Re: MD Pirsig's conception of ritual

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Fri Feb 14 2003 - 07:01:28 GMT

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    Dear Sam,

    You renew 8 Feb 2003 12:53:03 -0000 your 9 Dec 2002 19:18:13 -0000 request:
    'What I would propose is ... that we first have a few tries at agreeing on
    what Pirsig is saying. ... If we can then either agree (or agree to
    disagree) about what Pirsig has to say, it would ^then^ be good to go
    further and examine our own perspectives, and how they agree with or differ
    from Pirsig's, at which point I'll take you up on the question of rephrasing
    theology in MoQish and other matters of ritual concern. I think Wim will be
    more interested in that second stage.'

    I replied 13 Dec 2002 23:27:49 +0100 (illustrated with quotes from 'Lila'
    ch. 30):
    'What Pirsig writes about (religious) rituals refers primarily to their role
    in giving birth to the intellectual level ...
    for those on the brink of participating in the intellectual level,
    (religious) rituals point to intellectual truths and beyond, to Dynamic
    Quality itself.'

    You 9 Feb 2003 09:41:12 -0000 (re-)summarize what Pirsig says about ritual
    in ch. 30:
    '1. Ritual is the static latch of the social level; it functions to preserve
    dynamic breakthroughs. As with all static latches there is the potential for
    ritual to inhibit further dynamic developments.
    2. Ritual preserves a particular society in existence. It contains and
    reproduces those patterns of behavior (including but not limited to
    washing, putting up a house, hunting, eating and song or dance rituals
    relating to "religion") which maintain that society above the biological
    level, and which give that society its own identity. This has maintained
    human societies in existence for at least tens of thousands of years.
    3. Freedom from social level static patterns comes from mastery of those
    patterns (i.e. "putting them to sleep"), not from replacing one static set
    with another static set.
    4. Ritual is the parent of the intellectual level. Intellectual principles
    are derived from ritual practices.
    5. Religious rituals, properly understood, enable socially pattern-dominated
    people to see Dynamic Quality.'

    I agree that ritual (according to Pirsig)
    1) is A static latch of the social level (not THE static latch) and
    same static latch may be found in different societies),
    3) that putting social patterns of values to sleep is A way of attaining
    freedom from them (presumably an Eastern way), not THE way of doing so,
    4) that ritual is ALSO A STATIC LATCH of the intellectual level and MAY in
    that sense be A parent of the intellectual level (SOME intellectual
    principles are derived from ritual practices) and
    5) that religious rituals are A WAY of enabling 'socially pattern-dominated
    people' to see Dynamic Quality.

    I agree with Pirsig, except for the 'socially pattern-dominated people'. I
    would formulate that as 'people, to the extent that they participated in
    social patterns of value'.

    With friendly greetings,


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