of what we need has nothing to do with our bodies. An internet search for “human needs” results in lots of returns.

For example, Wackernagel and Rees writing in 1993, stated that “basic human needs are not only physical in nature … but also psychological, such as dignity and self-esteem, love and social connectedness, self-realization and control over one’s life”.

Another internet page lists nine human needs—security, adventure, freedom. expansion, power, expression, acceptance, communion, and exchange. These are not needs of the human body, but of the human mind.

A third internet page divides human needs into two categories based upon whether they are related to other or to self.

Other Related — Companionship,  Love and affection, To be wanted, Belongingness,  Esteem or respect of others, Security and safety

Self Related—Significance, Respect of self, Expression, Accomplishment, Acquisition of possessions, Independence and freedom

As we examine these needs, we begin to realize that the relationship between other and self is enormously important for humans.

Plant survival does not require any relationship with other. The plants unique ability to utilize sunlight directly to synthesize organic tissue frees them from the need for others. This fact makes plants the independent class of life—independent of other.

Animal survival depends entirely on finding others to eat. The herbivores depend on finding plants to eat. The carnivores depend on finding other animals to eat. The animals inability to utilize sunlight to synthesize organic tissue means they must eat. Animals survive by eating either plants or animals. Animals are completely dependent on other for survival. This fact makes animals the dependent class of life—dependent on other.

Human survival—we humans share the animal body, to survive we must also eat. We are omnivores. We meet our basic needs and survive by eating both plants and animals. Physiologically, we humans are also a dependent class of life. But humans need more than basic needs. Sometimes we need other and sometimes other needs us. Some scientists have used the term “the social animal” in reference to these social-psychological needs of humanity. And it is these social-psychological needs that makes humans more than dependent upon each other. This means sometimes I depend on other and sometimes other depends on me. This fact makes us humans the interdependent class of life—interdependent on each other.