Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Robert M. Pirsig

1928 – 2017 CE

American philosopher, modern-day Thoreau-on-wheels, 170 IQ precocious child, and high school graduate at only 14 years old; Pirsig experienced a difficult and troubled life. He was expelled from college, had a nervous breakdown, spent time in psychiatric hospitals, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was treated with electroshock therapy. His wife divorced him and his 22-year-old son was stabbed and killed. In spite of (or because of) these challenges, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, given an honorary doctorate degree, and wrote a book called “brilliant beyond belief,” “a cornerstone of the Beat/Hippie literary era," and that was compared to the writings of Dostoevsky, Proust, and Melville. Unseduced by fame, he intentionally led a quite, contemplative life outside the limelight.

Eras

Sources

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Quotes by Robert M. Pirsig (25 quotes)

“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Delusion Religion

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“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I'm looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Truth Travel

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“No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce [meaningful] work”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Livelihood Peace

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“If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“‘common sense’ is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of ghosts from the past.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“The best ones always connect nowhere with nowhere.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Emptiness

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“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Openness Science

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“The doctrinal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment… What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it *is* all around him… he imagines his goal to be external and distant.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Egolessness

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“In the high country of the mind one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Doubt

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“The pencil is mightier than the pen.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“Imitation is a real evil that has to be broken before real teaching can begin… Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade… in college, you are supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality… the moment of vision before intellectualization”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“It's the style that gets you; technological ugliness syruped over with romantic phoniness in an effort to produce beauty and profit”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Technology

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“Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it's a shame more people don't switch over to it.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“The way to solve the conflict between human values and technological needs is not to run away from technology but to break down the barrier of dualistic thought and understand technology for what it is—a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“One thing about pioneers that you don’t hear mentioned is that they are invariably, by their nature, mess-makers.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands… the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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“A slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and-whip grading, a mule mentality which said, ‘If you don’t whip me, I won’t work.’ He didn’t get whipped. He didn’t work.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Education Slavery

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“The idea that ‘all men are created equal’ is a gift to the world from the American Indian.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Themes: Equality

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“The cutting edge of this instant right here and now is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.”

from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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