I have to admit that it’s been a while since I read, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. To be honest I don’t recall finishing it but I do recall being confused. Was I confused because I didn’t know much about motorcycles or did the book cross my path too early on my journey to ‘zendom’? It was probably a combination of both.

Using the approach to motorcycle maintenance as a metaphor on how to approach life, the author, Robert Pirsig, surmises that it is our perspective that determines how we experience life. Filled with philosophical tidbits, the book’s message is as pertinent now as ever.


Pirsig outlines what he views as two opposing approaches to life, classical and romantic. The classical person searches for details and logic, and has an analytical approach to life. The romantic seeks a holistic viewpoint and, as the name suggests, has a romantic approach to life. The advice that Prisig and many other New Age or spiritual teachers have is to find the middle ground between the two and thus ‘achieve an inner peace of mind’.


Yin and Yang


There are several comparisons one may draw from the classical/romantic characteristics described by Pirsig. Right brain versus left brain, for example; Yin and Yang; and to venture further, the body and the soul as represented in the symbol of the Ouroboros. Just as none of these can exist one without the other, Pirsig determines that we cannot sacrifice the classical for the romantic and vice versa, and stresses the importance of bringing the two into harmony. I see this as the quintessential pursuit of balance in all that we do.


Yet with the advancement of technology, many of us tend to spend more time in an analytical state of mind. The challenge, more than ever, is to access the creative, intuitive mind. Unplugging from our devices and tapping into our creative mind allows new perspectives to be cultivated. From this expanded viewpoint comes a greater opportunity to find inner peace and along with it, a higher state of being.


Pay Attention


Pay “continual attention”, suggests Pirsig. I suppose it is in this way he hopes we spiritualise everyday life, by being in the moment, appreciating the now. Through the observance of the present moment we come to the mindful practice of living, a concept on which, I am sure, Pirsig and Thich Nhat Hanh, the revered Zen monk, would see eye to eye.


Pirsig suggests that it is our attitude towards life that determines how we approach it. As Einstein says, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


Pay attention to the miracles in life.


Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit a-roamingbodyworker.com

Karen Gay

A true global citizen, Karen has lived and travelled overseas for more than 20 years. Her current journey has led her down the rabbit hole. She's not sure she'll resurface. You can follow her on twitter.com/KRMG and facebook.com/a.roaming.bodyworker

Website: a-roamingbodyworker.com

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