Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Numinous and Inner Peace -or- Quality of Life

As an adolescent, I rode a friend's mini bike a few times, and once I rode with a high school friend on his Honda 750. I myself don't ride, perhaps that's in part, because a student that I went to High school with, died a few minutes after I said Hi to him in the school parking lot. 

Every year for the last ten years, I have gone down to the Friday the 13th festival, which if it takes place in the summer months has tens of thousands of bikers come to Port Dover, Ontario to party and enjoy the festivities. I'm in Dover doing a fundraiser for an organization I belong to, many of whom are also bikers. 

As a University student, I read the popular philosophy book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". It's a fascinating read. While not quite similar to the Hollywood dream factories "Easy Rider", Pirzig narrates a Socratic story, one that provides insight into his personal journey of philosophical soul searching. Part of this philosophical journey can be viewed as one that is in search of what Rudolf Otto called the "numinous", also known as the limitless narcissism of Freud's "oceanic feeling".

The story actually has two philosophical faces, with two different viewpoints, one that is informed by the rational and logical, and the other side by mysticism such as Zen. The goal of "motorcycle maintenance" is "inner peace" of mind and body. Almost more importantly Pirsig attempts to show the reader, that technology, the rational and the mystical can all coexist harmoniously. By harmonizing mind, body, machine and romance, a higher quality of life and happiness can be achieved. 

Can we find motorcycles in our dreams? The answer is yes, here then are a few (the interpretations follow); 

Tina, 20 

My husband recently bought a motorcycle, he is stationed across the country and I am in California. I constantly have dreams that in my 8th month of pregnancy, he has an accident and dies. 

John, 13 

I dream a raffle draw and randomly selects the number and luckily the number that selected is number 3 and that's my sister's number, so she won a motorcycle and we did a hi 5. 

Jenny, 30 

It's daytime, early afternoon, it's sunny and everything seems normal.  I'm with a group of people, I know them in dream but not in reality. We're standing in a large parking lot near a major street, Dale Mabry Hwy.  Out of no where a stranger rides up on a futuristic type of vehicle.  Kind of like a motorcycle, but it hovers about 2 feet off the ground.  I ask him if I can go for a ride and he says sure.  He takes me for a ride and it's so fun, I can feel the wind rushing by and my cheeks hurt from smiling.  When the ride is over I get off the vehicle and I'm telling all the people that they have to try this, it's great.  

Mr Hagen's Reply:  The Future of Motorcycle Maintenance -or- Zen, The Ride 

The first dream (Tina) is surrounded by the fear of injury or death of her husband and being left holding the bag (the unborn child). These are feelings of fear, which appear driven by insecurity and separation anxieties. Perhaps they are not completely unfounded. 

The second dream (John) is a wish to have a bike. Maybe one day his dream will come true. 

The final dream from Jenny who evidently lives in Tampa, Florida ("Dale Mabry Highway") it is like something that might have come out of a ride at Disney World, or the 2009 Star Trek film. In Star Trek, we see a boy who is driving a classic car is being pursued by a police officer on a hover-bike, cornered, the boy barely escapes going over a cliff. The classic car's fate is not so lucky. The officer asks the boy "What is your name?" The boy responds in James Bond like fashion; "My name is James Tiberius Kirk". 

While it may sound like science fiction or something that might have come out of Bond's and MI6 Q division, the creation of such toys as a hover-car (and hover-bike) found in such films as Blade Runner and Star Wars is apparently a work in-progress.                    

Perhaps on a final popular musical note about all three dreams and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" we can call on Bachman, Turner Overdrive to sing "Let it Ride", where the philosophical message seems to be clear.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.