Dr. M. Scott Peck is a nationally recognized authority on the relationship between religion and science. In 1980, at age 43, Dr. Peck was nondenominationally baptized by a Methodist minister in an Episcopalian convent, where he has frequently gone on retreat. In 1992, he was selected by the American Psychiatric Association as a distinguished psychiatrist lecturer.
Dr. Peck is the author of several books, including The Road Less Traveled, which has sold over six million copies to date in North America alone. He received his B.A. degree magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1958 and his M.D. degree from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1963.
In 1984, Dr. Peck and his wife met with nine others to establish The Foundation for Community Encouragement, a nonprofit, public educational foundation, whose mission is to promote and teach the principles of community. As a result of his work with community-building, Dr. Peck has received a number of awards, including the 1984 Kaleidoscope Award for Peacemaking and the 1994 Temple International Peace Prize.
Dr. Peck served in the United States Army from 1963 until 1972, resigning from the position of Assistant Chief Psychiatry and Neurology Consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. From 1972 to 1983, Dr. Peck was engaged in the private practice of psychiatry in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
• Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. 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. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
• Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race, or even their species, and not upon others.
• An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing—the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices, frames of reference, and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, step in inside his or her shoes.
• Nirvana or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through persistent exercise of real love.
• Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.
• You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.
• 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.
Dr. M. Scott Peck is best known for his book, The Road Less Traveled, and this is the best place to start. The book was first published in 1978 but didn’t become a bestseller until 1983. It has had a tremendous impact on a wide range of people and is still an important part of any Self Improvement library. The Road Less Traveled was one of the first books dealing with the psychology of spirituality and set the groundwork for other authors to write their works.
The Road Less Traveled can be seen as a primer on personal growth, trying to meld psychology, religion, love, and science into one book. It is not a fluffy, feel-good book or a quick inspirational manual. It delves deeply into ideas from psychoanalysis, philosophy, spirituality, and religion. The book starts out with the premise that “life is difficult” and personal growth is a “complex, arduous, and lifelong task.”
Dr. Peck provides details from his own life combined with stories from anonymous therapy clients. He uses a variety of sources including traditional psychology, Gospel passages, and New Age spirituality and insists that problems must be overcome through suffering, discipline, and hard work.