ARC Review (NetGalley): The Path

 

Synopses

For the first time an award-winning Harvard professor shares his wildly popular course on classical Chinese philosophy, showing you how these ancient ideas can guide you on the path to a good life today.

Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard?

It’s because the course challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish. This is why Professor Michael Puett says to his students, “The encounter with these ideas will change your life.” As one of them told his collaborator, author Christine Gross-Loh, “You can open yourself up to possibilities you never imagined were even possible.”

These astonishing teachings emerged two thousand years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. And what are these counterintuitive ideas? Good relationships come not from being sincere and authentic, but from the rituals we perform within them. Influence comes not from wielding power but from holding back. Excellence comes from what we choose to do, not our natural abilities. A good life emerges not from planning it out, but through training ourselves to respond well to small moments. Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities.

In other words, The Path upends everything we are told about how to lead a good life. Above all, unlike most books on the subject, its most radical idea is that there is no path to follow in the first place—just a journey we create anew at every moment by seeing and doing things differently.

Sometimes voices from the past can offer possibilities for thinking afresh about the future.

A note from the publisher:
To read relevant passages from the original works of Chinese philosophy, see our free ebookConfucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi: Selected Passages, available on Kindle, Nook, and the iBook Store and at Books.SimonandSchuster.com.

Product Details (Amazon):

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476777837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476777832
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces

Review:

Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans. It’s all very easy to be caught up in formulating plans to actually realize that we may be trapped in our way of thinking. Michael Puett’s The Path is nothing short of an revelation that turned my perception of what it means to live a good life on its head.

Do we not, after all, fall into patterns of behavior that are repeated throughout our lives? Do we not allow labels or what we make of ourselves at a particular point in time to limit our capability to be so much more? Should we in fact seek out who we “really” are based on an arbitrary assumption that there is a true self and that we cannot change that inner self? The answers to these questions and more are answered in the book.

I speak from experience when I say that I have often been labelled as “temperamental”. Fortunately, I knew that just because I exhibited such traits during one phase of my life did not necessitate that I would remain as such throughout the entirety of my existence.

In the same vein, ‘The Path’ outlines how we are susceptible to be content with who we see ourselves as, consequently stagnating our personalities which stop positive change from occurring.

Additionally, the importance of rituals and role playing which enable us to explore other sides of our multi faceted personalities as well as how that can improve our character is broached in ‘The Path’.

Be that as it may, ‘The Path’ also explores the nature of the world. Have we become complacent? Is the world Capricious? Through the works of Mencius, and Confucius these questions are addressed. What is more, Lao Tzu along with his contemporaries which include Mozi are also broached.

 For readers of the poet Robert Frost, this is a “Path” that would genuinely make all the difference so seize the opportunity and give it a read seeing that it will help broaden the way you perceive everything from your day to day interactions with others to what it truly means to hone one’s emotional responses so as to bring out the best in oneself as well as others.

Rating:

At best you’ll be much more perceptive of the way things work… at worst you’ll be much better at interacting with others in various social settings.

 

 

 

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