“My approach to love is action, bringing love into the world through loving kindness, compassion, what we do.” – Dan Millman

DanBestPortrait copyIn March, 2016, The Only Love Project’s Bill Murphy conducted this phone interview with Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior (among with 16 other books).

Thank you, Dan, for packing a tremendous amount of wisdom into a relatively short period of time.

DM: Hi, Bill. How are you doing?

BM: Dan, doing well. How are you doing?

DM: Well, I am fine, yeah. Just looking forward to our time together.

BM: As you know from my lengthy interview inquiry, I got to be doing what I am doing mostly through observation. I saw a lot of contentious anger, volatility, rancor, on Facebook primarily. It didn’t matter which group was doing it, conservatives, liberals, Christians, atheists – didn’t matter. It was angry no matter what people proclaimed as their religious or political foundation. So I thought, “What could solve this problem?” That’s when I started to look at the traditions of love, and thought, “I think we missed something along the way.” So that’s how this project came to be. I have been studying this for about a year and a half, two years now. I interviewed a lot of people and gained some insights and even helpful direction from a few of them – suggestions I really have appreciated. Your books, and the Peaceful Warrior movie, all you do seem tailor made for this project, so I am really excited to chat with you today.

51Z2Plm-yHLDM: Well, happy to do so. I will just follow your lead and I like an improvisational approach.

BM: Excellent. For The Only Love Project web site, I ask everybody the same eight questions. You can answer any way you wish. Depending on what you say, I may follow up with a question. But, more often than not, I just let the person I interview speak his/her mind.

First question: Briefly tell us your background. What would you like others to know about you?

DM: Well, for those unfamiliar with my work, Bill, I started – I woke up. I was born, let’s say, a second time when I discovered an old trampoline in summer camp, and I could have never ever guessed how just jumping up and down on a trampoline might lead to the rest of my life, but I got pretty good at it. Eventually won a world championship in London in 1964, and that led to Continue reading

Two New Interviews Coming!

The Only Love Project is honored to announce that we will soon feature interviews with Zen Master Ven. Dr. Wonji Dharma (Paul Lynch) and famed Hollywood stunt performer, actor, director Tom Proctor.

1352487901Zen Master Wonji Dharma is Founder of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and President of Buddha Dharma University.

Ven Wonji is a poet, teacher, and author of several books on Zen.

Tom Proctor is enjoying a remarkable career in Hollywood, appearing with some of its biggest stars, since the early 1990s.

TomPTom is known for being a gifted stunt performer, as well as an actor, producer, director, and writer.

Wonji Dharma and Tom Proctor bring a wealth of experience, insight, wisdom (and humor!) to the discussion.

Many thanks to both for agreeing to an interview with The Only Love Project!



My wife has a green thumb. No. I take that back. Her entire body is green. She can magically transform any space — like our balcony — into a haven of wondrous sights and smells.

I don’t know much about flowers. But I know she does. So I watched her care for them, and I took mental notes. Eventually, when I realized that I wasn’t likely to break anything, I joined in. Mostly, I just water the flowers and plants. I let her pluck off the dead flower heads, rid the plants of Japanese Beetles and aphids, and add food to the water from time to time.

My job is to give the flowers a drink.

If I do say so myself, I’ve gotten good at it. I can tell at a glance that the flowers are thirsty.

They look droopy.

Like in the picture, above.

I know what healthy, satisfied pansies look like. And the flowers in the picture ain’t it.

But I wouldn’t have known that unless I paid attention to the flowers, both when they’re vibrant and when they’re lacking something.

People are the same way.

Example: One Saturday, late afternoon, we were in a local grocery store (one of Michigan’s major chains of grocery/clothing/pharmacy/sporting goods/audio & video stores) buying our food for the upcoming week. As we approached an empty check-out lane, I noticed the cashier Continue reading


There’s a famous Zen koan that asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

I’d tell you the answer. But that would be cheating. You figure it out.

I have another koan, though: “What is the sound of one leaf in the wind?”

Yesterday was a windy day. Even though it was muggy and hot, it was windy. On our lunch-hour walk, my wife and I did what we usually do on a windy day: we listened to the trees. Specifically, we listened to the sound of a tree full of leaves “clapping” in the wind. It’s an amazing sound. Each leaf slapping against its brother on the branch creates a unique sound not unlike an audience giving thumbs up to a performance.

As we strolled by one particularly spectacular birch tree applauding our passing, I stopped to watch. And listen. After a moment, I left the path, waded through chest-high weeds, and stood beside the tree. I grabbed a branch to steady it and I looked at a single leaf quivering in the wind. I listened to it.

And smiled.

Before I returned to the trail, I took a picture of the leaf.

A leaf, by itself, doesn’t make much noise. It’s practically mute. Even in a brisk wind. But a tree full of them sounds like thunderous applause.

An applauding tree is a paradox. And a lesson.

People tend to want to band together to affect change. So they form groups. Amass numbers. Then wait for the wind to blow so they can “applaud.”

Yet, a tree full of clapping leaves wouldn’t be what it is if not for each single, mute leaf.

So which is it better to be: A tree full of applause? Or a single, silent leaf?

I could tell you the answer. But that would be cheating. You figure it out.

“Peace begins with a smile…”

There’s a story that Zen practitioners love to tell called The Flower Sermon. It goes like this:

When Shakyamuni Buddha was at Mount Grdhrakuta, he held out a flower to his listeners. Everyone was silent. Only Mahakashyapa broke into a broad smile. The Buddha said, “I have the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of the Formless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate, independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine. This I have entrusted to Mahakashyapa.”

Many centuries later, Mother Teresa – likely not even aware of The Flower Sermon – captured some of its meaning simply by saying, “Peace begins with a smile.”

Life isn’t all that complicated. Really. It is made so when we walk through it scowling, grumbling, being impatient, angry, insensitive, rude. Especially when we’re having a Really. Bad. Day.

But have you noticed how someone’s entire demeanor can change if you smile at him? A simple smile can defuse a tense situation, uplift a weary heart, and state – without words – I am on your side…I care about you.

There’s a lot of wisdom in a smile. Without saying a word. And plenty of peace to go ’round because of them.

I think we can change our communities with a smile.

Want to give it a try?

What do we have to lose? (I’ll bet it’s not likely not half as much as we have to gain.)

Let’s see what happens.