28+ quotes from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Quotes from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig ·  442 pages

Rating: (164.3K votes)


“The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“You look at where you're going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. ”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“Sometimes it's a little better to travel than to arrive”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“Is it hard?'
Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“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, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. ”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“If someone's ungrateful and you tell him he's ungrateful, okay, you've called him a name. You haven't solved anything.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The law of gravity and gravity itself did not exist before Isaac Newton." ...and what that means is that that law of gravity exists nowhere except in people's heads! It 's a ghost!"
Mind has no matter or energy but they can't escape its predominance over everything they do. Logic exists in the mind. numbers exist only in the mind. I don't get upset when scientists say that ghosts exist in the mind. it's that only that gets me. science is only in your mind too, it's just that that doesn't make it bad. or ghosts either."
Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Law of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts."
...we see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“Anxiety, the next gumption trap, is sort of the opposite of ego. You're so sure you'll do everything wrong you're afraid to do anything at all. Often this, rather than "laziness" is the real reason you find it hard to get started”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that’s out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He’s likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he’s tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what’s ahead even when he knows what’s ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, he’s unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then *it* will be “here”. What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it *is* all around him. Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“I argued that physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort doesn't mean much.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“(What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness).Familiarity can blind you too.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good—
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


“The pencil is mightier than the pen.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, quote from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


About the author

Robert M. Pirsig
Born place: in Minneapolis, MN, The United States
Born date September 6, 1928
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