M. Scott Peck Quotations

-An adventure is going into the unknown. If you know exactly where you are going, exactly how you will get there, and exactly what you will see along the way, it is not an adventure… Because they involve the unknown, adventures are inherently dangerous to a greater or lesser degree. Yet it is also only from adventures and their newness that we learn. If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything.

-The understanding of basic reality is never something we achieve; it is only something that can be approached. And, in fact, the closer we approach it the more we realize we do not understand–the more we stand in awe of its mystery.

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

-Most people think that courage is the absence of fear. The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is some kind of brain damage. Courage is the capacity to go ahead in spite of the fear, or in spite of the pain. When you do that, you will find that overcoming that fear will not only make you stronger but will be a big step forward toward maturity.

-I make no distinction between the mind and the spirit, and therefore no distinction between the process of achieving spiritual growth and achieving mental growth. They are one and the same.

-The feeling of being valuable–“I am a valuable person”–is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline…because when one considers oneself valuable one will take care of oneself in all ways that are necessary. Self-discipline is self-caring.

-The quickest way to change your attitude toward pain is to accept the fact that everything that happens to us has been designed for our spiritual growth.

-Mental health is a process of ongoing dedication to reality at all costs.

-It’s scary to think that we really don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going, and that we are intellectual infants stumbling around in the dark. It’s so much more comfortable, therefore, to live in an illusion that we know much more than we actually do.

-When dealing with couples my wife and I draw the analogy between marriage and a base camp for mountain climbing. If one wants to climb mountains one must have a good base camp, a place where there are shelters and provisions, where one may receive nurture and rest before one ventures forth again to seek another summit. Successful mountain climbers know that they must spend at least as much time, if not more, in tending to their base camp as they actually do in climbing mountains, for their survival is dependent upon their seeing to it that their base camp is sturdily constructed and well stocked.

A common and traditionally masculine marital problem is created by the husband who, once he is married, devotes all his energies to climbing mountains and none to tending to his marriage, or base camp, expecting it to be there in perfect order whenever he chooses to return to it for rest and recreation without his assuming any responsibility for its maintenance. Sooner or later this ‘capitalist’ approach to the problem fails and he returns to find his untended base camp a shambles, his neglected wife having been hospitalized for a nervous breakdown, having run off with another man, or in some other way having renounced her job as camp caretaker. An equally common and traditionally feminine marital problem is created by the wife who, once she is married, feels that the goal of her life has been achieved. To her the base camp is the peak. She cannot understand or empathize with her husband’s need for achievements and experiences beyond the marriage and reacts to them with jealousy and never-ending demands that he devote increasing more energy to the home. Like other ‘communist’ resolutions of the problem, this one creates a relationship that is suffocating and stultifying, from which the husband, feeling trapped and limited, may likely flee in a moment of “mid-life crisis.” The women’s liberation movement has been helpful in pointing the way to what is obviously the only resolution: marriage as a truly cooperative institution, requiring great mutual contributions and care, time and energy, but existing for the primary purpose of nurturing each of the participants for individual journeys toward his or her own individual peaks of spiritual growth. Male and female both tend the hearth and both must venture forth.

M. Scott Peck 1936-2005