“Whatever it is that’s aroused by these cues, isn’t put off by any lack of originality.”
Robert Pirsig


Dynamic Quality


Many ideas for posts that are running through my head rely on concepts of Quality I have adopted from Robert Pirsig’s books “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” & “Lila”. So I have finally to decided to attempt at writing something about them – so those other posts may finally find their way onto light photons.

If you have read these books and have your own concepts of them , and feel that my interpretation misses the mark, please be gracious enough to accomodate the context of my words. If you are encountering this for the first time, please know that these words are not a substitue for the source – I do encourage you to read the books to expand your own experience & understanding.


It appears that a long time ago, before the ancient greeks, there were sophists who were masters rhetoricians. I like to think of them as master performers. Their art was story telling – and I have feeling that it was driven by a deep sense of purpose to share the sacred knowledge they carried.  They were in pursuit of good.

Their descendants were the ancient greeks – and among them, Pirsig names Aristotle and Plato (I’ll leave it at that – as I don’t remember who said what to whom, why and when!). Their art was dialectic – they were fierce arguers of logic and reasoning. The were in pursuite of right. I have a feeling they were a self important bunch of intellectuals. It seems that they were out to conquer (and succeeded!) the truth of western thought – and their greatest opponents where their ancestor – the sophists.

But, before they could tackle the sophists they had some internal affairs to solve first. They were divided amonst themselves! Some argued that reality (objects) exists and is fixed/constant and exists regardless of an observer. Others argued that reality is a transient thing that exists within the observer. I can really see all this happening in the stands of the olympic games (while all the jocks are playing in the field) or over a cool beer! Anyways, one of the big guns came out and offered a solution – he said that both claims are true in their own way – but that they are both merely concepts/ideas. Then and there was born a hierarchy – with ideas at the top and below it are subjects and objects…. and there was another important catch. This system was born and existed under the art of logical conversation and argument. To challenge it one needed to play the dialectic game.

So, armed with ideas and conversation the greeks turned on the sophists and disected their art by talking about it. They succeeded. To this day, western thought is governed by this strategy. Good has been run over by right. We cannot claim something is good without a good (haha!) explanation of why it is so. I don’t know if to laugh or cry at the irony!

Quality is that thing which the sophists held before it was digested by the greek intellectuals. It is an experience that precedes thought. It is not a measurable quantity. It is the governer of experience – quality chooses for you how the world is revealed to you – it does so in a manner that is best for you.

Static & Dynamic Quality

In “Lila” Pirsig continues to explore the idea of quality. He suggests a division of quality into static and dynamic. Static quality is an accumulation of patterns that we adopt from our life experience. I am sitting here at the computer writing post. To do this I rely on endless static quality patterns including those of reading & writing, typing at a computer, etc.

Yet when it comes to the actual writing I submit to an experience of dynamci quality. I do not know what I am going to write. I have a clear intent to write – but what I will actually say is not directly available to me. I try to stay open and available and let the thoughts arrive of themselves (as if they choose me instead of me choosing them). I am confident that the good ones will appear. My work is to stay open and available with a clear intent. The rest is in the hands of dynamic quality.

I can try writing with static quality – but I feel the results are not good – uninspiring. I have been carrying this very post with me for many weeks. Had I attempted to write it earlier – I would have encountered a block rather then a flowing sensation (this is not speculation – this used to happen a lot) where the words shape themselves around my intent. I feel that I have learned to identify when I am open and available (in a given context) – then I can pull out my static patterns and they can support me as I encounter dynamic quality.

I like to think of dynamic quality as creativity. I have learned that creativity requires supportive conditions that provide a sense of grounding – a sanctuary from which I can reach into the unknown. It is static quality (things that were at one time dynamic quality) that provides this sanctuary.

In a way, we al live at the meeting point of static and dynamic quality.  The contents of this meeting are personal – no two people are alike. Yet we are all traveling through life using these fundamental tools.

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