John Beasley

I've been very interested in Pirsig's ideas for several years, and as a newcomer to the www am excited at the prospect of deepening my understanding through this forum. Already I've been forced to re-read Lila, to my benefit.

I work as a sculptor in wood and stone, at Kuranda in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. Previously I was a school teacher and principal in Papua New Guinea, where I worked for nine years in a remote high school near Dobu and Kiriwina, famous in anthropological literature. After a year travelling, I returned to Queensland where I spent five years in the most 'tribal' Aboriginal community in the state, and six years in a 70% Italian / Yugoslav migrant community, so I have been fortunate in my opportunities to mix with other cultures. My wife is Irish, and I have strong attachments with the British Isles, from where my family originated. (No - sadly - not as convicts.)

My interests are varied. I am involved in environmental organisations and issues locally. My own back yard is 3 acres of tropical rainforest containing over 70 species of trees alone. I built my house as an owner builder, taking all my spare time for 4 years, and I like inventing power tools for sculpting. I wrote a book on this topic which was almost published twice. (I need to seek inspiration from Pirsig on this.) Recently I trained as a counsellor, and then as a Gestalt therapist, one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I have a great interest in people and their ability to change.

My intellectual development began with reading "Honest to God" as a teenager, resulting in several years intense interest in theology, followed by a limited interest in philosophy and much reading in psychology. My academic training was in English literature, history, and philosophy of education, but I also did some geology and have taught science and tropical agriculture. I keep in touch with developments in science and the interface between science, philosophy and psychology. I read about mysticism with interest, especially Krishnamurti, but I am an old fashioned sceptic at heart, aware of how gullible we can be.

I view life as an art form, in which I balance creativity and responsibility. An intellectual by temperament, I am very aware of the need to remain grounded in present reality, or I risk entering a fantasy world of my own creation. I have been greatly influenced by the concepts of 'elegant simplicity' and 'simple quietude', arising from the same Japanese Buddhist tradition as Zen. I am fortunate to belong to groups which work intensely on 'here and now' issues, as well as a discussion group which meets monthly for intellectual stimulus. I am hoping that Lila Squad will further enrich my experience and challenge my preconceptions.

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