Prasanna Natarajan

The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (Classic Edition) - by Scott M. Peck

ISBN: 978-1568491585, READ: 2017-06-26, RATING: 610

A serious book written by a Psychotherapist. A very well-written and thorough book that attempts to answer broad existential questions about the meaning of life, religion, god, love, grace and spiritual growth.

The first chapter about “Self Discipline” is itself worth the money. It links many aspects like delayed gratification, assuming responsibility, accepting and understanding reality, and neurosis and character disorder. Just read the highlights below on these topics to get the author’s profound insights.

But the book began to drag in later chapters, especially religion and grace. It got tiresome. But I’m glad I finished the book and have all of the important highlights here.

See Amazon Page for details and reviews.

My Notes

LIFE IS DIFFICULT. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.1 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.

Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing. With only some discipline we can solve only some problems. With total discipline we can solve all problems

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

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.

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.

‘Those things that hurt, instruct.’

discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. It will become clear that these tools are techniques of suffering,

When we teach ourselves and our children discipline, we are teaching them and ourselves how to suffer and also how to grow.

What are these tools, these techniques of suffering, these means of experiencing the pain of problems constructively that I call discipline? There are four: delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing.

Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and 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.

They are the ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ parents. They may frequently get drunk in front of their children. They may fight with each other in front of their children without restraint, dignity or rationality.

In taking the time to observe and to think about their children’s needs, loving parents will frequently agonize over the decisions to be made, and will, in a very real sense, suffer along with their children. The children are not blind to this. They perceive it when their parents are willing to suffer with them, and although they may not respond with immediate gratitude, they will learn also to suffer. ‘If my parents are willing to suffer with me,’ they will tell themselves, ‘then suffering must not be so bad, and I should be willing to suffer with myself.’ This is the beginning of self-discipline

The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ – is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline

This feeling of being valuable is a cornerstone of self-discipline because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary. Self-discipline is self-caring.

To the child, abandonment by its parents is the equivalent of death.

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.

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.

WE CANNOT SOLVE life’s problems except by solving them.

neurotics, compared with character-disordered people, are easy to work with in psychotherapy because they assume responsibility for their difficulties and therefore see themselves as having problems. Those with character disorders are much more difficult, if not impossible, to work with because they don’t see themselves as the source of their problems; they see the world rather than themselves as being in need of change and therefore fail to recognize the necessity for self-examination

‘neurotics make themselves miserable; those with character disorders make everyone else miserable.’

‘The only reason I stay married to your father [mother] is because of you kids,’ or ‘I could have gone to college and been a success if it weren’t for having to support you.’ In such ways these parents in effect say to their children, ‘You are responsible for the quality of my marriage, my mental health and my lack of success in life.’ Since they lack the capacity to see how inappropriate this is, the children will often accept this responsibility, and insofar as they do accept it, they will become neurotic. It is in such ways that character-disordered parents almost invariably produce character-disordered or neurotic children. It is the parents themselves who visit their sins upon their children.

The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.

‘Take charge of me. You be the boss!’ 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, be it ‘fate’ or ‘society’ or the government or the corporation or our boss.

all patients come to psychiatrists with ‘one common problem: the sense of helplessness, the fear and inner conviction of being unable to ‘cope’ and to change things.’2 One of the roots of this ‘sense of impotence’ in the majority of patients is some desire to partially or totally escape the pain of freedom,

For truth is reality. That which is false is unreal. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world – the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions

Transference is that set of ways of perceiving and responding to the world which is developed in childhood and which is usually entirely appropriate to the childhood environment (indeed, often life-saving) but which is inappropriately transferred into the adult environment.

Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain. To have such discipline, we must be totally dedicated to truth. That is to say that we must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort. Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth.

all self-discipline might be refined as teaching ourselves to do the unnatural.

Insofar as the nature of the challenge is legitimate (and it usually is), lying is an attempt to circumvent legitimate suffering and hence is productive of mental illness.

