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THE ROAD LESS

TRAVELLED
Book: The Road Less Travelled
Author: M. Scott Peck
Genre: Self Help Book
First Edition: 1978

THE BOOK REVIEW


I went to this seminar and the speaker asked us at the end of seminary that “write down if
you had yourself stranded on a desert or island or you had to evacuate your city the what are
the 10 books you would take with you?”

It’s a strange thing for me to say that one of the books I would be reading is the Road Less
Travelled because it is pop psychology and because people take issue with scott peck. He
gave an interview in which the interviewer asked him that “you had a problem with
alcoholism, you were unfaithful to your wife multiple times and in the footnote of the book
you have talked about open marriage, you have also talked that you would sleep with one of
your clients. What are you going to say to people. On one hand you are talking about how to
be mentally healthy and the role that discipline plays and how we’ve got to be disciplined if
we’re to be happy”. To this Peck replied “I have never told anybody to follow my example”.

Peck is one of the few very eminent, intelligent, omniscient and experienced psychologist
that actually tried to do that.

The book is split into 4 distinct sections.


1. Discipline
2. Love
3. Growth and Religion
4. Grace
The very first line of the book highlights one of the biggest truths we will ever have to face:
“LIFE IS DIFFICULT”. When we truly understand and accept that life is difficult, then life
becomes no longer difficult.
This brings us to the first lesson “Discipline” We procrastinate and make up excuses
hoping that problem will go away. But they won’t. Actually, confronting and solving
problem is what helps us grow.

a. There are 3 tools which might help in solving the issues and they are: Accepting
Responsibility
b. Delayed Gratification
c. Dedication to Truth

As a psychiatrist Peck has faced many patients who were not willing to take
responsibility for their illness and were looking for a quick fix. As a result, they dropped
out of therapy and chose to remain sick instead.
Delayed gratification, which involves suffering now to have a more pleasurable future and
this is important skill for an individual to master as it can be applied to numerous aspects of
our life such as health and fitness, finance and spiritual growth.

The third is dedication to truth. This involves constantly examining and contemplating
what you believe to be true and not telling lies to yourself to make things easier.

Lesson 2: “Love” Peck gives some tips to nurture true love in this book.

1. True love is not dependency as dependency is more like the relationship of a parasite
where it requires everything from the host but gives nothing in return.

2. Genuine love is where each person respects one another’s idiosyncrasy and sees each
other as someone with a dissever identity. This applies to your love for your intimate
partner, friends and family.

3. In case of intimate relationship you should value the person more than valuing the
relationship. We are individuals with unique identities and goal

4. Courage: You need courage because the act of loving someone puts you at the risk
of losing them and their associated suffering. But the act of loving someone else is a
potent factor to spiritual growth.

Lesson 3: Growth & Religion: Currently the definition of religion is too narrower and Peck
believes that it needs to be a much more encompassing term including all the views and ideas
that makes up one’s worldview and thus everyone would then have a religion.
Peck also points out that religion can also hinder or promote the spiritual growth away
from an individual. And this is dependent on the interpretation of religion ad its principles.
The final point he makes in this section is that science and religion seem like antipodean as
those who are very much in science cannot be very reverent and those who are very religious
cannot be very scientific.

Lesson 4: Grace: Peck’s definition of grace is a universal force that assists spiritual growth
and includes what one would describe as miracles. He talks about how there are many
bacteria that are omnipresent but we are perfectly healthy. But in some individuals these
same bacteria can cause disease and even death.

One of Peck’s point is evolution as he delves into the second law of thermodynamics. A
basic explanation of this law is that a universe moves from an ordered state to a disordered
state and thus evolution is the opposite of this. It takes things from a disordered state to a
more ordered state and thus this is a miracle and it must be guided by some force which Peck
calls grace.
At the end of the book, Peck starts to talk about some more abstract concepts. These
concepts can be controversial as he goes into the purpose of spiritual growth. His view is that
the ultimate purpose of spiritual growth is to become God. Now this is an interesting concept
as some people will be completely against this but others who are more in line with the New
Age movement might agree with this concept.

And now I would like to move towards the cessation of this review with an insightful
quote from the book.

“Love is everywhere, I see it.

You are all that you can be, go on and be it.

Life is perfect, I believe it.

Come and play the game with me.”