This book and I go way back… there’s a lot of history there. How much, I wonder… about seven or eight years? Maybe a year more? When I first saw the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, its title (including the cover) caught my attention, as did some quotes from the book on the inside of the cover:
“Wake up! If you knew you were mortally ill – if you had little time left to live – would you waste even that little?”
“It’s better to make a mistake with the full force of your being than to carefully avoid mistakes with a timid step.”
“Responsibility means recognizing both pleasure and cost, making a choice based on that awareness, and then living with that choice without worry.”
Even then, I felt that this book caught my eye for some reason and that there was a connection. If someone asked me now why I didn’t buy it right away, I wouldn’t be able to give an answer, even if my life depended on it (maybe I didn’t have the money on me?). But, in the end, that wasn’t even important, because karma did its thing and brought me the book just for my birthday. 🙂
And my life from that moment was never the same. It’s a cliché phrase, I know, but for me, this sentence holds a certain weight.
With this book, I embarked on a life journey (which is still ongoing and will continue) that I am very glad happened, with all its good and bad experiences, wonderful and painful moments, victories and defeats, and for which I am very grateful. And I think and believe that I am going in the right direction, even though the destination is not the goal, but the journey itself.
“Oh, wow, what an introduction? We’ve never seen him this emotional and nostalgic in a review. This really touched us (“It didn’t touch them, and don’t put your words in the mouth of the honest people, silly” – note from the subconscious). What kind of book is this?”
Some of you might have thought this (“No, they didn’t” – note from the subconscious).
“Way of the Peaceful Warrior” is a book that is very dear to me and means a lot (“We would never have guessed that from your previous introduction…” – note from the subconscious), and it will be a challenge to remain objective in its review, as it definitely falls into my ‘top three’ books. And it’s not excluded that it’s ‘number one’…
But, I will do my best to be as objective as possible.
“Way of the Peaceful Warrior” is something between an autobiography (the author himself claims it is based on true events) and a kind of mystical (supernatural) story.
Our hero, Dan, begins his life at “Berkeley College”. Young, smart, handsome (he’s into gymnastics, so he’s slim but muscular). Things are going well for him. He easily passes his exams, is a star of the gymnastics team, has a pretty girlfriend… everything is running smoothly. What more could a young man want?
But something is not right, and Dan knows it.
For a long time, he has been having nightmares, in which he, Death, and a gray-haired man, quite relaxed and smiling (considering the situation), appear. And Death always catches up with Dan, while the gray-haired figure laughs at it all.
Dan wakes up every night drenched in sweat, confused and restless.
One night, after being awoken again by the same nightmare, he couldn’t stand it anymore, so he went out into the fresh night air and headed to the local gas station to drink a soda and collect himself.
You can imagine his astonishment when he realized that the lonely gray-haired night shift worker at the gas station was the spitting image of the gray-haired figure from his nightmares. Not just the spitting image, that person was the very figure from his dreams! And this gas station attendant was behaving strangely, just like the character in his nightmare.
Despite the initial shock, Dan decides to overlook this strange “coincidence” and leaves the gas station. However, after a few steps, a feeling made him turn around.
The gas station worker was nowhere to be seen. Correction…
Now that man was standing on the roof of the gas station, observing the stars.
Dan, as a skilled gymnast and a rational human being, knew well that it was not feasible (nor possible) for a person to appear on the roof of a gas station in just a few moments. And that a man cannot (physically) climb/jump that high and fast in a few seconds.
The gray-haired man then looked at Dan and uttered prophetic words.
“Yes, how can I help you?”
From that night on, Dan’s life would never be the same.
Dan didn’t even know that that night he had started on the “path of the warrior”.
The plot of the book follows the conversations between Dan and Socrates (as Dan “christened” the mysterious gas station worker, who enthusiastically accepted the name), which mostly take place at night at the gas station, with occasional daytime excursions and training periods.
Just like the reader, our hero Dan is initially very confused by Socrates and his “strange” (quotes for a reason) views on the world and the functioning of man. Observing Socrates’ behavior and reasoning, Dan begins to wonder for the first time if it is indeed possible that Socrates is one of the few normal people on the right path (and “awake” in this world), while the rest of us are lost.
Dan often tries (like all young and educated people) to refute Socrates’ theories about life with his logical and contemporary arguments, confident that Socrates is talking (nonsense) about things that are not applicable in today’s world, but it seems that with every response from Socrates, his world changes more and more.
But Socrates is not the only person who will shake Dan’s world.
There’s also Joy, a young (you’ll never guess her age), whimsical, and spontaneous girl, Socrates’ friend, with whom Dan falls in love instantly. However, Dan also feels a slight frustration because it seems that Joy is also a “warrior” like Socrates, and as if the two of them understand each other on a level that is still unattainable and not overly comprehensible to Dan. However, at that moment, Dan could not even imagine what plans life had in store for him and Joy.