Of the myriad lies that people often tell themselves, two of the most common, potent and destructive are ‘We really love our children’ and ‘Our parents really loved us.’ It may be that our parents did love us and we do love our children, but when it is not the case, people often go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the realization.

The type of discipline required to discipline discipline is what I call balancing,

Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom.

tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.

let us teach ourselves and our children the necessity for suffering and the value thereof, the need to face problems directly and to experience the pain involved.

When we love something it is of value to us, and when something is of value to us we spend time with it, time enjoying it and time taking care of it.

there is a defect in the approach to problem-solving more primitive and more destructive than impatiently inadequate attempts to find instant solutions, a defect even more ubiquitous and universal. It is the hope that problems will go away of their own accord.

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.’

MOST PEOPLE WHO come to see a psychiatrist are suffering from what is called either a neurosis or a character disorder. Put most simply, these two conditions are disorders of responsibility, and as such they are opposite styles of relating to the world and its problems. The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the person with a character disorder not enough.

the problem of distinguishing what we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence. It is never completely solved;

In a sense all children have character disorders, in that their instinctual tendency is to deny their responsibility for many conflicts in which they find themselves.

all children have neuroses, in that they will instinctually assume responsibility for certain deprivations that they experience but do not yet understand. Thus the child who is not loved by his parents will always assume himself or herself to be unlovable rather than see the parents as deficient in their capacity to love.

as adults, when we are physically healthy, our choices are almost unlimited. That does not mean they are not painful. Frequently our choices lie between the lesser of two evils, but it is still within our power to make these choices.

learn that the entirety of one’s adult life is a series of personal choices, decisions.

the biggest problem of map-making is not that we have to start from scratch, but that if our maps are to be accurate we have to continually revise them.

The life of wisdom must be a life of contemplation combined with action.

Genuine psychotherapy is a legitimate shortcut to personal growth which is often ignored.

A black lie is a statement we make that we know is false. A white lie is a statement we make that is not in itself false but that leaves out a significant part of the truth. The fact that a lie is white does not in itself make it any less of a lie or any more excusable. White lies may be every bit as destructive as black ones.

White-lying is considered socially acceptable in many of our relationships because ‘we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.’ Yet we may bemoan the fact that our social relationships are generally superficial.

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.

To be free people we must assume total responsibility for ourselves, but in doing so must possess the capacity to reject responsibility that is not truly ours. To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification

The period of intensive psychotherapy is a period of intensive growth, during which the patient may undergo more changes than some people experience in a lifetime.

the feeling associated with giving up something loved – or at least something that is a part of ourselves and familiar – is depression.

It is in the giving up of self that human beings can find the most ecstatic and lasting, solid, durable joy of life. And it is death that provides life with all its meaning.

Bracketing is essentially the act of balancing the need for stability and assertion of the self with the need for new knowledge and greater understanding by temporarily giving up one’s self – putting one’s self aside, so to speak – so as to make room for the incorporation of new material into the self.

must be sufficiently aware of my preconceived ideas and characteristic emotional distortions to bracket them long enough to welcome strangeness and novelty into my perceptual world.

Self-discipline is a self-enlarging process. The pain of giving up is the pain of death, but the death of the old is birth of the new. The pain of death is the pain of birth,

is also clear that the farther one travels on the journey of life, the more births one will experience, and therefore the more deaths – the more joy and the more pain.

Decisions affecting the lives of others must always be made. The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive.

if your goal is to avoid pain and escape suffering, I would not advise you to seek higher levels of consciousness or spiritual evolution.

A final word on the discipline of balancing and its essence of giving up: you must have something in order to give it up. You cannot give up anything you have not already gotten. If you give up winning without ever having won, you are where you were at the beginning: a loser.

You must forge for yourself an identity before you can give it up. You must develop an ego before you can lose it.

The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

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.

