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Jack Kerouac at Nonduality

Great appreciation to John Metzger for contributing so much to this page.

Preface by Jerry Katz

Why not open the Nonduality Salon with the writings of Jack Kerouac?
It is his spirit, I believe, that will enliven this. The Nonduality Salon is
Kerouac's Road. Basho's Road to the Deep North. Whitman's Body.
The freedom here is greater than the open road or known body can offer.
If that freedom can be imparted, it will be an interesting thing.

Introduction by ==Gene Poole==

As I read him, Kerouac gives the impression that he knew well that
his whole life was an ongoing sacrifice, and one which he made with
increasingly blatant actions and words of dedication to the sacredness
of/and his own interchangability with [That] emptiness. Indeed, his
knowing of [That] emptiness allowed or prompted his sacrifice. His
continual restatement of the undying and unchanging nature of [That] is
reflected in his endless descriptions of the mundane, and the huge,
all-consuming 'drain' into which the mundane swirls, to the dismay of the
other actors.

Kerouac displays an unusual form of compassion in the midst of the
above-described dilemma; he shows that he is the one who sings happily and
toasts to [That] as he, too, swirls down the drain. This attitude is
infectious, and in a way, is akin to the way of the ancient 'Berserkers' of
the Northlands. This 'sacred recklessness' makes Kerouac unique in western
literature; he was not heroically campaigning against dysfunctional social
mores, he was not awarded the badge of martyr relative to temporal
concerns. No, he was concerned to protest only the vacuum of statements and
words and songs relating to the final and ultimate, and he did fill that
void with his own songs and words.

Gene Poole's Home Page


Excerpts with comments


Kerouac speaks: Sounds of Jack Kerouac reading and singing his prose.

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live,
mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time,
the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn,
burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across
the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and
everybody goes “Awww!”


"And I buy Buddha, who said, that what he said was neither true nor
untrue, and there's the only true thing or good thing I ever heard and
it rings a cloudy bell, a mighty supramundane gong -- He said, 'Your
trip was long, illimitable, you came to this raindrop called your life,
and call it yours -- we have purposed that you vow to be awakened --
whether in a million lifetimes you disregard this Kingly Heeding, it's
still a raindrop in the sea and who's disturbed and what is time--? This
Bright Ocean of Infinitude sails many fish afar, that come and go like
the sparkle on your lake, mind, but dive into the rectangular white
blaze of this thought now: You have been assigned to wake up, this is
the golden eternity, which knowledge will do you no earthly good for
earth's not pith, a crystal myth--face the A-H truth, awakener, be you
not knuckled under the wile of cold or heat, comfort or unrepose, be you
mindful, moth, of eternity--by you loving, lad, lord, of infinite
variety--be you one of us, Great Knowers Without Knowing, Great Lovers
Beyond Love, whole hosts of unnumberable angels with form or desire,
supernatural corridors of heat--we heat to hold you woke--open your arms
embrace the world, it and we rush in, we'll lay a silver meeting brand
of golden hands on your milky embowered brow, power, to make you freeze
in love forever-- Believe!and ye shall live forever-- Believe, that ye
have lived forever--overrule the fortresses and penances of dark isolate
suffering life on earth, there's more to life than earth, there's Light
Everywhere, look--'"

"Man," she finally says, and goes over and gets a stick of tea, and
lights up. I can't believe it and finally in walks a three-year-old boy
who says something extremely intelligent to his mother like "Mama, can I
have a bathtub with baby eyes, man?" something like that, or , "Where's
my baby toy I can go be a boy with," actually-- Then her husband walks
in, a cat from the Cellar, that I saw there milling around and running
around. I am supremely tested by this situation, and trying to get out
of it I pick up a book (Zen Buddhism) and start reading. Cody doesn't
care, but we're ready to go, we'll drive her right out to her
photographer. They rush out and I follow them but the book in my hands,
and have to run back in re-ring the bell (while Cody armarounds pretty
Mizzus O'Toole) and her husband stares at me down the stairs and I say
"I forgot the book" and run up and hand it to him, "I really did," and
he yells down "I know you did, man," completely cool and perfect couple.


