Outline of The Road Less Traveled
Notes by Doug Muder (1997)
I look at this book as a gradually unfolding answer to a question that Peck never states in just one line. I would state it like this: What prevents us from achieving our full potential as human beings? What keeps us from solving our emotional, spiritual, and psychological problems?
The first-level answer is given in the first section of the book: We lack discipline. Facing up to our problems and solving them is a painful, arduous, time-consuming process, and we just can't make ourselves do it. And so, the first section is a discussion of what discipline is, how a person learns (or fails to learn) it, and how it applies to the basic problems of life.
If solving our problems is hard and painful, why should we do it? What will motivate us to produce the effort and put up with the pain? The second section says that the answer is love. Love for ourselves and love for others will motivate us to endure risk, pain, and discomfort in the service of growth.
III. Growth and Religion
Many therapists look on religion as an enemy to growth, a primitive mindset to be overcome, or perhaps even a pathology in its own right. Peck examines this idea through a series of case histories, and concludes that while growth often includes an awakening out of a childish religion, it can also sometimes involve an awakening into a mature religion.
With Section III serving as a warning that he is about to embark into the realm of religion, Peck continues unfolding the subject of the book. Where does love come from? Love is a gift of grace, which, in turn, is defined to be God's nurturing of our spiritual growth. Growth to where? To godhood. The goal, the destiny, the challenge of human existence, Peck finds, is to become God.
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