Monty Python and Zen, Again.
It’s 6:15am and we have a long ways to go today, almost all of it interstate. Heading to San Bernardino which is about 390 miles. If the winds aren’t too bad it should be okay. We’ll have to watch for places to get gasoline and ensure we hydrate enough so the body doesn’t get worn out and look like a prune. Prune bikers.
I hope to do some focused meditation on the mind today and a lot of it has to do with Zen. Not so much the religion, but instead the mental aspects of it; letting go of worry about the past or the future, forgiving others and treating all people with respect, compassion and loving-kindness. I need to cultivate awareness to enjoy the beauty of riding and to ensure my safety. And I want to cultivate mindfulness. Here are some things I’m thinking about:
Robert Pirsig wrote:
In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I also thought about a great scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
Executive #1: Item six on the agenda: “The Meaning of Life” Now uh, Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.
Executive #2: Yeah, I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren’t wearing enough hats. Two: . . . this “soul” does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
Executive #3: What was that about hats again?
But isn’t that the truth? Doesn’t everyday trivia distract us from spiritual matters?
Kierkegaard said: “We relate absolutely to the relative and only relatively to the absolute.”
Are we physical beings with a spiritual side or spiritual beings with a physical side?
Finally, Pirsig says that the only Zen we find at the mountaintop is the Zen we brought there. Does that mean the only Zen I find on the bike is the Zen I brought there?
I don’t think so. I’m going to find out.
Ride, Pray, Write
See you in California!