What attracted me about the above passage is that I have found myself in
such a situation -- haven't you? -- resorting to a deep and perfect
spiritual book in the midst of some situation, often it was just my job,
no jazz club. The challenge was always to be able to always carry with
me, the single essential teaching of any such book.

"What will I do when I get to Frisco? Why first thing I'll get a room in
Chinatown" --but even nearer and sweeter I daydream what I'll do Leaving
Day, some hallowed day in early September, "I'll walk down the trail,
two hours, meet Phil in the boat, ride to the Ross Float, sleep there a
night, chat in the kitchen, start early in the morning on the Diablo
Boat, go right for that little pier (say hello to Walt), hitch right to
Marblemount, collect my pay, pay my debts, buy a bottle of wine and
drink it by the Skagit in the afternoon, and leave next morning for
Seattle"--and on, down to Frisco, then L.A., then Nogales, then
Guadalajara, then Mexico City--And still the Void is still and'll never

But I will be the Void, moving without having moved.

The awakeners, if they choose, are born as babes-- This is my first
awakening-- There are no awakeners and no awakening.

In my shack I lie, remembering the violets in our backyard on Phebe
Avenue when I was eleven, on June nights, the blear dream of it,
ephemeral, haunted, long gone, going further out, till it shall be all
gone out.

I'm really beginning to see how Kerouac, writing this stuff in this
style back in the fifties, helped popularize Buddhism. I can see how he
has received that credit. I don't know if Kerouac knew nondual
perspective -- his literary drive and work would have put the brakes on
that, so that was his sacrifice -- but he intuited nondual reality, at
least, and, extraordinarily, incorporated it into a popular literature
around which coalesced an entire generation.

The simplest truth in the world is beyond our reach because of its
complete simplicity, i.e, its pure nothingness-- There are no awakeners
and no meanings-- Even if suddenly 400 naked Nagas came solemn tromping
over the ridge here and say to me "We have been told the Buddha was to
be found on this mountaintop-- we have walked many countries, many
years, to get here-- are you alone here?"-- "Yes" --"Then you are the
Buddha" and all 400 of em prostrate and adore, and I sit suddenly
perfectly in diamond silence-- even then, and I wouldn't be surprised
(why be surprised?) even then I would realize that there are, there is
no Buddha, no awakener, and there is no Meaning, no Dharma, and it is
all the wile of Maya
My impression is that Kerouac understood nondual Buddhist teachings --
apparently he loved the Lankavatara Sutra -- but that in order to do his
art, his writing, he had to forego Realization, or full knowledge of
nondual reality. Enlightenment, basically. Because of that sacrifice, he
was able to introduce Buddhism to the West. Others in his time and day,
came to know Realization and furthered the Buddhist Way as Masters.
Kerouac sacrificed.

Some quotes from "On the Road":

"The one thing we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the rememberance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced at death".

"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 but my own confusion".

"Mankind will someday realize that we actually are in constant contact with the dead and with the other world, whatever it is".

"It was remarkable how Dean could go mad and then suddenly continue with his soul -- which I think is wrapped up in a fast car, a coast to reach, and a woman at the end of the road -- calmly and sanely as though nothing had happened."

"...and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?"

even Asvaghosha's Glorious Statement
and Asanga's and Holy Sayadaw
and all the good and kind saints
and the divine unabstractable ones
the holy and perfect ones
All Buddhas and Dharmas
All Jesuses and Jerusalems
And Jordans and How are You's
---Nil, none, a dream,

A bubble pop, a foam snit
in the immensities of the sea
at midnight in the dark

Jack Kerouac, Mexico City Blues, 24th Chorus

(contributed to Allspirit list by John Metzger)


Tracking Jack Kerouac's Dharma Trail Down South

By Helen Lane Dilg

Albanese emphasizes that the Beat Generation authors were
integral to the importation of Buddhism into mainstream
American thought. Literary critics and Beat commentators,
however, often couple Buddhism with other general non-
conformist trends in Beat literature or disregard it all

Contrary to these dismissals, a thorough examination of
Jack Kerouac's "Mexico City Blues" displays his earnest
practice and understanding of Mahayana Buddhism. The two
hundred and forty-two choruses of the work reveal Kerouac's
conscious turning away from Catholicism to Buddhist belief,
his earnest practice of meditation and resultant
enlightenment, and his understanding of complex doctrines
of Mahayana Buddhism.

