A Road Less Traveled

”I suggest to you that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves. I suggest to you, furthermore, that when you feel that you could almost have written the book yourself — that’s the moment when it’s influencing you.” ~ E.M. Forster, 

I stumbled upon The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, in 1985, shortly after I stopped drinking and was flailing about trying to find some kind of anchor. I guess I was ready for this book, because from the beginning, I was engrossed. (All of the quotations in this post, unless otherwise attributed, are from The Road Less Traveled.)

 I’ll never forget my reaction to the very first sentence:

“Life is difficult.”

Yes! Yes! I read on…

💐”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.”

💐”Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience — to appreciate the fact that life is complex.” 

Wow! A fundamental truth about life wrapped up in a nutshell.

Yet how I yearned for security. I thought I was insecure because of the circumstances to which I was born. As a consequence, spent a portion of my early years engaged in a ongoing (losing) argument with life.

💐“Since [narcissists] deep down, feel themselves to be faultless, it is inevitable that when they are in conflict with the world they will invariably perceive the conflict as the world’s fault. Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They project their own evil onto the world. They never think of themselves as evil, on the other hand, they consequently see much evil in others.”

The Road Less Traveled challenged my understanding of life in an important way. I believed life rained on some more than others. Turns out I was wrong. Life rains on whomever it wants, whenever it wants, and no amount of me wishing it were different will ever change that fact.

Life comes with suffering. 

💐“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.”

I began to understand discipline was the key to living a spiritual life and I’d find that discipline in working a 12-step program — for the rest of my life. And, strange as it may sound, in working my program, I learned to love.

💐“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.”

The Road Less Traveled bridges psychotherapy and spirituality.

💐“The person with a secular mentality feels himself to be the center of the universe. Yet he is likely to suffer from a sense of meaninglessness and insignificance because he knows he’s but one human among five billion others — all feeling themselves to be the center of things — scratching out an existence on the surface of a medium-sized planet circling a small star among countless stars in a galaxy lost among countless galaxies.

💐”The person with the sacred mentality, on the other hand, does not feel herself to be the center of the universe. She considers the Center to be elsewhere. Yet she is unlikely to feel lost or insignificant precisely because she draws her significance and meaning from her relationship, her connection, with that Center, that Other.”

I’ve walked with this book now for nearly 40 years and can say:

Just a thought…


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