This post contains excerpts from Robert Pirsig's book Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals.

The words are all his, the editing choices are all mine, the consequences of reading are all yours.

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Do You See the Light?

The Dharmakaya light … a huge area of human experience cut off by cultural filtering … he didn’t think of this light as some sort of supernatural occurrence that had no grounding in physical reality … nobody sees it because the cultural definition of what is real and what is unreal filters out Dharmakaya light from 20th century American ‘reality’ just as surely as time is filtered out of Hopi reality, and green-yellow differences mean nothing to the Natchez.

… he thought that the light was nothing more than an involuntary widening of the iris of the eyes … makes things look brighter … but despite filtering by the cultural immune system, references to this occur in many places, scattered, disconnected and unrelated. Lamps are sometimes used as symbols of learning. Why should they be? A torch … symbol of idealistic inspiration … ‘I’ve seen the light’ … When a cartoonist wants to show someone getting a great idea he puts an electric bulb over the character’s head. Everybody understands … Why?

In a Metaphysics of Quality … this light is important because it often appears associated with undefined auspiciousness … Dynamic Quality. It signals a Dynamic intrusion upon a static situation. When there is letting go of static patterns the light occurs. It is often accompanied by a feeling of relaxation because static patterns have been jarred loose … it was probably the light that infants see when their world is still fresh and whole,before consciousness differentiates it into patterns; a light into which everything fades at death … the breakup of static patterns of the person’s intellect as it returned into the pure Dynamic Quality from which it had emerged in infancy…

… when he had wandered freely outside the limits of cultural reality, this light had been a valued companion..

“When a cartoonist wants to show someone getting a great idea he puts an electric bulb over the character’s head. Everybody understands ... Why?”