Throughout the choruses, Kerouac's references to his
personal religious background, Catholicism, serve to
illuminate his belief in the superiority of the Buddhist
faith. Kerouac makes his Catholic upbringing evident
through numerous references to aspects of the Christian
faith. Allusions to the Virgin Mary. Moses), grace, and the
hope of salvation intimate the poet's Catholic background
and world view, yet he frequently reveals his disdain for

Early in the collection he states that he has "had all I
can Eat / Revisiting Russet towns / Of long ago / On
carpets of bloody sawdust". In denying the validity of the
Catholic relic of the cross (reduced to bloody sawdust), he
sets a tone which persists throughout the work. In a later
chorus, Kerouac explains that Catholicism first took hold
in slave communities, that according to Kerouac, would
believe in anything ). His closing statement on the
Catholic Church states simply: "Buddhists are the only
people who don't lie."

Buddhism, as opposed to Catholicism, was the obvious truth
to Kerouac. He expresses regret for not finding this truth
earlier: "Importunate fool that I was, / I raved to fight
Saviors / instead of listening to the Light -- still a
fool.". Only now, in Buddhism "The Kingdom of the Mind, /
the Kingdom has come," and only in Buddha has Kerouac found
the "Successful Savior Abiding Everywhere in Beginningless
Ecstatic Nobody."

This transcendental truth, Kerouac makes clear, can
encompass Christ but is superior. He tells that he believes
"in the sweetness / of Jesus / And Buddha -- / . . . And
Otherwise / Santayanan / Everywhere" and in "No Self God
Heaven / Where we all meet and make it, / But the
Meltingplace of the Bone Entire / In One Light of Mahayana
Gold, / Asvhaghosha's singing in your ear, / And Jesus at
your feet, washing them."

Thus Kerouac presents Catholicism as plagued by lies, but
he accepts Jesus as a part of the universal truth that is
Buddhism. In doing so, he consciously rejects his Catholic
upbringing and embraces Buddhist belief.

"Mexico City Blues" encompasses much more, however, than a
mere comparison of Kerouac's background with his new found
faith. Much of the work describes his encounters with truth
through meditation. Kerouac's discussion of mediation can
be separated into three areas: his reasons for embracing
the practice, the practice itself, and his experiences of
revelation and ecstasy through meditation.

In Chorus, the poet clearly states his desire to leave his
life of recognition in America and to enter a life of
contemplation in Mexico:

I'd rather die than be famous, . . .
I'd rather be in the desert sand,
Sitting legs crossed, at lizard
High noon, . . .
rather go in the high lone land
of plateau where you can hear
at night the zing of silence
from the halls of Assembled

Kerouac's dedication to contemplation and Buddhist
meditative practice was highly criticized by his mother and
by what he perceived to be society at large. In many of the
choruses, he responds harshly to critics of the meditative
life. He states first that: "Eternity / Is the other side /
Of the other part / Of your mind / That you ignore /
Because you want to." And later that: "'Men are afraid to
forget / their own minds, / Fearing to fall thru the void /
With nothing to which they can cling."

In these statements the poet both explains and defends his
retreat to Mexico in pursuit of the contemplative life. In
other portions of the work, he describes the actual
practice of stillness. The practice of meditation, to
Kerouac, is one in which "Thinking has stopped" and one has
"No direction to go but inward." He tells his readers to be
"devout under trees," to "stop thinking, stop breathing,"
and to "Lie down / Rest." Throughout the work he reiterates
"Buddha's Secret Moonlight: -- / the Ancient Virtue of
laying up / and thinking happy & comfortable / thoughts."

