Way of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman
Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:40 pm
A discussion community revolving around Eckhart Tolle but not limited to him
The best performers have the quietest minds during their moment of truth
For the first time I realized why I loved gymnastics so. It gave me a blessed respite from my noisy mind. When I was swinging and somersaulting nothing else mattered. When my body was active, my mind rested in the moments of silence.
I experienced every emotion, heard every cry of anguish and
every peal of laughter. Every human circumstance was opened to
me. I felt it all, and I understood.
The world was peopled with minds, whirling faster than any
wind, in search of distraction and escape from the predicament of
change, the dilemma of life and death--seeking purpose, security,
enjoyment; trying to make sense of the mystery. Everyone everywhere
lived a confused, bitter search. Reality never matched their
dreams; happiness was just around the corner--a corner they never
And the source of it all was the human mind.
Tonight, they were showing The Great Escape, an exciting film about a daring escape of British and American prisoners of war.
When the film was over I jogged up University Avenue toward campus, heading left up Shattuck, and arrived at the station soon after Socrates came on duty. It was a busy night, so I helped him until just after midnight. We went into the office and washed our hands, after which he surised me by starting to fix a Chinese dinner--and beginning a new phase of his teaching.
It started when I told him about The Great Escape.
"Sounds like an exciting film," he said, unpacking the bag of fresh vegetables he'd brought in, "and an appropriate one, too."
"Oh? How's that?'"
"You, too, Dan, need to escape. You're a prisoner of your own illusions--about yourself and about the world. To cut yourself free, you're going to need more courage and strength than any movie hero."
I felt so good that night I just couldn't take Soc seriously at all. "'I don't feel like I'm in prison---except when you have me strapped to a chair.'"
He began washing vegetables. Over the sound of running water, he commented, "You don't see your prison because its bars are invisible. Part of my task is to point out your predicament, and I hope it is the most disillusioning experience of your life."
"Well thanks a lot, friend," I said, shocked at his ill-will.
"I don't believe you have understood me." He pointed a turnip at me, then sliced it into a bowl. "Disillusion is the greatest gift I can give you. However, because of your fondness for illusion, you consider the term negative. You commiserate with a friend by saying, 'Oh, what a disillusioning experience that must have been,' when you ought to be celebrating with him. The word disillusion is literally a 'freeing from illusion'. But you cling to your illusions."
"Facts," I challenged him.
"Facts," he said, tossing aside the tofu he'd been dicing. "Dan, you are suffering; you do not fundamentally enjoy your life. Your entertainments, your playful affairs, and even your gymnastics are temporary ways to distract you from your underlying sense of fear."
"Wait a minute, Soe." I was irritated. "Are you saying that gymnastics and sex and movies are bad?"
"Not inherently. But for you they're addictions, not enjoyments. You use them to distract you from what you know you should do: break free."
"Wait, Socrates. Those aren't facts."
"Yes, they are, and they are entirely verifiable, even though you don't see it yet. You Dan, in your conditioned quest for achievement and entertainment, avoid the fundamental source of your suffering."
"So that's what you think, huh?" I retorted sharply, unable to keep the antagonism out of my voice.
"That was not something you really wanted to hear, was it?" "No, not particularly. It's an interesting theory, but I don't think it applies to me, that's all. How about giving me something a little more up beat?"
"'Sure," he said, picking up his vegetables and resuming his chopping. "The troth is, Dan, that life is going wonderfully for you and that you're not really suffering at all. You don't need me and you're already a warrior. How does that sound?"
"Better" I laughed, my mood instantly brightened. But I knew It wasn't true. "The truth probably lies somewhere in between, don't you think?"
Without taking his eyes off the vegetables, Socrates said, "I think that your 'in between' is hell, from my perspective."
Defensively I asked, "Is it just me who's the moron, or do you specialize in working with the spiritually handicapped?"
"You might say that," he smiled, pouring sesame oil into a wok and setting it on the hot plate to warm. "But nearly all of humanity shares your predicament."
"And what predicament is that?"
"I thought I had already explained that," he said patiently. "If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold onto it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality."
"Socrates, you can really be depressing, you know that? I don't
even think I'm hungry anymore. If life is nothing but suffering,
then why bother at all?"
"Life is not suffering; it's just that you will suffer it, rather than
enjoy it, until you let go of your mind's attachments and just go for
the ride freely, no matter what happens."
Socrates dropped the vegetables into the sizzling wok, stirring. A delicious aroma filled the office. I relinquished all resentment, "I think I just got my appetite back." Socrates laughed as he divided the crisp vegetables onto two plates and set them on his old desk, which served as our dining table.
He ate in silence, taking small morsels with his chopsticks. I gobbled the vegetables in about thirty seconds; I guess I really was hungry. While Socrates finished his meal, I asked him, "So what are the positive uses of the mind?"
He looked up from his plate. "There aren't any." With that, he calmly returned to his meal,
"Aren't any! Socrates, that's really crazy. What about the creations of the mind? The books, libraries, arts? What about all the advances of our society that were generated by brilliant minds?"
He grinned, put down his chopsticks, and said, "There aren't any brilliant minds." Then he carried the plates to the sink.
"Socrates, stop making these irresponsible statements and explain
He emerged from the bathroom, bearing aloft two shining plates. "I'd better redefine some terms for you. 'Mind' is one of" those slippery terms like 'love'. The proper definition depends on your state of consciousness. Look at it this way: you have a brain that directs the body, stores information, and plays with that information.
