"The Secret of How To Change" is one of Adi Da's best-known essays, and was particularly well-known in the years immediately after Adi Da wrote it (in 1978).
It would be virtually impossible for a formal student of Adi Da at that time (let alone a teacher at one of Adi Da's schools) not to be familiar with that essay.
And it would be virtually impossible for a formal student of Adi Da at that time (let alone a teacher at one of Adi Da's schools) to write a passage (fictional or non-fictional) in 1980 starting with the words, "the secret of change", and not have Adi Da's 1978 essay, "The Secret of How To Change", in mind. (See our textual analysis section, The high similarity of the phrases, "the secret of change" and "The Secret of How To Change", for more.)
3. Textual Analysis
We include a relevant excerpt from the 1978 version of Adi Da's essay below:
The most obvious confirmation that Dan Millman was intimately familiar with Adi Da's essay, "The Secret of How To Change", was his explicit quoting of a passage from Adi Da's essay in his 1992 book, No Ordinary Moments: A Peaceful Warrior's Guide to Daily Life (in Chapter 6: The Will to Change), using Adi Da's earlier names, "Da Free John" and "Da Avabhasa":
True change and higher
He didn't name the essay, but it's easy to see that "The Secret of How To Change" is where the quote is from. This quote excerpt demonstrates not only Millman's familiarity with Adi Da's essay, but his valuing of it so much that he would still remember that specific essay and quote it years after he was Adi Da's formal student.
Furthermore, even though Millman presents the above quote as though he were exactly quoting Adi Da, in fact, if you compare the "quoted" words with Adi Da's actual words (presented earlier), you will see that it is not an exact quote — Millman has changed and simplified the wording in much the same way he changed and simplified Adi Da's wording when he had Socrates speak similar words. Millman has a real forté for taking quotes from others and rewording and simplifying them!
There's even more to observe here. Millman's 1992 excerpt from Adi Da's "The Secret of How To Change" also tells us which part of that essay really impressed Millman the most — and was therefore the likely basis for the paraphrase Millman put in Socrates' mouth. The part of Adi Da's essay he chose to quote correlates directly with the words he gave to Socrates in Way of the Peaceful Warrior:
The secret of change
is to focus all your energy,
Thus, we now can see how Millman very likely "morphed" Adi Da's essay into Socrates' words in two steps:
The high similarity of the phrases, "the secret of change" and "The Secret of How To Change". In our textual analysis above (in Table 1), we correlate Socrates' opening phrase, "the secret of change" with Adi Da's essay title, "The Secret of How To Change". Some readers might imagine there must be lots of things in the world that have these words "secret" and "change" in them, and only a student of Adi Da would think of Adi Da's essay when reading Socrates's words, "secret of change".
But in fact, one doesn't have to be a student of Adi Da to have the words "the secret of change" bring to mind Adi Da's essay, "The Secret of How To Change". Google proves that!
Try the following thought experiment.
Let's travel back in time to 1980, when Dan Millman was writing his book. Imagine something like Google existed back then, and we type in the words, "secret of change" to see what these words conjure up in 1980.
We can approximate what would have happened by doing the same thing now, entering "secret of change" into Google and tossing out all the Google listings that simply would not have existed back in 1980. Here we go:
So first thing we see is a lot of listings based on Millman's book (from "inspirational quotes" websites, to catchy graphics displaying the quote, to refrigerator magnets and coffee cups with the quote, etc.). We remove all these, because it's 1980, and he hasn't written his book yet (and none of that merchandising exists).
Then we see some listings where Ivanka Trump is mis-crediting Socrates, the philosopher — we toss those out because it's 1980, and Ivanka won't be born for another year.
We see a few listings referring to Michael Fullan's book, The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive. That book was released in 2008, so we cross out these Google listings.
Finally, we see one listing for a documentary titled The Secret of Change. It says, "coming Summer 2017" so — bye, bye, listing!
What's left? As Sherlock Holmes famously said, "When you have eliminated all that is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
And so it is. . . The number one listing remaining is this one:
which is a link to a page containing the current version of Adi Da's "The Secret of How To Change".
So this "thought experiment" informally demonstrates that Adi Da's 1978 essay, "The Secret of How To Change", is the first thing anyone in 1980 (not just Adi Da's students) would think of when they hear the words (or write the words), "the secret of change", if they were sufficiently well-informed about the subject (like Google).
So Millman's use of the phrase "secret of change" in 1980 is a clincher in our case — it directly links to Adi Da's "The Secret of How To Change". Google proves that.
Despite what one might imagine, there are not hundreds (or even tens) of other things out there with a choice of words similar to "the secret of change." Only one stands out.
