The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” has probably been used at more high school and college graduation ceremonies than any other reference. And, while I like the poem, what is more significant is that its message became a touchstone for the Biodesign Class. As it evolved and progressed it became a class that may have been the only one of its kind, especially in a public school. This process was greatly facilitated by two books: “Religions, Values and Peak Experiences,” by Abraham Maslow, and “The Road Less Traveled,” by Dr. Scott Peck.
Maslow’s book knocked my socks off, not because of “religion” or “values” or “peak experiences.” Yosemite and Mendocino (later Grand Canyon) provided mountains, canyons and oceans of peak experiences, but the powerful little book offered a huge surprise. For those of you who have read Biodesign Out For A Walk, you may recall chap 3, “Firestorm.” I was facing a major outer and inner battle of how to reconcile topics that seemed to overlap, “science,” religion and spirituality. Maslow suggested that his studies showed that religion and spirituality were not necessarily interchangeable. He established that from a psychological perspective, there were many examples of spirituality that did not require a supreme being as the source, and therefore can and should be considered in a public school environment. Interestingly, if we are, as the Bible contends, “made in the image of God,” then why should we not be capable of generating and communicating spiritual experiences without crediting them to a supreme being? These were exciting, albeit challenging threads to sort out.
The Road less Traveled,” ironically released in 1978, would also have been extremely helpful. I can only assume that we had to go through the crucible to be ready for the two newly discovered books.
The first two chapters in The Road…pretty much sum up the essence of the book; Chap. 1, The Problem of Pain, and closely related Chap 2,-Delaying Gratification.
All of the authors that we referred to were interconnected, and so when Peck described the greatest threat to American culture was the inability to delay gratification, it resonated well with Erich Fromm’s contention that the greatest threat was our inability to master the art of loving. It appears that they are related. Their common bond may be that they both require heaps of self-discipline.