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The Peaceful Warrior in Dialogue by Dan Millman

The Peaceful Warrior in Dialogue

by Dan Millman

Title Details

Audio Original
Running Time
33 Min.


Way of the Peaceful Warrior was Dan Millman’s first book. As he comments, “It’s not a work of great literary prose by any means, but... I wanted to share something simple from the heart, from the gut, based on my autobiographical material with some fictional elements woven in... I thought a few college students might like it.” Twenty-five years later, and two million copies sold, Peaceful Warrior is now a major motion picture starring Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, and Amy Smart.

Being an artist himself, Stuart Davis—Integral Naked guest host and dharma-pop musician extraordinaire—asks what it’s like to have so much focus being put on a piece of work that is several decades old. Naturally, one is going to grow and evolve as time passes, and in fact Dan has written 10 books since Peaceful Warrior.

To give a point of reference for how Dan’s thought might have expanded, Stu reads a line from Peaceful Warrior that had caught his eye: “Every infant lives in a bright Garden where everything is sensed directly, without the veils of thought—free of beliefs, interpretation, and judgments.” Given that infants do seem to live in a perpetual state of “presence,” this can be an attractive notion (made popular by movements such as Romanticism, and often embraced by the pluralistic wave of development and New Age spirituality). However, things quickly fall apart once one really looks at what it means to idealize the consciousness of a six-month old.

Both an infant and a Zen Master may live in the “present moment”—although an infant’s present moment is actually a series of fragmented, disconnected sections with little or no continuity at all—but a Zen Master will step out of the path of an oncoming bus, and an infant will not. This is because a Zen Master’s present moment includes interpretation, judgment, and an awareness of time, but an infant’s present moment does not. An infant is pre-rational, a Zen Master is trans-rational, and because both are non-rational, they are often confused (in an Integral Model, this distinction is known as the pre/trans fallacy).*

Dan groks this distinction immediately, and goes on to explain that, “A young child may bear a certain resemblance to a Zen Master, but there’s a major difference. In a Zen Master the ego is presumably transcended or seen through, whereas in an infant it is simply undeveloped.” That’s exactly right: as with the above example, pre-egoic and trans-egoic are not the same thing. This investigation of pre and trans is a wonderful example of why it’s so important to have these kinds of ongoing dialogues, and why in response to a reader who said he has read Peaceful Warrior six times, Dan replied, “You would have been better off reading six of my books once.” There is always more to learn, teachings can always be refined, and we can always move towards an ever-more comprehensive, inclusive, and integral embrace of human life.

Dan and Stuart go on to discuss the role of reincarnation in leading a spiritual life, and touch on several new and exciting projects Dan has in the works. We hope you’ll join us on this engaging exploration of why it’s so important that body, mind, and spirit all wake up together....

Integral Naked is an online behind-the-scenes exploration of cutting-edge thought. From philosophers to musicians to spiritual adepts, get naked with some of the most provocative thinkers on the planet today.

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