Ways of a Peaceful Warrior

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The story in this book is based on the life of Dan Millman who is a world champion athlete and about his journey into realms of romance, light and darkness, body, spirit and mind. Dan is seen as a young college student who is confused and doesn’t know what life holds for him. He is naïve and doesn’t know how to control his fears. He is a champion as he has represented the US Gymnast Federation in three countries (Millman pg. 5). He has everything; he is popular, rich as he even moves out of living in dormitories and rents a room outside the college, earns good grades and has many women around him. At the beginning, he has cases of insomnia and disturbing nightmares as he also feels that something is missing. He wakes up in the middle of the night and runs to the gas station to get something to eat and it is here that he meets an old man and he nicknames him Socrates because he refuses to tell him his real name and also due to his wisdom and knowledge. Socrates becomes Dan’s mentor and he teaches him powerful life lessons to grow into a peaceful warrior and be a happy man.

Even though Dan is a champion and good looking he is unhappy. Socrates helps him begin his life as a peaceful warrior where he begins his mentorship by first changing Dan’s mind. To change his mind Socrates manipulates Dan’s energies to show him how his life would have turned out had he not met him. As he is shown his future, he sees how lonely he could be throughout his life until he grows old and dies and maybe that is what he would have ended up to be. He is a frustrated man and the mentor tells him that he cannot control the results he gets in life but he can control his own efforts which even frustrates him more because he doesn’t understand the importance of these rules. However, I agree with the author because the outcomes that we get in life are as a result of the efforts that we put in hence we can control outcomes by controlling our efforts. For instance, as a student you can control the grades you get at school depending on the effort you put into your studies.

The mentor changes Dan’s life through giving him a life lesson that he has to give up knowing the answers to every question but accept living the mysterious life of not knowing the unknown. This shows that we don’t always have control over some things in life but rather we have to accept, deal with and embrace tragedies and their consequences which will help us be active in our own growth and life changes. It is also seen that Dan is in illusion where his mentor promises him that disillusionment will free him from illusion. Through the advice that the Socrates gives him after watching a film “The Great Escape”, it shows that he faced distractions like sex and movie. He is told that he needs to escape them because they prevent him from facing his fears in life. The Socrates also shows him that he is a slave of his mind’s moods and impulses as he falls in love with Joy and ignores the Socrates advice but after a few lessons with him, he matures to a person who is ready for the sword thus his mind has to remain clear “Take out the trash.  Clear your mind of everything you don’t need. Our mind controls our feelings and the way we act thus we must resist being slaves to our own mind in order to reach greatness.

As his life moves from one stage to another, the mentor helps Dan cope with stress and he advises him that he has to develop a sense of humor and accept what exists “the only way to find our way out of that confusion or our way in is by having a sense of humor about our predicament. We are trying to find ourselves but we are unable to do so and we feel enormously flat and heavy in the way…We need to develop a sense of excitement and dance rather than just try to feel better” (Trungpa pg. 23).  He is told that the reason he is stressed is that his mind is resisting what already exists.  He gives him an illustration of a couple at the gas station that frees because they couldn’t cope with the situation he exposed them to, meaning that he has to adapt to changes. He also shows him a vision where he is an underwater fish and he is taught that he has to realize the challenges in his life that are likened to rocks and rifles. He is taught the importance of meditation and mind.

Mentors bring positive changes into people’s life, thus we should surround ourselves with those who can help us and we should choose the right mentor because it is what matters most since life is like taking a journey up the mountain and as we climb we face challenges in the relationship, sexuality and work, money and wealth. Mentors change people’s lives in three ways; they know the way. This means that they have insights and wisdom as well as experience. In this book, Socrates knows the way to being a champion and he shares his wisdom with Dan. Mentors also show us the way. They apply their knowledge and wisdom to our specific situations. When Dan was confused with his life, the Socrates applied his knowledge to help him become a peaceful warrior to an extent of showing him dreams in order to change his mind as well as help him cope with distractions and in the case of  school a teachers as a person helps students to manage their worries “on the stages of development, one of our student’s overriding worries during their early experiences in classroom concerned their ability to achieve effective classroom management and control” ( Furlong & Maynard pg. 170) . The third way in which mentors help in our lives is that they walk with us through our journey. In every chapter of his life, Dan sought help from Socrates to an extent of even going to the mountain with him through their final search. The advice and initiations received from our mentors help us at every stage of our lives. Socrates mentors Dan from being an enthusiastic and narcissistic gymnast to being a ‘peaceful warrior’. He advises him through every stage of his life; from being a young man, falling in love and to achieving his dreams.

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  1. Millman, Dan. Sacred journey of the peaceful warrior. HJ Kramer, 2004.
  2. “Dan Millman – Way Of The Peaceful Warrior Book Review.” Project Life Mastery, 3 Apr. 2012.
  3. Trungpa, Chogyam. Journey without a goal: The tantric wisdom of the Buddha. Shambhala Publications, 2000.
  4. Furlong, John, and Trisha Maynard. Mentoring student teachers: The growth of professional knowledge. Psychology Press, 1995.
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