In 1990, I had the joy of interviewing Dan Millman; best known as the author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior. The article ran in Visions Magazine. Published in 1980, the best seller launched the young gymnast, coach and author’s career. I gladly share excerpts from our time together and then offer you a doorway into what Dan has been up to in the interceding years. He is one of the featured speakers at the Celebrate Your Life Conference which will be held from November 6-9 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dan and his daughter, Sierra were guests on my show called It’s All About Relationship in 2015. His straight from the heart approach to transformation makes him a favorite at Celebrate Your Life.
Visions: What experiences or inner processes brought you to write Way of the Peaceful Warrior?
Dan: The freeing from illusion that I went through in the athletic realm helped me to realize that learning more flips wasn’t going to improve my life. When I realized that, I began to expand that scope of my experience into the spiritual realm. At the same time I realized that my western education of history, math and science as useful as it was going to be in a functional sense wasn’t going to make me a happier or more fulfilled person. In fact, I want to remind people that the best thing about going to college is that you find out that it isn’t going to make you happy. The same thing with getting married or having children, or finding the right job. All those things are useful in the conventional sense, but they don’t make you happy. I began to see that and seek from the eastern traditions into the western traditions, from the outer to the inner. That was a long process that brought me through a place of complexity to a place of simplicity where I’ve been residing for recently.
Visions: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior is a light and refreshing and has an intuitional quality about it. Can you tell us what aspects of yourself or your soul and spirit are in that book?
Dan: Well, being a Pisces I haven’t really known or planned clearly what I was going to do ahead of time. I didn’t know why I loved gymnastics so much, or what the ultimate purpose of learning it was. But, I’ve always wanted to do something for people. I had this feeling even before I could articulate it. That’s what was meaningful for me, not just what I could achieve on an individual basis. I only rediscovered that after going through very self-centered stages, which I have no judgments for. They were just part of the process at the time. So even in gymnastics, I wanted to inspire people. I was an exciting performer to watch because I really shared something with the people who were watching. In the same way, writing the book wasn’t a strategic kind of activity. As I started gathering material, I felt I had a new way of expressing some things that I hadn’t before. Over time, this material became the book. It is based on an old man I met in a gas station, roughly the way I described it. There have also been many different teachers including what would be called my Higher Self that have influenced the content of the book. I’m not a writer and teacher because I’m smarter than other people, or more spiritual. I don’t claim to be. But I’ve found this gift for sharing some complex issues in a way that’s practical, simple and down to earth. That’s why I continue to write and teach.
Visions: Within the context of Joseph Campbell’s archetypes and heroes, who would you say the Peaceful Warrior is in all of us?
Dan: Only recently have I begun studying Joseph Campbell’s translation of mythic images in humanity and I was delighted to see that the story certainly was the Hero’s Journey. Now, I wrote this before Star Wars or Indiana Jones, using a hero character that was totally intuitive and not based on any study of mythology. We are all going through the Hero’s Journey and that’s what makes it significant. I’ve described Peaceful Warrior as an abstract painting in which everyone sees their own truth.
Visions: In the closing of the book you state: “When you’re comfortable, the light will disturb you and when you are disturbed the light will comfort you.” What would you say to those who might be feeling their first inner disturbances and urgings to grow further in their lives?
Dan: In my office where I see people for individual life readings, there is a picture of a man jumping over a canyon and underneath it is a quote: “Sometimes when we feel like we’re stagnating, vegetating or even slipping backwards, what we are really doing is backing up to get a running start.” I like to point out that if we wanted to lift weights to grow stronger and we didn’t lift enough weights, we wouldn’t get much stronger. Life or Spirit will expand our reference points. Whether it’s divorce, marriage, death or accident, it shakes us UP in the sense that it lets us question again “Who am I? What is life really about?” These times aren’t always pleasant, but in the long run, they’re spiritual weight lifting, or a profound form of training to strengthen our spirit.
Since the time of the interview, Dan has continued to travel, teach and write. He has penned 15 more books and has produced 14 programs that help people to stretch beyond self-imposed limitation.
Dan will be offering these two sessions at Celebrate Your Life. I look forward to seeing him and YOU there!
PEACEFUL HEART, WARRIOR SPIRIT: Living with Courage and Compassion
As depicted in Dan Millman’s perennial best-selling book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, and in the film version, he meets a mysterious old service station attendant named ‘Socrates,’ and Dan’s life changes forever. In Dan’s workshop, you’ll discover why each of us is a peaceful warrior in training. You’ll learn:
- refreshing reminders about wellness and healing, breath and relaxation, and the nature of reality
- how to overcome fear and self-doubt
- a radically different approach to living — with your head in the clouds and feet on the ground.
THE POWER OF MINDFULNESS and the Most Important Practice of All
Like few others, Dan brings clarity to the popular term and idea of ‘mindfulness’ and how to enjoy it in everyday life. Through a blend of humorous stories and illuminating insights, Dan shows how you can experience the same mystical state of awareness found in world class athletes, musicians, and others absorbed in the ‘moment of silence, the moment of truth.’ Learn why time flies when we’re having fun; how to simplify and deepen your life. His presentation ends with a revealing story about how you can enjoy the ‘most important practice of all.’