The Average Buddhist Explores the Dharma

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The Average Buddhist Explores the Dharma

The Heart of the Dharma: Wise Intention 2 of 6. There will be time for meditation, teachings, discussion and some exercises to take home. This is the template for the event detail page. Unlike other Kerouac books, Some of the Dharma involved more than his typical usage of prose.

The Heart of the Dharma: Wise Intention

Before the organization of material is discussed it is important to note and to keep in mind that this text was published posthumously and Kerouac was in no way part of the publication process. It took him years of hard work to type the manuscript as it is presently seen. Kerouac implemented many different techniques and inventions in the form and presentation of Dharma.

For example, many of his poems and sketches can be seen to take different shapes, often in diagonal slants or outlined in lines and rows of hyphens and asterisks Kerouac , , , The presentation of this text was unconventional for its time, as well as an innovation for the author. In response to an editor about his different stylistic techniques, Kerouac wrote that. Even though the presentation of Dharma was aesthetically different, the form, organization of materials and ideas were also a departure from most of the works of the post-war era. Although in most texts organization of argument and presentation are different from one another, in Dharma the medium is the message, for reasons soon to be explained.

The visual presentation of the text engages the reader just as much as the content does. On page Kerouac provided an explanation of the various techniques of the Duluoz Legend.

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The publishers felt it was highly important that the readers be acutely aware of these techniques, and so they were printed on the front and back of the book. It is necessary to outline these techniques as Kerouac used them in almost every instance of Dharma. The ideal, formal Tic Here Kerouac merely shapes the descriptive paragraph in a simple manner, which includes the use of dashes as markers of breath.

These techniques are all a part of the most extensive and encompassing technique called DHARMA—notes in any form about the dharma. Of course this is the technique in which the entire text of Dharma was written. The implementation of this technique allowed Kerouac to engage the reader while still using other stylistic forms. The effect of these various techniques is a visual format that stimulates the eye as well as allowing the reader to make a quick identification of the state of mind that Kerouac was in while writing that particular section of the text.

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For example, if the reader is well aware of the characteristics of each technique then one can discern whether Kerouac was daydreaming or having a sudden memory. He demands of the reader an involvement in Dharma that is more than a simple reading, he creates a flow in the text that requires knowledge of his techniques. A central preoccupation is the Buddhist notion of impermanence and how everything is formless. Even though this text was constructed into various techniques and divided into 10 books, Kerouac stated how the text has no form.

This dissolution of complex forms included, for Kerouac, his daily task of writing structured novels. Therefore, the form of Dharma is a mere attribute of our awareness or an arbitrary conception of the mind. The division of Dharma into 10 separate books appears to have been done with no particular motive, as there are no distinct topics for any of the 10 books. The different subdivisions appear to be a matter of convenience for Kerouac. While there are no uniform or single distinguishable topics in each book, Kerouac did make sure to highlight each area of importance on every page.

For example, Kerouac would capitalize the main focus of his discussion, whether in the middle of a paragraph or at the beginning sentence. The various techniques and stylistic devices Kerouac used in Some of the Dharma were influenced by the reason for writing it.

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His enthusiastic interest in Buddhism led to the writing, but in the content of the material one can also see that many other factors were influential in its completion. While the main focus of Dharma was the teachings of the Buddha, it was through this content that Kerouac revealed much about his own life. Perhaps a reason why Dharma contains so much personal information is that his primary intention was for the content to be privately used between himself and friends, and the idea of publication came later as the text evolved.

Originally it was somewhat of a Buddhism for Beginners book—with Kerouac as the beginner—starting with The Four Noble Truths and other basic concepts. Kerouac begins Book One with basics, definitions of fundamental concepts such as nirvana, karma, dharma and kama, and a bibliography for beginning Buddhists. He must have realized that Dharma was more than an elementary text and correspondence with friends, since it appears that the succeeding Books became more evolved and delve deeper into Buddhist philosophy. Kerouac moved from simple definitions in Book One to analogies between him and a tiger in Book Three, to in-depth reflection about rebirth and individuality in Book Four, and in Book Eight he placed emphasis on Avalokitesvara and the Womb of Exuberant Fertility.

On 7 — 8 December Kerouac writes of Avalokitesvara:. He made himself into someone asking that question— He is exuberant as you can see when a man is stomping another to death with his shoes, — when a Bodhisattva Awakened Hero listens to the Inconceivable Silence. Kerouac saw this Buddhist text as more than a documentation of an intense interest in Buddhism; for him, it was an act of release.

He attempted to embody the realizations he was having, and in doing so Dharma became an act of meditation. This meditative act included the composition of the material and creation of the visual aspects, helping him come to terms with his lifestyle and beliefs. One should keep in mind that Kerouac was attempting to reconcile his lifestyle with his newfound interest in Buddhism when he began to write this text in The notion of suffering, besides being the cornerstone of Buddhist philosophy, was especially appropriate for Kerouac as his life appears to have revolved around the anguish that his own lifestyle created.

He struggled to define what was real, and what really mattered to him. Kerouac resolved to lead a monastic life; however, this resolution, written relatively early in the text, was broken short eight days later Kerouac , , a sign that his bhikkuhood and potential enlightenment were at the far end of a path fraught with the temptations of the world.

Kerouac could not seem to take refuge in these four precepts for more than a matter of days. The frustration that Kerouac felt in his daily dhyanas and in attempting to lead a pure life is evident in Dharma. When he starts drinking again his mood shifts, and changes in the text are apparent. The rhyming nature of this poem is unlike the rest of the text, as is the discussion of such a topic—cornfields—both influenced by his intoxication. Although such instances occur throughout the writing of Dharma, the text remains Buddhist in nature and such occurrences only add to the honesty and personal quality that help readers relate to Kerouac.

