The lessons taught by the motorcycle are many; Ten of these shall be known as “Ets” and shall be considered fundamental to the practice of being a Zen Biker. All of them are of equal importance and form a synthesis, yet an order presents itself. This, then, is the Eighth Et.
And now we come to the thing that many people will have difficulty with. Not only people who find the concept of “reverence” to be an opiate for the gullible and the stupid, but also those who think they understand it already, when in reality they only know the definition of the word.
Words have meanings, but the truth of that meaning is only to be found in its essence. Knowing that essence requires awareness; exercising that awareness requires a transcendence of the animal nature inherent in an embodied life.
But let us start with the definition. Bikers have a number of acronyms that you can find on patches, pins and stickers wherever bikers are found. The most important is:
The initials stand for “Much Love, Loyalty, Honor and Respect.”
That is the definition of “reverence.” The definition transcends creed, race, social status, financial level, hair length, or preference for pineapple on pizza.
And the definition is meaningless, without the feeling of it.
Something as simple as a handshake is an outward sign of reverence…but only is reverence if there is genuine feeling behind it. Keeping a promise is a sign of reverence only if there is genuine feeling behind it; to keep a promise solely for the sake of one’s image is no more reverent than the genuflection of one who only wants everyone to see the act of piety.
The power and value of the word lies in its Truth.
When you ride down the road and roll back on the throttle to let someone into your lane when you see their turn signal. When you use your own turn signal so nobody has to swerve to avoid you. When you offer someone help moving from one house to another. When you offer a smile to someone who needs to see one, because you know what needing that smile feels like. Even when you just do your damn job because other people are counting on you to do it.
That is the Word in Action.
The trouble that some have with the word is its association with the divine. There is a prevailing wind through the modern collective intellect which insists that reverence to higher powers is the exclusive province of the primitive, that civilization has no need of such things; indeed that such things hold civilization back from reaching its fullest potential.
This wind blows wrong. As we have seen, reverence is the cornerstone of civilization. If there is nothing else you can receive from these musings I put forth, take with you the importance of this one concept. This deep respect born of feeling is the one thing that must be preserved, to prevent our fall into the realm of the animal.
Reverence is the force that powers a “Stop” sign. It is only a genuine respect for both the law and for your fellow commuters which compels you to obey. Civilization cannot exist without this state of being. And without civilization people cannot achieve their highest potential. And if we cannot do that, then we are nothing more than animals in clothing. Animals only care about their own immediate desires. They can be trained to obey, made to fear, can be cunning. But while you may see an animal do many things…you will never see it revere.
For those of you who reject the concept because of its attachment to higher powers in which you cannot believe, consider that every component word of the acronym MLLHR is a higher power, a motivating Spirit.
Love. Loyalty. Honor. Respect.
You can’t hold any of these things in your hand. You can’t measure their effect in kilowatts or gauge their mass in grams. They have no form, no size, no weight, no physical presence whatever.
And yet they move you. And yet without them, you are nothing but an animal.
That is the definition of a higher power. And a higher power deserves reverence.
And so do you.
Never forget to revere yourself; not to the exclusion or subordination of all else, for that is simple egoism, but genuinely, in proper measure. What is your respect worth, if you cannot even respect yourself?
This is a fundamentally important force in your life; the more you have, the better off you are.
That is the Truth.
And the Truth rides a motorcycle.