Dan Millman presents The Peaceful Warrior's Way
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September 2011 – Q & A of the Month

QUESTION:

I read ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior’ on the advice of a friend. It was illuminating and thought-provoking, and I have tried to apply the lessons of the book to my own life. Unfortunately, I have run into difficulties regarding how to do so:

1. The transformation you experienced within the book would seem impossible for anybody else to complete. While you have stated in other places that you consider everybody on Earth a ‘peaceful warrior in training,’ why, then, did Socrates have to do so many special things for you? The intense training, the admonishments, the visions and the transfers of energy — if only a select few on Earth will ever be able to receive such help, how can the rest of us change as you have?

2.  Your final revelation — that nobody truly dies; that all life is connected — led to the corollary that all achievement is pointless, something you apparently wanted to whisper into the ears of every college student. How literally do you want us, your readers, to take you on this? I am a high school student, and I’ve long had an ambition to become a scientist, and work in a lab with bacteria and viruses because the idea of seeing these organisms in motion and using them to help others excites me. To reach this goal, however, I have to pass classes in school, go to a good university, pass classes there — in short, achieve. So I pass tests and achieve a high standing in my class. Do you suggest it is wrong to feel proud of such achievement?

3.  Finally — one of Socrates’ lessons was that “the time is here, and the place is now” — and that we must never think about the future or the past, but always remain firmly in the present. This presents two problems: (1) Should I never make plans for the future? (2) I love listening to and playing music, which seems to lift me out of the world, transport me to another place or time and let my imagination soar.  Should I instead keep my mind fixed on the present moment?

The fact is, I’m afraid that such “self-indulgence” and “pride” will send me into that dark dream that Socrates made you see in your vision, where you never truly felt peace but turned into a bitter old man who died of a heart attack.

DAN’S REPLY:

Thank you for your heartfelt questions, which I’ll try to answer in the order you pose them:

Many people who read my first two narratives — Way of the Peaceful Warrior, and Sacred Journey — wrote, “I was inspired by your first book(s) — but how do you apply these ideas in everyday life?  That is why I wrote other core teaching books that followed, in this recommended order:

The Four Purposes of Life
• Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior
• No Ordinary Moments
• The Life You Were Born to Live
• The Laws of Spirit

These books lend context and perspective that clarifies the original teachings as expressed in my first book through “Socrates.”  It is best, I think, for you to treat Way of the Peaceful Warrior as a teaching metaphor or allegory blending fact and fiction.

You are not here to trust me, or to trust Socrates — you are here to trust yourself and the process of your own life.

Now, on to your questions:

1.  We are all peaceful warriors in training because each of us is striving to live with a peaceful heart, but there are times we need a warrior’s spirit — because it takes courage to live in this world.  Everyone is in training; however, not everyone was destined to write a book about my time with Socrates, which is why I was “singled out.”  Much of the visions and  “energy work” and other magical elements were fictional devices to create a more visceral experience for the reader.  (Please see the Q&A section at my website, including the last question and reply related to “How can I find the right teacher for me?”.)

2. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley (and it might have benefitted me in various ways to earn an advanced degree as well).  I value the practical and social benefits of getting a good academic education, with training in a field, etc.  This is clarified in the second purpose of The Four Purposes of Life:  “Finding Your Career and Calling.”)  Soc’s point, explained in Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior, was that our academic education is only a limited preparation for the School of Life (which consists of 12 required, and self-paced, courses in which we are all enrolled — our continuing education). For a clear tutorial in these 12 essential courses, check my course at www.dailyom.com titled “Master the Path of the Peaceful Warrior.” By all means, pursue your interest and career, a necessary and useful part of life.  And there is nothing wrong (and much right) about doing satisfying work, earning a good income, while serving others.

3. Socrates never suggested that we should “never think about past or future” — after all, why abandon a natural human capacity for memory and imagination?  This question, too, is clearly answered in The Four Purposes of Life and Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior. But I can offer the following reminders:  The past and future are nice places to visit, but you don’t want to live there. The only moment of reality is in front of us, now.  Handle that, and all will be well.  (The fourth purpose in The Four Purposes of Life is “Attending to this Arisng Moment” — in which I explain more about the idea of “living in the present.”) That you enjoy music is a blessing, not a sin! Even as you study toward a career, music may remain a joyous calling!   You ask “Is this wrong to feel?”  There is nothing “wrong to feel.”  Feelings are the weather patterns of the body… and we each have our own values, interests, and talents — follow those.

You are here to live your life, no anyone else’s (including mine or Socrates’). I myself pursued many, many jobs after college until in my 30s I found my own path.  You seem clearly headed down your own path.  So apply yourself!  Keep your head in the clouds, but your feet firmly planted on the ground.

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