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Pirsig's pearls

· The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain.

· Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food.

· Traditional scientific method has always been, at the very best, 20-20 hindsight. It's good for seeing where you've been. It's good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can't tell you where you ought to go.

· Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the motive?

The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.

Now and Zen

Born 6 September 1928, Minneapolis.

Family Father was a law lecturer and mother was Swedish-born. Pirsig married Nancy Ann James in 1954. They had two sons: Chris, and Ted, now 48. Now married to journalist Wendy Kimball, with whom he has a 25-year-old daughter, Nell.

Education Judged to have an IQ of 170 at age nine. Went to University of Minneapolis at 15, but joined the army in 1946, serving in Korea before returning to the university to study philosophy. Then studied at Benares in India.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Appears in Guinness Book of Records as the bestselling book rejected by the largest number of publishers (121). Sold 5m copies worldwide.

As a direct result of encouragement from the Guggenheim Foundation - Lila: An Enquiry into Morals was published by Alma Books (£7.99). A slipcased, signed limited edition is available at selected Waterstone's (£45) - 

The Seventies bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the biggest-selling philosophy book ever. But for the reclusive author life was bitter-sweet - he talks frankly here  about anxiety, depression, the death of his son and - the road trip that inspired a classic.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Metaphysics of Quality - Guggenheim - Lila - Lila Squad -  discussions on quantum science et al



11 months later Martha said

Hmm. One time I had a dream where I was swept up and away by a group of spirits. They took me to meet Bob Pirsig. And he didn't look, in my dream, as he does in the pictures–either this one, or other images on the internet. But he was speaking with a blond woman when I arrived (a place with cubicles, where he was seated and talking with the woman). So he excused himself ( couldn't really hear what they were saying), and came over and
just said, “Hi.” No conversation. That was the whole thing. Then he went back to continue his conversation with the blond woman. This was before the book, Lila was published. Since reading that book, I've always thought the woman was Lila, or his meditation of Lila.

11 months later Martha said

After thinking about it more, perhaps the person I met (and the dream did include an actual introduction-briefly) was “Bob Pirsig” but also the meditation of his main character from himself–in relation to and with Lila.

over 3 years later Michael said

ONLY ”Pirsig'sPHAEDRUS would know !

Whether HOMO SAPIENS realises it or not the species is faced with a …
CRISIS in politics, a CRISIS in religion and a CRISIS in science …
embodied so succinctly, in fact, by Pirsig’s journey to address his own personal crisis, which he wrote about in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

There have been more copies of Pirsig’s classic printed than the Koran, albeit not as many as the Bible. The essence of the difference between them, however, being that both the Bible & the Koran and all others of the same genre lay down a code of interpretation of life which prescribes to other third party viewpoints & perspectives; whereas ZEN & AofMM describes the first person perspective of the experience of Pirsig's own journey to find the truth.

A truth which acknowledges that

nature is in control of man  & …

NOT man in control of nature.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is, essentially, three books:

an account of a motorcycle trip from Minnesota to California, a philosophical

meditation on the concept of QUALITY, and the story of a man pursued by the

ghost of his former self.

Within these three books we find allegory and psychological tension, a lesson

in Eastern and Western schools of thought, a conundrum about the meaning

of self - a commentary on America's social and physical landscape, and  

some helpful tips on the care and maintenance of the motorcycle.

In short, there IS something for everyone in this sprawling, brilliant book that

looks both inward and outward at the process of achieving enlightenment 

in a complicated world.

In the same manner - that to master Taijiquan you must begin with the

most fundamental steps, and systematically work up to the advanced

levels, slowly building up your knowledge and technique as you go -

so also must an appreciation of ALL that Pirsig refers to - be assimilated

and truly understood  by those who would serach for the ruthless truth.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the book which set me on

the path of discovery for the scientific explanation of spirituality - which

I believe will eventually underpin a new era of "belief system unity" of the

diverse and conflicting interpretations of RELIGION, including political,

philosophical and scientific religions - and led me to Pirsig's Guggenheim

sponsored LILA, the subsequent formation of the LILA squad of quantum

physicists and Dan Glover's LILA's Child.

First Posted by Michael Grove @zaadz on June 9, 2006 at 17:00

Leave Your Wise and Insightful Comment

Views: 1823

Comment by Michael Grove on January 21, 2013 at 13:36

"There is no objective reality outside us as opposed to a subjective world within. There is one reality, which manifests itself objectively outside of us and subjectively within, but which itself is beyond the distinction of subject or object, and is known when the human mind transcends both sense (by which we perceive the "outside" world) and reason (by which we  conceive the mental world of science and philosophy) and discovers the Reality itself, which is both being and consciousness in an indivisible unity." - Bede Griffiths


"IT IS QUALITY, not dialectic, which is the generator of everything we know" - Robert Pirsig                                                                           

Comment by torch mills on September 10, 2013 at 23:49
Comment by torch mills on September 10, 2013 at 23:50

second link will give you Lila, as an adobe pdf download

Comment by Michael Grove on September 11, 2013 at 5:57

My thanks to Torch Mills for the pdf download links - for those that would like to learn more from

these two epic works of art - from my hero of perseverance and the Art of ZEN.

Comment by Michael Grove on February 19, 2014 at 9:31

According to Pirsig, hidden within the meaning of the four levels is everything you need to know

to make high Quality moral evaluations.  In Lila, Pirsig explains how he views the levels as a tool

for determining the most moral course in any situation.

The four basic rules for understanding the four levels are ...

  • 1. Everything in the universe can be assigned to one of the four Levels.
  • 2. You assign things to the correct Level based not on the properties of the thing, but on what that thing values.
  • 3. Everything has its place. Nothing can end up with no Level, though some things do reside in more than one.
  • 4. The Levels have a hierarchical or evolutionary relationship to each other.

Comment by Michael Grove on December 8, 2014 at 17:42

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