Will is desire of sufficient intensity that it is translated into action.

when there is no mother, no satisfactory mother substitute or when because of her own mental illness the mother is totally uncaring or uninterested – then the infant grows into a child or adult whose sense of identity is grossly defective in the most basic ways.

most of us feel our loneliness to be painful and yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition in which we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. The experience of falling in love allows us this escape – temporarily.

Falling in love has little to do with purposively nurturing one’s spiritual development. If we have any purpose in mind when we fall in love it is to terminate our own loneliness and perhaps insure this result through marriage. Certainly we are not thinking of spiritual development.

the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species. Or to put it in another, rather crass way, falling in love is a trick that our genes pull on our otherwise perceptive mind to hoodwink or trap us into marriage.

it is a necessary lie in that it ensures the survival of the species by its encouragement and seeming validation of the falling-in-love experience that traps us into marriage.

O’Neils’ book Open Marriage

we must be attracted toward, invested in and committed to an object outside of ourselves, beyond the boundaries of self. Psychiatrists call this process of attraction, investment and commitment ‘cathexis’ and say that we ‘cathect’ the beloved object.

By loving and cathecting his garden he has in quite a real way incorporated the garden within him, and by this incorporation his self has become enlarged and his ego boundaries extended.

Mysticism is essentially a belief that reality is oneness. The most literal of mystics believe that our common perception of the universe as containing multitudes of discrete objects – stars, planets, trees, birds, houses, ourselves – all separated from one another by boundaries is a misperception, an illusion.

this world of illusion that most of us mistakenly believe to be real, Hindus and Buddhists apply the word ‘Maya.’ They and other mystics hold that true reality can be known only by experiencing the oneness through a giving up of ego boundaries.

The path to sainthood goes through adulthood. There are no quick and easy shortcuts. Ego boundaries must be hardened before they can be softened. An identity must be established before it can be transcended.

When you require another individual for your survival, you are a parasite on that individual. There is no choice, no freedom involved in your relationship. It is a matter of necessity rather than love. Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.’

All of us have desires to be babied, to be nurtured without effort on our parts, to be cared for by persons stronger than us who have our interests truly at heart. No matter how strong we are, no matter how caring and responsible and adult, if we look clearly into ourselves we will find the wish to be taken care of for a change.

‘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.’

Healthy couples instinctively will switch roles from time to time. The man may cook a meal now and then, spend one day a week with the children, clean the house to surprise his wife; the woman may get a part-time job, mow the lawn on her husband’s birthday, or take over the checking account and bill-paying for a year.

The couple may often think of this role-switching as a kind of play that adds spice and variety to their marriage. It is this, but perhaps more important (even if it is done unconsciously), it is a process that diminishes their mutual dependency. In a sense, each spouse is training himself or herself for survival in the event of the loss of the other.

it is one of the behavioral hallmarks of passive dependent people in marriage that their role differentiation is rigid, and they seek to increase rather than diminish mutual dependency so as to make marriage more rather than less of a trap.

Now he must do all the shopping for the family himself or he must chauffeur her on all shopping expeditions. Because this behavior usually gratifies the dependency needs of both spouses, it is almost never seen as sick or even as a problem to be solved by most couples.

She was secure in the knowledge that he would not have an affair and leave her because he was so busy after work taking her shopping and driving the children around. He was secure in the knowledge that she would not have an affair and leave him because she did not have the mobility to meet people when he was away from her. Through such behavior, passive dependent marriages may be made lasting and secure, but they cannot be considered either healthy or genuinely loving, because the security is purchased at the price of freedom and the relationship serves to retard or destroy the growth of the individual partners.

‘Look, allowing yourself to be dependent on another person is the worst possible thing you can do to yourself. You would be better off being dependent on heroin. As long as you have a supply of it, heroin will never let you down; if it’s there, it will always make you happy. But if you expect another person to make you happy, you’ll be endlessly disappointed.’

power and money may be means to a loving goal. A person may, for instance, suffer a career in politics for the primary purpose of utilizing political power for the betterment of the human race. Or some people may yearn for riches, not for money’s sake but in order to send their children to college or provide themselves with the freedom and time for study and reflection which are necessary for their own spiritual growth.

