Relation Between Zen Buddhist and Motorcycle Maintenance

Do you know in his now classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig brings us a literary chautauqua, a novel that is meant to both entertain and edify. It scores high on both counts.

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974,
transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. This 25th Anniversary Quill Edition features a new introduction by the author; important typographical changes; and a Reader's Guide that includes discussion topics, an interview with the author, and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

Buddhism has spread throughout the world, marked by presence of various Buddhist sites like Buddhanet (from Australia), Berita Buddhis (from Indonesia), Access to Insight, etc. And there are different traditions in Buddhism , including Zen Buddhism.

In this Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Prisig takes us on the same philosophical journey travelled by many big thinkers in philosophy during the second half of the twentieth century. The journey is a trip into the cracks in modern Western epistemology, an espitemology which was the foundation of modern Western confidence and certainty in things such as progress and perfection of science.

Robert Pirsig tries to define quality and embarks on a long journey that temporarily costs him his sanity. He flashes back on his story during a cross-country motorcycle trip with his young son who is also beginning to show the early signs of mental illness.

Pirsig dedicates his life to defining quality and discovering its origin. As an English professor, he assigns his students to write a paper defining quality. He discovers that students that are only interested in a passing grade write one way, while students in it for the education have a totally different approach. Somewhere along the way his personality begins to shift and he becomes Phaedrus, his other self.

His journey leads him to study Greek philosophy at Chicago University. There's a climatic showdown with a professor at the school. At that point Pirsig/Phaedrus breaks from reality, flips his lid, and does his best Howard Hughes impression. He locks himself in a room for months enduring his own filth. His family finally has him committed to an asylum where he wakes up one day to find his personality of Robert Pirsig has returned.

Towards the end of the motorcycle trip he feels Phaedrus returning to overpower him. He contemplates sending his son home on a bus, selling his bike, and getting committed again.

This is not a captivating work of fiction or an unaltered history of Pirsig's life; he himself has frequently challenged its classification as fiction or nonfiction (and if you've read the book you'll understand how amusing that really is). What it is is a mindblowing philosophical novel, perfect in particular for those who are interested in Jacques Derrida's idea of deconstruction.

This book tells the story of a few people riding their bikes across the West of the United States, but it is not really a book about travel. But then again it is. Travel toward the center of our own self. It is a complex book. To be read in sequence with Zen and the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel.The main point of the book is that happiness (or "quality") can be achieved by focussing on and finding beauty in whatever one is doing at any one moment while keeping a cool head on the way forward. Even listening to the unusual noise of a defective motorbike and looking for a fix can yield unexpected satisfaction. At the same time, fixing the broken bike requires scientific, rational knowledge, thinking.