We refer to the brain's abstract processes as 'the intellect'. Nowhere have I mentioned mind. The brain and the mind are not the same. The brain is real; the mind isn't.
" 'Mind' is an illusory outgrowth of basic cerebral processes. It is like a tumor. It comprises all the random, uncontrolled thoughts that bubble into awareness from the subconscious. Consciousness is not mind; awareness is not mind; attention is not mind. Mind is an obstruction, an aggravation. It is a kind of evolutionary mistake in the human being, a primal weakness in the human experiment. I have no use for the mind."
I sat in silence, breathing slowly. I didn't exactly know what to say. Soon enough, though, words came.
"You certainly have a Unique perspective, Soc. I'm not sure what you're talking about, but you sound really sincere."
He just smiled and shrugged.
"Soc," I continued, "Do I cut off my head to get rid of my mind?"
Smiling, he said, "That's one cure, but it has undesirable side effects. The brain can be a tool. It can recall phone numbers, solve math puzzles, or create poetry. In this way, it works for the rest of the body, like a tractor. But when you can't stop thinking of that math problem or phone number, or when troubling thoughts and memories arise without your intent, it's not your brain working, but your mind wandering. Then the mind controls you; then the tractor has run wild."
"I get it."
"To really get it, you must observe yourself to see what I mean. You have an angry thought bubble up and you become angry. It is the same with all your emotions. They're your knee-jerk responses to thoughts you can't control. Your thoughts are like wild monkeys stung by a scorpion."
"Socrates, I think..."
"You think too much!"
"I was just going to tell you that I'm really willing to change. That's one thing about me; I've always been open to change."
"That," said Socrates, "is one of your biggest illusions. You've been willing to change clothes, hairstyles, women, apartments, and jobs. You ar all too willing to change anything except yourself, but change you will. Either I help you open your eyes or time will, but time is not always gentle," he said ominously. "Take your choice. But first realize that you're in prison--then we can plot your escape.'"
Before I left that night, I asked him, "Where is Joy? I want to see her again."
"In good time. She'll come to you, later perhaps."
"But if I could only talk to her it would make things so much easier."
"Who ever told you it would be easy?"
"Socrates," I said, "I have to see her!"
"You don't have to do anything except to stop seeing the world from the viewpoint of your own personal cravings. Loosen up! When you lose your mind, you'll come to your senses. Until then, however, I want you to continue to observe, as much as possible, the debris of your mind."
"If I could just call her . .
"Get to it!" he said.
In the following weeks, the noise in my mind reigned supreme. Wild, random, stupid thoughts; guilts, anxieties, cravings---noise. Even in sleep, the deafening soundtrack of my dreams assaulted my cars. Socrates had been fight all along. I was in prison.
It was a Tuesday night when I ran to the station at ten o'clock. Bursting into the office, I moaned, "Socrates! I'm going to go mad if I can't turn down the noise! My mind is wild--it's everything you told me!"
"Very good!" he said. "The first realization of a warrior.
"If this is progress, I want to regress."
"Dan, when you get on a wild horse that you believe is tame, what happens?"
"It throws you---or kicks your teeth in.
"Life has, in its own amusing way, kicked your teeth in many times."
I couldn't deny it.
"But when you know the horse is wild, you can deal with it appropriately."
"I think I understand, Socrates."
"Don't you mean you understand you think?" he smiled.
I left with instructions to let my "realization stabilize" for a few more days. I did my best. My awareness had grown these past few months, but I entered the office with the same questions: "Socrates, I've finally realized the extent of my mental noise; my horse is wild--how do I tame it? How do I turn down the noise? What can I do?"
He scratched his head. "Well, I guess you're just going to have to develop a very good sense of humor." He bellowed with laughter...
"Silence is the warrior's art--and meditation is his sword. It is the central weapon you'll use to cut through your illusions. But understand this: the sword's usefulness depends upon the swordsman. You don't yet know how to use the weapon, so it can become a dangerous, deluding, or useless tool in your hands.
"'Meditation may initially help you to relax. You put your 'sword' on display; you proudly show it to friends. Th.e gleam of this sword distracts many meditators into further illusion until they ultimately abandon it to seek yet another 'inner alternative'.
"The warrior, on the other hand, uses the sword with skill and deep understanding. With it, he cuts the mind to ribbons, slashing through thoughts to reveal their lack of substance. Listen and learn:
Alexander the Great, marching with his armies through the desert,
came upon two thick ropes tied in the massive, convoluted Gordian
knot. No one had been able to untie it until the challenge was given
to Alexander. Without a moment's hesitation he drew his sword
and in one powerful blow he cut the knot in two. He was a warrior!"
"That is how you must learn to attack the knots of your mind--with the sword of meditation. Until one day you transcend your need for any weapon at all."
Excellent IMO.And the source of it all was the human mind.
An old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day the horse ran away.
"How terrible," sympathized the neighbours. "What bad luck".
"Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck," the farmer replied.
A week later, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.
"what wonderful luck!" said the neighbours.
"Good luck? Bad luck? who knows?" answered the old man.
The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg.
"How terrible. What bad luck!"
"Bad luck? Good luck?"
The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war.
The farmers son was of no use to them, so he was spared.