Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An Inquiry into Values.”

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called yourself.”

One more completely misrepresented book in our world. This book is typically described as a “travel book”, meaning that it contains a travel description, which it is anything but. This is, au contraire, a philosophical treatise explaining the intellectual path to the enlightenment and the state of human “grown-up”. And as the first quote rightly sums it up, the book is about working on yourself and not about motorcycles.

Pirsig claims that he took the name Phaedrus accidentally, meaning to take the Greek word for “wolf” but ending with “bright” by accident. With all due respect, I don’t believe in accidents. “Phaedrus” stands for “enlightened” and that is who he is. The book contains interesting allegories that explain well how the human awareness comes to existence, how we perceive the world, and how we do it all wrong.

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.

The book has a lot in common with other philosophical and mystical books in that it also describes the path to the enlightenment that a person must take. The path that results in discarding of ego, discarding the very idea of who you are and unlearning everything you learned to start understanding the world.

He wanted to free himself from his own image. He wanted to destroy it because the ghost was what he was and he wanted to be free from the bondage of his own identity. In a strange way, this freedom was achived.

And all of the wisdom is described in a very natural (for our culture) “scientific” language that rings true to the ears of the modern man. The examples are everyday things that one can easily relate to and analogies have true meaning for the man of today. This scores a lot of points when compared to somewhat cryptic Eastern books or works of Carlos Castaneda.

One of the important things that the book mentions is a clear distinction between the glorified self-interest and the true growing-up, the true desire of enlightenment. That self-glorification is the disaster of the today’s world.

Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in a disaster. […] When you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you

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Jed McKenna – “Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damnedest Thing”

You know how this famous saying in oriental spiritual philosophy goes, that when a student is ready, the teacher arrives? I think that this saying is entirely true. When the student is ready, the teacher always arrives. Just don’t be literal about it, the teacher does not have to arrive in the shape of a wise old man with a white beard. What arrives really is the knowledge that you are ready for. And it may arrive as a conversation on a plane, a movie, a new acquaintance, or a book.

This book is great. I feel like reading my own thoughts but well organized and neatly put together. It’s a great book and gives this necessary kick to face the reality. Only I would not recommend it. And I don’t. Usually, when I read a great book, I run around advising everyone and their dog to read it. Not this time, though. Even trying to discuss the ideas in this book with people who read it proves difficult, not to mention trying to impose it on someone who is not interested in serious business of demolishing self. So, I do not recommend it. You will find it when you are ready for it. Or you will find something else. It does not matter. This book is not entertainment, it has to be taken literally, just like the books of Castaneda are. So, don’t. Unless you are fed up with the world as it is and want to look for the truth.

If you do, then this book helps a lot to organize your own thoughts and it tells you what you needed to hear all along: forget about external knowledge, you have work to do, work on yourself, so go and do it.… -->

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