The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck: A Book Review

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This best –selling book of Dr. Peck is a must –read for those loners who have niggling questions such as:
(a) Why don’t I have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?
(b) Do I need someone whom I will love, or someone who will love me?

On the other hand, this book can throw light on common problems among couples in terms of:

(a) A peaceful, stable, and long-lasting relationship
(b) Role of a woman and a man in a relationship

This book, in addition, can somehow answer the apologetic and philosophical questions about LOVE such as:

(a) Is love innate?
(b) Where does it come from?
(c) How does it develop?
(d) Is love indispensable in our lives? Could we live without love?

At the end, I concluded that we need to love and to be loved to be healthy people; and likewise, we can be good people by loving ourselves rather than by choosing to love others.

Thus, this book is peppered with soothing and enlightening advice which is a favorite reference among counselors whenever someone turns to them for advice . So here are the lines that shattered all my illusions on LIFE, notably on LOVE :

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Human beings are poor examiners, subject to superstition, bias, prejudice, and a PROFOUND tendency to see what they want to see rather than what is really there.”

“Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.”

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

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

“Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost. While this is obvious, it is something that most people to a greater or lesser degree choose to ignore. They ignore it because our route to reality is not easy. First of all, we are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make to appreciate and perceive reality, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Some stop making it by the end of adolescence. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading. By the end of middle age most people have given up the effort. They feel certain that their maps are complete and their Weltanschauung is correct (indeed, even sacrosanct), and they are no longer interested in new information. It is as if they are tired. Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”

“Another characteristic of human nature—perhaps the one that makes us most human—is our capacity to do the unnatural, to transcend and hence transform our own nature.”

“The best decision-makers are those who are willing to suffer the most over their decisions but still retain their ability to be decisive. One”

“My time was my responsibility. It was up to me and me alone to decide how I wanted to use and order my time.”

“Genuine love is volitional rather than emotional.

“Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. But in actuality it is not love; it is a form of antilove. It has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates the failure. It seeks to receive rather than to give. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. It works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately it destroys rather than builds relationships, and it destroys rather than builds people.”

“Love always requires courage and involves risk.”

Note: For more quotes, you can click this site: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2747475-the-road-less-traveled-a-new-psychology-of-love-traditional-values-a

Dr. Peck focused on anatomizing LOVE. He used his experiences in supporting his propositions. However, there are instances that he should not have overlooked the holistic approach to understanding the psychological problems among his patients. I guess he knew what I meant.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

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Hitchhiking to Heaven: An Autobiography. Lionel Blue by Lionel Blue: A Book Review

blueThe story is about Lionel Blue’s life as a gay Jewish rabbi, how he managed his desires to know God in various religions, specifically in Judaism regardless of his struggle for coming out in the open. To find himself, he hitchhiked to “heaven” in some European cities, particularly in Amsterdam- not in a literal meaning of the geographical place. I guess you would understand what heaven Lionel Blue meant when you have read its last two chapters.

Despite his inspiring story, admittedly, I did not enjoy it much. Ridiculously because I had expected that I would read something to do with his gay life, which was somehow he gave emphasis as well as how he managed to lead his religious life as a gay rabbi. Besides, I may not be as religious as other readers to be impressed. If I were so, I would not be hypocrite to give it 3 or 4 stars. ^^ Furthermore, I must be used to reading autobiographies / biographies or memoirs that are beautifully written and compelling just the like of the critically acclaimed ones I have read. Nevertheless, I felt in his writing styles how a gay he is indeed- full of hilarious prose.

On the other hand, I admired his humble audacity how he proved that homosexual life is not a big drawback to exercising one’s religious belief. In his autobiography, it was an abject misery that in 1960’s, homosexuality was considered a mental disease like the plague. Prejudice was borne down upon them and eventually led some to committing suicide. Fortunately, he survived this thought.

Exposed to some kinds of religions, Lionel Blue emphasized his favorite quote by the agnostic emperor Marcus Aurelius:

 “If you think there is God, then follow Him, if you think there is no God, become godlike yourself.”

The message is VERY simple. ^^

Rating: 1/ 5 stars ( I wish I liked it.)

The Little Zen Companion by David Schiller: A Book Review

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“A monk brought two potted plants to his Master. “Drop it,” ordered the Master. The monk dropped one pot. “Drop it,” again ordered the Master. The monk let the second pot go. “Drop it,” now roared the Master. The monk stammered: “But I have nothing to drop.” The Master nodded. “Then take it away.”

My beloved cousin lent me this book, for he knows how much I am fond of reading quotes coming from the powerful lips of famous historical figures . I want to be moved and inspired by their philosophical insights and thoughts.

