The Dharma Bum Gets His Own Wiki Entry

Jack Kerouac and the other Beats were my heroes (I was, of course, not alone) when, in 1991, I moved to Boulder, Colorado… home of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute (now known as Naropa University). I could not afford to attend Naropa — who can? — but I did meet Allen Ginsberg on several occasions, which made relocating here worth it.

Kerouac, Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs have all moved on to adventures beyond my wildest imagination… and, of course, I’m still in Boulder, wondering when my boat will leave the dock.

Here’s a random Kerouac quote that reflects my own reality at different times in this life:

I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.

And here’s something from his Wiki entry (sans irritating Wiki footnote numbers and internal links):

Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the Beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels, and, in particular, regarded the subsequent Hippie movement with some disdain. Kerouac’s method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of Jazz, especially the Bebop genre established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and others. Later, Kerouac would include ideas he developed in his Buddhist studies, beginning with Gary Snyder. He called this style Spontaneous Prose, a literary technique akin to stream of consciousness. Although Kerouac’s prose were spontaneous and purportedly without edits, he primarily wrote autobiographical novels (or Roman à clef) based upon actual events from his life and the people he interacted with.

Many of his books exemplified this approach including On the Road, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, Big Sur, and The Subterraneans. The central features of this writing method were the ideas of breath (borrowed from Jazz and from Buddhist meditation breathing), improvising words over the inherent structures of mind and language, and not editing a single word (much of his work was edited by Donald Merriam Allen, a major figure in Beat Generation poetry who also edited some of Ginsberg’s work as well). Connected with his idea of breath was the elimination of the period, preferring to use a long, connecting dash instead. As such, the phrases occurring between dashes might resemble improvisational jazz licks. When spoken, the words might take on a certain kind of rhythm, though none of it pre-meditated.

Kerouac greatly admired Gary Snyder, many of whose ideas influenced him. The Dharma Bums contains accounts of a mountain climbing trip Kerouac took with Snyder, and also whole paragraphs from letters Snyder had written to Kerouac. While living with Snyder outside Mill Valley, California in 1956, Kerouac was working on a book centering around Snyder, which he was thinking of calling Visions of Gary. (This eventually became Dharma Bums, which Kerouac described as “mostly about [Snyder]”.) That summer, Kerouac took a job as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascades in Washington, after hearing Snyder’s and Philip Whalen’s accounts of their own lookout stints. Kerouac described the experience in his novel Desolation Angels.

Desolation Angels, by the way, is my favorite Kerouac novel — and I do believe I’ve read them all.

I don’t care what anyone says about his place in the literary pantheon: Jack Kerouac was an original from head to toe, and I’m glad I went through a life-phase with him at the center.

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Fan Mail to God

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Rainer Maria Rilke’s famous volume, Book of Hours; Love Poems to God, provides us with this little gem:

 

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

When God finished reading, It allowed Itself to ripple with delight.

It opened Its receptive capacity to FULL, relaxed with Its back against the archetypal Axis Mundi — otherwise known as Mt. Kailas in modern-day Nepal,

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and listened as though hearing John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” for the very first time.

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In short, God had a religious experience.

When It finished blissing out on Rilke’s sentiments, God decided to compose a quick response, to be imprinted on the great poet’s large and impressive entry in the Akashic Records.

In the interest of spiritual awakening for all beings, we present God’s spontaneous outpouring here:

My child, whether you know it or not, you’ve put your finger on The Way It Works.

While you would appear to fear my reaction to your supposed “arrogance,” I am ecstatic to find that the genius of discovery has expressed through you.

I could not be happier that, like a child, you are not forcing or holding back, but rather, you are allowing the flow of Creation to pass through you unhindered.

We need more of your kind of “arrogance,” Rainer!

When will everyone else pick up on this?

I’ve Spoken through many messengers – Gotama Buddha, Jesus the Christ, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Phineas Quimby, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Thomas Troward, the Fillmores… and my personal favorite, Ernest Holmes – and these have drawn on voices such as yours, pure expressions of Me, filtered through Divine Images that only a poet, artist or musician could reveal.

I could bask in your Creative Power (which is My Power), every day of every Kalpa – and yet, most of My children live their entire lives without the knowledge of their Infinite Perfection. My Laws of Existence roll through them from every direction, battering them with unexamined beliefs, propelling them down one vortex of suffering after another.

If it wasn’t for children like you, Rainer – poets, musicians, artists of every flavor – I’d probably just fold up the universe and start another one… oh, wait….

…haven’t we been here before?

Yes!

That’s what I meant to say: You, Rainer, along with an embarrassingly small percentage of humanity down through the ages, have sustained the world through your intuitive eloquence. For this, I pour My Love through you, knowing that it will bathe all creatures one way or another.

And now, with this poem, I know that you will always allow My expression free reign, so that It may touch everyone where it counts: in their Infinity.

One last thing, My child.

If you live your poetry as well as you write it, the world will truly be My Kingdom in short order, no matter what it may look like at the moment.

Onward, My Child!

And with that, God nestled Its head on the snowcapped peak of Mt. Kailas, entered Dreamtime, and squeezed Eternity into One Moment for the good of us all.

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The End.

 

The Forbidden Topic

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Kahlil Gibran….

Here’s Kahlil Gibran’s take:

On Death

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Comforting, no?

Death is something we as humans typically fear, but the wise ones know that there is no death at the ultimate level. Life never dies. What we fear is the end of “this” version of life, assuming that we are entities separate from That which created us.

We are always in Communion, from life into death… which is another life.