[MD] killing truth, again
daneglover at gmail.com
Sat Dec 1 23:27:34 PST 2012
On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 10:29 PM, david buchanan <dmbuchanan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Dan said:
> ... there is a difference between seeking zen enlightenment and the performance of art, be it motorcycle maintenance, music, philosophy, writing, painting, whathaveyou. Art always resides on a reference point. Take motorcycle maintenance... the artful mechanic does not master the needed skills to the point they are completely forgotten. If that happened, there would be no reference point. ...The skill sets cannot be forgotten though. Otherwise they will butcher the job. It would be like a drunk attempting to fine tune a motorcycle. The act of caring would be non-existent.
> dmb says:
> I see what you mean. But the problem here is really just the result from taking the meaning of "forgetting" too literally. The forgetting is presented in the context of extensive practice and mastery, right? So he's talking about it in the same way that we "forget" how to peddle and steer a bike. You've mastered it so that it requires no deliberate thought. You can just do it without thinking about it.
I believe the forgetting is presented in a context of zen
enlightenment, which is of course a matter of extensive practice and
mastery, sure. Check it out:
"For example, you would guess from the literature on Zen and its
insistence on discovering the "unwritten dharma" that it would be
intensely anti-ritualistic, since ritual is the "written dharma." But
that isn't the case. The Zen monk's daily life is nothing but one
ritual after another, hour after hour, day after day, all his life.
They don't tell him to shatter those static patterns to discover the
unwritten dharma. They want him to get those patterns perfect!
"The explanation for this contradiction is the belief that you do not
free yourself from static patterns by fighting them with other
contrary static patterns. That is sometimes called "bad karma chasing
its tail." You free yourself from static patterns by putting them to
sleep. That is, you master them with such proficiency that they become
an unconscious part of your nature. You get so used to them you
completely forget them and they are gone. There in the center of the
most monotonous boredom of static ritualistic patterns the Dynamic
freedom is found.
"Phaedrus saw nothing wrong with this ritualistic religion as long as
the rituals are seen as merely a static portrayal of Dynamic Quality,
a sign-post which allows socially pattern-dominated people to see
Dynamic Quality. The danger has always been that the rituals, the
static patterns, are mistaken for what they merely represent and are
allowed to destroy the Dynamic Quality they were originally intended
to preserve." [Lila]
See, he is using this example in the context of socially dominated
ritual practiced religiously rather than an intellectually dominated
endeavor like motorcycle maintenance or any artful practice. Yes, the
mechanic masters skills essential to the ideal of a perfect running
motorcycle, and yes, there comes a point when those skills become so
attuned to the bike that there is no separation between the subject
and the object. But there is always a reference point, a why if you
will, that guides the mechanic.
On the other hand, by following a prescribed set of rituals the zen
monk is seeking freedom from all thought, so in that context a literal
reading not only makes more sense but is really essential to the whole
notion of the practice they seek to master.
> This is why we can't take those lines about killing the intellectual pattens literally either. Pirsig is not advocating drunken butchery or emtpy-headed nihilism. Obviously. And so the more poetic interpretation makes tons of sense, where this forgetting and killing is about a certain kind of groovy proficiency, while the literal reading cuts against the grain of his thought and leads to really bad conclusions.
Yes, I agree with you here, and this is what I am on about as well. In
any rational working of art there is always that intellectual
reference point that guides the artist and their actions. Yet at the
same time zen monks take the killing of the intellect as a very real
and hoped for ideal in their quest for enlightenment. And this is not
in any sense empty-headed nihilism, as you say. In obtaining a
quieting of the mind the world manifests itself in all its naked
The second one begins thinking, however, the pure experience of
Quality is covered once again in a veneer of desire. It might even be
likened to the stuckness a mechanic might experience when the head of
a bolt shears off or the threads become stripped out. Suddenly real
thought is needed... a survey of all possible solutions, a reference
of the motorcycle manual might even be in order. The truly artful
mechanic knows that when all else fails it is better to walk away. The
solution will present itself in time.
> I don't want to equate this with enlightenment, exactly, but we can see how at-one-ment and just sitting and just fixing can all be equated or at least related.
> "Phædrus felt that at the moment of pure Quality perception, or not even perception, at the moment of pure Quality, there is no subject and there is no object. There is only a sense of Quality that produces a later awareness of subjects and objects. At the moment of pure quality, subject and object are identical. This is the tat tvam asi truth of the Upanishads, but it's also reflected in modern street argot. ``Getting with it,'' ``digging it,'' ``grooving on it'' are all slang reflections of this identity. It is this identity that is the basis of craftsmanship in all the technical arts." ZAMM 290-1
Yes, a perfect quote here. Phaedrus nails it exactly. We might well
interject Dynamic Quality, or pre-intellectual awareness, in place of
Quality in keeping with MOQ terms. It is sort of like discovering what
one was meant to do... our face before we were born, so to speak. It
is when we become so attuned to our work, our art, our life, that we
no longer experience a sense of doing. Rather, what is done does
itself in a very real way. The self falls away, the sense of time
ceases, and even the object of our desires ceases to be a thing
separate and apart the way we normally think of it as being. We move
and we act but our movements and actions are no longer ours.
Always a pleasure, Dave. Thank you.
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