Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Journeys of Socrates

I just finished reading The Journeys of Socrates by Dan Millman. The Journeys of Socrates is the prequel to Way of the Peaceful Warrior (the Peaceful Warrior movie, which is based on Way of the Peaceful Warrior, is coming to select theaters on June 2nd). Here is a quote from The Journeys of Socrates that explains what a peaceful warrior is:

"In truth, Socrates, you have no opponents but yourself.
Make peace within, and there will be no one who can overcome you.
And no one you will wish to overcome."
Here is an excerpt from The Journeys of Socrates that tells a story I have heard before that I like very much:
A story came to him - one that Serafim had told some months before, perhaps intended for this moment. He had spoken of a proud and hot-tempered young samurai who routinely cut down any peasant who gave the least offense. In those days, samurai were a law unto themselves, and such behavior was accepted according to custom.
But one day, after another killing, as he cleaned the blood from his blade and returned it to his scabbard, the young samurai began to worry that the gods might disapprove of his actions and send him to a hellish realm. Desirous to know about eternity, he visited the humble abode of a Zen master named Kanzaki. With expected courtesy, the samurai removed his razor-sharp katana and set it alongside him, bowed deeply and said, "Please tell me of heaven and hell!"
Master Kanzaki gazed at the young samurai and smiled. Then his smile turned to raucous laughter. He pointed to the young warrior as if he had said something hilarious. Wagging his finger, still laughing loudly, Kanzaki said, "You ignorant bumpkin! You presume to ask me, a wise master, about heaven and hell? Do not waste my time, idiot! You are too stupid to possibly comprehend such things!"
The samurai's temper flared to the boiling point. He would have killed anyone else for even pointing at him in such a way. Now he fought to restrain himself despite these insults.
Master Kanzaki was not finished. He remarked casually, "It's quite clear to me that no one of your lineage of louts and fools could understand a word -"
A murderous rage came over the young warrior. He grabbed his katana, leaped to his feet, and raised the sword to take the Zen master's head -
In that very moment, Master Kanzaki pointed to the samurai and said calmly, "There open the gates of hell."
The warrior froze. In that instant, a light illuminated his mind, and he understood the nature of hell. It was not a realm beyond this life but within him now. He dropped to his knees, laid his blade behind him, and bowed deeply to his teacher. "Master, my gratitude knows no bounds for this brave lesson you have taught. Thank you. Thank you!"
Zen master Kanzaki smiled, pointed to him once again, and said, "There open the gates of heaven."
On Monday I bought Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior from Borders. I'm going to read these books as Dan Millman suggests - read Way of the Peaceful Warrior until Soc sends Dan away to travel around the world - then read Sacred Journey - and then finish Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
While reading The Journeys of Socrates, I noticed that some of the self defense principles that Socrates learns sounded like some of the principles that I have read about on the Systema Russain Martial Art website. It turns out that I was right - in the Acknowledgments section in the back of The Journeys of Socrates, Dan acknowledges John Giduck, founder of the Russian Martial Arts Training Center in Golden, CO, and Vladimir Vasiliev, Director and Chief Instructor of Systema Headquarters.
By the way, if you read The Journeys of Socrates, I suggest that you don't read the "REVELATIONS FROM THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED" section at the back of the book until after you have read Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior because there is a spoiler in there.

1 comment:

Merinda Chua said...

Hi.. I have just finished reading the Journey of Socrates and found your blog.
Just to share on the insight that I have gain from this precious book.
The learning starts when Sergei met Serafim, I especially love the conversation that enlighten Sergei. It goes with: "the history does not determine the future....", "not every emotion needs to become an action".
And most of all, the insight of making peace from within is really inspiring, after all we ownswelf is the closest person we deal with each passing day, if we can't make peace with ownself, how will we learn to live in this interdependence community.
Really love this book and planning to re-read one day.