Somaesthetic Encounters with Socrates: The Peaceful Warrior as Yogi

  • Vinod Balakrishnan
  • Swathi Elizabeth Kurian
Keywords: Peaceful Warrior, Body, Mentor, Sleep, Wakefulness


The body perfects itself: It is the subjective site of personal transformation, hence, the somaesthetic Body. It is, simultaneously, the objective site of inspired transformation, hence, the Mentored Body, the cared-for Body. This thesis is examined through Peaceful Warrior: The Graphic Novel (2010), which is Dan Millman’s autobiografiction, illustrated by Andrew Weingarner. The paper interprets Dan Millman’s journey by employing Richard Shusterman’s theory of somaesthetics as well as the classical Indian treatise of Patanjali called the Yoga Sūtra. The paper is built around the idea of the “Mentor”- here, Socrates - who must guide the disciple (Dan Millman) to “greater perceptual acuity.” To this end, it reflects on: 1. “Socrates” as an idea; 2. The relationship between the Field (which is the classical image of the Body) and the Farmer (here, the Mentor); 3. The building of the Peaceful Warrior, and 4.The culmination of the journey when the Peaceful Warrior becomes the Yogi.

The moment of awakening in the narrative is when Socrates declares to Dan that, “this world is a school” where one must discover his purpose. The Mentor guides the seeker towards his purpose. The seeker journeys towards the purpose by moving from the outermost somatic territory through routines called Bahiraṅga Sādhana into the inner territory of the mind involving routines called Antaraṅga Sādhana and, eventually, arrives at the innermost territory of the soul through routines called Antarātma Sādhana. The journey from the somatic territory towards the territory of the Soul takes the seeker through four degrees of wakefulness – sleep (Nidrāvasthā); dream (Svapnāvasthā); wakefulness (Jāgratāvasthā); eternal wakefulness (Turyāvasthā). The journey towards the Soul places somaesthetic demands that are satisfied by observing the eight aspects of Yoga: Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, Samādhi. In the process, the seeker traverses all the three domains of Yoga: Karmamārga (actions centred in the body); Jňānamārga (actions centred in the mind); Bhaktimārga (actions centred in the Soul). The seeker commits his body (the subjective site) to the purpose. The seeker is inspired by the Mentor to become a warrior as he battles the forces of inertia entrenched in him. When the peaceful warrior arrives at superconsciousness he completes the journey of the Yogi.