The best way to teach a man a lesson is to relate it to a common idea or action. In the Karate Kid, for example, the master made the young boy do chores such as waxing a car, sweeping, catching a fly with chopsticks, and many other tasks. Even though persons hate dealing with tasks that do not relate to lessons, anecdotes are common among pupils learning because it also teaches discipline and patience within the student(s). In Dan Millman's autobiographical novel Way of the Peaceful War, Socrates, a guru of spiritual philosophies and practices, takes Dan, an aspiring gymnast looking to fill a void in his life, as his pupil and helps Dan find spiritual peace. Throughout his training, Dan learns that secular knowledge does not define one's existence because knowledge not only limits the mind but also does not allow "outside-the-box" thinking. Socrates' methods are similar to Buddhism and Taoism because students of these two philosophies learn by anecdotes, metaphors or ideas that do not relate to a lesson directly but rather allow the student to understand a specific idea in a more practical way. .
Different methods of teaching yield different results. For Dan, Socrates's methods yield confusion. Before Socrates started to show Dan his own boundaries, he needed to explain Dan's boundaries by using common knowledge, knowledge that Dan has accepted as the only true way of knowing. When Dan first met Socrates, the first thing he wanted to know about Socrates was how he was able to jump onto the roof quickly. Socrates did not give Dan a clear answer but instead offered him to help around the gas station. As Dan helps Socrates with fixing cars and filling up their tanks with gas, Socrates decides to take Dan as his final student because he believes Dan has the potential to become a Peaceful Warrior and he is in need of a teacher. The first lesson Dan learns comes from Socrates overflowing a car's gas tank and saying: "Dan, like this gas tank, you are overflowing with preconceptions, full of useless knowledge.