* * *
Millman used the phrase "the secret of change" in the original 1980 edition of his book. By the time of the 2006 edition, he had changed the wording from "The secret of change is to focus all your energy. . . " to "To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy. . . " While this change may have been solely motivated by a desire to improve the wording, perhaps another motivation was to remove the phrase ("the secret of change") that most obviously would remind some readers of Adi Da's essay, "The Secret of How To Change".
Paraphrases and Gucci knock offs: you know them by what's missing. One very important point in Adi Da's essay is missing from Socrates' gloss, that is essential to understanding why the secret of how to change is to not "fight the old" but to "build the new" instead:
"What is not used becomes obsolete, whereas what is opposed is kept before you."
Without this part of Adi Da's essay, the words, "The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new", have a nice rhetorical cadence (like "out with the old, in with the new"), to the point where they feel like they should make sense; but there's no further clue as to why they do in fact make sense.
This is one more piece of evidence that Socrates' words were indeed a paraphrase of Adi Da's longer essay — things (even important things) often get lost in paraphrases. . . That's the main way you tell a Gucci knock off from the original: by what is missing! And something very important got lost in this one: Millman's paraphrase preserved the "what to do" but lost the "why it works".
In talking about his book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Millman says he actually did meet a gas attendant named Socrates: "I did indeed meet a flesh-and-blood character, a cosmic old service station mechanic, about 3 A.M. one starry night in December of 1966." That may very well be the case! But, given that he chose to fictionalize his life in this memoir, it is also quite possible that he put words in the mouth of a charismatic main character (Socrates) that came from a variety of sources, for the sake of a better story. And Millman confirms this, writing about "Socrates" in the preface of Way of the Peaceful Warrior:
Of course, even though Millman wrote a fictionalized memoir, it would only be fair of him to credit his actual sources — the "other teachers" he mentions in the quote above — somewhere. . . and so when we look in his acknowledgements section, we read the following:
Given those credits, it wouldn't be at all surprising to find the charismatic character "Socrates" paraphrasing wisdom from any or all of the teachers listed here, including "Da Free John" — the name Adi Da was writing under when His book, The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (which included "The Secret of How To Change") was published in 1978, two years before the publication of Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
While of course the most definitive way to know whether the Socrates character's quote was a paraphrase of Adi Da's words would be for Dan Millman himself to confirm it directly, such confirmation is not necessary; it's quite possible to be certain with a high probability, independent of the author's confirmation.
Again, the example of Carlos Castaneda comes to mind. Castaneda always claimed that his "Don Juan" was a real Yaqui Indian, and that everything said or done by the character in the books was actually said or done by the real man. Indeed, on the basis of that claim, his books were originally labelled "non-fiction" — and they continue to be labelled "non-fiction" to this day (by Simon and Schuster, Castaneda's main publisher), amazingly enough, even after extensive debunking of their nonfictional status by Castaneda critics, most notably Richard De Mille. One of the primary means De Mille used was textual analysis similar to the textual analysis done in this article, through which Don Juan's words are traced back to other sources. In a 2007 Salon article, Robert Marshall wrote of De Mille: "His 1980 compilation, 'The Don Juan Papers', includes a 47-page glossary of quotations from don Juan and their sources, ranging from Wittgenstein and C.S. Lewis to papers in obscure anthrolopogy journals." After a few years of such extensive questioning, most reputable organizations (e.g., the New York Times) that had originally held Castaneda's books to be nonfiction no longer held that view, even though Castaneda himself never acknowledged it.
We are writing this article to serve the same purpose for the Socrates quote — identifying Adi Da as its original source — even if Millman himself never acknowledges that source.
* * *
Millman has continued to remember, respect, and quote Adi Da's teaching, even to this day. We now provide just a few examples to make the point.
In his 1992 book, No Ordinary Moments: A Peaceful Warrior's Guide to Daily Life, Millman includes the following quote (using Adi Da's earlier names, "Da Free John" and "Da Avabhasa"):
This moment is the moment of reality, of union, of truth.
In the credits to the German translation of one of his books, Die universellen Lebensgesetze des friedvollen Kriegers, Millman writes:
And here is a recent quote of Adi Da in a 2017 tweet by Millman:
So that is how Ivanka Trump came to tweet words that, in all likelihood, were inspired by Adi Da's essay, "The Secret of How To Change". Because she mis-attributed those words, first to the Greek philosopher Socrates, then to a fictional character in Dan Millman's book — which was technically accurate, but, we believe, not the full story of where the words came from — we wrote this article, to set the record straight. . . not only for her, but for all the news agencies that covered the story; they also found the quote in Millman's book, but stopped there and didn't inquire as to where Millman might have gotten it.
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