Sep 29, 2009

Our Human-ess and the Human Spirit

Human nature('ego') and the human spirit are two different entities, while we blame human nature often we forget we do have a human spirit that can be stronger. It appears to be a question of motivation.

Back to M Scott Peck's book - Denial of The Soul,  I'm currently into the early chapters of part 2.
M S Peck had a story about a man who had literally become a skeleton of himself due to terminal lung cancer, for some reason he was still alive and should have been dead.  He could not eat, even when he tried to force himself. His body had wasted away, he was in anguish in more ways than one.His wife was probably the reason he would not give up. His wife was holding on to him through her strong influence and motivation about not giving up the fight, 'can beat this', it was her 'fighting spirit in conjunction with' her husbands that was keeping him alive.'

The fact was, this man's spirit was obviously stronger than his body, and his body was dying. 
The advice that Dr Peck had for the wife was to consider giving her husband the permission to let go. The advice to her husband was for him to consider 'giving up'. 
[Please bear in mind the subject of the book is Euthanasia].

Most of us are brought up to believe that it is always wrong to give up and that was what the husband thought too.  Dr Peck did not tell him it was the right thing to do but he also did say it was 'not necessarily bad to quit' and left him to think on it.
Both husband and wife prayed for more than day together and then decided to go home together.  Two days later the husband passed away peacefully. The wife thanked Dr Peck for his advice.
I had goose bumps when I read this story, that a human bond can be so powerfully binding, that the human spirit can be so awe-inspiring.

Dr Peck was not just a physician and psychiatrist but also a theologian. And that is what makes his contribution on this subject, rather more complex. He argues that while secularists don't acknowledge the 'soul' per se, they should not ignore that there is a deeper essence to us beyond the body and mind.  When Dr Peck talks about soul it is not so much in the religious sense as that of the inner being, something 'larger than the self'.

In Peck's mind, the husband had not given up but 'chosen to cooperate -to give in to God'. Time for the soul to return. This is the beginning of part 2, questions explored are, are we denying the soul, do we shorten our lives by our 'little' addictions and excesses that harm our body, are we fighting the natural order (for human or soul), should life be unnaturally and painfully prolonged or as Dr Peck  interprets, are we cooperating with God re: the longevity of life.

" We know a great deal more about the causes of physical disease than we do about the causes of physical health. " 

I'll be back with more of Peck's experiences and lessons. I don't expect there to be a conclusion or decision at the end of this book. Dr Peck wanted us to be more discerning when it came to the question of living and dying well.


  1. Sometimes we are not giving up on something. It is simply that we never should have begun the task. We take on too many things that are not in GOD's plan for us. We run around like crazy, not eating correctly or resting. We all need to be careful what we choose...making sure it is what GOD would have us to do...not just taking on a task b/c someone else does not step forward.
    Blessings, andrea

  2. I love reading, and this sounds like a great book.

  3. I think we all wrestle with various issues in our lives each day. Often our fears sneak in to keep us from taking the actions necessary to solve our problems, but if we give them up to God we will always eventually find the answers and receive peace of mind and spirit.
    Thank you for your recent comment on my artwork in my blogs sidebar. I hope you will check back for more soon.I am having difficulties displaying it in a big enough size though, so bare with me until I can fix. :)

  4. God created a whole, pure soul. It is the ugliness of the Human 'ego' that generates the conflicts within ourselves and with others.
    How do we resolve this? Back to the roots of finding the true God and your true self as God had created.

    I am still working on it. God bless

  5. I am very inspired by Scot Peck and I usually go back to reading his book - The Road Less Travelled.
    I myself feel at times that I have survived cancer because of my daughter.

  6. Anonymous30/9/09

    This is heavy, you would never think about short changing the almighty one..but then we did not think of it like that. Does this mean I need to give up smoking? - Z

  7. Andrea, AAMom, Gaia, Z – You’re right, there are so many ways to look at a situation. At most times we are rushing through without paying the right attention to ourselves or including God in those choices.

    Farila, Karen – He’s a great thinker, I’ve been trying to get that book too. Dr Peck also states that he does repeat a fair bit of what he wrote there, in this book.

    Z – Do give up smoking :)
    Thank you for the thoughts.


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