Thursday, October 1, 2009

Excerpts from “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck

What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair.

These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain. Indeed, it is because of pain that events or conflicts engender us that we call them problems. And since life poses endless series of problems, life is always difficult and full of pain as well as joy.

Yet 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. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of 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. It is through pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those things that hurt, instruct”

It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome the pain of problems. This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree, lacking complete mental health.

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.

It is the hope that problems will go away of their own accord. 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. “If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”

Truth is reality. That which is false is unreal. Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain.

Discipline has been defined as a system of techniques of dealing constructively with the pain of problem-solving—instead of avoiding that pain

ARISTOTLE: “Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.”

“Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action”—Rabindranath Tagore

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