Using our more specific definition, it is clear, for instance, that we can love only human beings.

it was a nurturing he did not need and that clearly retarded rather than furthered his spiritual growth. Other examples abound: mothers who push food on their already overweight children; fathers who buy their sons whole roomfuls of toys and their daughters whole closetfuls of clothes; parents who set no limits and deny no desires. 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.

THE MOTIVES BEHIND injudicious giving and destructive nurturing are many, but such cases invariably have a basic feature in common: the ‘giver,’ under the guise of love, is responding to and meeting his or her own needs without regard to the spiritual needs of the receiver.

true sexual sadomasochism is a relatively uncommon form of psychopathology. Much, much more common, and ultimately more serious, is the phenomenon of social sadomasochism, in which people unconsciously desire to hurt and be hurt by each other through their nonsexual interpersonal relations.

Love is not a feeling.

The misconception that love is a feeling exists because we confuse cathecting with loving. This confusion is understandable since they are similar processes, but there are also striking differences.

The mother who insisted upon driving her adolescent son to and from school clearly cathected the boy; he was important to her – but his spiritual growth was not.

Genuine love, on the other hand, implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom. When we are concerned for someone’s spiritual growth, we know that a lack of commitment is likely to be harmful and that commitment to that person is probably necessary for us to manifest our concern effectively.

couples sooner or later always fall out of love, and it is at the moment when the mating instinct has run its course that the opportunity for genuine love begins.

In a constructive marriage, just as in constructive therapy, the partners must regularly, routinely and predictably, attend to each other and their relationship no matter how they feel.

defined love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

When love exists it does so with or without cathexis and with or without a loving feeling.

True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.

The principal form that the work of love takes is attention. When we love another we give him or her our attention;

By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening.

There is no better and ultimately no other way to teach your children that they are valuable people than by valuing them.

The energy required for the discipline of bracketing and the focusing of total attention is so great that it can be accomplished only by love, by the will to extend oneself for mutual growth. Most of the time we lack this energy.

Basically, to attend is to spend time with, and the quality of the attention is proportional to the intensity of concentration during that time.

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear,

If we can live with the knowledge that death is our constant companion, traveling on our ‘left shoulder,’ then death can become in the words of Don Juan, our ‘ally,’ still fearsome but continually a source of wise counsel.

Growing up is the act of stepping from childhood into adulthood. Actually it is more of a fearful leap than a step, and it is a leap that many people never really take in their lifetimes. Though they may outwardly appear to be adults, even successful adults, perhaps the majority of ‘grown-ups’ remain until their death psychological children who have never truly separated themselves from their parents and the power that their parents have over them.

The process of growing up usually occurs very gradually, with multiple little leaps into the unknown, such as when an eight-year-old boy first takes the risk of riding his bike down to the country store all by himself or a fifteen-year-old goes out on his or her first date. If you doubt that these represent real risks, then you cannot remember the anxiety involved.

If we have loving, forgiving parents, we are likely to believe in a loving and forgiving God. And in our adult view the world is likely to seem as nurturing a place as our childhood was. If our parents were harsh and punitive, we are likely to mature with a concept of a harsh and punitive monster-god. And if they failed to care for us, we will likely envision the universe as similarly uncaring.

There is no such thing as a good hand-me-down religion. To be vital, to be the best of which we are capable, our religion must be a wholly personal one, forged entirely through the fire of our questioning and doubting in the crucible of our own experience of reality.

One of our problems is that very few of us have developed any distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand, even our emotions. In many cases we have to rely on secondhand information in order to function. I accept the word of a physician, a scientist, a farmer, on trust. I do not like to do this. I have to because they possess vital knowledge of living of which I am ignorant. Secondhand information concerning the state of my kidneys, the effects of cholesterol, and the raising of chickens, I can live with. But when it comes to questions of meaning, purpose, and death, secondhand information will not do. I cannot survive on a secondhand faith in a secondhand God. There has to be a personal word, a unique confrontation, if I am to come alive.