To be honest, I still don’t have the completely clear ideas of what ZEN is all about. Before, I just knew of that it was some kind of spiritual practices to gain ENLIGHTENMENT and PEACE OF MIND. No wonder I tend to get fascinated to read more on this dogma. In fact, the only book I have ever read that gives me more ideas of this kind of spiritual dogma is Instinct for Freedom: A Maverick’s Guide to Spiritual Revolution by Alan Clements ( 4 stars ). I learned from this book that in order to have spiritual freedom, you have to empty your mind and feelings.

ZEN, as the name suggests, is a type of Buddhism that emphasizes MEDITATION rather than faith or reading religious books. MEDITATION is the practice of emptying your mind of thoughts and feelings, in order to relax completely, or for religious reasons. Thus, reading The Little Zen Companion as a little compendium of wisdom in the form of quotes, phrases, stories, koan, haiku, or poems from Lao-tzu, The Little Prince, D. T. Suzuki, Basho, Walker Percy, the Buddha, the Bible, Einstein, to name a few GUIDES you to empty your mind and feelings.

?
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Well, LIFE may be a total mess.

To get the hang of it, read and read and read. ^^

Rating : 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho: A Book Review

by-the-river-piedra-i-sat-down-and-wept-book-cover“All love stories are the same.”
Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

If I were an idyllic reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho wrote something unique about the twists and turns of the common story.

If I were a dreamer, I would give it 5 stars. I would dream and work. ^^
If I were a deeply religious reader, I would give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho inspired people to be more faithful.

If I were a Creative Writing and World Literature teacher, I might give it 5 stars. Paulo Coelho is such a genius; he writes a book peppered with beautifully and poetically written passages. But if I were an absolute atheist reader, I would give it 2 stars. Luckily, to some extent, Paulo Coelho put some emphasis on the traditional customs of Christendom beyond human logic and reason.

Also, if I were some kind of bookworm with taste for horrors, thrillers, or cliffhangers, I would give it 1 star. I would find it boring.

The story is about a woman who has “forbidden love” for her childhood friend who later on sought his life by leading a monastic life. A story that is very common in TV dramas and films. Thanks to Paulo Coelho’s writing skills. He is indeed a wizard; he can make readers fix their eyes on it IN TRANCE. No doubt he is one of the most beloved writers of our time.

Writer wannabes have difficulties in putting their ideas in a sentence, particularly how they begin with their first draft, so in doing so takes a lot of time. One needs to draw a deep inspiration from one’s experiences. So you might wonder how the writer of this book forms such inspirational passages, enough to convert a wisdom of atheists to a mosque of Muslims, to a church of Catholics, to a temple of Buddhists, or to a mandir of Hinduists.

The remarkable thing is that Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian. Kudos to the translator.

The book, on the other hand, might cause the skeptical to raise some questions:

(a) Does love originate in religion?
(b) God is found in everything since one can never find God in any books of religions. Therefore, this kind of ideology is an example of New Age.

For the satisfaction rating, I found this book pretty good. I want to try his other books more, especially the Alchemist

Rating : 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it. )

Aging: The Fulfillment of Life by Henri J.M. Nouwen and Walter J. Gaffney: A Book Review

agingRecently, my co-teachers and I visited another co-teacher whose father had passed away in a far countryside to show  our sympathy to her families. There I  met   not only her late  father in a box  and her families but also  her grandmother. She is already old,  frail, bed-ridden, wrapped herself from head to toes despite the acrid weather. Her skin is almost  wrinkled coming  apart from her bones, and she can no longer see as her eye flaps covered her eyeballs flat  . A wave of fear and awe came over me during the wake ; then, I remembered Henri Nouwen’s philosophy of aging.

Whenever I ask my students at what age they want to kick the bucket, surprisingly,  most of their answer is anywhere between 40 and 50.  Their common reason is that aging is a nightmarish stage of life when they go through many changes such as  in emotional, social , mental , notably physical aspects. They are aware  of that geriatric life could be a rite  of  physical pains. Consequently, society tends to hand over this negative stereotype to another generation.

In this  book, Henri Nouwen  and Walter Gaffney  discusses  what is aging  and how it can be for people. According to him, there are three factors that make many old people feel ostracized: segregation, desolation, and loss of self. These factors are considered as three forms of rejection: rejection by society, rejection by friends, and rejection by  inner self.

To  extirpate  this negative meme, Nouwen explains aging by likening it to the turning of the wheel  as the gradual fulfillment of the life cycle . We should accept  this fact from the deepest part of our heart as what we pulled through  in our  young adulthood stage. To avoid  our possibility to develop geriatriphobia or fear of getting old, he  supports  his proponents by illustrating some  anecdotes to understand the real minds of being senescent. In my books after reading it,  I remain firmer in my belief that aging could be a bed of cherries and roses too. ^^

This little book is also interesting because it has 85  photographs  about things  around our environment  symbolizing  the natural ageism . Walter Gaffney must have taken them himself. They are even soothing in our eyes.

