Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finishing The Road Less Traveled

I finished M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Growth.

My latest reading covered a lot of interesting ground, such as Peck's belief that God is guiding us to spiritual and moral advancement through our personal and collective unconscious.  Peck equates the collective unconscious with God, but he also says that the wisdom of the past has been transmitted to us genetically.  So does Peck maintain that God helps and guides us in spite of ourselves, or does he believe that we have to receive God's assistance in order to grow?  A little of both, I think.  In terms of physical and spiritual health, Peck observes a general resiliency within humanity, and he also notes that we have instincts that enable us to anticipate and avoid danger, sometimes in a psychic sense.  Peck also states that society is evolving morally, for a number of things that we would judge as bad (i.e., poor parenting) were not considered to be particularly bad in the past.  At the same time, however, Peck holds that we need to overcome our laziness to get better.  Peck refers to the story of Adam and Eve, who lazily followed the serpent rather than asking to hear God's rationale for why they shouldn't eat the forbidden fruit.  A priest on the television series Six Feet Under made a similar point.  

Peck also affirms that our goal in spiritual growth is Godhood.  I'm not sure if he believes that this relates to the afterlife, but he does appear to hold that our becoming like God has ramifications for the here and now: As we become disciplined and poised, we have power in a number of situations and challenges.  But Peck is clear that we should exercise that power with humility.  Peck also envisions people becoming agents of God's love.  Peck strikes me as quite mystical.  See here, here, and here for my posts on the concept of deification within ancient Christianity and/or philosophy.

Do I buy into what Peck is saying?  I don't know.  Perhaps there are times when there are coincidences that help us out.  Peck refers to a time when he was struggling to write a part of his book, and a lady who didn't even like him that much lent him a book that helped him over that hump.  Does the universe help us out, at times?  Personally, I have a hard time ruling out luck, especially considering the times in the world when people are not so lucky.

I'd like to close this post by quoting something that Peck says on page 309 about loving and being loved:
"Everyone wants to be loved.  But first we must make ourselves lovable.  We must prepare ourselves to be loved.  We do this by becoming ourselves loving, disciplined human beings.  If we seek to be loved----if we expect to be loved----this cannot be accomplished; we will be dependent and grasping, not genuinely loving.  But when we nurture ourselves and others without a primary concern of finding reward, then we will have become lovable, and the reward of being loved, which we have not sought, will find us."

It's better to give than to receive.  I should remind myself of that on a daily basis, especially when I'm afraid to greet people by name because I fear that they will reject me.

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