At times Kerouac saw himself as a great teacher of Buddhism, and indeed as a Bodhisattva. At the end of he wrote of his conflicts in light of his role as a Buddhist:. The pressure of an ever-devout Catholic family often caused Kerouac much stress and confusion as to whether his Buddhahood was meant to be. He seems to have found solace in reading the Diamond Sutra, his favourite Buddhist text. The Buddhist texts that originally influenced Kerouac came to be those that he looked to alleviate confusion and pain.

At times Kerouac seems to have found a peaceful balance between his newfound Buddhist practice and his strict Catholic upbringing. In a January dhyana, Kerouac writes:. In my Dhyana today Jan. I had a vision of the Virgin Mary and Child in a little round clasp; it magnified and got dimmer.

Here Kerouac has an experience that reflects his Christian background while engaged in his daily Buddhist practice. The outcome of this notion became apparent in the writing of Dharma. Although a text of Buddhist nature, Kerouac tended to tie all religions into one Universal belief, particularly Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity.

Kerouac was continually concerned with arbitrary relative conditions and ignorance; ideas that became major concerns throughout the entire text. The view that Kerouac used veiled aspects of Christianity can be seen in Some of the Dharma and continues to appear in the sutra that he wrote in spring The Scripture of the Golden Eternity is a remarkable Buddhist Sutra that reveals aspects of different traditions, as may be seen even in its title.

Anne Waldman writes in the Introduction that:. Scripture, on the other hand, suggests the Christian canon—the Holy Scriptures or sacred writings of the Bible. Kerouac , 1 —2. His Christian background in fact is revealed throughout. Near the beginning Kerouac equates himself with the Chosen One or the Messiah Kerouac , 24 , and later he seems happy in reflecting the Buddhist with the Christian.

In scripture 37 Kerouac writes:. Had the Buddha, the Awakened One,cherished any of these imaginary judgementsof and about things he would have falleninto impatience and hatred in his suffering. Instead, like Jesus on the Cross he saw the light and died kind, loving all living things. Kerouac provides a refraction of the Christianity that was often problematic in life. Instead of criticizing the tradition of his childhood, Kerouac changes its direction or path by conflating Catholic with Buddhist ideas. This merging of traditions elucidates the previously mentioned fact that Scripture was written after the completion of Dharma, so that a number of themes are concurrent.

The format of Scripture, however, does not directly parallel that of Dharma; in certain parts of the first text there are instances where Kerouac made attempts to write condensed versions of sutras e. People think of self as a private possession because they are cogs on a wheel that keeps turning out self after self in rebirth after rebirth of selfhood. I will have to preach the only possible truth: The abolishing of death by extermination of birth.

Put an end to human rebirth, by abstaining from sexual intercourse. Everybody stop breeding, or by method of-birth-control stop birth. At the same time, stop killing for sport or for eating living beings; they tremble at punishment and death too. Everybody live off vegetables and synthetic foods, causing no pain anywhere. Everybody abstain from panic and wait for death finally. For human beings, the rest will be ecstasy. For all other living, sentient beings the hint will be taken. A chain reaction throughout existence in all ten directions of space exterminating existence by quiet will, in tranquility and purity.

This is the word from everlasting eternity, it is the First Teaching. The Second Teaching is, that there was no First Teaching from the everlasting eternity. The function of the sutra rests in it being a collection of discourses or teachings of the Buddha, or, in this case, Kerouac. The content of Scripture is similar to Dharma in many ways, yet differs in others. In the scriptures of the sutra Kerouac did not use the unconventional asterisks, doodles and hyphens seen in Dharma.

To the outsider these illogical syllogisms sound like gibberish, doublespeak. Kerouac loaded the short scriptures with haikus, Zen koans, poetry, prose and meditations that, like Dharma, reflected his inner search for enlightenment and outward quest for the meaning of the universe. The conflicted Kerouac of the first text appears to be absent from Scripture. Kerouac emerges in this latter as a man who was at peace with the realizations that he had made.

In the second paragraph of his sutra, describing the Golden Eternity, Kerouac appears to be in a much more blissful state. The awakened Buddha to show the way, the chosen Messiah to die in the degradation of sentience, is the golden eternity. One that is what is, the golden eternity, or God, or, Tathagata—the name.

Kerouac , 23 — 4. Here Kerouac shows an upbeat mood that was often shadowed in Dharma by his bouts with drinking, drugs and his family. Two stanzas later, Kerouac declared:.

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I was awakened to show the way, chosen to die in the degradation of life, because I am Mortal Golden Eternity. Strictly speaking, there is no me, because all is emptiness. I am empty, I am non-existent. Kerouac focused the material of his sutra around the Buddhist notion of emptiness and the nature of form as being consistent with concepts of emptiness.

Scripture has been praised for its accuracy and brilliance, including by Eric Mottram who writes:. This aspect of time differs from the text of Dharma, where time was always in the present, while often looking towards the tragic future, but in his sutra time and eternity is golden and things have already been attained. The manner in which Kerouac presented his golden eternity used the form of Buddhist sutras; however, he also employed the Zen practice of koans. This was a departure for Kerouac since at this point in his life he was not as interested in Zen Buddhism as he was with other Mahayana schools.

In Dharma Kerouac tended to shy away from Zen, and indeed there are moments in the text where he provided criticisms of this branch of Buddhism. In Scripture Kerouac has provided the reader with a few enigmatic scriptures that could be considered reflections of Zen koans.