Main CategoriesBuddha and BuddhismWestern Buddhism Some of the Dharma (O)

Some of the Dharma (O)

Product no.: 0-14-028707-8
Written during a critical period of his life, Some of the Dharma is a key volume in Jack Kerouac's vast autobiographical canon.

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Publisher's Synopsis

What began as study notes and letters on Buddhism to his friend Allen Ginsberg, evolved into a vast, all-encompassing work of nonfiction into which he poured his life, incorporating poems, haiku, prayers, journal entries, fragments of letters, sketches. Some of the Dharma, the last of Jack Kerouac's important withheld writings to see the light, is the two-year journal of his truth-seeking Buddhist wanderings in the mid-1950s. It's also the intimate logbook of a period of restless self-uprooting, semivoluntary poverty, celibacy and asceticism that immediately preceded the life-changing publication of On the Road.

Kerouac's Buddhist phase roughly coincided with the lowest Beat ebb of his career fortunes. In these years he jumped back and forth anxiously between coasts, weighed down by the growing cargo of unpublished manuscripts in his rucksack, his compass points the houses of East Coast kin (his mother's place in Queens, his sister's in North Carolina) and the crash pads and fleabag hotels of San Francisco and Mexico City.

Out west he practiced his newfound Buddhism on variously receptive poet pals, most notably this book's initial addressee and ultimate evil-genius figure, Allen Ginsberg ("a poet of personal materialistic concerns (who) can only make ill use of my heavenly overflow'').


"A fascination with Buddhism percolates through many of Kerouac's writings from the 1950s, especially The Dharma Bums, but even those who have read and reread the author may be astonished at the passion for Buddhism evinced in this extraordinary collection of practice notes, ideas, poems, stories, letter fragments, dialogues, journal entries and other miscellany.

Buddhists who have never encountered Kerouac will also be astonished, as nothing quite like this volume's passionate outpouring of faith, understanding and hope from a committed but failing Western student exists within Buddhist literature. This isn't a cobbled-up, posthumous collection but a book that Kerouac intentionally created between 1953-1956 but was unable to publish during his lifetime. Kerouac's experimentalism is in full flower here, even graphically, as many of the entries are arranged on the page as triangles, arrowheads, convex or concave forms and so on.

Among the thousands of jottings are passages of tremendous power and beauty, flashes of insight into ultimate reality worthy of a Basho, but there are also blatherings awash in self-indulgence and self-aggrandizing; the book at times gives the impression of containing every stray or captive thought and image about Buddhism that passed through Kerouac's head."      ~Publishers Weekly

"Mankind is like dogs, not gods — as long as you don't get mad they'll bite you — but stay mad and you'll never be bitten. Dogs don't respect humility and sorrow."


Author Kerouac, Jack
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 420 pp.
Publisher Penguin Books 1999
Browse these categories as well: Western Buddhism, Inspirational Poetry, Prose and Sacred Art, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography, Sumer Is Icumen In

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