I just finished reading Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior and I loved it. I have also seen the movie and enjoyed it, but it doesn’t touch the book.
I marked a few passages that really stood out to me and I want to share them. The first one isn’t very far into the book.
Soc took an old dictionary from his drawer and held it in the air. “Use whatever knowledge you have but see its limitations. Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no heart. No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace. Life requires more than knowledge; it requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.”
How many people do you know who spend the time to learn things but never use it. I’m very guilty of that. I have shelves full of books and programs, some of which I have never opened. They contain tons of knowledge with absolutely no benefit because I have never put it to work.
At the end of that passage Socrates says that life demands “right action”. Knowing something is one thing. Knowing how to apply it is something else. Then taking action to apply that knowledge correctly is what it is all about.
I like how Mike Dooley puts it in his daily Notes From the Universe emails. He often talks about taking action, any action, to move you toward your goals. Not everything is going to work but that is how you will learn those right actions. After all, most people never take action at all, so even incorrect action will put you ahead of the crowd.
Garden of Eden
The next section that really stood out takes place about 50 pages from the end when Dan is starting to “wake up.” He is recovering from another vision that Socrates gave him. This time he was a baby in his grandfather’s garden and says that it was like the Garden of Eden. Socrates replies,
Yes, it was the Garden of Eden. Every infant lives in a bright Garden where everything is sensed directly, without the veils of thought – free of beliefs, interpretation, and judgments.
You ‘fell’ from grace when you began thinking, about – when you became a namer and a knower.
Socrates’ point here to Dan, and the rest of us, is that we become bored with our existence because we stop focusing on the experiences themselves and pay more attention to our labels and interpretations of those experiences. We label this “good” and that “bad”. That’s a “house”, that’s a “tree” and over there is a “bush”. If we instead put our focus on the actual experience of what we call “house”, “tree”, or “bush” it all becomes much more interesting and exciting.
My wife and I are homeschooling our kids this year and this week we are studying whales. Maybe you find the label “whales” interesting, or maybe you don’t, but when you look beyond the label you will see that it doesn’t do the experience any justice what-so-ever. They are amazingly diverse creatures. Take what we call the Humpback Whale. It is born off the coast of Hawaii then swims to Alaska to eat. The largest of the whales survive by eating the smallest of the food available. They don’t even have teeth. They filter krill and plankton from the water with their baleen and just swallow. The smaller whales do have teeth, like the orcas and dolphins. Just amazing.
Here and Now
I want to share just one more section of the book. It comes a few pages after the previous one.
Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. Its only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.
Your mind can think about the past or the future, never about the present. Likewise, you can only act right now, never in the past or future. Like action, your experience is always right now. When we bring our attention back to right now everything is amazing and we can be happy.
My wife has a massage client that she is working with. This person is always together and in control. Some things have happened with her adult children that got her worrying about the future. Her son had surgery, divorced his wife, and moved back in. Her daughter had an ultrasound that showed a mass of tissue. She became so worried about what might be in the future that her body was thrown out of alignment, she could barely stand up, and when she tried to stand up she would feel nauseous and possibly pass out.
While my wife was working on this lady she got her to think about other things, shift her focus away from the possible future that was so troubling, and most of her symptoms fell away. She even fell later and injured her ankle, so her focus on one possible future has now brought her a very real physical injury in the present. Now, with more information, it doesn’t look like that future is going to come into being.
The moral of the story is, don’t waste much of your time worrying about the past that you can’t change or a future that will probably not happen. Stay in the present where you can act and experience right now and a lot of our “problems” will go away.
That’s it. I highly recommend that you read Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. It is a great book full of good information. Then take that information and act on it.