Robert Pirsig wrote a book called Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. In this passage, the author, his son, Chris, and their friend, Sylvia, stopped their motorcycles to give themselves a rest. They are travelling around the United States.
“Do you believe in ghosts?” Chris asks.
“No”, I say.
“Because they are unscientific. They contain no matter and have no energy. According to the laws of science, they do not exist except in people’s minds.”
“One of the kids at YMCA − Young Men's Christian Association says he believes in ghosts”, the boy replies.
“What’s his name?” Sylvia says.
“Tom White Bear”.
Sylvia and I looked at each other.
“Oh, Indian!” she says.
“I was thinking of European ghosts”, I say.
“What’s the difference?”
I think a little and say, “Well, Indians sometimes have a different way of looking at things, which I’m not saying is completely wrong. Science isn’t part of the Indian tradition.”
Chris looks impatient, but I continue, “it’s completely natural to think that Europeans who believed in ghosts or Indians who believed in ghost were ignorant. If a person today talks about ghosts and spirits he is considered ignorant or maybe nutty”.
The boy nods affirmatively.
“In my opinion”, I continue. “The Indians and medieval men were not less intelligent than we are, but their context was completely different. In that context, ghosts are as real as the laws of physics and of logic… the number system… the law of gravity. These are ghosts. We believe in them, so they seem real.”
“So you believe in ghosts?” Chris asks.
“In that sense yes, I believe in ghosts.”