Thursday, December 4, 2008


In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig wrote something to the effect that the Buddha can be found in the workings of a motorcycle as surely as on the mountaintop.

By the same logic, is the Buddha present in the guts of my dvd player? Can the Buddha be found in a cluster bomb? In a land mine?

Is the skyscraper as natural as the beehive?

The guts of my dvd player are unlovely, but I've seen the guts of deer spread out on the highway, and they are not particularly lovely, either.

What makes something holy? Is this a quantum question, the answer residing as much in the observer as in the thing observed?

What does it mean to be broken? Are we broken? Are we in need of redemption? And why does salvation, if needed, come not in this life -- where it might actually be useful -- but only after one is dead? Of what use is that?

We have a new dvd player. The old one is now salvage. Copper wire, resistors, circuit boards. Ashes to ashes.


  1. hi p.s.!

    What if the essence of Buddha was the connecting force/material of all animate and non-animate things?

    Wouldn't that be interesting--the essence of detachment to be found in the essence of attachment?

    Just a weird thought to your provocative question!

    Thanks for always showing up...

  2. Beth, what a compelling question -- weird is good! I'm not even sure I agree with Pirsig's statement about the motorcycle, but it's been troubling my mind for 20 years or more, and it always leads me to more questions. Thanks for visiting!

  3. I found ZAMM a very troubling book in general. And it has a permanent place on my bookshelf. :p

    The cluster bomb/buddha comment reminds me of Kip in The English Patient.

    Yes, I think we are broken and in need of mending or remaking. It's of use after death if life continues after death. Maybe this life will turn out to be the means of transformation itself. I'm reminding myself now, of something C.S. Lewis said: "We will be remade." His book The Great Divorce is a very interesting fictional conjecturing about the choice to move toward or away from the Source. Even in Buddhism where All is Source, there is the notion that we can be out of harmony with it.

    I think it's interesting that the word you used to describe the death of your dvd player -- and you meant garbage, I think? -- also means salvation. :)

    You always get me thinking, and leave me with something to carry around and chew on -- I love the places your mind goes.


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