The Way I Met the Peaceful Warrior
I love the old zen story about the farmer who’s neighbors thought it was a bad, unlucky thing that his horse ran away. The old man’s reply? “We’ll see.”
As the story goes, the horse came back with another wild horse, and the neighbors quickly switched to remarking how good and lucky that was! The old man’s reply? “We’ll see.”
Then the old man’s son started training the horse for riding, but he was thrown and broke his leg. Again the neighbors switched to how bad and unlucky that was. And again the old man replied, “We’ll see.”
Later the army came but could not conscript his son due to the broken leg, and again the neighbors congratulated him on his good fortune, and again he replied… “We’ll see”…
Yesterday I went to my massage and chiropractor appointments (due to having been in a car accident last April), and headed from there to where Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior, would be giving a presentation. Arriving in plenty of extra time, I decided to have dinner at a restaurant, and called a friend who had been waiting to hear back from me.
As I told her my plans and shared that I didn’t know what time it started, she looked up the ad in the Tone magazine which she just happened to have, and informed me I was supposed to have called ahead for the ticket. “Oh well, I’m going to go anyway and see if I can get in, or maybe even speak with him, if only briefly, I said.
Then she told me I am in the wrong place.
Looking down at my full plate of delicious food, and then my watch, it seemed there was enough time to finish and get to where I should be. I would need to call the bus company and see how and if I could get there in time. “Good luck with that,” she said, humorously, as we hung-up.
I sat for a moment and considered the options, and called another friend, who could not come. As I put the phone down to contemplate things, I looked up at the people in line, and saw–Dan Millman!
Yes, I went to the “wrong” place to meet Dan Millman, and there he was!
When I approached him in amazement and shared my strange story, he invited me to eat with his companions. His driver offered me a lift to the event and we had great fun and adventure getting there, right on time.
His empowering and yet down-to-earth presentation was as entertaining as it was educational and practical. There is a very grounded air of humility about him. In open, honest engagement with the audience, he shared and gave all he could.
Having had life transformed by love and joy, having dropped story after story, and having seen into my true nature, there are few books I am interested in reading anymore. Years ago I saw and loved the movie “The Peaceful Warrior,” (five times) but now I want to read all of his books, and there are several, with new ones on the way.
There are no “wrong” places. You are in the right place, simply because you are there. Just like the old zen farmer knows, there is no good or bad. No one event can be separated from ones before it, or after it. When you are not attached to events unfolding one way or another, then you simply witness, in the Way of the Peaceful Warrior, all of it.
You are going to witness what you are going to witness, and so perhaps your only true choice is in what your attention is on. What your attention is on will effect your experience in this ever-changing ride. Not at any moment during this adventure was I upset, frustrated, stressed or concerned. No stories arose at all about what “should” have happened or “should” be happening.
Instead I was curious and excited to see how it would all unfold, however that would be. Countless unseparated, seamless things came together to form that meeting. As always, life unfolds and takes care of things as it will. In that we have no choice.
When I left the chiropractor, I had no idea that I was actually going to get to the event, much less speak with Dan. The weather turned cold and I had under-dressed for taking the bus. I had also not planned for how to get back–I didn’t know when it would end, and I didn’t know the bus route or schedule from there. Walking into the wind I noticed the thought “Maybe I should just go home,” and I kept walking toward the bus stop.
When we grasp thoughts and label things as good or bad, and think things should or should not be, we narrow our attention and experience to the point of missing the bigger picture, and to the point of stress and suffering.
There are no problems present in what is. It is only the mind that presents what is not as a problem. Or a story about what is, as a problem.
Yet even thoughts themselves are not a problem. Like the moon that has no power of its own and only borrows it by reflecting light from the sun, thoughts mean nothing and have no power until you give them life. Otherwise, like everything else, they can be witnessed to come and go. Without power, they come and go very, very quickly.
Glancing around the populated theatre, I found a good friend. We sat together and at the end, she turned to me and asked, “How are you getting home?” I laughed and said I don’t know, and remembered how close she lives to me. “Now you know,” she said.
Meeting Dan this way and receiving great gifts on multiple levels was at the same time extraordinary, and yet utterly ordinary. Sharing the ordinariness with my friend, she said, “They are just people.” Yes, just people, and like all people, extraorindary in their ordinariness. And like all experiences, extraordinary in their ordinariness.
There are no ordinary moments. Including everything and excluding nothing, existence itself is a magical mystery. And as one of my favorite quotes from the movie goes, “There is never nothing going on.” And what a miracle to witness.