It wasn’t all just about nightly theoretical discussions with Socrates at the gas station. No, for Dan, this was just the beginning. Socrates subjected Dan to physical exercises and forced him to make radical changes in his diet, as well as in his way of thinking.
And so Dan soon became as enlightened as Buddha and as rich as Jeff Bezos.
If we were joking…
Even for a disciplined and dedicated guy like Dan, Socrates’ “challenges” were very, uh, challenging. There will be many ups and downs on this path, a lot of self-examination, a lot of mystical (supernatural) journeys with Socrates…
…as well as some defeats/traumas with which a man (in general) would not easily cope. But, even in such moments, Socrates and Joy appear to point out some important, essential things to Dan.
What will happen later with Dan, whether he will recognize the “path of the warrior” as an older (and more mature) person or whether the real test will then await him, you will find out if you read this book. 🙂
Uh, where to start with impressions…
The book is full of wonderful Socrates’ thoughts and lessons. These are not classic inspirational/motivational phrases, but thoughts that will really make you ponder. Some you may not understand immediately, and the meaning of some of Socrates’ words will change over time.
And therein lies one of the charms of this book.
“Way of the Peaceful Warrior” is one of those books that should be read occasionally. One of those books where with each reading you discover something new or realize something that you previously missed or didn’t understand properly. Speaking for myself, I read it at least once a year. 🙂
But this should not discourage you or make you think that this is some kind of difficult philosophical book. Quite the contrary! The book is incredibly easy to read, you simply don’t want to put it down. You constantly wonder what awaits Dan around the corner, what life lesson Socrates will show him. Will it be another conversation at the gas station (where Socrates will prove to Dan how much of a fool he is for some things 😁), an outing or a walk (which are, at the same time, part of the training), intense physical exercises? His unplanned encounters with Joy? Parts of his life at college? How the psycho-physical transformations affect his view of the environment and interaction with people close to him? And what will happen to Dan in the years when he is separated from Socrates?
As I mentioned, the book is really easy to read, and so is its writing style. An interesting autobiography, with nicely balanced descriptions of locations and people, as well as dynamic scenes involving Dan.
It wouldn’t hurt to have a pencil or mobile phone handy to occasionally underline or take a photo of some sentences from this book that you should read from time to time. 🙂
I mentioned that “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” holds a special place on my shelf (as well as in my heart, cliché as it may sound), and for that reason, it’s not easy to write impressions without sounding like I’m singing praises.
This is one of those books I gladly gift, and I fully stand behind its value. I believe it’s one of those books you can easily give to people who are not fans of motivational-inspirational-spiritual books, simply because it’s written in such a way that it has a unique dynamic in the life events of the main character, thus lacking a slow pace or excessive bombardment with profound thoughts.
All in all, “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” is one of those books in my top category and an absolute recommendation.
And, since his other books still haven’t been translated after so many years, I see that I will have to get them from abroad.
The quality of the book is also evidenced by the fact that it was adapted into a solid film at one time. 🙂
And finally, who is Dan Millman:
“Dan Millman (born February 22, 1946) is a former world champion in trampoline gymnastics, a university professor, martial arts instructor, teacher, and author of fourteen self-help books, translated and published in many countries, of which the partially autobiographical novel “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” is the most famous. This novel was adapted into a feature-length award-winning film, “Peaceful Warrior”.
At the World Trampoline Championships in London in 1964, Dan Millman became the first world champion in that discipline.
Later, in 1968, after a severe injury sustained in a motorcycle accident, he miraculously recovered to join the gymnastics team at the University of California as captain. Also, in 1968, he was appointed as the gymnastics director at Stanford University, where he personally trained American Olympian Steve Hug and brought fame to the Stanford team in America.
His early biography includes training in modern dance, gymnastics, and martial arts. He holds a black belt in Aikido. Later, he studied various yogic and martial arts, traveled around the world exploring integrative disciplines, which later (from 1980) led to his affirmation as an author, motivational speaker, and teacher of a lifestyle he calls “the way of the peaceful warrior”. Due to the multi-layered nature of his writing, his work is difficult to categorize, but it generally deals with the development of human potentials.
Dan Millman lives with his wife Joy (😉) in Northern California. They have three adult daughters and two grandchildren.” (parts of his biography are taken from the website of a publishing house dear to me, “Babun”, because I liked their translation and the parts of the author’s life they covered, so there was no need to refer to Wikipedia and the author’s website 🙂 )
And you, dear reader, are you ready to embark on your own “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”? 🙂
(Originally reviewed: 01/01/2020)
Dan Millman’s website
His appearance on TEDx
Price of the book in Serbia: Vulkan | Delfi | Babun | Knjizara.com
Ratings (and purchasing) on international sites: Goodreads | Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) | Waterstones | Barnes & Noble | Audible (US) / Audible (UK)