Kerouac writes that the practice of meditation has led him
to ecstasy and truth. His descriptions of these discoveries
range from those reminiscent of his earlier writings during
drug trips to those which portray a stillness which seems
entirely unique to his Buddhist influenced writings. All of
these depictions are characterized by a sense of serenity
and inner revelation. He tells of instances when his "eyes
were bright with seeing emptiness," when he encountered "a
Golden Age of silent darkness in [his] happy heart," when
he "listened to the eternal return with no expression," and
when he witnessed "the clear sight of varied crystal
mountains shifting in the air."

In Chorus 111, he writes of a height in his discoveries:
"When I attained Highest / Perfect / Wisdom / . . . / I
even dropped my conception / of highest old wisdom / And
turned to the world, / a Buddha inside, / And said nothing.
/ and I had no idea / what I was thinking about / and
abided in blank ecstasy."

The Choruses of "Mexico City Blues" fully explore Kerouac's
practice of meditation during his time in Mexico. He
explains to his readers his reasons for retreating to this
life of stillness, the actual practice of stillness, and
his encounters with truth through meditation.

Kerouac's poetry clearly reveals his denial of Catholicism,
acceptance of Buddhism, and experimentation with mediation.
More subtle references to specific Buddhist principles
reveal Kerouac's understanding of and belief in the
Mahayana strand of Buddhism. Although Kerouac claimed to be
drawn to Mahayana Buddhism's emphasis on compassion,
"Mexico City Blues" reveals only a small influence of the
compassionate, but examines in depth many less central
Mahayana tenets.

Kerouac expresses the Mahayanan concepts of the
transcendental, Buddha as Essence or dharma, and Shunyada
(or non-self). Throughout the choruses, Kerouac makes
reference to the transcendental nature of Buddhist truth: a
middleless center, the Universal mind, Madness rioting
Everywhere, and One Light, One Transcendental Ecstasy .

In Chorus 132 he writes: "Innumerable infinite songs. /
Great suffering of the atomic in verse / . . . That's
Buddhism. / That's Universal Mind." This obvious allusion
to Whitman's "Song of Myself" identifies American
Transcendentalism with Buddhist thought.

Still, Kerouac proves his Mahayana thought to be more
complex than that of the Transcendentalists as he then
incorporates the non-self into his understanding of the
Universal Mind. Recognizing that "There is no selfhood that
can begin the practice," Kerouac continually reminds
himself and his reader: "no-self, no-self, no-self, Dass is
the order of the Day." The 6th Chorus tells that:

Self depends on existence of other
self, and so no Solo Universal Self
exists -- no self, no other self,
no innumerable selves, no
Universal self and no ideas
relating to existence or non-
existence thereof --

This exploration of reality without self could potentially
confound non-Buddhist readers.But Kerouac's incorporation
of Buddha as essence (or dharma) elucidates the Mahayana
belief. According to Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha exists
in three forms. The third form is known as the "body of
essence" and is "the manifestation of the truth that is

Kerouac explains this concept in three separate choruses.
He tells the reader that "Dharma law / Say / All things is
made / of the same thing" and then that "all things is made
/ of the same thing / essence." Later, he completes his
connection to the dharma when he writes that "essence is
the word for the finger / that shows us bright blankness"
and "The Essence of Existence / is Buddhahood."

Kerouac's writings on essence thus explain that the third
manifestation of Buddha is the transcendental essence which
both guides toward, and is, the Universal mind. This dual
function is possible as there is no self by which to
differentiate the guide, the guided, and the destination.
Through exploration of the transcendental Universal mind,
Shunyada, and dharma, Kerouac demonstrates the complexity
of his faith in Mahayana Buddhism.

Kerouac's contemporaries and disciples surely overlooked
the many complexities of "Mexico City Blues." Without
previous knowledge of Buddhist principles, the American
public could not have grasped Kerouac's full intent.

