In memory of Dr. Peck . . . . .
I was deeply saddened to learn about the death of Scott Peck. Before he became my favorite author, I hated reading. His story-telling style was so captivating and his thoughts and principles were obviously simple yet profound. He had a significant influence in my personal growth. Indeed he was the person that caused me to appreciate that personal growth was such a worthwhile goal.
Long before it was obvious to everyone, he outlined simple keys to emotional health. Things like discipline, ("with discipline, all things are possible. Without it, nothing is."), Delayed Gratification, Dedication to the truth, Willingness to Endure Legitimate Suffering.
I look at the chaos and confusion of my earlier life and the relative clarity of my present life and I realize that his first book, /The Road Less Traveled/ was a turning point for me. In part, it gave me the courage to endure the legitimate suffering that it took to get from there to here.
His second book, /People of the Lie/, /The Hope For Healing Human Evil,/ though not nearly as popular, was clearly a watershed book. He did an excellent job defining human evil and gave clear examples of how people's tendency to hang on to outdated maps of reality cause them to deceive others but almost as important, to deceive themselves. And this leads to a limitless tendency to destroy others either physically or emotionally.
He put forth a sobering description of the phenomenon of group evil. Basically, the tendency of a group to do evil is proportional to the number of people that share responsibility for the evil deeds. Spread out over enough people, participants in extreme evil feel no responsibility because the responsibility becomes so diluted. Everyone recognizes the evil in the single school-yard bully. But few in the class recognize their own evil deeds if all the good kids in the class are picking on the class geek despite the extreme emotional damage that is being done. What was sobering was the realization of how easy it is for good people to band together to do bad things unless they have an awareness of this tendency.
The most sobering chapter was at the end of the book. In writing a book on human evil, Peck sought out and found examples of demonic possession. Having established himself as a well respected clear thinker with a scientific mind, (educated at Harvard and a medical degree from Case) his research in the matter led him in a surprising direction. By the time he finished his research and witnessed two cases of posession first hand, he came to believe that he had been in the presence of diabolical spiritual influence that could not be explained by science. It's somewhat of a paradox that for him - and for me, the manifestations of the devil became the basis for a reaffirmed belief in God.
In his later books, he revealed his own propensity for excessive alchohol and womanizing. At first, I was shocked at the hipocrisy of having affairs while writing statements in his books about the importance of always being truthful. In the end, he had to be aware of how his reputation would be undermined yet he really was dedicated to the truth in revealing it to us. We will remember him, not as a saint, but as a guy just like us with all the faults and struggles that we all have. But still he had a vision to share that gave clarity to us all.
I went to hear him talk on the stages of spiritual growth that included a description of what he called stage three - doubt and questioning. It is comforting to have had this stage described to me years before my own doubt and questioning began; To know that it is part of the plan. I shook his hand that day. He seemed so small and bookish. Just a timid bald-headed, middle-aged guy with thick round glasses. I was somehow amused that one of the giants of our time, on the best sellers list for eight years, was so ordinary looking.
I feel like I've lost a friend; someone with which I've shared many life experiences. You may not understand. If you read his books you will.
Dear Dr. Peck,
I am a Hungarian man, 29 years old. I want to express my gratitude to you about what you have contributed to my life.
I read The Road Less Travelled and Further Along The Road Less Travelled. These helped understanding basic things that science and religion are not opposite to each other (a new idea to me). The message in The Different Drum is good news for me (I read it in English, not Hungarian). What you write seems unknown in Hungary.
I searched out a CB opportunity and went to the UK last year and a second time this year. These workshops were what I’ve been searching out for years. For days after attending, I have woke up in the morning thinking ’Man, I am grateful’. I am now more stable emotionally, have better self image, am more confident, and overall, happier...
I am working on getting help to bring the CB to Hungary with the facilitators in UK and encouragement from Jerry Hampton in the US.
Thank you for what you have given to the world and me. I wish you a graceful journey under your difficulties, and endurance for that (Romans 8,28).
