“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is about the journey of a father and son across the United states, and along the way he presents his son with several philosophical perspectives and life lessons. One idea that Pirsig presents to his son is the idea of perspective. He says, “we take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.” Perspective is how one views things and their outlook on life. Perspective reminds us what’s important and what’s not and also helps us not worry about the small things in life but look at the bigger picture. Based off of Pirsig’s quote, one should not fall into a mindless routine because that limits the amount of knowledge that can be gained, whether a new scientific discovery or how to fix a pen. In the quote the sand represents all the knowledge and if you don’t add more sand into your handful then you are limiting yourself from gaining more knowledge. Even walking to work/ school or going to a party by yourself and meeting new people adds another grain of sand in that handful and expands your perspective. Perspective is also present in art. Depending on how the artist feels and views things, it will contribute to the painting and the final outcome. For example, when Picasso’s best friend committed suicide and his seven year old sister died, he had a blue period. In this time all his paintings were painted in shades of blue and blue-greens. The blue represented his emotional turmoil from the death of close people. All in all, perspective organizes issues and helps establish which problems are worth worrying about and which are not.
Another idea presented in Pirsig’s book is the idea of empathy. He states, “He was insane. And when you look directly at an insane man all you see is a reflection of your own knowledge that he is insane, which is not to see him at all. To see him you must see what he saw and when you were trying to see the vision of an insane man, an oblique route is the only way to come at it. otherwise your own opinions block the way.” We as humans know of a savage nature that does not recognize any type of boundary and always results in the pain of others, known as cruelty. In today’s world, selfishness and negligence towards others are growing day by day and promote the growth of this savage nature. Based off of Pirsig’s quote, the importance of empathy is to truly understand a person and their view on different aspects of life rather than judging them based off of things that you’ve heard or things you’ve seen. If one doesn’t understand a person truly, they will only judge based off of their personal knowledge and opinions. Racism is a prime example of having no empathy. Due to the existence of stereotypes, people always associate an individual with their race, ethnicity, or religion. They don’t bother to know the person and understand their beliefs before hurting them whether by means of violence or harsh words. I believe that everyone at least once in their life has associated a stereotype, whether good or bad, to someone because it has become human nature. As a Muslim, sadly, I have done it and had been very wrong, and have also experienced it, multiple times.
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