Sanyasi is my Pseudonym and this blog is a repository of my thoughts and views on various themes and is intended to stimulate your thoughts in a new perspective. Do put in your comments and be interactive
Sunday, 30 November 2014
Book Review: The Road Less Travelled
Prof Scot peck was an American professor and psychiatrist
who died in 2005 and I just finished reading his most famous book ‘The road less traveled' which deals with an in depth analysis of the
most astonishing element of human life which is LOVE . Well before that , let me
bring in few of the key concepts that he explains .
In the first chapter he describes the culture of discipline which
an individual needs to bring up in his/her life as a personal quality. For this we need to master four skills. Firstly the skill of delaying gratification. This is an attitude of scheduling our pain
and pleasure, such that you accept the pain first to know the value of pleasure. Isn't it true? Haven't we experienced pleasure
in the backdrop of pain. For example when we have the pleasure of a good family
or a good relationship, we are unaware of the pain that we will have if we don’t
have it. So on the reverse , first we should undergo a process of pain , of not being in a good relationship and then understand its value . Prof Scott says that
if you have an attitude of delaying your gratification or if life gives you
pain in the beginning, you enjoy the pleasure later by knowing its value.
The second skill
is in developing an attitude of owing up or what he calls as taking responsibility. We have all blamed somebody else or the circumstance for our painful situation. Have we taken
responsibility to the circumstance which gave us pain . We need to build up an attitude where we first blame our self for a painful event, and not blame another individual for its
The third skill is on our ability for dedication to reality. Our view
of reality is like a map to negotiate the terrain of life. If we set our
reality perfectly, then we reach the destination. This is nothing but self-acceptance
and clarity on what we really are , beyond those masks that you wear in your work
place or even at your home. In a society filled with a show off culture, this
is an important skill, to be learned.
The fourth skill is balancing which is our ability to look at our ups and downs with composure.
No elation of your emotions when you are in pleasure and no depression during pain. ( This quality echoes verse 38 in chapter 2 of the
Bhagwat Gita, which reads sukhaduhkhe same krtva labhalabhao jayaajaya;
( look at pain and pleasure with
equanimity) and in verse 15 ,where it says sama dukha sukhaam deeram(
the brave looks at pleasure and pain equally)).
Prof Scott concludes his chapter on discipline by
asking us to develop these four skills
and face any challenge in life.His second section is on love where he critically analyses the feeling of love, contrary to the way we have considered it to be . For Prof Scott LOVE
IS ANY THOUGHT,GESTURE OR DEED which will result in progress in the life of the person whom we love . When
I say I love my child, I mean I am in a continues process of thinking and doing
for the child’s material and spiritual progress. The same applies when you say
that I love my friend or my nation.
He says that love is not just a feeling but
commitment and the exercise of wisdom in a relationship. To quote from the book
‘’ genuine love is a self-replenishing activity
as it enlarges the self rather than diminishing it and is a process of judicious giving and judicious taking ’’ Note the word judicious which means making judgement with wisdom. This tempts me
to quote Swamy Chinmayananda who’s
central theme of talk in his Gita discourses were on ‘’ developing the faculty of intellect without
being misled by emotions and feelings ‘’ -a hard fact indeed-. Exercising this intellect is what Prof Scott means by
Having said what love is, he goes on to define what
love is not. He says falling in love is just a misnomer and this experience is
nothing but a sex-linked erotic experience where there is breaking up of our
ego boundaries which is nothing but a naturally induced brain effect and not
love. So he questions the whole western phraseology of making love and goes on
to say that this experience does not last long but results in rebuilding of the
ego boundaries eventually making you falling out of love. Here he breaks the
myth of romantic love.
Prof Scott has also touched upon the fact that love is
also not dependency. To quote him ‘’ Two people love each other when they are
quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other’’,
He says passive dependency in a loving relationship is a disorder and is the
cause of many Psycho somatic disorders.
Through this book Peter Scott have made an in depth
analysis on the practicality of Love, relationships and personalities and it is
indeed one of the best books that I had read recently. Needless to say the book
is still a ten million copy bestseller.