The road less traveled

M. Scott Peck

12.05.2020 by Callie

Dealing with painfulness and suffering

  • Life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

  • What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one.

  • Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure, because of which we grow mentally and spiritually.

  • Suffering is legitimate; there is a need to direct face the problem and experience the pain.

  • Four techniques of suffering: delay of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing.

  • To willing to confront a problem early means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for now but can enjoy tranquility later.

  • The process of making revisions, particularly major revisions, is painful, sometimes extremely painful. We must consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant, and even welcome it.

  • The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One measure – and perhaps the best measure – of a person’s greatness is the capacity for suffering.

Marriage and True Loving

  • Sometimes a couple will switch their roles in family affairs – such as husbands cooking and wives mowing the lawn or repairing electronics. This is a process (even unconsciously) that diminishes their mutual dependency – a good marriage can exist only between two strong and independent people.

  • Love is not a feeling. A genuinely loving individual will take loving and constructive action toward a person she or he consciously dislikes, feeling no love toward the person and perhaps even finding the person repugnant in some way.

  • Withholding the truth is always potentially a lie. The decision to withhold the truth should never be based on personal needs, but entirely upon the needs of the person from whom the truth is being withheld. However, this requires a good assessment of that person’s capacity to utilize the truth for his or her own spiritual growth. This is related to one parenting rule: whether to hold family secrets from the children.

Feelings, Consciousness, Unconsciousness

  • Depression is a normal and basically healthy phenomenon: it’s signaling that major change is required for successful and evolutionary adaption. Usually, this is because of a conflict between consciousness and unconsciousness, where unconsciousness is one step ahead of consciousness.

  • People’s feelings are their slaves and the art of self-discipline is like the art of slave-owning. The owner must treat one’s feelings (slaves) with respect, responding to their voices, encouraging them, inquiring as to their health, organizing them, limiting them, redirecting them, and teaching them, all the while leaving no doubt as to who is the boss.

  • Our unconscious is wiser than what we are about everything. Unconsciousness is wiser than consciousness. Pay enough attention to one’s unconsciousness. One way that unconsciousness manifests itself and speaks to us is through our behavior, such as slips of the tongue and other “mistakes in behavior, or “Freudian slips”.

  • Spiritual power is not simply awareness; it is the capacity to maintain one’s ability to still make decisions with greater and greater awareness (consciousness).

  • While our conscious mind denies painful reality by resorting to “defense mechanisms”, our unconscious knows the true score and attempts to help us through symptoms, to notify that something is wrong. This is the reason that mental illness is manifestations of grace – a gift from God, a message from unconsciousness, to initial self-examination and repair. The symptoms are the beginning of the cure.

  • “Many are called but few are chosen” – not many people can recognize, appreciate and take advantage of the grace. We cannot seek for grace, but we can by will open ourselves to its miraculous coming by making ourselves into totally disciplined, wholly loving individuals.

Spiritual Growth and Grace

  • Grace is “valuable or agreeable things not sought for”, which is provided by God to everyone. Some take advantage of it while others do not. One of the reasons is that we are not fully aware of its presence. Serendipitous events occur to us but frequently we fail to recognize their serendipitous nature.

  • There are two paradox forces in nature: the force of entropy and the flow of evolution. The nature downhill flow of energy is the force of entropy, representing laziness, falling back to origin and undifferentiation; yet, the flow of evolution is a miracle, running against the natural law by increasing organization and differentiation. In human nature, the two forces coexist: laziness, and the will to evolve.

  • Original sin does exist; it is our laziness. A major form that laziness takes is fear – the fear of changing, of the hard work that one has to do. Those who are in the relatively more advanced stages of spiritual growth are the very ones most aware of their own laziness. A mark of the spiritually advanced is their awareness of their own laziness.


  • If you suffer together with your children, they will know that “suffering must not be so bad and I should be willing to suffer by myself”, which is the beginning of self-discipline. Also, it teaches them not to run away from problems.

  • If children accept sufficient love from their parents, they can build a consistent safety of the world. Such a child is free to delay gratification, knowing that the opportunity for future gratification is always secured (home, parents’ love, not being abandoned, etc.).

  • Hiding problems (parents’ fighting, financial problems, etc.) from children is not always good for them. By doing so, the children are deprived of the knowledge they might gain about money, illness, drugs, sex, marriage, and people in general. Finally, they’re deprived of role models of openness and honesty.

  • Loving one’s children is acting other than saying. To attend is to spend time with, and the quality of the attention is proportional to the intensity of concentration during that time. In the contrast, nonlove is laziness.

  • If you give your child the same esteem you would give a great lecturer, then the child will know him- or herself to be valued and therefore will feel valuable. There is no better way to teach your children that they are valuable than by valuing them. Second, the more children feel valuable, the more they will begin to say things of value, and they will rise to your expectation of them. Finally, the more the children know that you value them, the more willing they will be to listen to you and afford you the same esteem. Value creates value; love begets love.

  • During parenting, parents have more to gain than their children. Parents who are unwilling to risk the suffering of changing and growing and learning from their children are choosing a path of senility, and their children and the world will leave them far behind. Learning from their children is the best opportunity most people must assure themselves of a meaningful old age.