How to Get Un-Stuck (from Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

How to Get Un-Stuck (from Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Although this book by Robert M. Persig hasn’t been the easiest to get through, I had made a commitment during the Mercury Retrograde to return to it and finish it. The second time around, it is better. I think I found a gem in dealing with Stuckness, which I feel now and learning how to help people get un-stuck was big part of my training at Process Therapy Institute. By the way, I hope to thank my deceased brother Mike since I found this book while cleaning out his stuff several years ago and had taken the book to read. Jump to the bottom to see the 12-step process to get Un-Stuck!

In addition to stuckness, it also talks about the problem with technology. The solutions to both are similar, but I have the elbow room for stuckness today. I often quote verbatim since this section, I believe, offers a pretty simple process to get unstuck. I am excited to try it. Starting on page 252,…

The problem starts with duality: object-subject and thinking they are separate. A funny bit about object-subject. For the longest time, I always had to think twice about what subjective and objective meant, never putting two and two together that it could be related to subject and object of a sentence. No wonder my vocabulary is challenged. Anyway, we run into trouble with duality thinking. The book talks about mental and physical stuckness.

Traditional (Classical) scientific experiments don’t work when one is stuck. I take this as traditional methods such as linear, rational, common sense, thoughts and solutions don’t necessarily work. Thus, it is important to examine traditional scientific methods, not the object of the problem itself.

The right facts are “passive” and “elusive”; there must be a ‘subliminal’ choice of facts we observe – Poincaré. Selecting the good facts from the bad ones are the basis of quality – difference between a good and bad practitioner. The book had talked about Quality. To get Quality, he has to care!

When traditional rationality divides the world into subjects and objects, it shuts out “Quality” and when you are really stuck, it’s Quality, not any subjects or objects, that tells you where you ought to go. By returning our attention to Quality, it is hoped that we can get technological work out of the non-caring subject-object dualism and back into craftsman like self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we’re stuck.

Classic Knowledge (CN) vs. Romantic Knowledge (RN):
CN is static, purposeless technology. Easy to fall in love with, especially here in Silicon Valley. Traditional knowledge is only the collective memory of where the “Leading edge” has been. RN purports the technology will never go anywhere without Quality taking us where we want to go. It’s the cutting edge of experience – “leading edge”. (At PTI, Don talked about 90% being, 10% doing. Again, hard to convince people in Silicon Valley to focus less on the doing).

P. 255 exact quote from two paragraphs: The past can’t remember the past. The future can’t generate the future. The cutting edge of this instant right “here and now” is always nothing less than the totality of everything there is.

Value, the leading edge of reality, is no longer an irrelevant offshoot of structure. Value is the predecessor of structure. (Don’t most say structure is the key… Learned this from http://joelorr.squarespace.com/structure-is-destiny-the-dande/where Dr. Joel Orr said Structure is the Destiny) It’s the preintellectual awareness that gives rise to it. Our structured reality is preselected on the basis of value, and really to understand structured reality requires an understanding of the value source from which it’s derived. (What I get from this is quality and value are related, possibly the same thing. Both are crucial in dealing with stuckness).

Reality isn’t static. Quality isn’t static, it’s dynamic. One’s understanding of their work, etc is changing minute to minute. More quoting: One doesn’t cling to old sticky ideas because one has an immediate rational basis for rejecting them. Reality isn’t static anymore. It’s not a set of ideas you have to either fight for or resign yourself to. It’s made up, in part, of ideas that are expected to grow as you grow, and as we all grow, century after century. … And when you really understand dynamic reality you never get stuck. It has forms but the forms are capable of change.

If you want to build something, subject-object knowledge isn’t enough – you have to have some feeling of the quality of the work. Not just intuition but something you can develop. His character in the book: Phaedrus said …of changing Quality as reality, a reality so omnipotent that whole govt’s or others must change to keep up with it. ( at PTI, we talked about how family members who change too much run the risk of growing too far apart from family and loved ones and have to keep this in mind if they want to stay connected. Also, a person in a system who grows will affect the system, the system will never be the same and the others will have to change to “keep up”.) People unanimously believe in Quality, deep down, possibly sub-consciously.

