Phil Fable – Phil Audits a World Religion Class at Kansas University

The class was World Religions 101 at Kansas University: 1976. The topic was how all the religions of the world dealt with the idea of reincarnation. The class had ninety four students and the lecturer was a professor who had taught the class for what seemed centuries. He heard every question imaginable.

Except one.

The professor went into the same lecture he had done for decades. First he showed that Christians believed in reincarnation because according to the Bible, they would have another body in another life which is a form of reincarnation. He discussed reincarnation from Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other faiths.

From the back of the room came a voice cutting through his lecture.

“Sir, I have a question!”

The professor no longer took questions and kept going with his lecture.

“Hey, OLD GUY, I have a question.”

“No questions in this class today, we have too much to cover. You may ask my aid after class.”

“Purple Ninja Pirates!”

The professor’s face showed surprise, and then it completely relaxed with his mouth slightly open.

“How did you know THAT from my life? Nobody knows that,” said the professor.

Phil laughed his laugh. It was JUST as fun as he hoped.

“Well I had to get your attention somehow. Here’s the question,” said Phil. “Ready?”


The entire class looked at Phil standing at the back of class by the door.

“In all the major religions of the earth, reincarnation is pitched as problem to be solved. Some think it’s a problem that the spirit comes back over and over. Others think reincarnation is the result of natural cause and effect that creates the same emergent phenomenon over and over and that the ego itself is a delusion. Some think being judged by a God and then thrown into hell is an after-life reincarnation problem.  Others see reincarnation as a fable and THAT is the problem and to solve it reincarnation may someday be a software program where we download ourselves in the future like in TRON or the Matrix.”

He raised his finger to the air.


He looked around and raised his finger again for emphasis.


He played with the silence with an impish smirk.

“SO! … What religion doesn’t see all the potentials of reincarnation as PROBLEMS? What religion sees every incarnation, regardless of its source, as truth manifesting it’s own evolution, even in the hell worlds or during a bad movie? What religion sees that the problem isn’t whether or not the spirit or meat reincarnates but whether or not the Paradox of self has the WILL to BE FREE ANYWAY and not blink at truth’s current evolution, but rather to laugh as it, dance as it and be the truth itself evolving?”

“There isn’t one I know of,” said the professor, “Especially considering the notion of truth being a living, evolving reality.”

“DON’T START IT!” cried Phil as he wagged his finger menacingly to the class.

Phil laughed and smiled deeply and fondly at the professor through his eyes and tapped on his watch in morse code. He held up his left arm in a vertical fist at his side with the back of his wrist showing his wrist watch.  His smile was whimsical and kind.

Then, he disappeared into thin air.

The class reacted in ninety four different ways. But the professor’s eyes never left the spot where Phil stood. The professor stood there a full five minutes ignoring all the student’s comments and reactions. And then, he laughed with a paradoxical blend of choice and fate.

The professor felt a warm feeling as he checked his watch. It was an A-11 wrist watch that he wore in World War 2 in the South Pacific as a medic. For some reason he remembered his best friend’s death and missed him at that moment. He hadn’t thought about him in over a decade.

“Purple ninja pirates!” he chuckled as he packed his briefcase. “How did he fucking KNOW that? Damn, I miss that bastard,” he muttered.

He raised his face to the class.

“Class dismissed.”

He picked up his briefcase. It had a personalized name plate under the handle: “Doctor Phillip J. Pirsig.”

7 thoughts on “Phil Fable – Phil Audits a World Religion Class at Kansas University

    • Yeah it´s great! For me all this is truth evolving in an eternal birth.
      I spent some time a couple years ago doing TROM and it blew my mind in ways I can´t even explain, seems like I got in touch with this infinite, undescribable nothingness above all troubles of life but never reached that shit which Dennis Stephens describes as some sort of Akashic records which could even be some kind of super computer or Mind of God. I had never thought of it as computer software !!

    • Sometimes a writer writes not because he believes he will be published but only because he knows his kids or friends would get a kick out of his work.

      So THANK YOU for being like Phil. Your encouragement keeps me writing. Really.

      Last week I went to a High School Choir concert. At the end of the stands was a tall, very morbidly obese girl. When I watched her lips move, I could separate her voice from the crowd. It was a beautiful voice. I resolved to compliment her on it if I got the chance.

      So as I walked down the hall I saw her coming toward me. I looked at her and she looked down as if to day, “Yes, I’m fat and everyone stares and I’m alone.”

      “Excuse me.”

      She stopped.

      “Were you standing on the end on the right side of the stage?”


      Her mother walked up behind her.

      “Well, I just want you to know that I could separate your voice from the group and you have a beautiful voice.”

      “DOESN’T SHE?” chimed in her mother. “ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL?”

      “Anyway, thank you very much for your performance. Your voice brightened my night.”

      She smiled and said thank you and her mother was beaming.

      I am constantly overwhelmed by how our LITTLE actions can change our world in positive ways. And in most cases, it’s free.

  1. It´s not easy to convey the deepness of the very deep, and you do it with the simplest fucking situations of everyday fucking life.
    We can separate your voice from the group, brother.

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