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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

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Friday, January 24, 2014
ON THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR'S WAY: 35 YEARS LATER by guest blogger Dan Millman
 

Our guest blogger this week is Dan Millman, a former world-champion athlete and author of numerous books, including Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior, The Life You Were Born to Live, and The Laws of Spirit. His writings have inspired millions of readers in more than thirty languages.

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Before I can properly begin this recap and retrospective, a few basic points are in order:

The term peaceful warrior applies to all of us. We’re all striving to live with a more peaceful heart. Yet there are times we need to draw upon a warrior’s spirit as we battle heroically with inner demons such as self-doubt, inertia, and insecurity. This warrior’s spirit calls us to stand tall and move forward through the thicket of changing thoughts and feelings — to act with integrity, courage, and compassion, with respect both for self and others.
    
You cannot become a peaceful warrior in the future. You can only live that way in this moment. This way is a moment-to-moment practice.  In some moments, my practice is stronger; in other moments, less so.  The same is true, I think, of your practice. The path appears wherever you step. You cannot lose your way.

When you face challenging circumstance, when you feel upset or wronged or in conflict, sometimes just reminding yourself, “I am a peaceful warrior in training” will help you rise to any occasion.

I remind myself of these same truths, gleaned over the past 35 years or so since publication of my first book.

But 14 years before that, as a 20-year-old gymnast filled with a confidence bred of physical prowess, when I met that old service station mechanic I called “Socrates,” I wasn’t expecting him to teach me anything.  In a sense, he didn’t teach me, except by example.  He demonstrated, through his humor and clarity, a balanced approach to living — with my head in the clouds, but feet on the ground.

Back then, I couldn’t fully appreciate the perspectives he shared. I was too focused on my own pursuits and “importances” — gymnastics training, schoolwork, and women — with little idea of what lay beyond, or within. Recently, actor Jim Carrey said, “I think that everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”  In 1966 when I met Socrates, I believed in “life as success story,” that achievements would deliver fulfillment.  So when his influence and example began to erode my youthful illusions and self-absorption — and a motorcycle crash did the rest —I had to literally pick up the pieces of my know-it-all ignorance and take a deeper look at myself and my life. Awareness of the problem is half the solution.

This period of disillusion (or freeing from illusion) provided my introduction to the peaceful warrior’s way. I began asking bigger questions, and getting some answers that surprised me. It wasn’t until ten years after that first meeting that I began to take notes on what would become Way of the Peaceful Warrior — starting a 30-year career in writing and speaking.

Over the years I’ve done my best to express facets of the peaceful warrior’s way through practical and realistic reminders rather than idealistic notions. For example, I remind my students that meditation is a practical exercise — much like doing push-ups. And while meditation develops insight into the nature of mind, push-ups work to strengthen certain muscle groups. The primary difference between the two practices is that one cannot pretend to do push-ups.

Similarly, I could not pretend that I’d reached an elevated state of awareness just because I’d written a popular book.  Even today, 35 years after my adventures with Socrates, I’ve not yet mastered all that I teach. But I continue to practice sincerely. I trust that experience comes with practice and wisdom emerges from experience.

While I once studied with Socrates, I now find myself slowly absorbing his wisdom in the school of life.   As the dynamic power of my youth fades, and my body offers humbling reminders of both my humanity and mortality, I’ve become more patient and reflective. In some ways I begin to resemble my old mentor.   As writer Anne Sexton said, “Once I was beautiful, now I am myself.” Even as my body ages, the way remains ageless, reaching across the generations. It remains relevant to all ages and people because I am not different from anyone else. What I’ve shared is not only about my life, but reflects all our lives. Socrates was not meant to be only my teacher. I’ve shared my story so he could be your teacher as well. Because, after all, we’re all in this together.

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Dan Millman, a former world champion gymnast, university coach, and college professor, has written 17 books read by millions of readers in 29 languages. Dan’s work includes fiction and nonfiction, two children's books, and a first-draft screenplay for Way of the Peaceful Warrior, released by Universal Pictures in 2007. 

For three decades he has worked with publishers large and small; represented himself and partnered with top literary agents; toured the U.S. and overseas; and given hundreds of media interviews for radio, television, print, and online video. 

A popular international teacher and speaker, Dan delivers keynotes, seminars, and workshops for professional and private clients and associations, and has also taught at numerous writing conferences and retreats. Find out more at www.peacefulwarrior.com.

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