See my website on community building at: http://www.igazikozosseg.hu/
It is in Hungarian.
Dear Dr. M. Scott Peck,
I am a foreign exchange student from America studying in Japan. When I got here, my world kind of fell apart. It was the same story as I experienced in America. But this time, I went to the library and I came across your book, The Road Less Traveled. It was the catalyst I needed to start looking in the right places.
My roommate and I read the book, and we often praise the fact that your book tells us what we need to hear, and not what we want to hear. Just reading the book gave me a fresh start on tackling some old problems, and now that I am motivated to change and grow, I am ready to start seeking that growth elsewhere too. Thank you for writing a book that teaches people how to start their spiritual growth.
Dear Doctor Peck,
I can't begin to tell you how much peace your work has brought to me. I believe I have a closer relationship with God today than I have ever had in my life. It is not, however, the kind of relationship I feel the need to press on another. It is a simple inner peace and compassion for all things that I believe each of us must seek within ourselves. I say this because I know all too well that "Life is difficult."
Although I enjoyed a very successful career, and also went on to build a successful business of my own after that, there have been many heartbreaks along the way. You could say that I was first "broken" when I had to come to grips both publically and privately with my own alcoholism some five years ago. And thereafter, I was broken again when I realized I had to leave a wife who meant very much to me. The notion of continuing to live beside an unresolved case of Borderline Personality Disorder simply proved to be more than I could handle.
There simply was no other alternative.
The most enlightenment I have found anywhere to deal with this most recent experience came through your books. It wasn't necessarily that I saw you as having all the answers (though sometimes I think you very well may). It was your ability to teach me how I could look at things through different lenses and gain a personal understanding of my own experience.
That said, you touched my life in the most precious way one could. You guided me along the path of spiritual growth. Never forcefully, ever so gently....... - and you let me find my own way.
Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for allowing me to borrow your lenses until I could create my own.
I will always remember you name.
J.K. Bowman Editor,
Your writings have intensely influenced my life and my work as a psychiatrist. I am glad that our field has become more receptive of your ideas in terms of people's spiritual problems. My recent book "The Miracle of Love" which, is about spiritual treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is heavily influenced by your contributions. I deeply thankful for this.
May God Bless You,
E. Amanat, MD
Associate clinical professor of Psychiatry,
USC School of Medicine
Dr. Peck's work in founding the Foundation for Community Encouragement has allowed hundreds of people throughout the world to discover a different, deeper and more spiritual way to understand their human existence. I am one of those people. I will always be grateful to Scotty for founding FCE.
Scotty has a unique and wonderful gift that allows him to raise another's self-esteem with just a few well chosen words. He has done this for me on only a couple of occasions, yet it has given me confidence and courage I wouldn't have had without these brief observations from him. What a great gift to give others.
You have been been a pivotal person in my life. The Community Building events and your books have led me to a commitment to both the CB process and principles professionally and personally.
Your own personal commitment to authenticity through explicit public storying telling - of those times when you, by your own perspective, were less than perfect as a father or husband, gives me hope in my own fallible humanity.
My relationships are more vital and satisfying, though much less in number, as a result of "living" Community. As a result of letting go of the need to change, heal and convert others, I am much more effective professionally. I don't get in the way of the inherent power and gifts of others as they do their own work on their life's journeys. In both worlds, I am freer to stand by on the sidelines and cheer others on their way; celebrating with them in their victories and believing in them in their moments of discouragement.
Thank you, Dr. Peck, for giving the world this "lifeline".
President, Turning Point Partners
Restorative Justice Group
I want to pay tribute to you for giving me the knowledge and experience about Community Building. It seems to be a master-key for the understanding all different sorts of group settings and being aware of their dynamics. The fact that this genius was there at the right place in time to discover and describe the details about Community Building, the spirit of Community AND make it to be experienced experimentally in workshops throughout the world, deserves a lot of respect and appreciation.
