Dan Millman Interview
by Simon Hunt
for Spiritual Endeavors
Spiritual Endeavors Dan, you're
probably best known to most people for your best selling books. Your first book, Way Of
The Peaceful Warrior, has been read by millions of people, translated into 12 languages,
and has a major feature film in development. But athletics was your first love. And it's
obvious that it remains dear to your heart. You're doing a fund raiser here in Las Vegas
for the World Acrobatics Society. Let's start there.
Dan Millman Okay. I'll be visiting with the
World Acrobatics Society as they hold one of the major meets of the season, The Go For It
Classic, at Cashman Field. I'll be speaking on Life Mastery And The Laws Of Spirit at one
of the rooms there, from 2:30 till about 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 7th, followed by a
book signing. Tickets are $ 22. I'll be there to raise funds for these talented kids.
Spiritual Endeavors You had a wonderful career
teaching and coaching gymnastics at Stanford. You took a dormant program and in four years
turned it around to produce world class and Olympic athletes. You put in all the hard work
of changing it around, but didn't stay to reap the rewards, why?
Dan Millman I stopped coaching when I realized
I was admiring the other team as much as my own athletes. I didn't care who won. I cared
if everybody played a good game and did their best. In my view, no one looses, because
whenever you play, you're learning something about yourself. I treated opposing athletes
not as the enemy, but as potential teachers. So I decided it wasn't really appropriate for
Spiritual Endeavors I understand that you used
some unusual techniques at the time; fairly commonplace now, but unheard of back then.
Dan Millman Yes. Other coaches used to rib me
because they considered me kind of a weirdo at the time. They'd say, "I heard rumors
you have your athletes meditate before competition." And I'd say, "Of course
not! I have them meditate during the competition."
Spiritual Endeavors From being an athlete and
college coach, how did you get into writing books like Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, The
Laws Of Spirit, and your other books?
Dan Millman I started my writing career with
articles about natural principles of training for a gymnastics magazine. Later, these
principles expanded to the broader arena of skill training, including other sports, such
as dance, martial arts, and music. During this time, I wrote the book now titled The Inner
Athlete (formerly "The Warrior Athlete), to convey how to become a natural athlete
(or musician or anything else)--about the larger promise and potential of training. Having
done that, the scope of my work expanded into the realm of daily life. I went on to write
Way Of The Peaceful Warrior and the books that followed.
Spiritual Endeavors I realize that it's not as
important as some people think, but for the record, is the character Socrates real or
Dan Millman The character of Socrates is based
on a real old man I met in an old gas station on the corner of Oxford and Hearst Streets
in Berkeley, California, about 3 A.M. one starry night.
Spiritual Endeavors And could he really jump
up on rooftops etc..
Dan Millman No. Nor did he grab me by the head
and "send" me on inner journeys, or make me forget about Joy for all those
years, or "crush" my skull in a cave in the mountains. Socrates became the
spokesperson for what I had learned from a number of teachers and influences in my life,
both external and internal.
Spiritual Endeavors How much of that book is
Dan Millman Except for the items I've already
noted, most of the book is factual. I did go to Berkeley. I was a world trampoline
champion and gymnast. I did shatter my right femur in a motorcycle accident and recover to
join my team and win the NCAA Gymnastics Championships. I did travel around the world
studying various martial arts and spiritual traditions; I was married to Linda with whom I
had a daughter, Holly. I did have an experience one might call "ego death" and
powerful insights that continued to surface over the years.
Spiritual Endeavors As I said, I
realize the non importance of the question, but some people will be very disappointed.
Dan Millman Some people are very disappointed
to learn that it's not all factual, because they are so strongly hoping for
"magic" in the world that contrasts with what appears to be a mundane existence.
My intent is not to create illusions, but to point out the extraordinary event of daily
life, right now. Let's keep our heads in the clouds, but our feet on the ground. Why be
concerned about traveling "out of the body" before we've even gotten INTO it?
Let's not get so fascinated by "near-death" experiences that we fail to notice
that THIS moment is a near-death experience. Some of us who want to know all about past
and future lives aren't yet paying attention to this one.
