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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Meditation

… Another mystery in the treatment of the insane … is the value of peace and quiet and isolation … Leave them alone … Ironically the one thing that the mental hospitals and doctors do best is the one thing they never take credit for … They know it works, but there’s no way of justifying that because the whole cultural set they have to operate in says that doing nothing is the same as doing something wrong … what sometimes occurs in an insane asylum but occurs deliberately in a mystic retreat is a natural human process called dhyana in Sanskrit. In our culture … ambiguously called ‘meditation’.

Just as mystics traditionally seek monasteries and ashrams … so are the insane treated by isolation in places of relative calm and austerity and silence. The Western treatment of dhyana is a beautiful example of how the static patterns of a culture can make something not exist … People in this culture are hypnotized into thinking they do not meditate when in fact they do … boats … seaside cottages … lake cabins … hiking trails … golf courses … It’s the need for dhyana that is behind all these. Vacations too … how perfectly named that is … an emptying out…of all the static clutter…settling into an undefined sort of tranquility.

“Just as mystics traditionally seek monasteries and ashrams ... so are the insane treated by isolation in places of relative calm and austerity and silence.”