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TO: Dr. Joe Scarcella
FROM: Phil Fournier
DATE:
12/27/2004
RE: 502, WA2, Fournier

Dan Millman is an author of eleven books, a public speaker (gets a $7,500 fee for being a keynote speaker), a former faculty member at UC Berkley and Stanford University, and a world champion gymnast on the trampoline.  I suppose if people are willing to pony up $7,500 to listen to him, he must be a good speaker.

Dan Millman’s books include the following titles: The way of the Peaceful Warrior, Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior, The Life You Were Born to Live, Everyday Enlightenment, No Ordinary Moments, Living on Purpose, The Laws of Spirit, Body Mind Mastery, Devine Interventions, Secret of the Peaceful Warrior, and Quest for the Crystal Castle.

I found this book poorly written, disjointed, and in general, a work of someone enamored with eastern religion and mysticism.  I would not take the time to read anything else this man has written.   I was at least halfway through the book still waiting for something significant to happen.  The description of what kind of a book it is, to me is quite unclear from the very beginning.  Did he make this whole thing up?  Or is some of it real life mixed with allegory?  The man wrote as though he was writing an autobiography, yet the book sounds like the autobiography of someone using LSD.  Trips to the rafters of the gas station garage of a man he calls Socrates?  Obviously he is indeed a former world champion athlete, so that part of the book seems to be true.  But the great question of how Socrates got to the roof of the gas station on the first visit is never answered in the book, which is a betrayal to the reader, from my point of view. 

I extract this choice bit of Socrates’ wisdom from chapter 4 (The Sword is Sharpened) and I trust you will excuse my hyperbole!  “Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise.  It’s the devil’s reasonable deception.  It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy.  Moderation is for the bland, the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand, for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die.  Moderation is luke-warm tea, the devil’s own brew.”   That fine piece of oratory comes out after Socrates makes the statement that there are no bad habits; the warrior only makes choices, to do or not to do.  But in all of my experience, what Socrates just said is nonsense.  Moderation is a good and useful thing in life, and if practiced would save many from lots of sorrow.  Clearly it forms part of the weird “Peaceful Warrior” teaching in this book which tries to put things in this “light” of eastern mysticism.  But frankly, I don’t like it at all, particularly as it is delivered while Socrates is smoking a cigarette, an activity he claims he can enjoy once every six months.  Yet in real life, I’ve never found anyone else who claimed they could smoke a cigarette once every six months and enjoy it.  Having never smoked one in my life, I have no intention of beginning now even though I have Socrates’ assurance that there are no bad habits!

 In short, I could not get into this book.  I felt whatever he was trying to say, he took so long to get around to saying it that he had long since lost my interest.  I’ve no doubt some of the things spoken of in the book are useful; control of eating, control of breathing, control of emotions, and the author’s recovery from his motorcycle accident and serious injury.  There are even some short stories in the book I’ve heard told in a Christian context.  For example, the story of the man who got a good deal on a horse, and the neighbor’s said “What good luck!”; then the man’s son fell off the horse, breaking his leg, and the neighbor’s said “What bad luck!”; because the son had a broken leg, he was passed up for the draft, and so on.  That story was actually told at my engagement party under the context of “all things work together for good to them that love God…” Romans 8:28.  Now I find it in a book that is riddled with eastern religion!

I liked the story about the woman who brought her son to Gandhi and asked him to tell her son to stop eating sugar.  He told her to bring her son back in two weeks.  When she did, he told the boy “stop eating sugar.”  She asked him why he made her wait two weeks before telling her boy to stop eating sugar, to which Gandhi replies “Two weeks ago I was eating sugar.”  The moral of the story is that you must practice what you preach.  That is certainly a useful moral, but one I could have gotten numerous other places without having to wade through so much nonsense.  Admittedly my viewpoint is prejudiced, being a fundamental Christian myself.  But I was able to extract a lot of good out of Stephen Covey’s book, whose Mormon doctrine is more related to Hinduism than it is to Christianity.  But, I had no such success with this book.  I found nothing life changing in this confusing and poorly written book.  I would neither recommend it for fellow instructors nor would I recommend it to any of my students.