I've never met this visionary soul called "Scotty" by many that have, but I'd love to. At least I've come across some of his most faithful disciples and I'm glad and thankful that I was there and was trained in community principles by them. And as there's always more to learn and to exchange I hope we will all keep on pulsating in community and enjoy life!!!
Thank you for changing and enriching my life, for teaching me how to survive my marriage, raise my child--for so many gifts-- gifts recognized usually only in retrospect. And the gifts keep coming, as does my gratitude, although I've mostly learned not to burden you with that. It's a well-documented and somewhat daunting fact that you tend to receive thanks and praise with all the grace of a prickly pear cactus! As it happens, this is really just another gift in disguise: "Look out! These are size12 clay feet! Don't worship at this shrine." (Got it.)
The way you receive criticism is another story (and yet another gift): I've seen you offer yourself in silent sacrifice to be "crucified." I've observed as you suffered stoically and without defending yourself, while disillusioned disciples flayed and excoriated you. I've watched--and learned--as you've willingly allowed your Buddha-self to be "killed in the street" (though sometimes it's seemed more like suicide!) so that we might be free to grow up on our own, unfettered by the bonds of your guru-hood. I've discovered God in me because you've had the courage to show me Satan in you. Thank you for allowing us to glimpse the holey as well as the holy; I've got some of the same holes and am grateful to discover how to embrace them. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face to shine upon you...and give you peace, Scott Peck.
Dr. Scott Peck:
I cannot express enough appreciation and gratitude to you for the impact of your work on my life! Without your wisdom and knowledge and your own "calling" to develop and spread the work of community building, I would never have found my own. May God bless you "Scotty" and may you know the Joy and Salvation your work has brought to so many.
Through the death of my son, I came to know there was greater work I needed to do. So, in 1997, I left my secure nursing administrative position at a hospital to search for my mission in life. During this vital decision making time, I read pages 85 and 86 in "A World Waiting to be Born", regarding "the mystery of vocation"... "what is God calling me to do".
I wrote Dr. Peck a letter thanking him for helping me take this leap of faith. Shortly after mailing this to the Foundation for Community Encouragement (FCE) office, and retiring from my nursing position, I received a brochure regarding a community building skills seminar in Litchfield, Connecticut. Having read "The Different Drum", I was very interested, and felt compelled to find out what this was all about. I did, and knew I wanted to, needed to, train to facilitate community building.
I took the crash course I suppose, attending 5 workshops in 6 months, including the training / discernment workshop, and became an FCE facilitator. I was elated and thought I had found my life's mission, only to find this was only a part of it, but a very integral part.
Within months I was contacted by Dr. Robert E. Roberts, executive director of Project Return, a post prison / re-entry program in New Orleans, Louisiana, located approximately 65 miles from my home. He asked if I would be interested in doing community building work there. I was immediately interested, as I had long ago told friends of waking in the night to "a calling"... "when I was in prison, You visited me". I had never visited a prison, so the call from Dr. Roberts awakened a knowing inside of me.
I went. That was 4 years ago. Since then, I have worked continuously with the program, and with "my people", as I very genuinely and lovingly call those who have suffered the pain of incarceration. To have the privilege to sit in CB circles, sometimes as large as 80 and 90, and watch the transformation that so often takes place is a profound blessing! It is truly a vocation for me, a calling, the "work of my bliss"!
Dr. Peck, my appreciation and gratitude to you goes far beyond words, for the impact of your work on my life!
Community Building Facilitator
To Scott Peck:
You are one of my most important mentors though we've never met. I have learned from you that you can be a Christian and express ideas that others would hide. By doing so, you have made a difference in the lives of those who need your perspective. You have spoken words from God for me more than once. Thank you.
Therapist / Author
Dear Dr. Peck:
There are three reasons why I feel indebted to you for your work.
