An interview with author Dan Millman on The Life You Were Born to Live — Revised 25th Anniversary Edition.
After writing your autobiographical novel, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, what drew you into the speculative field of numerology with The Life You Were Born to Live?
DM: My first books in the peaceful warrior saga convey transcendent teachings through story. I then wrote No Ordinary Moments in response to readers who asked how they could apply those teachings in everyday life. At that point it seemed a natural progression to explore life-purpose and self-knowledge, which led to immersive work on The Life You Were Born to Live.
Such a progression may seem pre-planned and organized, but the process was nothing like that. My books emerged from my own winding path of discovery, as well as meetings with unusual mentors.
I had no innate interest in numerology, which seemed irrational to me — after all, how can adding up the digits in one’s date of birth provide valid and accurate information about the core issues of one’s life? I remained skeptical until a life-changing session with a man I’ll call “the warrior-priest.”
I had previously studied many systems of insight, including the MMPI and so-called enneagram material (years before any books were published on the subject). But none of these systems seemed as objective, accessible, and accurate as the material that I learned and internalized for nearly eight years, until I finally wrote The Life You Were Born to Live. It was an extraordinary challenge, but more than a million readers validate the effort.
What new information does this new edition cover?
DM: The original book described thirty-seven life paths, one of which will apply accurately to anyone born between 1750 to 1999. But some children born after the new millennium have new (single-digit) birth numbers. The revised and updated 25th Anniversary Edition covers all forty-five birth numbers (life paths).
Like the original edition, it reveals a quick and accurate means to determine one’s own birth number (and corresponding life path) and the life paths of friends, loved ones, colleagues, parents, and acquaintances. It also covers the strengths and challenges of each life path in areas of health, money, and sexuality, as well as key spiritual laws to help anyone overcome the hurdles on their own path.
In addition, the new edition reveals what makes a “master number” and why — how the single-digit numbers impact the life paths of many young people — and how this knowledge helps to clarify all the other life paths. I also added new examples of well-known people on each life path, and how I learned the system and why I chose to share it.
What is a birth number? How does it relate to a life path?
DM: Both mystics and physicists have proposed that all existence is comprised, at the atomic and subatomic levels, of numbers (frequencies or vibrations). In a way that no one has fully articulated, each of us is connected to the rhythms and dynamics of the universe, our solar system, and the solar and lunar cycles. But what seems to happen is that when we take our first breath, our parents give us a name and the universe gives us a frequency, expressed as our birth number. How? You’ll have to ask Pythagoras.
Once we derive our own (or someone else’s) birth number — either by looking it up quickly and accurately at the “Life Purpose Calculator” at my website, www.peacefulwarrior.com, under the menu item, “Life Purpose,” or by doing the math as shown in the Appendix at the end of the new edition — that number reveals our life path and all that entails.
I need to clarify here that if we divide the forty-five life paths into the population of the planet, that means millions of people are working the same life path. Does this make them the same in some sense? Of course not — each of us is unique, and has our own story to live.
Let’s point to a tree growing nearby. That tree is also unique, since no other tree on the planet is exactly like that tree (i.e. the angle of every leaf and branch). Yet we can outline qualities of redwoods that are different from aspens or oaks or cypress trees. In the same way, we each have genetic heritage, life experience, and other factors uniquely our own — yet we also fall within certain overall patterns (or life paths) which we then manifest in our own ways.
Can your life path change?
DM: The local date and time you are born; that is, when you take your first breath (whether you arrived as expected, or induced, or via C-section), that is when you take on a birth number (or frequency) and life path. You have this path for a lifetime.
There are related factors I address in the new edition, such as whether you were born at or near midnight, or influences of the day before or after, or if you don’t know your date of birth for certain.
Although our life path remains the same, as we grow, mature, and evolve, we can face the issues on that path in more mature and resourceful ways, reducing the liabilities, overcoming the hurdles and challenges, and engaging the strength of that path (as outlined in the book).
