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Ohsawa’s Seven Levels Of Judgment

May 11, 2010

Why do people make the choices in life that they do?  What motivates people to make the food choices that they do?

George Ohsawa outlined “Seven Levels of Judgment” to help identify and understand the motivations of people in making life choices.  I have personally found them as fun and useful in understanding people and life in general.

1.  Survival

Survival is the most basic of reasons for making life decisions.  There is no other distinction present other than the drive to further one’s own existence, be it for the preservation of the physical self or that of the imagined ego.  This is the drive that had the men stranded in Andes Mountains after an airplane crash to eat the deceased.  Yet, even when food choices are present, there is no discernment of quality or quantity.  It is just the drive to eat anything until one is no longer hungry.

Persons who live on this level die a sudden death that, to themselves is usually unforeseen, including a heart attack, food poisoning or accident.

2.  Comfort

One level of discernment above survival (and includes it – all higher levels include previous ones) is comfort.  Life decisions are based purely on pain or pleasure, likes and dislikes.  This is the realm identified by Anthony Robbins as a core motivation of humanity.  It is what drives people to seek financial wealth and comfort at the expense of others.  People choose what they eat according to comfort and taste.  They are usually over-indulgent with one or more foods which they can’t control themselves. They will also stop at nothing to get what they want and often die in the process of obtaining it.  They also refuse to change their ways no matter what the external circumstances are. They often see their fate coming but do not have the will power or ability to change it.

They die from slow obsessive diseases like obesity, diabetes and infectious diseases.  They also die of drug over-doses and of general physical abuse and murder.

3.  Emotions and Relationships

This is the realm of relationships and appearances.  Choices made on this level no longer are only self-motivated but include consideration of those around us, principally those we love, as well as those we hate.  Life choices made on this level are done for reasons of honor, integrity, self-sacrifice, martyrdom as well as jealousy, vengeance, passion and so on.  People at this level are often concerned not just of survival and of comfort but also for social appearances, love, guilt, contempt and other emotional reasons associated with our behavior toward each other.  They choose, for example, to become vegan because they do not wish to kill animals or because it makes them feel and look better and for social recognition.

People at this level die of cancer and other non-congenital degenerative disorders.  They also commit suicide or are victims of crimes of passion.  They also die on battlefields and in war. These people often know that their life will end sooner than they wish but they don’t know how to change it.  There is often added melodrama to their deaths.

Notes on levels 1-3:

Choices made on levels 1-3 are concerned with the preservation of the ego and are all fear-based.  People who live on these levels live in constant fear of one kind or another.  Also, the majority of the world’s population lives on these three levels.

4.  Truth and Honesty

People at this level make life choices based on theoretical and factual evidence and reality.  They will make life choices based on theoretical ideas and will override all emotional reasoning including compassion and of maintaining relationships.  Their concern is not of their own opinions and personal desires but what is most reasonable, logical and documented course of action that anyone would do.  This is the first level that is no longer concerned with the existence of ego, but instead is concerned with something else beyond it.  They are concerned with truth and with leading a life that is justified and understood by all.  They have no secrets and they live lives unrestricted by anyone.  Their food choices are always changing and based on the latest findings of their own bodily needs, the latest discoveries and their own rationale.

People of this level become insane.  Their deaths are always related to the subject matter of whatever truth that their life’s pursuit is about.  They do not mind facing death and will sometimes put themselves at known risks in pursuit of whatever truth they seek.  They don’t know when or how they will die but they are very clear of the risks of death that they put themselves in.

5.  Social Justice

These people have “given up” their lives for whatever cause they have chosen to live and die for.  They are not martyrs but have chosen to devote the rest of their lives for one or more causes for the benefit of the world.  They eat in accordance with the motivations of all previous levels when with others and when alone, often very little and simple food just enough to merely sustain themselves to achieve their purpose.  They live their lives for benefit of all. They have no ego.  Their cause is their ego.

They are often assassinated.  For these people their own death is not a concern.  They are concerned with their cause and they know that their life is always at risk.  They don’t know exactly when they will die but they recognize that they have a chosen a life where death could occur at any moment.

6.  Universal Principle Or Natural Order

People on this level live and eat in accordance with nature and natural laws. They live simple lives with no egotistical ambition other than to harmonize with all.

They die of old age.  They often know exactly when, where and how they will die and can often choose it.

7.  Free spirits

These people live life without restraint of any kind.  They live and play on all previous levels but usually they are mostly invisible and unknown and cannot be recognized by others.  Their life is eternal.  To them life and death are inconsequential and are same thing.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Langlois permalink
    May 11, 2010 10:19 pm

    I want to be a free spirit!!!

    • Chris Lienhard permalink
      July 27, 2010 11:34 am

      Free spirit does not “want” nor does he appear on web logs.

  2. lynn Chittick permalink
    May 11, 2010 11:07 pm

    OK- thanks for the reminder of all my delusion for the day- laugh laugh- yes, I have been floating on the first three for a few years now- what can I say!!!
    Peace to you my dear brother- my book is in storage- in NY- I am in CA- I must get the reminders often- keep them coming!!!

  3. Nicole Rozen permalink
    May 12, 2010 4:07 am


  4. Alex Pappas permalink
    November 4, 2010 1:13 pm

    I believe the 7th level of judgment is the nondual state of absorption as described in Raja Yoga’s (Nirvakalpa Samadhi), Turiya (4th state of yoga consciousness), and/or Advaita Vedanta’s Satchidananda.

    There is no you or me in the nondual (not two) reality.

    Prem Shanti


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