Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jack Kerouac: The End of a 'Beat'

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
After the American Transcendentalists and the New Thought movements, with their various teachers and teachings, yet before the Hippies with their LSD, and before the New Agers with their crystals, there were the "Beats." And before the "Beats," as after the "Beats," there was the prolific writer and wanderer, Jack Kerouac - the singular "King of the Beats."

Kerouac, for all his hard-drinking and womanizing ways that were immortalized in "On the Road" and his many other novels, was nonetheless, and more than anything else an Arahat, a spiritual seeker. His most personal writings, the notebooks he kept that were published as "Some of the Dharma," reveal over and over the depth of the spiritual enlightenment he chased from his native Maine to New York City, and from San Francisco to the deserts of Mexico and the beaches of Florida.

In "Some of the Dharma," a masterpiece of existential poetry and prose, he writes:
MY PERSONALITY SELF is only like a river in its valley - the river is like Mind Essence, the shores Jack Kerouac - as soon as it gets "out to sea" there is no more river and my realization of essence of mind restored unshackled to shoreless void---but mind will continue to suffer down other rivers after my river runs out of its banks, so "I'll suffer again," because I'm mind, my realization of suffering is due not to my personality-shores but due and informed by the mind essence "waters" that stream through---So as long as ignorance exists I'll, as mind, suffer---consciously, too---The mistake of ignorance is in my own mind now.
["Some of the Dharma," page 183.]
Again and again, he would turn to the theme of ignorance, and the pursuit of his enlightenment with or without the help of the Buddha, the saints or God.
The world is what's in the mind.---
The reason why concentration is advised is because
sentient beings have a tendency to run wild in the
wrong direction and stampeded to Ignorance---
["Some of the Dharma," page 183.]
Kerouac died as he lived, and fittingly it was in 1969, before he would witness the demise of the love spread during that era. He died at the age of 47 from an internal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a lifetime of hard drinking.

Yet, in the end, it seems Kerouac may have obtained, in his own way, a peace that few of us come to know. On the final pages of "Some of the Dharma," he writes:
The Karma Emptiness Movement works automatically, evil is paid up prompt. . . . . .

ALSO   It's worse than death not to know that "God" is the same thing as yourself----
and that's precisely the situation everywhere---and everywhere they're "dying"---
Kerouac concludes that his life was due to "a load of unpaid karmic debts," which his "automatic sentient suffering (would) make good."

Surely, it has . . . and still does . . .

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