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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Enlightment

From the static point of view the whole escape into Dynamic Quality seems like a death experience. It’s a movement from something to nothing. How can ‘nothing’ be any different from death? … All the Buddha could say was,’See for yourself’ …

… enlightment is distributed in all parts of the world … but some cultures accept it and others screen out recognition of it. The Metaphysics of Quality translated karma as ‘evolutionary garbage’ … the pain, the suffering that results from clinging to static patterns … the only exit from the suffering is to detach yourself from these static patterns, that is, to ‘kill’ them.

A common way taken to kill them is suicide, but suicide only kills biological patterns. That’s like destroying a computer because you can’t stand the program it is running … the social and intellectual patterns that caused the suicide have to be carried on by others. From an evolutionary point of view it’s really a backward and therefore immoral step.

Another immoral way of killing the static patterns is to pass the patterns to someone else … a ‘karma dump’ … you invent a devil group, Jews or blacks or whites or capitalists … then say that group is responsible for all your suffering. If you take all this karmic garbage and make yourself feel better by passing it on to others that’s normal. That’s the way the world works.

But if you manage to absorb it and not pass it on, that’s the highest moral conduct of all. That really advances everything, not just you … some of the great moral figures of history … Christ, Lincoln, Gandhi … that’s what they were really involved in, the cleansing of the world through the absorption of karmic garbage. They didn’t pass it on.

“Christ, Lincoln, Gandhi ... that’s what they were really involved in, the cleansing of the world through the absorption of karmic garbage. They didn’t pass it on.”