My notes from Way of the Peaceful Warrior

If you've seen the movie but not read the books, you need to forget what you know about the movie and read those books.

I always take notes from the books that have helped to formulate who I am and who I am becoming. Here's a few of the highlights from Dan Millman's Way of the Peaceful Warrior:

page 32

There was once a beloved king whose castle was on a high hill, overlooking his shire. He was so popular that the nearby townspeople sent him gifts daily, and his birthday celebration was enjoyed throughout the kingdom. The people loved him for his renowned wisdom and fair judgments.

One day, tragedy stuck the town. The water supply was polluted, and every man, woman, and child went insane. Only the king, who had a private spring, was spared.

Soon after the tragedy, the mad townspeople began speaking of how the king was acting “strangely” and how his judgments were poor and his wisdom a sham. Many even went so far as to say that the king had gone crazy. His popularity soon vanished. No longer did the people bring him gifts of celebrate his birthday.

The lonely king, high on the hill, had no company at all. One day he decided to leave the hill and pay a visit to the town. It was a warm day, and so he drank from the village fountain.

That night there was a great celebration. The people all rejoiced, for their beloved king had “regained his sanity.”

page 37

On a construction site in the Midwest, when the lunch whistle blew, all the workers would sit down together to eat. And with singular regulatiry Sam would open his lunch pail and start to complan.

“Son of a gun!” he’d cry, “not peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again. I hate peanut butter and jelly!”

Sam moaned about his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches day after day after day. Weeks passed, and the other workers were getting irritated by his behavior. Finally, another man on the work crew said, “Fer crissakes, Sam, if you hate peanut butter and jelly so much, why don’t you just tell yer ol’ lady to make you something different?”

“What do you mean, my ol’ lady?” Sam replied. “I’m not married. I make my own sandwiches.”

page 88

A student of meditation was sitting in deep silence with a small group of practitioners. Terrified by a vision of blood, death, and demons, he got up, walked to the teacher, and whispered, ‘Roshi, I’ve just had horrible visions!’

‘Let it go,’ said his teacher.

A few days later, he was enjoying some fantastic erotic fantasies, insights into the meaning of life, with angels and cosmic decoration—the works.

‘Let it go,’ said his teacher, coming up behind him with a stick and giving him a whack.

page 91

A Zen student asked his roshi the most important element of Zen.

The roshi replied, “Attention.”

“Yes, thank you,” the student replied. “But can you tell me the second most important element?” And the roshi replied, “Attention.”

pages 91-92

In a monastery, I sat day after day, struggling with a koan, a riddle my teacher had given me in order to spur the mind to see its true nature. I couldn’t solve it. Each time I went to the roshi, I had nothing to offer him. I was a slow student and was becoming discouraged. He told me to continue working on my koan for one more month. “Surely then,” he encouraged me, “you will solve it.”

A month passed, and I tried my best. The koan remained a mystery.

“Stay with it one more week, with fire in your heart!” he told me. Day and night the koan burned, but still I could not see through it.

My roshi told me, “One more day, with all your spirit.” At the end of the day I was exhausted. I told him, “Master, it’s no use—a month, a week, a day—I cannot pierce the riddle.” My master looked at me a long time. “Meditate for one more hour,” he said. “If you have not solved the koan by then, you will have to kill yourself.”

pages 103-104

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 neighbors. “What bad luck.”

“Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” the farmer replied.

A week later, the horse returned form the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.

“What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors.

“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.

The next day, the son, trying to tam 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 farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared.

“Good? Bad?”

pages 131-132

In a small fishing village in Japan, there lived a young, unmarried woman who gave birth to a child. Her parents felt disgraced and demanded to know the identity of the gather. Afraid, she refused to tell them. The fisherman she loved had told her, secretly, that he was going off to seek his fortune and would return to marry her. Her parents persisted. In desperation, she name Hakuin, a monk who lived in the hills, as the father.

Outraged, the parents took the infant girl up to his door, pounded until he opened it, and handed him the baby, saying “this child is yours; you must take care for it!”

“Is that so?” Hakuin said, taking he child in his arms, waving good-bye to the parents.

A year passed and the real father returned to marry the woman. At once they went to Hakuin to beg for the return of the child.

“We must have our daughter,” they said.

“Is that so?” said Hakuin, handing the child to them.

page 172

Two monks, one old, one very young, walked along a muddy path in a rain forest, on their way back to a monastery in Japan. They came upon a lovely woman who stood helplessly at the edge of a muddy, fast-flowing stream.

Seeing her predicament, the older monk swept her up in his strong arms and carried her across. She smiled at him, her arms around his neck, until he put her gently down on the other side. Thanking him, she bowed, and the monks continued on their way in silence.

As they neared the monastery gates, the young monk could no longer contain himself. “How could you carry a beautiful woman in your arms? Such behavior does not seem proper for a priest.”

The old monk looked at his companion, replying, “I left her back there. Are you still carrying her?”

page 185

A mother brought her young son to Mahatma Gandhi. She begged, “Please, Mahatma. Tell my son to stop eating sugar.”

Gandhi paused, then said, “Bring your son back in two weeks,.” Puzzled, the woman thanked him and said that she would do as he had asked.

Two weeks later, she returned with her son. Gandhi looked the youngster in the eye and said, “Stop eating sugar.”

Grateful but bewildered, the woman asked, “Why did you tell me to bring him back in two weeks? You could have told him the same thing then.”

Gandhi replied, “Two weeks ago, I was eating sugar.”

page 191

Lao Tzu fell asleep and dreamt he was a butterfly. Upon awakening, he asked himself, “Am I a man who has just been dreaming that he was a butterfly, or a sleeping butterfly, now dreaming that he is a man?”

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream,

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

pages 191-192

“Milarepa had searched everywhere for enlightenment, but could find no answer—until one day, he saw an old man walking slowly down a mountain path, carrying a heavy sack. Immediately, Milarepa sensed that this old man knew the secret he had been desperately seeking for many years.

‘Old man, pleased tell me what you know. What is enlightenment?’

“The old man smiled at him for a moment, and swung the heavy burden off his shoulders, and stood straight.

“ ‘Yes, I see!’ cried Milarepa. ‘My everlasting gratitude. But please, one question more. What is after enlightenment?’

“Smiling again, the old man picked up the sack once again, slung it over his shoulders, steadied his burden, and continued on his way.”


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