The Road Less Traveled
(#Ad) The Road Less Traveled A New Psychology of Love, Values, and Spiritual Growth, published in 1978, is Peck’s best-known work, and the one that made his reputation. It is, in short, a description of the attributes that make for a fulfilled human being, based largely on his experiences as a psychiatrist and a person.
The book consists of four parts. In the first part Peck examines the notion of discipline, which he considers essential for emotional, spiritual, and psychological health, and which he describes as “the means of spiritual evolution”. The elements of discipline that make for such health include the ability to delay gratification, accepting responsibility for oneself and one’s actions, a dedication to truth, and “balancing”. “Balancing” refers to the problem of reconciling multiple, complex, possibly conflicting factors that impact on an important decision—on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another.
In the second part, Peck addresses the nature of love, which he considers the driving force behind spiritual growth. He contrasts his own views on the nature of love against a number of common misconceptions about love, including:
- that love is identified with romantic love (he considers it a very destructive myth when it is solely relying on “falling in love”),
- that love is related to dependency,
- that true love is linked with the feeling of “falling in love”.
Peck argues that “true” love is rather an action that one undertakes consciously to extend one’s ego boundaries by including others or humanity, and is therefore the spiritual nurturing—which can be directed toward oneself, as well as toward one’s beloved.
In the third part Peck deals with religion, and the commonly accepted views and misconceptions concerning religion. He recounts experiences from several patient case histories, and the evolution of the patients’ notion of God, religion, atheism—especially of their own “religiosity” or atheism—as their therapy with Peck progressed.
The fourth and final part concerns “grace”, the powerful force originating outside human consciousness that nurtures spiritual growth in human beings. To focus on the topic, he describes the miracles of health, the unconscious, and serendipity—phenomena which Peck says:
- nurture human life and spiritual growth,
- are incompletely understood by scientific thinking,
- are commonplace among humanity,
- originate outside the conscious human will.
He concludes that “the miracles described indicate that our growth as human beings is being assisted by a force other than our conscious will” (From Wikipedia)
Top 45 Best Quotes from “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck
“The only real security in life lies in relishing life’s insecurity.” — Scott Peck
“The attempt to avoid legitimate suffering lies at the root of all emotional illness.” — Scott Peck
“When we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us. It is for this reason that in chronic mental illness we stop growing, we become stuck. And without healing, the human spirit begins to shrivel.” — Scott Peck
“If your goal is to avoid pain and escape suffering, I would not advise you to seek higher levels of consciousness or spiritual evolution. First, you cannot achieve them without suffering, and second, insofar as you do achieve them, you are likely to be called on to serve in ways more painful to you, or at least demanding of you, than you can now imagine. Then why desire to evolve at all, you may ask. If you ask this question, perhaps you do not know enough of joy.” — Scott Peck
“If being loved is your goal, you will fail to achieve it. The only way to be assured of being loved is to be a person worthy of love, and you cannot be a person worthy of love when your primary goal in life is to passively be loved.” — Scott Peck
“We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves, just as we are incapable of teaching our children self-discipline unless we ourselves are self-disciplined. It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favor of someone else’s. We cannot forsake self-discipline and at the same time be disciplined in our care for another.” — Scott Peck
“Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word ‘judicious’ means requiring judgment, and judgment requires more than instinct; it requires thoughtful and often painful decision making. — Scott Peck
“My feelings of love may be unbounded, but my capacity to be loving is limited. I therefore must choose the person on whom to focus my capacity to love, toward whom to direct my will to love. True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.” — Scott Peck
“When I genuinely love I am extending myself, and when I am extending myself I am growing. The more I love, the longer I love, the larger I become. Genuine love is self-replenishing. The more I nurture the spiritual growth of others, the more my own spiritual growth is nurtured. I am a totally selfish human being. I never do something for somebody else but that I do it for myself. And as I grow through love, so grows my joy, ever more present, ever more constant.” — Scott Peck
“Great marriages cannot be constructed by individuals who are terrified by their basic aloneness, as so commonly is the case, and seek a merging in marriage. Genuine love not only respects the individuality of the other but actually seeks to cultivate it, even at the risk of separation or loss. The ultimate goal of life remains the spiritual growth of the individual, the solitary journey to peaks that can be climbed only alone.” — Scott Peck
“Everyone in our culture desires to some extent to be loving, yet many are not in fact loving. I therefore conclude that the desire to love is not itself love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. No matter how much we may think we are loving, if we are in fact not loving, it is because we have chosen not to love and therefore do not love despite our good intentions.” — Scott Peck
“Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit, we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Those things that hurt, instruct.’ It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome problems and actually to welcome the pain of problems.” — Scott Peck