Spiritual Endeavors I understand. Here at
Spiritual Endeavors we've had that lesson drawn to us also. Idealistically, we'd love to
give everything away free. But that head in the clouds philosophy doesn't keep Spiritual
Endeavors alive, to keep on benefiting others, unless the bills are paid. I would imagine
that being the great success you are, you would have had to do a bit of soul searching in
the "money and spiritual truths department". How did you work it out for
Dan Millman Some people have negative or
unrealistic, idealistic views about money, especially when it comes to what they see as
spiritual teachings or spiritual life. Images of the Indian sadhus, ascetics who own
nothing but a loincloth, or the Buddhist monks with begging bowls, are archetypes in our
psyche. Popular media laud the "poor but good-hearted people" and the
"nasty, spoiled rich." Remember the film, "It's a Wonderful Life"? The
term "rich person" has become an epithet.
Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of
who we already are, whether it's greedy or loving. If one lives alone, one can live
without much money; if one raises a family as I do, and wants the best schools and a
comfortable life for them, then one needs to work. I make my living writing and lecturing.
I charge a respectable fee and give all I can. This is how it works for me.
Spiritual Endeavors At Spiritual Endeavors we
are understanding that more clearly with every passing day. Yet, let's play devils
advocate for a moment. There are those people out there who would say, "Dan you have
information others should know about. You should be giving it away, not selling it".
Dan Millman Anyone who disagrees is welcome to
express their view. After all, if we all agree on everything, only one of us is
Spiritual Endeavors Well put.
People are welcome to
express agreement or disagreement, and to criticize me. No one is above criticism. I don't
require people to believe me or even to trust me; I encourage them to trust themselves.
It's important to test what we read or hear against our own life experience to see if it
is realistic or valid.
Spiritual Endeavors And that is so important!
That's probably the one thing we try to convey the strongest at Spiritual Endeavors. So
many "New Agers" tend to gulp down the latest philosophy without even bothering
to chew it over. The real spiritual knowledge is eternal and gained through the
discernment of all ages. How do you feel about your books being considered New Age?
Dan Millman I really haven't the faintest idea
what the "New Age" is. First of all, it's not really new; most of the
shamanistic, positive-thinking, proto-Atlantean healing technologies, occult,
extra-terrestrial, subliminal, affirmative this-and-that have ancient roots. Second, the
"new age" differs from the warrior tradition in that the "new age" has
no shadow; it is aggressively pacifistic, idealistic rather than realistic, hopeful to the
point of denial. Anyway, now that I'm 50 years old, I've asked the bookstores to move my
books out of the New Age section and put them in the "Middle Age" section.
Spiritual Endeavors Dan, this has
been delightful. Perhaps I better ask you some questions for your readers. Some of your
readers think that through your experiences with Socrates you've become enlightened. How
do you respond?
Dan Millman We've all read about these
idealized figures who have "reached the state of permanent enlightenment." I'm a
little skeptical about that. If life is a series of moments, we each have enlightened
moments, and moments of being asleep, ignorant. Sometimes I'm an illumined guy, and
sometimes I act like a jackass. I do have more good moments than in the past. Someone who
observed my life would find it pretty compassionate, balanced, committed, responsible,
functional, altruistic, and at other moments less so. That seems more realistic than talk
about enlightenment, as fascinating as that may be. Enlightenment, to me, is less like
turning on a light switch; more like gradually turning up a dimmer switch. In a sense,
we're all becoming more "enlightened" over time--that is, if we're paying
attention to the bigger picture.
Spiritual Endeavors Do you believe in God?
Dan Millman One of my favorite sayings is
this: "There's God; and then there's not paying attention." To me this has
nothing to do with saying I believe or don't believe something. Anyone who has looked into
the depths of the ocean or up at a starry sky or really looked at a flower or a tree or
anything else is also somehow gazing into the heart of God. At least it seems that way to
me. But if you mean do I agree with or state my allegiance to one or another holy book,
well--yes and no. A mountain path is my church; so are the city streets. Church is
everywhere because Spirit is everywhere.
