Love and spiritual growth - excerpts from "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck

The disclaimer: "Love is too large, too deep ever to be truly understood or measured or limited within the framework of words."

"I define love thus: The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."

"I accumulated a body of examples of what seemed to be acts of love and what seemed not to be love. One of the major distinguishing features between the two seemed to be the conscious or unconscious purpose in the mind of the lover or nonlover."

"We are incapable of loving another unless we love ourselves, just as we are incapable of teaching our children self-discipline unless we ourselves are self-disciplined. It is actually impossible to forsake our own spiritual development in favor of someone else's."

"When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion--through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful."

"The desire to love is not love itself. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will-namely, both an intention and an action.

Love is not... falling in "love"

"We fall in love only when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated."

"The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual's ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of onself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most as ecstatic. We and our beloved are one! Loneliness is no more!"

"One by one, gradually or suddenly, the ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, they fall out of love. Once again they are two seperate individuals. At this point they begin either to dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of real loving."

"Real love is a permanantly self-enlarging experience. Falling in love is not."

"If falling in love is not love, then what is it other than a temporary and partial collapse of ego boundaries? I do not know. But the sexual specifity of the phenomenon leads me to believe it is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior."

...more about ego boundaries

"The temporary release from ego boundaries associated with falling in love, sexual intercourse or the use of certain psychoactive drugs may provide us with a glimpse of Nirvana, but not with Nirvana itself."

"...the temporary loss of ego boundaries involved in falling in love and in sexual intercourse not only leads us to make commitments to other people from which real love may begin but also gives us a foretaste of (and therefore an incentive for) the more lasting mystical ecstasy that can be ours after a lifetime of love. As such, therefore, while falling in love is not itself love, it is a part of the great and mysterious scheme of love."

Love is not dependency.

"Love is the free exercise of choice. Two people love eachother only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other."

"If being loved is your goal, you will fail to achieve it. The only way to be assured of being loved is to be a person worthy of love, and you cannot be a person worthy of love when your primary goal is to passively be loved."

Cathexis without love

"Hobbies may be a means through which we love ourselves. But if a hobby becomes an end in itself, then it becomes a substitute rather than a means to self-development."

"Our use of the word 'love' is so generalized and unspecific as to severely interfere with our understanding of love. I have no great expectation that the language will change in this respect. Yet as long as we continue to use the word 'love' to describe our relationship with anything that is important to us, anything we cathect, without regard for the quality of that relationship, we will continue to have difficulty discerning the difference between the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, the noble and ignoble."

"It is possible for us to desire that other humans develop a 'will of their own'; indeed, it is this desire for the differentiation of the other that is one of the characteristics of genuine love."

"Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing and pulling in addition to comforting. It is leadership. The word "judicious" means requiring judgement, and judgement requires more than instinct; it requires thoughtful and often painful decisionmaking."

Love is not Self-Sacrifice

"He had to learn that not giving at the right time was more compassionate than giving at the wrong time, and that fostering independence was more loving than taking care of people who could otherwise take care of themselves. He also had to learn that expressing his own needs, anger, resentments and expectations was every bit as necassary to the mental health of his family as his self sacrifice, and therefore that love must be manifested in confrontation as much as in beatific acceptance."

"Genuine love is a self-replenishing activity. Indeed, it is 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 love the aim is always spiritual growth. In the case of nonlove the aim is always something else."

Love is not a feeling

"The common tendency to confuse love with the feeling of love allows people all manner of self-deception. An alcoholic man, whose wife and children are desperately in need of his attention at that very moment, may be sitting in a bar with tears in his eyes, telling the bartender, "I really love my family." People who neglect their children in the grossest of ways more often than not will consider themselves the most loving of parents. It is clear that there may be a self-serving quality in this tendency to confuse love with the feeling of love; it is easy and not at all unpleasant to find evidence of love in one's feelings. It may be difficult and painful to search for evidence of love in one's actions. But because true love is an act of will that often transcends ephemeral feelings of love or cathexis, it is correct to say, "Love is as love does." Love and nonlove, as good and evil, are objective and not purely subjective phenomena."

To be continued...

any ideas???

hi... i know i have just let this community sit and rot for a long time. but i really care about this community and want to try and get it to be more active... does anyone have any ideas for ways we could bring this community to life, or what you'd like to have discussed in here??? please, help me brainstorm, folks!!!