‘You have a religion,’ I may say, ‘a rather profound one. You worship the truth. You believe in the possibility of your growth and betterment: the possibility of spiritual progress. In the strength of your religion you are willing to suffer the pains of challenge and the agonies of unlearning. You take the risk of therapy, and all this you do for the sake of your religion.

Divorce was out; that was a sin, unthinkable.

closet, don’t you?’ ‘Look,’ Ted wailed, ‘you don’t know what it’s like for me. You don’t know what it’s like to be me. Every time I opened my mouth to be enthusiastic about something my brothers would tease me for it.’ ‘So I guess you’re still ten years old,’ I remarked, ‘and your brothers are still around.’ Ted was actually crying now with frustration at me. ‘That’s not all,’ he said, weeping. ‘That’s how my parents punished me. Whenever I did something wrong they took what I loved away from me.

Fifteen years ago, when I graduated from medical school, I was certain that there were no miracles. Today I am certain that miracles abound.

The fact that many such marriages fail should not be taken to mean that marriage is either impossible or inadvisable

the universe is in a process of winding down. The example frequently used to describe this process is that of a stream, which naturally flows downhill. It takes energy or work – pumps, locks, humans carrying buckets, or other means – to reverse this process, to get back to the beginning, to put the water back on top of the hill. And this energy has to come from somewhere else. Some other energy system has to be depleted if this one is to be maintained. Ultimately, according to the second law of thermodynamics, in billions and billions of years, the universe will completely wind down until it reaches the lowest point as an amorphous, totally disorganized, totally undifferentiated ‘blob’ in which nothing happens any more. This state of total disorganization and undifferentiation is termed entropy.

The natural downhill flow of energy toward the state of entropy might be termed the force of entropy. We can now realize that the ‘flow’ of evolution is against the force of entropy. The process of evolution has been a development of organisms from lower to higher and higher states of complexity, differentiation and organization. A virus is an extremely simple organism, little more than a molecule. A bacterium is more complex, more differentiated, possessing a cell wall and different types of molecules and a metabolism. A paramecium has a nucleus, cilia, and a rudimentary digestive system. A sponge not only has cells but begins to have different types of cells interdependent upon each other. Insects and fish have nervous systems with complex methods of locomotion, and even social organizations. And so it goes, up the scale of evolution, a scale of increasing complexity and organization and differentiation, with man, who possesses an enormous cerebral cortex and extraordinarily complex behavior patterns, being, as far as we can tell, at the top. I state that the process of evolution is a miracle, because insofar as it is a process of increasing organization and differentiation, it runs counter to natural law. In the ordinary course of things, we who write and read this book should not exist.

To explain the miracles of grace and evolution we hypothesize the existence of a God who wants us to grow – a God who loves us.

If we postulate that our capacity to love, this urge to grow and evolve, is somehow ‘breathed into’ us by God, then we must ask to what end. Why does God want us to grow? What are we growing toward? Where is the end point, the goal of evolution? What is it that God wants of us? It is not my intention here to become involved in theological niceties, and I hope the scholarly will forgive me if I cut through all the ifs, ands, and buts of proper speculative theology. For no matter how much we may like to pussyfoot around it, all of us who postulate a loving God and really think about it eventually come to a single terrifying idea: God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution. It is God who is the source of the evolutionary force and God who is the destination.

laziness is the force of entropy

those who are in the relatively more advanced stages of spiritual growth are the very ones most aware of their own laziness. It is the least lazy who know themselves to be sluggish.

love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love. Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil. Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth.

love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love. Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil. Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth.

love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love. Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil. Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth.

Ordinary laziness is nonlove; evil is antilove.