Still, analysis of the work reveals that Kerouac himself
held an involved and educated faith in Mahayana Buddhism
during his time in Mexico. Thus to dismiss Beat Buddhism as
mere non-conformity is to severely misinterpret the
significance of the religion to Beat literature.

A selection from
On The Road
by Jack Kerouac

One night we talked on the corner of 47th Street and Madison at three in the morning. "Well, Sal, damn, I wish you weren't going, I really do, it'll be my first time in New York without my old buddy." And he said, "New York, I stop over in it, Frisco's my hometown. All the time I've been here I haven't had any girl but Inez -- this only happens to me in New York! Damn! But the mere thought of crossing that awful continent again-- Sal, we haven't talked straight in a long time." In New York we were always jumping around frantically with crowds of friends at drunken parties. It somehow didn't seem to fit Dean. He looked more like himself huddling in the cold, misty spray of the rain on empty Madison Avenue at night. "Inez loves me; she's told me and promised me I can do anything I want and there'll be a minimum of trouble. You see, man, you get older and troubles pile up. Someday you and me'll be coming down an alley together at sundown and looking in the cans to see."

"You mean we'll end up old bums?"

"Why not, man? Of course we will if we want to, and all that. There's no harm ending that way. You spend a whole life of non-interference with the wishes of others, including politicians and the rich, and nobody bothers you and you cut along and make it your own way." I agreed with him. He was reaching his Tao decisions in the simplest direct way. "What's your road, man?--holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. It's an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where body how?" We nodded in the rain. "Sheeit, and you've go to look out for your boy. He ain't a man 'less he's a jumpin man -- do what the doctor say. I'll tell you, Sal, straight, no matter where I live, my trunk's always sticking out from under the bed, I'm ready to leave or get thrown out. I've decided to leave everthing out of my hands. You've seen me try and break my ass to make it and you know that it doesn't matter and we know time--how to slow it up and walk and dig and just old-fashioned spade kicks, what other kicks are there? We know." We sighed in the rain. It was falling all up and down the Hudson Valley that night. The great world piers of the sea-wide river were drenched in it, old steamboat landings at Poughkeepsie were drenched in it, old Split Rock Pond of sources was drenched in it, Vanderwhacker Mount was drenched in it.

"So," said Dean, "I'm cutting along in my life as it leads me..."

By: Jack Kerouac (sorry, source not known)

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages,
for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact
in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience,
language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures
of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from
under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled
in Heaven

The Scripture of the Golden Eternity

by Jack Kerouac Kerouac & Neal Cassady, c.

Thanks to John Metzger for finding this on (link may no longer be active)

Jack Kerouac wrote in response to Gary Snyder's
suggestion that he write his first Sutra. In 1960,
when he presented it to his publisher, he said,
"While I was writing this,I thought I knew what it
meant, but now I don't know anymore."

This text was originally published by Corinth
Books, New York in 1960.


Did I create that sky? Yes, for, if it was anything
other than a conception in my mind I wouldnt have
said "Sky"-That is why I am the golden eternity.
There are not two of us here, reader and writer, but one,
one golden eternity, One-Which-It-Is, That-Which-


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.
The Named One. The human God. Sentient Godhood.
Animate Divine. The Deified One. The Verified One.
The Free One. The Liberator. The Still One. The
settled One. The Established One. Golden Eternity.
All is Well. The Empty One. The Ready One. The
Quitter. The Sitter. The Justified One. The Happy


That sky, if it was anything other than an illusion
of my mortal mind I wouldnt have said "that sky."
Thus I made that sky, I am the golden eternity. I
am Mortal Golden Eternity.


I was awakened to show the way, chosen to die in
the degradation of life, because I am Mortal Golden


I am the golden eternity in mortal animate form.


Strictly speaking, there is no me, because all is
emptiness. I am empty, I am non-existent. All is


This truth law has no more reality than the world.


You are the golden eternity because there is no me
and no you, only one golden eternity.


The Realizer. Entertain no imaginations whatever,
for the thing is a no-thing. Knowing this then is
Human Godhood.


