I love reading books penned by Jack Kerouac. Somehow, his freewheeling eloquence with the written word just lifts imagery and wisdom right off the page and into your soul’s deepest crevasses. Earlier today I finished reading The Dharma Bums and found this particular work of his to be so enjoyable, thought-provoking, and evocative that I had to share some of my favorite inspirational thoughts from the book with my friends here on Panethos.
As a semi-biographical novel, some of these excerpts represent his political and philosophical beliefs, others describe a scene or situation, while still others express the awe and wonderment of the the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Here are the few samples I chose for this post – many more could have been included. Enjoy!
“”I had lived in a previous lifetime innumerable ages ago and now because of faults and sins in that lifetime I was being degraded to a more grievous domain of existence and my karma was to be born in America where nobody has any fun or believes in anything, especially freedom.”
“…Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, at least fancy new cars, certain hair oils and deodorants, and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume…”
“After all a homeless man has reason to cry, everything in the world is pointed against him.”
“The Dharma can’t be lost, nothing is lost on a well-worn path.”
“The bus came at four o’clock and we were at Birmingham, Alabama in the middle of the night, where I waited on a bench for my next bus trying to sleep on my arms on a rucksack but kept waking up to see the pale ghosts of American bus stations wandering around: in fact one woman streamed by like a wisp of smoke…”
“We came down off this meadow down deep into a redwood forest then up again, again so steeply that we ere cursing and sweating in the dust. Trails are like that: you’re floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and fluteboys, then suddenly you’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak…just like that. ‘Bad karma automatically produces good karma,’ said Japhy.”
“…and I wished the whole world was serious about food instead of silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybody’s food money to blow their heads off anyway.”
“Suddenly a green and rose rainbow shafted right down into Starvation Ridge not three hundred yards away from my door, like a bolt, like a pillar: it came among streaming clouds and orange sun turmoiling. What is a rainbow, Lord? A hoop…for the lowly.”
“Sixty sunsets I had seen revolve on that perpendicular hill. The vision of the freedom of eternity was mine forever. The chipmunk ran into the rocks and a butterfly came out. It was as simple as that. Birds flew over the shack rejoicing; they had a mile-long patch of sweet blueberries all the way down to the timberline. For the last time I went out to the edge of Lightning Gorge where the little outhouse was built right on the precipice of a steep gulch. Here, siting every day for sixty days, in fog or in moonlight or in sunny day or in darkest night, I had always seen the little twisted gnarly trees that seemed to grow right of of the midair rock.”
Source: The Dharma Bums, 1986 reprint.