Ordinary laziness is nonlove; evil is antilove.

love is the antithesis of laziness. Ordinary laziness is a passive failure to love. Some ordinarily lazy people may not lift a finger to extend themselves unless they are compelled to do so. Their being is a manifestation of nonlove; still, they are not evil. Truly evil people, on the other hand, actively rather than passively avoid extending themselves. They will take any action in their power to protect their own laziness, to preserve the integrity of their sick self. Rather than nurturing others, they will actually destroy others in this cause. If necessary, they will even kill to escape the pain of their own spiritual growth.

It is for the individual to become totally, wholly God. Does this mean that the goal is for the conscious to merge with the unconscious, so that all is unconsciousness? Hardly. We now come to the point of it all. The point is to become God while preserving consciousness.

Many aspects of the reality of the world and of our relationship to the world are painful to us. We can understand them only through effort and suffering. All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, attempt to avoid this effort and suffering. We ignore painful aspects of reality by thrusting certain unpleasant facts out of our awareness.

mental illness is a family affair, created in one by one’s parents and grandparents as the sins of the father are visited upon the children. But Orestes did not blame his family – his parents or his grandfather – as he well might have. Nor did he blame the gods or ‘fate.’ Instead he accepted his condition as one of his own making and undertook the effort to heal it.

the severity of one’s mental illness is directly determined by the severity and the earliness of the parental deprivation that one experienced in childhood. Specifically, individuals with psychoses are thought to have experienced extremely poor parenting in the first nine months of life; their resulting illness can be ameliorated by this or that form of treatment, but it is almost impossible to cure. Individuals with character disorders are thought to have experienced adequate care as infants but very poor care during the period between roughly nine months and two years of age, with the result that they are less sick than psychotics but still quite sick indeed and very difficult to cure. Individuals with neuroses are thought to have received adequate parenting in their very early childhood but then to have suffered from poor parenting sometime after the age of two but usually beginning before the age of five or six. Neurotics are therefore thought to be less sick than either character-disordered people or psychotics, and consequently much easier to treat and cure.

the severity of one’s mental illness is directly determined by the severity and the earliness of the parental deprivation that one experienced in childhood. Specifically, individuals with psychoses are thought to have experienced extremely poor parenting in the first nine months of life; their resulting illness can be ameliorated by this or that form of treatment, but it is almost impossible to cure. Individuals with character disorders are thought to have experienced adequate care as infants but very poor care during the period between roughly nine months and two years of age, with the result that they are less sick than psychotics but still quite sick indeed and very difficult to cure. Individuals with neuroses are thought to have received adequate parenting in their very early childhood but then to have suffered from poor parenting sometime after the age of two but usually beginning before the age of five or six. Neurotics are therefore thought to be less sick than either character-disordered people or psychotics, and consequently much easier to treat and cure.

Psychiatrists and many laymen are familiar with the fact that psychiatric problems occur with remarkable frequency in individuals shortly after promotion to positions of higher power and responsibility.

place. If we can make ourselves into totally disciplined, wholly loving individuals, then, even though we may be ignorant of theology and give no thought to God, we will have prepared ourselves well for the coming of grace. Conversely, the study of theology is a relatively poor method of preparation and, by itself, completely useless.

If we can make ourselves into totally disciplined, wholly loving individuals, then, even though we may be ignorant of theology and give no thought to God, we will have prepared ourselves well for the coming of grace. Conversely, the study of theology is a relatively poor method of preparation and, by itself, completely useless.

If we can make ourselves into totally disciplined, wholly loving individuals, then, even though we may be ignorant of theology and give no thought to God, we will have prepared ourselves well for the coming of grace. Conversely, the study of theology is a relatively poor method of preparation and, by itself, completely useless.

There are no preset formulas. Rituals are only learning aids, they are not the learning. Eating organic food, saying five Hail Marys before breakfast, praying facing east or west, or going to church on Sunday will not take you to your destination. No words can be said, no teaching can be taught that will relieve spiritual travelers from the necessity of picking their own ways, working out with effort and anxiety their own paths through the unique circumstances of their own lives toward the identification of their individual selves with God.