Robert M Pirsig died last Monday – An obituary to an icon of my generation.

I don’t know how many of you would have read or heard about “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M Pirsig, but the book was a kind of cultural anthem for youth of post hippie generation of ’70s.

Was this book about a cross country motorcycle road trip Robert, author, took with Chris, his son, or was it about technology and its relationship with men, culture, roots or insanity. But one thing was very clear (I recall author also pointed this out in his forward) that the book was in no way associated with Zen Buddhism and was also not very factual on motorcycle maintenance either.

After so many years I’m still haunted by the conversation that took place between father and the son at one of their stop somewhere in Montana. The conversation that follows will give you enough clues on what this book was all about that made the author, a small time technical writer at a mofussil town in USA, a publishing phenomenon for more than two decades.

Chris asks “Do you believe in ghosts?”
“No,” Robert says,
“Why not?” Chris asks.
“Because they are un-sci-en-ti-fic.” is Robert’s answer.

“They contain no matter,” Robert continue, “and have no energy and therefore, according to the laws of science, do not exist except in people’s minds.”

“Of course,” Robert add, “the laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people’s minds. It’s best to be completely scientific about the whole thing and refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of science. That way you’re safe. That doesn’t leave you very much to believe in, but that’s scientific too.”

How true. We continue to believe that 1+1=2 but neither the digits or the formula or the outcome contains no energy and therefore unscientific except in peoples’ mind.



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