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Reader's Guide Questions for: Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior PDF Print

1. Mama Chia, the spiritual teacher in Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior -- and Socrates, in Way of the Peaceful Warrior -- seem to lead ordinary lives. Have you ever met an ordinary person who possessed spiritual presence, wisdom or gifts? If you had such gifts, would you live an ordinary life or seek to alter it? The Marcel Proust quote (on the title page of Book II) suggests, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" Do you agree?

2. Socrates encourages Dan to seek out a woman shaman in Hawaii, but will not tell him her name or how to find her. Why do you think Socrates makes it so challenging for Dan? Have you sought out a teachers? How did you find him or her? What demands did they make? What did you learn?

3. Dan makes the difficult decision to leave his wife and daughter, for a time, and travel to India. Was his decision correct in your view? Have you ever had to make such a choice (between honoring a personal responsibility or following a spiritual mission)? How do you look back on the decision?

4. Dan shows immense trust in Ruth Johnson, stranger to him but friend to Socrates, when he follows her (incomplete) instructions and sets out on a three-day journey that nearly kills him. What did Dan learn from the this experience? (Does the same lesson appear again in the book?) Who, if anyone, do you trust completely? Has your trust ever been disappointed? How did the experience change your attitude toward trust? Do you believe that perfect trust is possible? Why or why not?

5. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see the in the world." How does Dan struggle to live up to this standard? In what way have you become what you want to see in the world? What are the challenges and rewards?

6. After a vivid and illuminating dream, Dan realizes that he alternates between his (childlike) "basic self"and his (logical, robotlike) "conscious self," both remote from his "higher self." What roles has each of these selves played in your life? Can you think of a time when you followed the demands of one self and ignored the others? Can you think of a time when all three selves united to guide you?

 

7. Mama Chia suggests that external pursuits such as careers, sports, or the arts serve merely as paths to or vehicles for internal development. What have you learned from your own professional pursuits and hobbies? How have they altered your perspective on yourself, the world, and life itself?

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8. What roles do spirituality and religion play in Sacred Journey? In your view, what is the difference between them? What role does (a concept of) God play in the story? What about faith? Mama Chia defines faith as "the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning." How might this kind of faith shape your life?

9. Who is Mama Chia? What is her mission? What does Dan learn from the story of her life? Have you ever known anyone like Mama Chia? What influence did this person have on your life? Have you acted as a "Mama Chia" to anyone? How did you influence them?


10. Mama Chia and Dan travel to a sacred burial ground in order to undergo a ritual. What other locations named in the book are sacred? What makes them so? What locations in your world do you consider sacred? How did they become so? When are you moved to seek them out? What does the author mean, when he writes near the end of the book, that "all our journeys are sacred"?


11. As the author points out, in the Hindu religion, God takes three forms, that of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer, and Shiva the destroyer. At what points does Mama Chia take on these three forms? When does Dan experience encounter each? How do these encounters transform him? Have you experienced these three faces of God in your own life? How have they affected you?

 

12. Asceticism, self-discipline or self-denial often plays some role in spiritual training. What role does it play in Sacred Journey? Is Mama Chia an ascetic? If so, how? If not, why not? Are there things in your life that you deny yourself (or feel you should)? Do you sometimes struggle with self-denial or self-indulgence? What do you learn from the struggle? How might you find balance?

13. What is the form of service that Mama Chia urges Dan towards? Is it the service of Mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi? How does Mama Chia serve her world? How do you serve? Do others serve you? What form of service is the most meaningful to you?

14. Both Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi worked with lepers. So did Ernesto ("Che") Guevara as a young doctor. Lepers are often portrayed as having the power to terrify and to transform. Why? What does Dan learn from the lepers? How does the experience change him? How might you react if you met a leper?

 

15. Does Sacred Journey portray a malevolent or benign vision of death? Dan nearly dies, and death seems near to Mama Chia for much of the story. How does Mama Chia approach death? Why are these experiences important to each of them? How does the proximity of death transform them? What is your relationship to the concept of death? Do you fear it? If you could choose any attitude toward death, what might it be?

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