Ultimately, through spiritual practice, we may even liberate ourselves or transcend that life path, so that it no longer defines or delineates us.
What does it mean if two or more family members have the same life path?
DM: My sister and I, and one of my daughters, happen to be working the same life path — each in our own way, but sharing core qualities, challenges and strengths. Having the same life path as a friend or family member has no special meaning, but does provide a chance to compare notes — similarities and differences in how we respond to, and even perceive, the events of our lives.
What’s the best way for a new reader to make use of this system?
DM: The book begins with a one-page guide titled, “How to read this book.” To answer the question more generally, I encourage new readers to approach the material with healthy skepticism, but also an open mind.
Anyone reading this short piece can visit www.peacefulwarrior.com, click on the menu link, “Life Purpose,” access the free Life Purpose Calculator, put in their date of birth, find their birth number (and primary meanings) and read a summary paragraph or two about their life path. Of course the book reveals more detail, including spiritual laws key to overcoming the hurdles on that path — and also presents the dynamics of the composite number and path of any personal or relationship, and insight into our current place in the nine-year cycles of our life.
Is one’s individual path (or composite relationship path) easier or more difficult than another?
DM: As I emphasize in the book, each of us has our own mountain (path) to climb, and each path entails different hurdles and strengths. No individual or relationship path is better or worse, easier or more difficult, than any other except as we may make it so, depending on how we respond.
There are times in each of our lives when we face the challenges of our life path in more mature and positive (constructive) ways, and on other occasions, in more negative (destructive) ways. The book clarifies, for each life path, what our lives can look like when we’re working more in the positive, or more in the negative.
Do some life paths represent a more evolved soul?
DM: Some systems of numerology posit that certain life paths (or final birth number) point to a more evolved (older) soul. But the Life Purpose System has no such implications. Rather than conjecture about such ideas, it would seem more practical to study and embody the spiritual laws that help anyone to face the challenges of daily life in a more evolved and resourceful manner. Ultimately, it is not merely the so-called age of our soul, but rather our actions, moment to moment, that shape the quality of our lives.
How is this system similar to or different from the numerology systems in other books on the topic?
DM: The ancient Hebrews, Chinese, Mayans and Aztecs, as well as Islamic cultures each had its own calendar and numerological systems. And each system differs considerably in how the birth numbers are calculated and interpreted. The Life You Were Born to Live had become a central resource work for many numerologists (and psychologists and intuitive coaches) due to both its accuracy and articulation of elements not included in any other texts, ancient or modern, including the spiritual laws key to each path.
Based on correspondence and feedback I’ve read and received, I can only state that the information in this book has helped to clarify and enhance, and maybe even change, the lives of its readers — the same way my life was changed decades ago in that single session with the mentor who introduced me to the Life Purpose System.
Can the Life Purpose System guide me in finding the most suitable career?
The clearest answer is yes. And no.
Yes in the sense that the drives and qualities of a given birth number may point toward certain types of work. For example, those with a 7 in their birth number may thrive in solitude, doing research; those with a 1 or double-1 may find creative work especially fulfilling; those with a 2 or 4 may enjoy analytical work, and so forth. So the birth number does at least point to general kinds of careers (but not necessarily a specific one).
That said, the birth number and life path more accurately indicates the approach (challenges and strengths) that each individual may bring to any career. In my own research, I found a wide variety of life paths excelling in every career or sport or other pursuit. We bring the resources not only of our life path, but also capacities developed through our education, experience and insight.
Understanding our own life path (and that of others) brings more compassion for self and others, even as the information helps us to navigate the waters of everyday life — until ultimately, we transcend all systems. And what lies beyond, is beyond description.
Dan Millman, former world-champion gymnast, coach, martial arts teacher, and college professor, is the author of seventeen books published in twenty-nine languages and shared across generations to millions of readers. His internationally bestselling book Way of the Peaceful Warrior was adapted to film in 2006. Dan speaks worldwide to people from all walks of life. He lives in New York City. www.PeacefulWarrior.com.