This world is the movie of what everything is, it
is one movie, made of the same stuff throughout,
belonging to nobody, which is what everything is.


If we were not all the golden eternity we wouldnt
be here. Because we are here we cant help being
pure. To tell man to be pure on account of the
punishing angel that punishes the bad and the
rewarding angel that rewards the good would be like
telling the water "Be Wet"-Never the less, all
things depend on supreme reality, which is already
established as the record of Karma earned-fate.


God is not outside us but is just us, the living
and the dead, the never-lived and never-died. That
we should learn it only now, is supreme reality, it
was written a long time ago in the archives of
universal mind, it is already done, there's no more
to do.


This is the knowledge that sees the golden eternity
in all things, which is us, you, me, and which is
no longer us, you, me.


What name shall we give it which hath no name, the
common eternal matter of the mind? If we were to
call it essence, some might think it meant perfume,
or gold, or honey. It is not even mind. It is not
even discussible, groupable into words; it is not
even endless, in fact it is not even mysterious or
inscrutably inexplicable; it is what is; it is
that; it is this. We could easily call the golden
eternity "This." But "what's in a name?" asked
Shakespeare. The golden eternity by another name
would be as sweet. A Tathagata, a God, a Buddha by
another name, an Allah, a Sri Krishna, a Coyote, a
Brahma, a Mazda, a Messiah, an Amida, an Aremedeia,
a Maitreya, a Palalakonuh, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 would be
as sweet. The golden eternity is X, the golden
eternity is A, the golden eternity is /\, the
golden eternity is O, the golden eternity is [ ],
the golden eternity is t-h-e-g-o-l-d-e-n-e-t-e-r-
n-i-t-y. In the beginning was the word; before the
beginning, in the beginningless infinite
neverendingness, was the essence. Both the word
"god" and the essence of the word, are emptiness.
The form of emptiness which is emptiness having
taken the form of form, is what you see and hear
and feel right now, and what you taste and smell
and think as you read this. Wait awhile, close your
eyes, let your breathing stop three seconds or so,
listen to the inside silence in the womb of the
world, let your hands and nerve-ends drop,
re-recognize the bliss you forgot, the emptiness
and essence and ecstasy of ever having been and
ever to be the golden eternity. This is the lesson
you forgot.


The lesson was taught long ago in the other world
systems that have naturally changed into the empty
and awake, and are here now smiling in our smile
and scowling in our scowl. It is only like the
golden eternity pretending to be smiling and
scowling to itself; like a ripple on the smooth
ocean of knowing. The fate of humanity is to vanish
into the golden eternity, return pouring into its
hands which are not hands. The navel shall receive,
invert, and take back what'd issued forth; the ring
of flesh shall close; the personalities of long
dead heroes are blank dirt.


The point is we're waiting, not how comfortable we
are while waiting. Paleolithic man waited by caves
for the realization of why he was there, and
hunted; modern men wait in beautified homes and try
to forget death and birth. We're waiting for the
realization that this is the golden eternity.


It came on time.


There is a blessedness surely to be believed, and
that is that everything abides in eternal ecstasy,
now and forever.


Mother Kali eats herself back. All things but come
to go. All these holy forms, unmanifest, not even
forms, truebodies of blank bright ecstasy, abiding
in a trance, "in emptiness and silence' as it is
pointed out in the Diamond-cutter, asked to be only
what they are: GLAD.


The secret God-grin in the trees and in the teapot,
in ashes and fronds, fire and brick, flesh and
mental human hope. All things, far from yearning to
be re-united with God, had never left themselves
and here they are, Dharmakaya, the body of the
truth law, the universal Thisness.


"Beyond the reach of change and fear, beyond all
praise and blame," the Lankavatara Scripture knows
to say, is he who is what he is in time and
time-less-ness, in ego and in ego-less-ness, in
self and in self-less-ness.


