Ultimately nothing exists. Science thinks matter ultimately exists - but experience shows that it doesn't. And ideas - what are they beyond thoughts about experience? What are ideas exacly? What are words - what is anything?

So try to catch that essence of the universe and it seems like you can't do it. In fact experience shows the ultimate essence of the universe is both infinitely describable, yet indescribable!

The Tao Te Ching says it best..

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” - Lao Tzu

But at the end of the day we're alive and we can't help but speak, define and create things. Especially as Lao Tzu demonstrates; about the ultimate essence of the universe. That's why it's good instead to make statements such as 'Quality exists and is the ultimate source of everything', because we can't help but speak and so it's best if we define things as best we can.

Yes, it's true that we can deny that Quality exists and deny that it's something we know before we speak about or define, and many do - but this is dishonest. You can't get out of bed in the morning without deciding that it's better to do so.

And so instead, if we're being honest; it's best that everything we do and say is in alignment with this ultimate essence of the universe.

But how do we best do this? How do we best experience and become intimately acquainted with this ultimately indescribable essence of the universe? How best do we make it an intrinsic part of our every day lives and so live in accordance with it?

To answer that I point to Zazen and the instructional video above.

By dramatically simplifying our actions to the point where we 'just sit' we are able to experience this essence. With no distractions and no thoughts to hide what is right in front of us all the time in each and every moment - we can experience and become acquainted with what Zen calls the 'original self' and the Metaphysics of Quality ultimately calls 'Dynamic Quality'.

But to sit for this reason, or for any of the increasing number of reasons why meditation is good for you also is actually wrong. Because if I sit for these or any reason I'm not 'just sitting' but actively doing something for a reason..

And this is why the best answer to why I sit is silence, the statement that 'Zazen is useless', and the daily ding of a meditation bell.


Some great news for the week is that there looks to be a great Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance documentary in the works. See above a clip of an interview with David Buchanan who I've spoken with many times online over the years.

David has an unparalleled understanding of the Metaphysics of Quality - particularly around how it relates to the philosophical tradition of american pragmatism. I'm sure with his involvement (no matter how small) the quality of this documentary will be greatly increased!

I believe the creators are currently looking for funding which you can do whilst they travel the route of the book - here.

Best of luck to them and hopefully this will kick off some well needed - renewed interest in Pirsig's original book.

There's a great short documentary on the uniquely strong value the University of Chicago places on the intellectual value of free speech. And before I go on - there's actually much crossover here with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The university was attended by the author Robert Pirsig where he had an infamous showdown with the Chair of the Committee on Analysis of Ideas and Study of Methods. And it was the universities president Robert Maynard Hutchins who was a close colleague of the Chair and who had reformed the university into a mirror of what Pirsig uniqely terms in ZMM 'Aristotilean Quality'. But as also mentioned in the book; this reform led to a clash against those who wanted a more value-free 'scientific' education, as well as an eventual clash with Pirsig who didn't agree with the low quality Aristotilean definition of Quality..

Phædrus didn't know quite what to make of this clash. But it certainly seemed to be close to the area he wished to work in. He also felt that no values can be fixed but that this is no reason why values should be ignored or that values do not exist as reality. He also felt antagonistic to the Aristotelian tradition as a definer of values, but he didn't feel this tradition should be left unreckoned with. The answer to all this was somehow deeply enmeshed in it and he wanted to know more.

Robert Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

And in along the same lines in the movie..

'Hutchins' envisaged something like a military academy for the mind. One grounded in a demanding core curriculum.'

Rob Montz - 'Silence U Pt. 3: Can the University of Chicago solve the campus free speech crisis?'

Despite a very clear disagreement about the metaphysical place of Quality - it's clear however, that the Metaphysics of Quality (MOQ) supports the University of Chicago's latest stand for free speech discussed in the documentary. As always - we can use the language of the MOQ to break down the problem into its core evolutionary components and beautifully show why it's moral..

Firstly, the MOQ agrees that students around the world shouldn't need to be shielded from certain ideas they find painful or confronting. Such thinking comes from one of biological suffering where society morally supports and comforts those in pain. But ideas are intellectual, not biological, and so it's moral for our culture to allow a voice to ideas that are challenging to confront and this will eventually change our ideas for the better.

'Those species that don't suffer don't survive. Suffering is the negative face of the Quality that drives the whole process. All these battles between patterns of evolution go on within suffering individuals.. And Lila's battle is everybody's battle, you know?'

Robert Pirsig - Lila

And secondly, the MOQ also agrees that students shouldn't demand universities refuse to 'give a platform' to ideas they disagree with. Whilst universities and colleges are cultural institutions, they are much more than this and seeing them as exclusively cultural, is to undercut the intellectual values they are set up to protect and preserve. In other words - it is true that who they give a platform to is in some way a cultural statement, however few cultural statements could be better than for an intellectual forum to actively demonstrate the intellectual value of free speach. Giving a voice to those ideas on the periphery or in opposition to those they agree with is just such an intellectual demonstration.

Thirdly, if they are concerned about the strength of certain bad ideas to take hold within the culture, then it's possible they have not appropriately confronted the issues themselves or rightly asked that of others. Which indeed according to the MOQ is the intellectually moral, and perhaps socially difficult thing to do.

And so finally, in this battle for free speech - in all cases it's clearly between those who are seeing things through a social lens at the expense of intellectual morality. Of course equipped with the Metaphysics of Quality - students could avoid grave errors in logic such as this and be far more likely to choose those ideas that are the best. But until that point, the MOQ still uniqely and rightly calls those seeing things through the social lens as immoral and acting against the intellectual quality of evolution and what's right.

If there was anything in particular that 'primed' me to understand Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila aside from being raised the thoughtful, caring person I am. It would be a movie called 'Fight Club'.

For me, watching as a youthful Westerner - the ideas of Chuck Palahniuk were a revelation. Here was the idea that rather than finding freedom by running away from something, it could be found right here in front you.

Such thinking is supported by the MOQ and shown to be one of the two types of freedom discussed in the book Lila. That is; the freedom to be found running away from something which we're commonly used to, and the less commonly known freedom found by working through the pain of something right in front of you.

This was a freedom of the East which I knew little about - and now that I practice Zazen - still know nothing about it! :-)

"In the West progress seems to proceed by a series of spasms of alternating freedom and ritual. A revolution of freedom against old rituals produces a new order, which soon becomes another old ritual for the next generation to revolt against, on and on. In the Orient there are plenty of conflicts but historically this particular kind of conflict has not been as dominant. Phaedrus thought it was because dharma includes both static and Dynamic Quality without contradiction."

Robert Pirsig - Lila.

Just saw a documentary on Netflix and there were quite a few things closely aligned with the Metaphysics of Quality. First and foremost - the underlying message I took away was 'Quality over quantity'. But I may just be projecting. Check it out and tell me what you think.

"We've been told we need those things by our society. It's been this slow little thing that has just kind of trickled in and suddenly becomes the thing you do.

It really does come down to a value based ideal. You want to do the most amount of good, and the most amount of value, with exactly what you need. Having too little is not going to give you that, and having too much is not going to give you that. Having that balance, having enough, that's what you're looking for."

Patrick Rhone in Minimalism : A Documentary About the Important Things