Some Thoughts on Love

by M. Scott Peck

The Road Less Traveled: Discipline, Love, Spiritual Growth

Love Defined

“Discipline…is the means of human spiritual evolution….[The] motive, the energy for discline…[is] love” (p. 81).

“I define love thus: The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” (p. 81).

“Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action” (p. 83).

“[Nirvana] or lasting enlightenment or true spiritual growth can be achieved only through the persistent exercise of real love” (p. 97).

“Dependent people are interested in their own nourishment, but no more; they desire filling, they desire to be happy; they don’t desire to grow, nor are they willing to tolerate the unhappiness, the loneliness and suffering involved in growth” (p. 106).

“Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well.  It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing” (p. 111).

“[Genuine] love is self-replenishing activity.  Indeed, it is even more; it enlarges rather than diminishes the self; it fills the self rather than depleting it.  In a real sense love is as selfish as nonlove.  Here again there is a paradox in that love is both selfish and unselfish at the same time.  It is not selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from nonlove; it is the aim of the action.  In the case of nonlove the aim is always something else” (p. 116).

“Genuine love…implies commitment and 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” (p. 118).

Love As Work

“Love…is a form of work or a form of courage.  Specifically, it is work or courage directed toward the nurture or our own or another’s spiritual growth” (p. 120).

“The principal form that the work of love takes is attention.  When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person’s spiritual growth” (p. 120).

“By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening….Listening well is an exercise of attention and by necessity hard work” (p. 121).

“An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, stepping in his or her shoes” (p. 127).

“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” (p. 128).

“Since love is work, the essence of nonlove is laziness” (p. 130).

Love as Courage

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future” (p. 131).

“The essence of life is change, a panoply of growth and decay.  Elect life and growth, and you elect change and the prospect of death” (p. 133).

“[All] life represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our lives the more risks we take” (p. 134).