Zen, Ghosts, and Perception

j2835x1774-001511Have you ever read a book that brought you to tears? Okay, well I have so quit calling me a nancy for it or I’ll bust your chops.

In all seriousness, a good book can truly change your life, or at least give you a different outlook on it. So for my latest blog I have decided to put together a series discussing “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Minneapolis’ own Robert Pirsig. For those of you that would enjoy an enthralling read without having to purchase the book, I will be posting links to the book in four segments. Here is the 1st of those.

I honestly don’t think I have ever read a book that made me consider my everyday perceptions of what ‘is’ so much as this piece of work. It is at times wildly insightful, maniacal, strangely logical, and occasionally disturbing. However, there is no doubt that it is moving. I ask that you take a read and express your thoughts as we move through the book.

I will make this first installment brief. The book is titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but in all reality it isn’t so much about motorcycles at all (although the book takes place on a cross-country motorcycle trip). In this first part of the book, we learn a little about our main character (whose name we don’t know) and his son Chris, as well as their traveling partners John and Sylvia. Three main themes seem to pop up throughout this first chunk of the book that give us clues/a better understanding of what is to be discussed as the book moves on: Ghosts, Classical vs. Romantic understanding, and Technology.

Ghosts: As these characters stop to camp for the evening, young Chris begins talking about ghosts and asks, “Do you believe in ghosts?” Our main character says ‘no’ because they are unscientific. He then brings it to a different level when trying to define what a ‘ghost’ is:

They contain no matter and have no energy and therefore, according to the laws of science, do not exist except in people’s minds. Of course the laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people’s minds. It’s best to be completely scientific about the whole thing and refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of science. That way you’re safe. That doesn’t leave you very much to believe in, but that’s scientific too (being facetious)…Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Laws of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts. The whole blessed thing is a human invention, including the idea that it isn’t a human invention. The world has no existence whatsoever outside the human imagination. It’s all a ghost, and in antiquity was so recognized as a ghost, the whole blessed world we live in. It’s run by ghosts. We see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past. Ghosts and more ghosts. Ghosts trying to find their place among the living.

This logic seems convincingly true and in a way in which I have never considered. So, the question that must be asked is, do you believe in ghosts? This seems to be enough info for this installment. We’ll take a gander at Classical vs. Romantic understanding and the disenchanting effects of technology in the next part.

Read this book!!!!

Submitted by: Al-Dogg

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2 responses to “Zen, Ghosts, and Perception

  1. Al-Dogg,

    Good post brother! I printed off the 1st Segment today, so i’ll be sure to give a good response once i read it.

    Till later……..

  2. Really? There are people who haven’t read this book yet? It is life altering.

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