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LIFE PURPOSE

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Questions & Answers

What I write is only as true and useful as what I live. My responses to these few sample questions may provide some insight into my life. I hope you will always find me an open book.

You can find many more answers in:
Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior
Living on Purpose
The Life You Were Born to Live

and my
other books

click here for Dan's Bio.
click here for the story behind Dan Millman's books.
click here for Readers' Guide Questions.

Click any question below to view Dan's answer:

How did you go from being a college athlete and coach to write books about personal and spiritual growth?

While a college gymnast, it struck me that no matter how much I improved myself, only one person benefited - but if I could influence other people in a positive way, that made my life more meaningful. So I was called to teach. Over time, however, my interests shifted from developing talent for sports to a larger arena - developing talent for living. I traveled the world and studied many systems of human development.

In order to teach I had to practice crafts of communication - writing and speaking. I've always been a teacher at heart - that hasn't changed.

I was inspired by Way of the Peaceful Warrior, and Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior -- but how do you apply these lessons to daily life?

My first two books provide reminders about life's bigger picture and higher potential. But they are only the introduction to my work. I've written nine more books, each one with different purpose and content, which clarify and expand upon the teachings in my first book.

These books offer comprehensive, practical guidance for living with a peaceful heart and a warrior spirit. Each provides another piece of the puzzle, another facet of the way.

How much of Way of the Peaceful Warrior is true? Is Socrates real or fictional?

I did indeed meet a real person, a cosmic old service station mechanic at around 3 A.M. on a starry night in December of 1966. Because he reminded me of the ancient Greek sage, I called him Socrates.  My more recent novel, The Journeys of Socrates, relates the challenging saga of his life.

My book, Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior, responds to nearly all the questions I've been asked over the years about Socrates and the teachings. I consider "Wisdom…" an essential companion to my first book, to truly understand the original teachings.

From the beginning, I've stated quite clearly that Way of the Peaceful Warrior is an autobiographical novel (blending fact and fiction). You'll find the words: Personal Growth/Fiction on the back cover. But let's say it was all true -- that everything described happened exactly as I described it. Or let's say it was not. What does this have to do with your daily life? Whether or not Socrates could jump up on rooftops or send me on mystical journeys with the touch of his hand, how does this impact your relationships? Your daily life? Are you seeking evidence of miracles or ways to be stronger, kinder and wiser? Please consider this closely.

For a short video commentary about Socrates, click here

Your first book reminds me of the writings of Carlos Castañeda, and his teacher, Don Juan. Did you draw upon his earlier work?

Castañeda's early writings involve a brujo, or shaman, in the Sonoran desert who uses psychedelics to shake up his naïve student. In contrast, I found my teacher in the midst of daily life, in an old service station.

Castañeda's early work and Peaceful Warrior are similar in the sense they involve a struggling student and mysterious mentor. But life, literature and film overflow with such pairings: Arthur had Merlin, Frodo had Gandalf; Mitch had Morrie; Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda. And I had my Socrates.

What about Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior - how much of that book is factual?

Sacred Journey is largely a fictional narrative to convey essential teachings. Mama Chia is a composite of many women I've admired. I wrote it to convey the model of the three selves and the seven-tiered model of our human evolution, which explain much about healing, awareness, and other aspects of our lives.

In your more recent novel, The Journeys of Socrates, you reveal more about your relationship to Socrates. How much of this is true?

I'm gratified that I have been able to create a sense of immediacy and reality in my writing. According to an old proverb, "Art is a lie that helps us see the truth." Beyond that, I'd rather let this story speak for itself without further explanation. Enjoy the book, abide in the mystery...

Your work avoids complex models in favor of an accessible, down-to-earth approach. Is it possible that spiritual sophisticates may not take your work seriously?

I believe it is my simple, ordinary humanity that helps me to build bridges with my readers, and why so many readers personally relate to the material.

I am not asking readers to trust me; I'm here to help you trust yourself. My purpose is to remind you of that you already know but might have forgotten -- not to impress the impressionable.

Simplicity is not easy; it's quite a challenge to bring metaphysical abstractions down to earth. Those who prefer abstract concepts and intellectual philosophies can find them elsewhere.

Why did Socrates speak to you so harshly at times?

Socrates poked fun at me to show me how easily I became offended. He treated most people with respect. In any case, he had his style; I have mine. Sometimes it may be necessary to shake a student out of denial or lethargy. But I teach with respect and understanding.

Since you charge money for your seminars, have you ever been criticized for selling spiritual teachings??

I support my family through book royalties and speaking fees. It is all straightforward. Money is neither my god nor my devil, but only a form of energy and natural part of life. Those who live alone need less income than someone with a family.

I invite anyone with issues about "money versus spirituality" to read the fourth chapter of my book, Everyday Enlightenment, which provides a thorough examination of money in the context of a spiritual life.