First, I received important personal insights from your book "The Road Less Traveled," which helped me to reflect on my own situation in life several years ago. I was impressed by the seriousness of your outlook on life, relationships and the human search for meaning. Unlike other self-help books, which mainly feed illusions about life, "The Road" was authentic, down to earth and practical.
Second, I was challenged by your book "People of the Lie" to reflect on the moments and situations in life in which ordinary people like me--but also psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists--must start to think about such ethical and religious topics as good and evil. Here you questioned a widespread social taboo and crossed a borderline of conventional thought patterns. In doing so, you managed to show me that it is not always possible or illuminating merely to attempt to understand, explain and evaluate people's behavior and actions in terms of mental health or illness. This is a very valuable contribution, particularly today, in light of such events as those of September 11, 2002.
Finally, I am grateful for having the opportunity twice to experience Community Building Workshops in Hamburg, Germany. They changed my life!! These workshops are about the most fundamental existential need in human existence: the need for authentic community, as described by you in your book "The Different Drum." This need, as you describe it, and as I experienced it in the workshops, is so basic and fundamental that man can never rest until he has found at least some of it in his life. We desperately need community.
I thank you for your initiative and endeavors in the field of community building, just as much as for your thoughtful, encouraging and inspiring writing on relationships, self-realization, ethics, religious experience, love, and the meaning of life. This is a lot to try to express at one time, but still is insufficient to express the longing heart of you and me.
Dr. Ulrich Diehl
Lecture for Philosophy
University of Heidelberg
Meeting and spending time with you when you came to Australia in the very early 90s remains one of the highlights and peaks of inspiration in my life. Never have I met anyone whose presence was so humble, yet at the very same time noble, even grand.
Your work will forever be that rare collection of writing through which life's spirit, the 'authentic' spirit, traveled. You articulate so wonderfully love, community, decency and spirituality.
Generations of people, globally, will be inspired and challenged by what Scotty has written for many years to come. He dared really analyze, embrace and celebrate all of life's layers and then bring to us his insights. Courage, authenticity and bona fide intelligence are some words that easily spring to mind when I think of Scotty and his contribution, his giant contribution, to the dignity of the human spirit."
Founder: Australian Humanitarian Awards
Writer / Psychotherapist
Dr. Scott Peck:
You encourage your readers to look off the beaten path in meeting life's challenges and above to take personal responsibility towards God. It was a relief to hear this from a professional psychologist like you and a chaplain because other sources constantly criticized me for this way of living my life, or looking at it that way. It is refreshing that it's OK to stray from the conventional, safe way of doing things.
I enjoyed reading your book "Golf and the Spirit" on vacation this year. I don't play golf but still got a lot out of this philosophical book. It definitely encourages one to stop and sniff the roses.
Dear Dr. Peck,
We met briefly in a hotel elevator in Knoxville, TN in 1989. My only words to you then were something like the "ripples of your movement on the water have spread very far". My first CBW in 1987 in Fort Walton Beach, started a profound benevolent impact on my life and through me the lives on many others.
I do hope that these tributes give you renewed perspective on how far your influence has spread. For me, a CBW held in Savannah GA resulted in a group of men meeting continuously since around 1989.
My relationships at home, at work, at church and in the community have been deeply enriched and enlivened by the principles expressed in your work and learned in Community Building. My men's group is a place of safety to risk sharing and living life to the fullest and has saved my life both physically and spiritually. My work as a therapist and social worker was revolutionized with far less fear of risk, exposure and failure.
In my early Christian life, I mistakenly focused on Judgement Day as a time of fear and retribution. But I now look forward to that day when I and you and others will be able to see fully how our lives are so intertwined, led by the Spirit movement among us. I expect we will be overwhelmed with the Wonder of how our acts of obedience and faithfulness to the gifts we have been given have blessed others beyond all our imagining.
Until that time, as we dwell in this world of both joy and suffering, please accept my utmost thanks for your contribution to my life and to that of others know to me.
May the Peace of the Lord Dwell With Thee on this day.