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” — Scott Peck
“But many, so many, seek to avoid the pain of their problems by saying to themselves: ‘This problem was caused me by other people, or by social circumstances beyond my control, and therefore it is up to other people or society to solve this problem for me. It is not really my personal problem.’ The extent to which people will go psychologically to avoid assuming responsibility for personal problems, while always sad, is sometimes almost ludicrous.” — Scott Peck
“We can choose how to respond to the experience of falling in love, but we cannot choose the experience itself.” — M. Scott Peck
“We must accept responsibility for a problem before we can solve it. We cannot solve a problem by saying ‘It’s not my problem.’ We cannot solve a problem by hoping that someone else will solve it for us. I can solve a problem only when I say ‘ This is my problem and it’s up to me to solve it.’ ” — M. Scott Peck
“If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything. ” — M. Scott Peck
“The more honest one is, the easier it is to continue being honest, just as the more lies one has told, the more necessary it is to lie again. By their openness, people dedicated to the truth live in the open, and through the exercise of their courage to live in the open, they become free from fear.” — M. Scott Peck
“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.” — M. Scott Peck
“We fall in love only when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated.[…] No matter whom we fall in love with, we sooner or later fall out of love if the relationship continues long enough. This is not to say that we invariably cease loving the person with whom we fell in love. But it is to say that the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling in love always passes.” — M. Scott Peck
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” — M. Scott Peck
“We cannot be a source of strength unless we nurture our own strength. I believe that not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand but that ultimately they are indistinguishable.” — M. Scott Peck
“Move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain.” — M. Scott Peck
“It is not selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from non-love; it is the aim of the action.” — M. Scott Peck
“Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.” — M. Scott Peck
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” — M. Scott Peck
“Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional. The person who truely loves does so because of a decision to love. This person has made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present. …Conversely, it is not only possible but necessary for a loving person to avoid acting on feelings of love.” — M. Scott Peck
“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” — M. Scott Peck
To proceed very far through the desert, you must be willing to meet existential suffering and work it through. In order to do this, the attitude toward pain has to change. This happens when we accept the fact that everything that happens to us has been designed for our spiritual growth.” — M. Scott Peck
“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.” — M. Scott Peck
“I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” — M. Scott Peck
“Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds relationships, and it destroys rather than builds people.” — M. Scott Peck
“Whenever we seek to avoid the responsibility for our own behavior, we do so by attempting to give that responsibility to some other individual or organization or entity. But this means we then give away our power to that entity.” — M. Scott Peck
“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.” — M. Scott Peck
“Genuine love not only respects the individuality of the other but actually cultivates it, even at the risk of separation or loss. The ultimate goal of life remains the spiritual growth of the individual, the solitary journey to peaks that can be climbed only alone.” — M. Scott Peck
“Move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain.” — M. Scott Peck
“Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.” — M. Scott Peck
“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.” — M. Scott Peck
“Love always requires courage and involves risk.” — M. Scott Peck
“This inclination to ignore problems is once again a simple manifestation of an unwillingness to delay gratification. Confronting problems is, as I have said, painful. To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary.” – M. Scott Peck
“The act of loving is an act of self-evolution even when the purpose of the act is someone else’s growth.” — M. Scott Peck
“In thinking about miracles, I believe that our frame of reference has been too dramatic. We have been looking for the burning bush, the parting of the sea, the bellowing voice from heaven. Instead we should be looking at the ordinary day-to-day events in our lives for evidence of the miraculous, maintaining at the same time a scientific orientation.” ― M. Scott Peck
M. Scott Peck
Morgan Scott Peck (1936–2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book (#Ad) The Road Less Traveled, published in 1978.
Peck served in administrative posts in the government during his career as a psychiatrist. He also served in the US Army. His army assignments included stints as chief of psychology at the Army Medical Center in Okinawa, Japan, and assistant chief of psychiatry and neurology in the office of the surgeon general in Washington, DC. His first and best-known book, The Road Less Traveled, sold more than 10 million copies.
Peck’s works combined his experiences from his private psychiatric practice with a distinctly religious point of view. In his second book, People of the Lie, he wrote, “After many years of vague identification with Buddhist and Islamic mysticism, I ultimately made a firm Christian commitment – signified by my non-denominational baptism on the ninth of March 1980…” (Peck, 1983/1988, p11). One of his views was that people who are evil attack others rather than face their own failures. (From Wikipedia)