I'm a member of the "copyleft" movement, composed of folks who don't believe in copyright law, based on the principle that all ideas come from the collective unconscious, and should be shared freely by everyone. How can you charge money for books based on ideas that you plucked out of thin air?

I will presume that your question is both sincere and serious. These types of questions usually come from young idealist-ideologues (from the "free" generation, accustomed to free internet services and who dislike the idea of paying for certain goods or services).

According to www.apple.com/legal/trademark/copyright.html, one cannot copyright an idea, but can copyright the particular manner of expression of that idea.

But hey, maybe it is true that no one really owns anything. It seemed a strange notion to the early Native Americans that someone might claim to own a piece of land. And today, most of us find it wrong for one living being to own another. We don't own our children or even our pets — we are their guardians and caregivers.

Yet some people, perhaps like you, have a problem with owning or selling the creative fruits of one's labor  — a song or book or painting. If all music and literature were declared free, then few musicians or writers or other artists could ever again support themselves.

Your "copyleft" philosophy may change in the event you write your own book and discover the amount of labor involved.

I'm an aspiring writer, and would love to have you review my work and offer advice. Do you answer such letters and requests directed to you?

My new book (published by New World Library, Oct 2013), THE CREATIVE COMPASS: Writing Your Way - from Inspiration to Publication — written in full collaboration with my daughter, journalist, editor and teacher, Sierra Prasada — will be hugely helpful to any writer, storyteller, or other creative artist.

I/we wrote the book to answer any questions that aspiring authors might have about the craft and process of writing, from initial dream to sharing with the world.  While my schedule does not allow me to review or comment on developing manuscripts or even finished books, I can refer you, on request, to free-lance editors if you are seeking help developing your work.  But first, read The Creative Compass!

What is your daily life like?

On a typical day, I rise early and begin each day with The Peaceful Warrior Workout, a 4-minute routine of flowing movement and deep breathing, followed by a half hour of cross-training - nothing heroic, just regular, moderate exercise.

Then, after a shower and breakfast, unless I'm traveling and speaking, I begin my work day of writing and emails, plus whatever tasks or other duties arise. It used to be family duties, but now that our daughters are grown, Joy and I have settled into our daily and weekly routines and rhythms.

Are you personally enlightened?

Life is a series of moments. So it depends on which moment you catch me. Some moments I behave in an illumined manner, with clarity and compassion; other times, less so.

If you observed my day-to-day life, you would likely find qualities that reflect a certain maturity, discipline, and balance. I have not mastered all that I teach, but I sincerely practice and do my best to teach by example.

I can claim no more, and do no less.

My wife (and children) don't view me as a teacher, but as a husband (and dad) with human foibles. This seems a more realistic way to respond to questions about whether or not I am "enlightened." We cannot truly know anyone else's degree of spiritual maturity except by observing how they live, moment to moment.

Do you have a religious affiliation?

My grandparents were Russian/Ukranian Jews, but I was not raised in any religious school or tradition. I had to find my own connection to spirit. I feel at home in, and have respect for, the heart of every religion. I am a member of none but a friend to all traditions that call us to our highest ideals.

I became interested in your books because they remind me of Buddhist teachings. When you depict stoicism in the face of pain, this is what I consider "Zen." Have you had any formal Zen training?

I am glad my writings remind you of Zen teachings. Many have also noted an affinity to Taoism, Sufism, the Kaballah, Christian mysticism, and the other paths. I cling not to stoicism or any other philosophical school, but to simple humanity. In the face of pain, I hurt. This is natural. I am not trying to be other than who I am. This is also Zen.

Are you affiliated with the "New Age"?

Years ago, when bookstores needed a category for books that did not neatly fit into religion, or psychology, or philosophy, they created the "New Age" section. I have never related to this miscellaneous drawer and catch-all category that includes books on positive thinking, shamanism, mysticism, ghosts, speculative healing methods, the occult, subliminal suggestions, affirmations, and so forth.

My work presents practical, realistic principles, perspectives, and practices to the conventional and the transcendental - how to live with a peaceful heart and a warrior spirit.

Now that I'm a grandfather, the bookstores may finally move my books from the "New Age" to the "Middle Age" section.

I love your life purpose book, The Life You Were Born to Live, a guide to finding your life purpose. But it doesn't seem to cover anyone born after the year 2000. What can you say about these children?

Any edition of The Life You Were Born to Live published after 1999 contains a new Afterword (at the end of the book) that responds to various questions, and also addresses the life paths of children born in the year 2000 or thereafter.

As with any life path, the key is to guide children to work out their particular issues and energies in the positive. One- or two-digit life paths are neither better nor worse than any other; only more focused and intense.

Do you ever recommend other people or resources?

Yes - because no one is smarter than all of us. And there is only one Light but many lamps. However, a book or teacher with whom I resonate may not be a good fit for someone else. So above all, I encourage you to trust your inner knower and follow your heart.

Don't people need a teacher, guru, or guide to complete the journey?

See Dan's answer by clicking here.