Dan Millman presents The Peaceful Warrior's Way
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QUESTION:

I’m 15 years old. I read Way of the Peaceful Warrior when I was 12. Since that time I’m trying to live this way. But I’m confused. I’ve read many other book too, like The Secret and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Both of these books seem to be saying, that I should think about my future a lot. That I should plan a lot and train my imagination.

But books emphasize living in the present and not thinking so much about the past or future. And I agree with it. But you know, when you read 10 books and 9 want you to focus on your future and one or two about the present, you start to think, How do I know the right choice, the right way? And what’s your opinion for these other books? Are they 100% different, that your teaching. Or did I understand wrong?

DAN’S REPLY:

Thanks for your letter. Yes, life can feel confusing at times, with many beliefs and ideas floating around, ranging from practical (The 7 Habits) to fanciful (The Secret). On the specific topic of diet, Mark Twain once wrote, “Be careful about reading too many health books — you may die of a misprint.”

I have found it more helpful to view my life as being shaped more by what I actually do from moment to moment, rather than in trying to change how I think or feel. We have more control over our actions — what we say and do — than over what we happen to think or feel at any given time.

Many books tell us to think positively and to train our imaginations, implying that doing so will make life work better and help us to get what we want. Maybe.

We certainly benefit from getting to know ourselves — your values and interests — what we really want rather than what we or someone else thinks we “should” want. So sure — form constructive goals; then work toward them over time.

Dream big, but start small — then connect the dots. Since you’re relatively, focus on your education (in school and in life).

You are right to focus on the present. That is the moment of reality, the moment of power. The rest is only memory and anticipation of some “future” that never comes, because we always exist in the present — the future remains always out of reach, in that idea we call the future.

Your present moments improve as you apply yourself. This is true in sports and in the arts (such as playing a musical instrument).

I believe that my book, The Four Purposes of Life, will be most helpful to you.

Apply yourself in the direction of your interests. Build a good foundation.

Dan

QUESTION:

I have a dilemma regarding the truth that myriad life paths and religions expound. Some say that they are the most direct avenue towards enlightenment/salvation, and others claim to be the only way. Do you believe that there could be one practice (e.g. “Heavenly Taoism, Chanting Buddhism, Christianity) that could be the most direct path for all people in the world at this time? Have you found from your experience that there is no direct one way that is best?

DAN’S REPLY:

Religions have both their conventional and transcendental) branches. For example, there’s Christianity and Christian mystics (gnostic gospels, Essenes); there’s Islam and Sufism; there’s Confucianism and Taoism; there’s Judaism and the Kabbalah. Religion centers around faith, or belief — some say revelation and direct experience of the Divine.

What I teach is not an alternative to one’s chosen faith, but a practical approach to living (with a peaceful heart and a warrior spirit) that may serve to make someone a better — more aware and awake) — Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Atheist for that matter. A rabbi once said, “There are only two kinds of people: decent and indecent.” And we can find both kinds in every religion, country, or political persuasion.

My view of faith is not founded on maintaining a certain belief, but rather: Faith is the courage to live as if everything that happens is for our highest good and learning.

I realize that what I’ve written above goes beyond your primary question, so let me now address that:

I don’t personally believe there is one best religion, philosophy, book, teacher, approach, method, yoga, martial art, exercise system, or diet — only the best for each individual at a particular time of life. So I respect each individual’s choice, and encourage you to experiment with different approaches to living that may best suit and serve your values and needs.

Keep your heart and mind open, and your eyes as well. Apply your own sense of discernment when facing such questions as you have asked. Then find the answers that make sense to you, and that fit your sense of the world.

Dan