Spiritual Endeavors Spirit is everywhere. And
in many ways it could be compared cyber space. You maintain your own web domain. Are you
finding the Internet a useful tool for reaching the Personal Development audience?
Dan Millman I have an almost religious
zeal--not for technology per se, but for the Internet which is for me, the nervous system
of mother Earth, which I see as a living creature, linking up. In fact, the only way to
get information about me and my work, currently other than what's written in my books, is
to check my web site. I encourage all my friends to get online. Saves paper, increases
interconnection and communication. To me we are in the midst of a quantum evolutionary
leap and it's impossible to predict what it will mean.
Spiritual Endeavors And now there's another
site, www.destinykeys.com, which aids people in discovering their life purpose. How did
that come into being?
Dan Millman I was approached by a very bright
group of people who were so taken by the material in my book, The Life You Were Born to
Live, and had the Internet expertise to do it right, that I agreed to put the life purpose
system online for those people who would like to receive the information through this
growing medium. So far, the Life-Purpose Workbook orders are modest, but I know it will
grow and serve a valuable purpose.
Spiritual Endeavors At that site people are
actually able to get a free preview life purpose reading according to your system. I was
there a few days ago. I submitted my birth date, and I was impressed. Helping people
discover their life purpose is right down our alley. What do you say we put a link in the
Spiritual Endeavors FreeStuff pavilion?
Dan Millman Let's do it.
Spiritual Endeavors Okay. [ See link below interview. ] What other projects are you
currently working on?
Dan Millman My next book, Everyday
Enlightenment: The Twelve Gateways to Spiritual Growth will be published by Warner Books.
It should be in the bookstores by April 1998. I also have more stories in the works,
including a special Christmas story, a sweeping novel, and a book of principles,
quotations, and stories.
Spiritual Endeavors Everyday
Enlightenment. Now there's a concept to practice. How about a sneak preview?
Dan Millman Love to. [Editor's
note: That exciting preview will be featured in the next issue of New Beginnings.]
Spiritual Endeavors How about being a guest
speaker at the Tuesday Gatherings during your visit here in February?
Dan Millman Love to. Let me check the
I won't be coming in to Las Vegas till Thursday. Perhaps another
Spiritual Endeavors You're on. Dan, you
certainly have been very gracious. Is there anything you'd like to add?
Dan Millman Sure! That's why I'm still
writing. When I have nothing else to add, I'll stop. Let me close with this: Some people
have called with one or another problem--maybe it's a relationship issue, or health or
finances or a difficult decision. I end up saying the same thing: Trust the process of
As the title of one of my books, The Life You Were Born To Live, indicates, our lives may
be predestined in some sense; yet we also have the free will to make choices which shape
our lives. There may be no ultimate right or wrong, but there are consequences.
Responsibility means recognizing the consequences of our actions for ourselves and others.
Faith is the courage to live and act as if we "can't make the wrong decision."
In other words, we make our choices and live as if it were the best possible choices.
A path we choose may turn out to be difficult, but that doesn't mean it was the wrong
choice. Let's treat difficulties as forms of spiritual weightlifting. All we can do in
this life is to handle what's in front of us, accept ourselves and others as we are. We
can be gentle with ourselves, and compassionate, and at the same time, call forth the best
within us. There's the paradox; there's the humor; there's the path of daily life, the way
of the peaceful warrior.
Spiritual Endeavors Thank you Dan.
Interview of Dan Millman by Simon
Hunt for Spiritual Endeavors
Best Selling author Dan Millman is probably most known for his book,
Way Of The Peaceful Warrior. He has written 8 books to date, two
of which have been best sellers. The destinykeys site offers free preview
"readings" on finding your life purpose based on the best selling book,
The Life You Were Born to Live, by Dan Millman, and a workbook for further
investigation. Dan's new book, Everyday Enlightenment, will be hitting the
bookstores in April 1998, and we will be posting a preview of that book here at
spiritual-endeavors.org in February.
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