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9781577311324

Living on Purpose: Straight Answers to Universal Questions

Millman, Dan Author

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9781577311324: Living on Purpose: Straight Answers to Universal Questions

Written by a former world-champion athlete, coach, and educator, Dan Millman's books present practical ways to transform daily challenges into vehicles of spiritual growth. In Living on Purpose, Millman tackles some of the toughest questions, and in the process, refines and expands on the teachings of his other books. Millman applies timeless principles to questions about metaphysics, destiny and free will, control and surrender, goal-making, marriage, child-rearing, money and work, sexuality, priority setting, and simplifying life. He combines hard-won personal wisdom with common sense to shed light on real-world problems.

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The Sufi poet Rumi once claimed that it is better to live the questions than always know the answers. In this spirit, bestselling author Dan Millman offers a book of contemplative answers to the common spiritual questions that we all live with. Millman has created a very readable format where he poses a question, offers a brief response (which he calls a "House Rule"), and then elaborates with lengthier thoughts and anecdotes. For example, when he asks, "Where can I find the right teacher for me?" he answers with this House Rule: "Our teachers appear in many forms." He then goes on to discuss how teachers can appear in the form of nature, strangers, children, or unexpected circumstances. Other questions include, "Why does my life seem to be getting worse?" (HR: "If we don't learn easy lessons, they get harder.") "What's the best way to make a big difference in the world?" (HR: "Little things can make a big difference.")

Although Millman became famous as a storyteller in the parable Way of the Peaceful Warrior, his spiritual roots come from the discipline of martial arts. As a result, he sounds much more natural when conveying codes of honor than writing realistic dialog. To his credit, Millman has mastered a difficult and highly needed art form: writing an accessible guidebook on living purposefully that could soften the most jaded of hearts and sharpen the most undisciplined of spirits. --Gail Hudson

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Q: We grow up, attend school, earn a living, maybe get married and raise a family, go on vacations, provide a service, and live until we die. Isn’t this enough? Why all this interest in spirituality? What’s the point?

A: Most of us agree that life is a school in the sense that we learn many lessons. But if death is the end, what is the purpose of living in the first place? Questions about death may lead us to wonder about our lives. Are we a random experiment or part of a much bigger picture? One question leads to the next and all questions end in Mystery. Some of us turn to belief and faith; others simply wonder. And in this field of wonder grow the seeds of spirituality.

At some point we may glimpse one of the fundamental lessons in the school of life: Our awareness resides, moment to moment, in one of two separate realities, each with its own truths. The first is conventional reality, which you describe in your question. The second is a transcendent reality—the spiritual dimension.

Most of the time, conventional reality monopolizes our attention with the stuff of everyday life—the challenges of education, earning a living, relationships, family, and health—everyday experience. Our dramas, played out in the theater of gain and loss, desire and satisfaction, seem entirely real and important. Conventional life involves the natural pursuit of satisfaction and fulfillment, which depends upon events unfolding in line with our desires, hopes, and expectations. In trying to make things work out, we suffer the pangs of attachment, craving, and anxiety.

Then one day—maybe through a trauma, a death in the family, an injury, or other adversity, we notice that conventional reality, even at its best, leads to dissatisfaction. We feel frustrated when we don’t get what we want, when we get what we don’t want, and even when we get exactly what we want, because in this world of mortality, we will lose all that we love.

Adversity and psychological suffering stimulate a yearning to transcend the conditional world, to wake up and find the higher wisdom that uplifts our soul even as we live in the conventional world. Life’s challenging lessons generate a willingness to make a leap of faith, to relinquish familiar truths that no longer serve, and to venture into the unknown. As Anaïs Nin wrote, "Finally the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." In the school of daily life, spirituality is not separate from this world; it allows us to live an ordinary life while remembering the transcendent truths that set us free.

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