“Weapons may have decorations on them to enhance the spirit of the warrior but they should primarily be built for durability.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Robert Pirsig: Rest in Abundant Peace


Robert Pirsig has departed. He was and continues to be a grand pillar in my consciousness. Though I have very little patience for academic philosophy, I do consider Pirsig a philosopher, a grand phiilosopher of our time . Grand as the myths that society seems to (mistakenly!?) assign to famous Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle (which he challenged and pointed at as culprits of much of our modern day suffering). His philosophy felt driven by a passionate need to make sense of an appearingly senseless world. His hunger felt like that of a starving person, not of a privileged theoreticist. He continually transforms my perception of a deteriorating world (which seems to evident at this time) to a world that is stubbornly moving towards better.

His first and well known book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I have an interactive summary of it, maybe its time to release that). I have dedicated a section of this site to his second, lesser known (yet in my opinion more vital) book Lila: yetAn Inquiry into Morals.

Almost every day, as I look out at the world, as I read about other people’s interpretations of it, I wish that Pirsig was a part of the conversation. I feel that so many efforts by so many people to navigate the troubled waters of our times could be richly informed by Pirsig’s reflections. I believe his presence will continue to shimmer in the peripheral vision of human consciousness from where his field will continue to subtly inform us. I am pleasure whenever I see echoes of his discoveries manifesting in others ideas and realizations.

Though he is no longer in body, I feel him vitally present. The best words I can find to describe the experience of his departure come from his own writing. But not from either of his books, rather from an afterword added to a later edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it Pirsig talks about the death of his son Chris who was stabbed to death on the streets of San Francisco. I did not want to change the original and so I invite you to hold “Robert” in your heart when you read “Chris”:

“Chris is dead … Where did Chris go? … What was it I was so attached to? .. Do real things just disappear like that? … What is the ‘he’ that is gone? … What had to be seen was that the Chris that I missed so badly was not an object but a pattern, and that although the pattern included the flesh and blood of Chris, that was not all there was to it … Now, Chris’s body, which was a part of that larger pattern, was gone. But the larger pattern remained. A huge hole had been torn out of the center ot if, and that was what caused all the heart-ache … If you take that part of the pattern that is not the flesh of Chris and call if the “spirit” of Chris or the “ghost” of Chris, they you can say without further translation that the spirit or ghost of Chris is looking for a new body to enter … it was not many months later that my wife conceived, unexpectedly.”

Robert Pirsig … your larger pattern remains … may you rest in abundant peace.

I am also holding gratitude in my heart for James Landis (with whom I corresponded briefly some years ago) the publisher who chose to support Pirsig’s work.



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