In the context of psychology,  one of the theories why we are said to fear  ageism , aside from the  physical pains we could undergo, is that we  tend to be stagnant  at this age. We  tend to ask ourselves what  needs we have done so far since we began to explore the world. Have we met the goals which we have thought to  be our satisfaction? Such as achievements in your career? or  affiliation needs in which you  have built your relationship?  In this case, experts must be in the conjunction based on  Maslow’s  theory  that in order to be happy even at the last stage of your life is that  you  will have done the goals you want to  achieve before you die. As  Mitch Albom’s professor  put it in his best-selling book Tuesday with Morries:

“ If you do not know how to live , you are afraid to die.”

Thus, fear of death could be associated with ageism.

When my students ask me the same question, I said that I want to live as long as 100. My students frowned at my answer pursing their lips. They asked me why. I just replied that there could be many things I would love to do more. I am not afraid to get older. I would not care about the physical pains I could endure. Simply but ridiculously   because I am obsessed with the books I want to read more in the next generation. ^^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore : A Book Review

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This is about devotion to God. It could be a perfect inspirational book for religious people who believe in their callings. On the contrary, atheists like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins might adduce that there was no divine intervention in writing these songs ; it was a matter of Tagore’s motivation brought about by his past experiences.

I only learned from high school social studies that Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. But I never attempted to read his works which made him win one of the prestigious literary prizes in the world as long as the heart of the western writers. I was just aware of the fact that I would take a look at his pictures in awe, for he has this Jesus-like aura. For me then, I had just an impression that he was such an enlightened literary figure. As a matter of fact,he took my fancy more when I had a nun student who recommended this book since it is her most favorite book. After getting around to it, I have come to understand why she, I guess even other religious people, likes this book.

Gitanjali means song offerings. Tagore wanted to show his strong devotion to God by singing Him beautiful songs he drew from the deepest part of his heart. No wonder the sentences are so beautifully mesmerizing. Each line can penetrate through your heart as well as might have a profound impact upon people , astray from their religious faith.

If you are the same with Tagore, you would opine that the God to whom Tagore is devoted is the same God you are devoted to. But if you are an avowed atheist, you could say that the God to whom Tagore is devoted could be in a pantheistic form, for the contents of Tagore’s songs have something to do with all the natural environment. Therefore, offering songs do not directly and clearly refer to whoever or whatever God Tagore may have believed in. No doubt these song offerings could be subject to hermeneutic principle.

I may be wrong since I have not read Tagore’s autobiographies nor his other works yet. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the fact that Tagore’s writing styles are the product of a deep, deep impression.

Rating: 3/ 5 stars

A Confession by Leo Tolstoy: A Book Review

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I have been an avowed atheist   for two years. I  had mustered up enough courage to abandon the Christian life after a long battle  of shattering the  doubts. I was not able to do so because of the fear instilled in me that I would go to hell or not be saved from the Judgment Day. At that time, I was still  an utter simpleton believing in something beyond logic. After reading some said  heretical books such as of Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion , Sam Harris’ A Letter to a Nation  and An Atheist Manifesto ,  Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great , and George H. Smith’s  Atheism: The Case Against God ,  I have been awoken to the reality as though the experience  was a rude  awakening. So, do  not dare lecture me that I must be veering  off my faith because faith is another argument of foolish illusion. By the same token, I have  read  one apologetic  book to defend  the sides of  the Christianity  . Still, the side of the atheists  stands for me. For sure, I would be the subject to the brick brat here on Goodreads. Like  or unlike this , it is  neither here nor there.

This book deals with  Leo Tolstoy’s  midlife crisis in his spirituality and existentialism. Like  what the atheists above experienced , Tolstoy came to the point that he questioned the religious teachings foisted upon him since he was still young. To find the answer, he went on a pilgrimage until he thought he had  found the answer to his questions: He concluded that God does not exist.  Still, not completely  convinced , he  had the persistent and obtrusive  realization that there may be Supernatural unknown which can be called God. His experience was like backsliding to his delusion. In other words, Tolstoy ended up as agnostic- a question which has been a debate among religion and atheism apologists.

If Tolstoy  had existential crisis  in his 50’s ,  it may be ridiculous  for others if I say that I have had come to it  in my 20’s .Perhaps, information  in the internet is now accessible to everyone.

Tolstoy, as a rule,  is considered as  the world’ best novelist . His writing for others is considered  flawless. No doubt in this book, every sentence is beautifully written-  the  aftereffect of his emotional impact, an experience  bears  half resemblance to  Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore and AntiChrist by Nitzsche. Probably   the big credit is to its English translator.

As a bright philosopher put it that there are many kinds of truth  since there are many kinds of beholders, you might misunderstand that Tolstoy’s’ intellectual  hubris is conveyed in the sentences. In this book, Tolstoy said that people who believe in something beyond logic are not intellectual. Come to think of it. Do not be  carried out by your deep-seated beliefs.

Rating : 4/ 5 stars for  Leo Tolstoy’s beautiful sentences.