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Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna

. . . I was on unknown ground (Galland 102-103).

Although Pirsig marks his journey continuously with meditations on Western philosophers, the heart of his book is the concept of Quality, which turns out to be a thoroughly mystical and Eastern-oriented phenomenon. Pirsig sees philosophy not as a willful act of the consciousness alone, but a more natural event which flows from the unconscious: : "He knew he had reached some kind of culmination of thought he had been unconsciously striving for over a long period of time" (Pirsig 215).

Again and again in both books we find references to the creative nature of the spiritual journey, the importance of spontaneity and freedom. For example, Pirsig looks at the instructions which comes with a machine and describe the way to put it together:

These . . . instructions begin and end exclusively with the machine. But the kind of approach I'm thinking about doesn't cut it off so narrowly. What's really angering about instructions of this sort is that they imply there's only one way to put this [machine] together---their way. And that presumption wipes out all the creativity. Actually, there are hundreds of ways to put the [machine] together. . . . [Sticking to the instructions,] you lose feeling for the work. . . . And it's very unlikely that they've told you the best way (Pirsig 147).

This passage can be seen as a description of the spiritual journey itself. One loses one's "feeling" for the journey if one follows the "instructions" set down by others. Those instructions may apply to the one who wrote them, or they may apply to the one who gave them to the one who wrote them, but they do not necessarily apply to the one who is reading them. The spiritual journey is the journey of the individual who uses his or her intuition to decide what is true and important.

Galland seems to be slightly more reverential toward spiritual thinkers than Pirsig. She is less analytical and more immedia...

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