Triodíti's Journal

A Resource for Seekers and Students of Magic, Esoterica & Philosophy

Quality and Its Importance in Magic

    The following is an excerpt from Robert M. Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, pgs. 304-306.  In the chapter this passage is taken from, he discusses “value traps” and their effects.  This is a particularly relevant passage as it relates to the processes of spell casting and of tracking down Karmic causes.  Note that “motorcycle” and "machine" can also be read as “spell” or “psychic attack” or whatever it is you’re dealing with.

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     “[…] Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity.  This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to previous values.  In motorcycle maintenance, you must rediscover what do you as you go.  Rigid values make this impossible.

       The typical situation is that the motorcycle doesn’t work.  The facts are there but you don’t see them.  You’re looking right at them, but they don’t yet have enough value. […] Quality, value, creates the subjects and objects of the world.  The facts do not exist until value has created them.  If your values are rigid you can’t really learn new facts.

      This often shows up in premature diagnosis, when you’re sure you know what the trouble is, and then when it isn’t, you’re stuck.  Then you’ve got to find some new clues, but before you can find them you’ve got to clear your head of old opinions.  If you’re plagued with value rigidity you can fail to see the real answer even when it’s staring you right in the face because you can’t see the new answer’s importance.

      The birth of a new fact is […] dualistically called a ‘discovery’ because of the presumption that it has an existence independent of anyone’s awareness of it.  When it comes along, it always has, at first, a low value.  Then, dependent on the value-looseness of the observer and the potential quality of the fact, its value increases, either slowly or rapidly, or the value wanes and the fact disappears.

      The overwhelming majority of facts, the sights and sounds that are around us every second and the relationships among them and everything in our memory—these have no Quality, in fact a negative quality.  If they were all present at once our consciousness would be so jammed with meaningless data we couldn’t think or act.  So we preselect [itals mine] on the basis of Quality, or, […] the track of Quality preselects what data we’re going to be conscious of, and it makes this selection in such a way as to best harmonize what we are with what we are becoming.

     What you have to do, if you get caught in this gumption [ego] trap of value rigidity, is slow down—you’re going to have to slow down anyway whether you want to or not—but slow down deliberately and go over ground that you’ve been over before to see if the things you thought were important were really important and to…well…just stare at the machine.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Just live with it for a while.  Watch it the way you watch a line when fishing and before long, as sure as you live, you’ll get a little nibble, a little fact asking in a timid, humble way if you’re interested in it.  That’s the way the world keeps on happening.  Be interested in it.

      At first try to understand this new fact not so much in terms of your big problem as for its own sake.  That problem may not be as big as you think it is.  And that fact may not be as small as you think it is.  It may not be the fact you want but at least you should be very sure of that before you send the fact away.  Often before you send it away you will discover it has friends who are right next to it and are watching to see what your response is.  Among the friends may be the exact fact you are looking for.

    After a while you may find that the nibbles you get are more interesting than your original purpose of fixing the machine.  When that happens, you’ve reached a kind of point of arrival. Then you’re no longer strictly a motorcycle mechanic, you’re also a motorcycle scientist, and you’ve completely conquered the gumption [ego] trap of value rigidity.”