Stuckness is good; it is what Zen Buddhists seek: beginner’s mind, mind is empty and hollow, flexible mind. Being in the flow when working, playing, yoga, etc. This moment is not to be feared but cultivated. The solution to the problem often seems unimportant or small, but it’s the state of stuckness that allows it, in time, to assume its true importance. It seemed small because your previous rigid evaluation made it seem small.

The stuckness will eventually disappear, even though we’d like it to remain, the mind will naturally find solutions. The longer you’re stuck, the more you see the Quality-reality that gets you un-stuck every time. What really keeps you stuck is the running from the “stuckness” by looking for solutions.

Stuckness shouldn’t be avoided – it’s the psychic predecessor of all real understanding. An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an understanding of all Quality. It is why self-taught ” mechanics” are superior to institute-trained men who have learned how to handle everything except a new situation.

What objects you work with are less important – what’s important is what the object does and why it’s doing it. Quote: You will ask functional questions. Associated with your questions will be subliminal Quality discrimination identical to the Quality discrimination that led Poincaré to the Fuchsian equations. (He was disiplined, everday sitting at his desk looking for answers to what he was looking for but none came. One morning, he was doing something and the answer suddenly came to him. The next, he whipped the solution out in a few hours.)

What your actual solution is is “less important” as whether it has quality. (Lately, I tell people there are lot of solutions to making things improve, lot of diets, lots of exercise routines, lots of ways to reach one’s goals, etc) There can be multiple solutions to getting unstuck – one might find a completely new way that could make them millions…There is no predicting what’s on that quality track. (Pirsig used a 120 boxcar train example to describe technology and unless the train is on a ‘Quality‘ track, it is going nowhere) The solutions are all simple – after you have arrived at them. But they’re simple only when you know already what they are.

How to get un-Stuck – Summary:

  1. The problem starts with duality: object-subject and thinking they are separate.
  2. Traditional (Classical) scientific experiments don’t work when one is stuck.
  3. The right facts are “passive” and “elusive”; there must be a ‘subliminal’ choice of facts we observe – Poincaré. Selecting the good facts from the bad ones are the basis of quality – difference between a good and bad practitioner.
  4. By returning our attention to Quality, it is hoped that we can get technological work out of the non-caring subject-object dualism and back into craftsman like self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we’re stuck.
  5. Traditional knowledge is only the collective memory of where the “Leading edge” has been. Romantic Knowledge purports the technology will never go anywhere without Quality taking us where we want to go.
  6. Value, the leading edge of reality, is no longer an irrelevant offshoot of structure. Value is the predecessor of structure.
  7. Reality isn’t static. Quality isn’t static, it’s dynamic. And when you really understand dynamic reality you never get stuck.
  8. If you want to build something, subject-object knowledge isn’t enough – you have to have some feeling of the quality of the work. Not just intuition but something you can develop.
  9. This moment, stuckness, is not to be feared but cultivated. The solution to the problem often seems unimportant or small, but it’s the state of stuckness that allows it, in time, to assume its true importance.
  10. What really keeps you stuck is the running from the “stuckness” by looking for solutions.
  11. Stuckness is the psychic predecessor of all real understanding. An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an understanding of all Quality.
  12. What objects you work with are less important – what’s important is what the object does and why it’s doing it. You will ask functional questions. Associated with your questions will be subliminal Quality discrimination.


What your actual solution is is “less important” as whether it has quality. The solutions are all simple – after you have arrived at them. But they’re simple only when you know already what they are.

For a more scientific review of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, visit the following blog entry at site MythosLogos.org. The article is titled “Zen & the Art of Science: A Tribute to Robert Pirsig who died in 2017.

Tags: Zen and the Art of Making a Living, Dr. Joel Orr, Structure is Destiny: The Dandelion Paradox, Poincaré, Stuckness

Reference

As in most posts on Zentrepreneurial.com, italicization of words refers to the words of either Jiddu Krishnamurti or Albert Low.  The website writer’s words are in regular text.

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