The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Tradi… (2024)

A little foreword from me before I begin reviewing this book:

During my post-graduation years, I had the priviledge of working with a madam who used to tell us, “If your slit lamp (used for eye examination) stops working, my verdict will remain the same, ‘I will need all patients worked up by 1:30 p.m. sharp. I don’t care HOW you will go about making that happen but that I will have no other result.’”

Sounds bossy? Actually, on the contrary, it served us more than otherwise (Thank you Sushmita ma’am). This do-or-die attitude of hers had served to strip us off the small excusal ways of being most of us are wont to endorse at the drop of a hat. In a matter of days of working with her, our entire way of being had altered from a problem-oriented mindset into a solution-oriented mindset. If things went out of our hands, we clamoured like crazy to flip past options available to us, selecting whichever best dissolved the issue away. If none worked, we improvised.

(Foreword over)

This (as stated above) is the same attitude the author, M. Scott Peck urges us to make use of when dealing with life. He says,

Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?

I won’t beat around the bush and leap into footnotes that are of relevance here. First, on the flaws of authoritarian parenting (Gosh! It is so so flawed!) I would say:

(I’ll combine my thoughts and the author's thoughts to help extend the messages that so many adults in the world need to hear)....apologies for the sarcasm that I will bring along but they are GROSSLY essential here!

Author’s voice—> The feeling of being valuable— ‘I am valuable person’- is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline, which is a direct product of parental love.

My thoughts——> Most homes I have personally come by (in India) have revealed corporal punishment as the mode of disciplining someone.

Hah! How deluded such homes are! Tch! Tch! Raising broken individuals and releasing them into the world, adding to the depression bank of the world!

Author’s voice—> The only way healthy-minded individuals (ones who value their time, are disciplined and delay gratification) could be sent out into the world is by first ushering them with parental love. If that isn’t secured, the rest cannot follow.

Hence, if authoritarian language or a demeaning tone of voice is used while speaking to the child, how would that serve to foster him with the feeling of goodness he would need for maturity to come about?

My remark—“Makers of men, creators of leaders, be careful what kind of leaders you are producing here!”

(Line borrowed from “Scent of a Woman,” very appropriate in salutation of the author’s message)

So I feel that this is a novel every human who wishes to have a family someday must read. A child isn’t someone you yank into existence over ruling prejudices (“You have to marry by 30 and have a child” ) or out of a bucket-list selection.

A child is a spirit if you will, and given the time and contemplation, I reckon every parent is bound to come to recognise monumental responsibility that one naturally begins to adhere to in understanding who it is she or he has conceived. The problem is so many never grant themselves that moment of contemplation (ever!)

This book helped me understand love/ relationships and romance in a way no book has ever conveyed to me before

What is popularly considered as love (and very wrongly so), the author observes, is the jolt of fancy that blinds one when he impresses another. While a large chunk of the world, including songs and movies endorse this concept, it really has absolutely nothing to do with what a person really is after, which is a complete dissolution of the self when loving someone, whereby the ego is constantly left behind in interactions/exchanges with the person.

What I understood from the author’s language is this—>Love is forevermore just one thing, and that is personal expansion, where you are no longer this puny small “me-right-here” version of yourself but an ever-expanding piece of existence. For only when you expand yourself can you include another as a part of your own self. Once you include another as part of your own self, there is only one way to be—> devotion/ putting their needs before your own (not alongside). Think about it——there really is no other way to be when expansion happens! : )

My additional word here—>The degree of deflection from this truth some communities endorse here is way shocking——coercing individuals to marry against their will. The message one is supposed to mutter from then on (many of my friends will know where these words are coming from : D), “Marry first then love with follow” (I wonder what degree of reversal-charge must such a belief carry for dreamers that wish the Earth spun from East to West?! Huge! *holds-her-chin-and-thinks-deeply*)

So, jokes apart, it’s really sad that more than half of the people in the world are floundering in their relationships. What good it would have done them to have read a book like this first! You don’t love to get, you love to expand and include that ‘other’ as ‘yourself.’ : )

More insights on ‘Love’ as stated by the author….

“Genuine love, on the other hand, implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom.”

“True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision.”

I have never spent so much time writing a review on ‘Love,’ but the urge to do so arrived after reading this book. The author wrote many chapters on the topic of ‘Love,’ which, if you read would start revealing to you that you can only be truly loving if you prioritise the value of the other person above all else (even beyond your own possessions and honour). Never losing sight of the value that exists in the life of another automatically makes one prioritise the importance of good behaviour no matter what the situation at hand demands. In a sub-chapter on the umbrella heading of ‘Love,’ the author speaks of the art of loving confrontation (because there will often be times when one maybe correct in a situation while the significant other will be wrong in the decision-making). In realising the value of the other person in such a situation, one never assumes a position of a pedestal while speaking to him or her and communicates with utmost care the reasons for which he or she (person ‘A’ say) thinks that it would be wise in that moment of their lives to act in accordance with his/her word (and not the word hailing from the significant other, person ‘B’ say)

Beautiful! I feel very proud having read this book!

What’s more, and one comes to recognise this as one continues reading, is that love does not and will never naturally happen. It is in keeping continuous check with the leaps of ego that continues to want to poke its nose, that one genuinely comes to impart the highest form of love, the kind that doesn’t mind being invisible, obscure, and wholly inclusive of the other’s needs and making them one’s own.

There are a total of 14 chapters on ‘Love,’ and an enormous weightage has been lent on unraveling the myth of 'romantic love.' : )
It’s a myth, folks! The more one reads this book, the more one recognises that what really is love is, is disciplined. (And naturally so : ) )

To keep this review from lengthening too much, I would just like to say that ultimately the author stresses on the importance of utilising every single experience of one’s own life to evolve into higher consciousness and this includes ‘love’ and ‘creative pursuits.’ That is, not using anything for the expansion of the ego but for the ultimate expansion into infinite consciousness.

Every creative pursuit must serve to stretch one into the higher echelons of who they are. It ought to be a stepping stone for that. Feeling all bloated and full of oneself is the exact opposite : )
Reminds me of a line by Lao Tzu— “When the work is done, it is forgotten, that is why it lasts forever.”

Amongst every book that I have read in my life, this is definitely one I am very grateful for! : ) What a teacher this book has been!

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Tradi… (2024)
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