Dan Millman, former worlds champion athlete, university coach, and member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, and martial arts instructor, was a college professor at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, and Oberlin College. His other books include Sacred Journey, No Ordinary Moments, and The Life You Were Born to Live, The Inner Athlete, and The Laws of Spirit.
Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which is blends fact and fiction, revolves around the realms of light and shadow, romance, and mystery. The whole episode started as nightmares when he was a student at UC Berkeley. Nearly every night he was jerked awake and sweating; he saw an old white-haired man in one of his dreams. Guided by an old warrior, and drawn to an elusive young woman called Joy, Dan sprinkled anecdotes and metaphors into the story to highlight the lessons he learned from Socrates. This story that is full of furry and humors talks about ‘the peaceful warrior’ in everyone.
One night, as Millman was in bed sleepless, he got up and threw on a faded Levis jeans and sneakers, and jacket and walked out into the night walking aimlessly. The cold night made me hungry, so he walked into an all-night gas station to buy some cookies and a soft drink. There he met his mentor (nicknamed Socrates) at a period he hoped to become a world-champion gymnast. As Socrates warned him "To survive the lessons ahead, you're going to need far more energy than ever before;" and "You must cleanse your body of tension, free your mind of stagnant knowledge, and open your heart to the energy of true emotion." After this, the comic and mysterious Socrates proceeded to teach Millman the "way of the peaceful warrior" and posit that "The warrior's life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it's about love."
In his confusion Dan somehow found his way to the door marked Office and pushed it open. Along with the office door was another door opening to another dimension and collapsed onto an old couch and shivering, wondering what might come screaming through that door. His dread, as in reality of life, was mixed with a strange fascination he couldn't fathom, but he sat there breathing shallowly, trying to regain his bearing. He looked around the office, but ‘it was so different for the sterility and disarray of the usual gas station.’ What surprised me most was the homelike atmosphere of the room, which was ‘warm, orderly, and secure.’ This unpredictable adventure, however, appeared magic, terror, and romance! After a while his breathing relaxed and his mind stopped whirling. He began to see that the white-haired man at the gas station that has the resemblance of the man in his dream was surely a coincidence. Saying or rather ‘mumbling a goodnight,’ to Socrates and feeling off balance, he left. But when Dan looked back he saw Socrates standing on the roof, his arms crossed looking up at the starry sky! He muttered, ‘it was impossible!’
The characters in this book seem to be drawn from emotional rather than factual memory. Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which portrays the ups and downs of realities of daily life with element of yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, dance, and fitness training, love and education, did not make an easy reading for me. At first this book that shows what it means to die and live like a warrior appeared very unusual to me.
Nevertheless, as the forward succinctly says this book shows that matters in life is compassion, kindness, taking ourselves less seriously, and waking up to the gift of life in each passing moment. I recommend this book that offers hope, meaning, and spiritual inspiration to everyone.