Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Robert M. Pirsig

This book begins by saying that it isn’t factually related to either Zen or motorcycles. Using these terms as metaphors, it explores Western culture, the history of philosophy, and possibilities for blending Eastern and Western world views. Challenging his famous professor’s linear, Aristotelian views (Mortimer J. Adler who became the only villain in the book); he becomes one of our Apostles of Doubt steeped in Socratic dialogues, existential philosophy, and the 1960’s counter-culture.

Quotes from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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

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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.”

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Themes: Slavery Education

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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.”

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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”

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

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Themes: Doubt

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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”

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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.”

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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.”

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

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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”

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Themes: Peace Livelihood

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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.”

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“The best ones always connect nowhere with nowhere.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Themes: Egolessness

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

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Themes: Equality

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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”

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“The pencil is mightier than the pen.”

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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.”

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Themes: Science Openness

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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.”

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Themes: Travel Truth

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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

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Themes: Delusion Religion

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