Embrace Grace: How to Be Open Without Seeking

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you embrace grace? What happens when you do?

Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled, explains that it is important to embrace grace along the path of your spiritual evolution. Grace isn’t something you can search for, but it’s something you should prepare yourself to receive. When it arrives, it brings meaning to every part of your life.

Keep reading to learn how to embrace grace.

How to Embrace Grace

Grace is not something you can search for. It arises for you and/or through you. Some ignore the knocking at the door of grace. Others might say it comes into their lives in such a way that they experience it whether they choose it or not. It’s true that you can’t force grace, but you can prepare for its arrival. If you exercise discipline, genuine love, and build an accurate map of reality, you can put yourself in a receptive position for the magic of grace to move to or through you. The fact that you can choose to embrace grace—and yet also must wait for grace to arrive on its own—is an example of serendipity.

For example, Buddha became enlightened while sitting underneath the bodhisattva tree. He was ready to receive, but not seeking, yet he spent years preparing for that moment. This is mirrored in the growth process for human beings. Let’s use dreams as another example. Patients who believe in dream analysis and excessively analyze their dreams may not find significant benefit until they learn to release their grip, allowing insight to arise naturally rather than analyzing every detail of every dream. Alternatively, there are patients who are unaware of the value of dreams and may dismiss them as meaningless. These patients benefit from being taught to value and utilize the gifts and insights inherent in their dreams. 

In the context of grace and all other forms of mysterious assistance (love, premonition, serendipity, synchronicity, and so on), you must always prepare yourself for assistance. For example, we all desire to be loved, but you must first be able to receive love. This requires you to become a person who has the discipline to love genuinely. If you are looking for love externally, you will never find genuine love. Instead, you will find dependency. If you treat yourself and others with genuine love and are not seeking to get love from that behavior, you become lovable simply by being the source of love. Consequently, you will attract the love you want without having sought it out (this is the case with the love of God as well). 

What Happens When You Embrace Grace?

The result of opening to the grace-driven messages of the unconscious and facing mental illness enough to make concrete changes in yourself is that, not only are you healed of your symptoms, but you are freed from the suffering of your childhood—and you experience the world in a brand new way. When you embrace grace, obstacles become opportunities to overcome challenges, undesirable thoughts become opportunities to gain insight into oneself, undesirable feelings become fuel for growth, and perhaps the experience of mental illness itself becomes a blessing in disguise.

Once you embrace grace, every aspect of your life becomes meaningful. The awareness of grace communicates to you that your growth is bigger than you and motivated by something bigger than you—so far as to say that grace proves the existence of God and proves that God desires that you spiritually evolve.

Embrace Grace: How to Be Open Without Seeking

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Road Less Traveled summary :

  • The four key elements in the path to enlightenment
  • The importance of spiritual competence in relation to mental health
  • How you can face challenges and grow through hardship

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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