Is your destiny in the hands of God, or a New Age guru?

BF asks: “What can you tell me about Dan Millman and his new book, The Life You Were Born to Live?”

Millman is a well-known New Age guru whose work is a mixture of self-esteem guidelines, numerology, humor, and a mish-mash of Eastern and Western religions. He likes to use Christian terms such as grace, soul, saints, miracles, sacredness, (but rarely sin and/or the ten commandments) which is why it’s easy to get sucked into his work and not realize that it’s just another variation of the classic New Age human potential movement. 

A former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor, Millman has authored 13 books, and The Life You Were Born to Live is one of the most popular. Among other things, it purports to help people clarify their “life path, “which is arrived at by a formula in which the numbers in one’s birth date are added to come up with a pre-defined path.

As one numerologist explained, these life path numbers are comprised of “the two-digit sum of the individual digits in your date of birth, including the month, day, and year.  As an example, my date of birth is 6-28-19 68 so the two-digit sum of my birth date digits is 6+2+8+1+9+6+8 = 40.  40 is my Specific Life Path number.”

According to Millman: “The Life You Were Born to Live provides a powerful (and formerly secret) method to clarify each reader’s life path and purpose, including the core challenges and strengths you were born to address.” 

The operative word here is “secret.” Whenever you hear this, watch out, because you’re in for another dose of good old-fashioned Gnosticism, an ancient heresy based on the concept that salvation is obtained through the acquisition of some kind of quasi-intuitive or secret knowledge of the mysteries of the universe. Many popular New Age self-help programs, such as The Secret, are nothing more than repackaged Gnosticism.

Just for fun, I plugged in my birthdate on his website to see what my “Life Path” is and it gave me a very “horoscopish” read-out containing a bunch of descriptions that could apply to just about anyone. “Those on the 20/2 life path are here to use their inner gifts in a spirit of service and to establish healthy boundaries and balanced responsibility in order to achieve joyful cooperation and mutual support . . . . The greatest challenge for most 20/2s is finding their own internal harmony . . .”

Millman does not describe himself as New Age, and once told the New Age publication, Wisdom Hunters, that “I rarely read books in the spiritual, self-help, or new age genre where I get shelved.”

Matthew Gilbert, editor of another New Age trade magazine, described Millman as being “between traditional New Age and its next mature evolution.” 

According to a 1999 article by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Millman is “the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants who was raised by religiously unobservant parents in California. Like his parents – and like most New Agers – he stayed outside the bounds of a Western congregation as he pursued meaning. He studied yoga, Zen meditation, martial arts, shamanism. He joined a guru’s community. He went to Asia. He read scriptures.”

Unless you’re interested in investing in the New Age, you’ll avoid purchasing his works.

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