The Four Purposes of Life by Dan Millman

Publication Details

  • Author: Dan Millman
  • Format: Paperback

Life is thoroughly perplexing at the best of times but when we try to juggle our innate desire to be more spiritual with the daily routine of keeping body and soul together we are so often confronted with a challenge that can little less than daunting!

Spiritual teachers of all persuasions have, for many thousands of years, attempted help those who have difficulty in resolving these issues by helping them to ground or integrate spirituality more deeply into their physical experience.

Some of them have been more successful at this than others!

As these demands of modern living become increasingly complex it appears at times that we are no nearer achieving that delicate balance of mind, body and spirit which is so central to living a valued and worthwhile life.

What is our Spiritual Purpose?

In his book ‘The Four Purposes of Life’, writer Dan Millman challenges the notion that there has to be any sort of compromise between living a richly rewarding physical experience with that of working on personal spiritual development.

This is all well and good but for the majority of people who have a desire to live life with meaning and a sense of destiny very few of them actually discover the path that leads to them to their chosen goal.

Millman recognises this and offers his readers a clear formula by which we can all live a purpose-driven life. He does this by separating the process for discovering your destiny into four specific stages – or ‘Purposes’ as he calls them.

The first purpose that he explores in his book is that of ‘Learning Life’s Lessons’.

Here he explains how we are, as human beings, naturally formulated to be goal-seekers and problem-resolvers.

Millman expresses the widely-held belief – one that is contained within a great many spiritual teachings, that planet earth is a ‘school of learning’. Whilst we might not necessarily appreciate some of its many and difficult lessons that it tries to help us to learn, these challenges are, nevertheless, necessary for our long-term spiritual development.

He feels that it is through our understanding and appreciation of existence of our central, powerful inner dynamic for growth that, should we so choose, we can take on these valuable lessons and derive the best from the opportunities that are presented to us each and every day.

Whilst many of these lessons are, on the whole, personal to each and every one of us, the author does identify ‘twelve core subjects’ which are essentially learning themes that are common to all.

These range from the need to develop self-discipline through to following the guidance of our intuitive senses and confronting emotional fear.

Your Personal Calling

The second purpose that Millman has identified focuses upon the process of clarifying one’s calling in life.

The spiritual path that we hold within us can also take several different forms – for, as he points out, we are not all pre-destined to live a charmed life of worldly fame and personal fortune.

Even the most humble and mundane of jobs can hold a deep and important sacredness to it.

Your Personal Life Path

Millman’s third purpose takes the idea of personal destiny to another level by exploring one’s life path.

Here, the author shares his own tailored technique for revealing what he describes as…what you are really here to fulfil – the innate drives, challenges, and gifts that for most people remain unseen or obscure.

The author describes in detail his own system for helping you to find out which of nine, quite different, life-paths, you are currently travelimg.

A Series of Moments

Millman describes the fourth purpose as that of ‘Attending to This Arising Moment”.

Here he explains how important it us to see our lives as a series of moments or separate situations.

This, he explains, reveals that all important point from which decisions are made for, in a sense, there is no future decision that we have to make about our lives – all of the knowledge and insight that we require to unfold the dynamic of our destiny is available to us at all times .

Leaving Education

In the epilogue to ‘The Four Purposes of Life’, Millman poses the all-important question:

If Earth is a school, what does graduation feel like?

The answer that he gives draws upon Eastern philosophy which sees the final goal that we are all working towards as that of ‘transcendence” or the sense of freedom we can attain from disconnecting from the limiting mindset and social conventions that tend to fix us to old and outdated psychospiritual habits.

As he states in his closing remarks …seeking the transcendent does not mean rejecting our conventional world but rather embracing it fully, releasing our resistance, attachments and expectations.

In many ways this final point of attainment, or ultimate destination, is what gives purpose and meaning to the harsh lessons, trial and tribulations that we face in our daily lives.

Our Review of ‘The Four Purposes of Life’ by Dan Millman

Despite the finest education and the resulting attainment of the most impressive qualifications, too many people spend their lives drifting in a sea of turmoil and unhappiness; time spent aching for that one thing in their lives that offers them purpose and creative satisfaction.

Formal education may be fine for those who are already on their life path but it can, and does, destroy the destiny of many who follow its conventional approach to life.

So many of us do intuitively feel that there has to be better way of approaching life but how do we go about unravelling the secrets to our own life path?

In “The Four Purposes Of Life’ by Dan Millman the reader is given more than a fighting chance in the struggle to resolve these personal challenges.

Here is book that not only speaks the language of the confused and dispossessed but is also one that skilfully guides its reader into understanding that we all have an important life path before us and that it most certainly is worth making a little effort to discover what it is.

With clear advice, anecdotal stories, exercises and references to the wisdom of some of the great spiritual seekers of the ages, Millman has created a delightful book that will, I am quite sure, lighten the spiritual load of anyone who feels their lives are of very little fundamental value.

He shows, in a kind and caring way that even though we may not recognize the fact, we are, to one degree or another, always on the path of our own destiny and spiritual unfolding. We just don’t recognize the signs!

‘The Four Purposes Of Life’ serves as a gentle reminder to those who have successfully uncovered their life path – possibly after using Millman’s system, that life lived in harmony with the directives of the Universe is a valuable and precious thing.

Our Rating


Credit: Review copy kindly supplied by PGUK, London.