Stare deep into the world before you as if it were
the void: innumerable holy ghosts, buddhies, and
savior gods there hide, smiling. All the atoms
emitting light inside wavehood, there is no
personal separation of any of it. A hummingbird can
come into a house and a hawk will not: so rest and
be assured. While looking for the light, you may
suddenly be devoured by the darkness and find the
true light.


Things dont tire of going and coming. The flies end
up with the delicate viands.


The cause of the world's woe is birth, The cure of
the world's woe is a bent stick.


Though it is everything, strictly speaking there is
no golden eternity because everything is nothing:
there are no things and no goings and comings: for
all is emptiness, and emptiness is these forms,
emptiness is this one formhood.


All these selfnesses have already vanished.
Einstein measured that this present universe is an
expanding bubble, and you know what that means.


Discard such definite imaginations of phenomena as
your own self, thou human being, thou'rt a
numberless mass of sun-motes: each mote a shrine.
The same as to your shyness of other selves,
selfness as divided into infinite numbers of
beings, or selfness as identified as one self
existing eternally. Be obliging and noble, be
generous with your time and help and possessions,
and be kind, because the emptiness of this little
place of flesh you carry around and call your soul,
your entity, is the same emptiness in every
direction of space unmeasurable emptiness, the
same, one, and holy emptiness everywhere: why be
selfy and unfree, Man God, in your dream? Wake up,
thou'rt selfless and free. "Even and upright your
mind abides nowhere," states Hui Neng of China.
We're all in heaven now.


Roaring dreams take place in a perfectly silent
mind. Now that we know this, throw the raft away.


Are you tightwad and are you mean, those are the
true sins, and sin is only a conception of ours,
due to long habit. Are you generous and are you
kind, those are the true virtues, and they're only
conceptions. The golden eternity rests beyond sin
and virtue, is attached to neither, is attached to
nothing, is unattached, because the golden eternity
is Alone. The mold has rills but it is one mold.
The field has curves but it is one field. All
things are different forms of the same thing. I
call it the golden eternity-what do you call it,
brother? for the blessing and merit of virtue, and
the punishment and bad fate of sin, are alike just
so many words.


Sociability is a big smile, and a big smile is
nothing but teeth. Rest and be kind.


There's no need to deny that evil thing called
GOOGOO, which doesnt exist, just as there's no need
to deny that evil thing called Sex and Rebirth,
which also doesn't exist, as it is only a form of
emptiness. The bead of semen comes from a long line
of awakened natures that were your parent, a holy
flow, a succession of saviors pouring from the womb
of the dark void and back into it, fantastic magic
imagination of the lightning, flash, plays, dreams,
not even plays, dreams.


"The womb of exuberant fertility," Ashvhaghosha
called it, radiating forms out of its womb of
exuberant emptiness. In emptiness there is no Why,
no knowledge of Why, no ignorance of Why, no asking
and no answering of Why, and no significance
attached to this.


A disturbed and frightened man is like the golden
eternity experimentally pretending at feeling the
disturbed-and-frightened mood; a calm and joyous
man, is like the golden eternity pretending at
experimenting with that experience; a man
experiencing his Sentient Being, is like the golden
eternity pretending at trying that out too; a man
who has no thoughts, is like the golden eternity
pretending at being itself; because the emptiness
of everything has no beginning and no end and at
present is infinite.


"Love is all in all," said Sainte Therese, choosing
Love for her vocation and pouring out her
happiness, from her garden by the gate, with a
gentle smile, pouring roses on the earth, so that
the beggar in the thunderbolt received of the
endless offering of her dark void. Man goes
a-beggaring into nothingness. "Ignorance is the
father, Habit-Energy is the Mother." Opposites are
not the same for the same reason they are the same.


The words "atoms of dust" and "the great universes"
are only words. The idea that they imply is only an
idea. The belief that we live here in this
existence, divided into various beings, passing
food in and out of ourselves, and casting off husks
of bodies one after another with no cessation and
no definite or particular discrimination, is only
an idea. The seat of our Immortal Intelligence can
be seen in that beating light between the eyes the
Wisdom Eye of the ancients: we know what we're
doing: we're not disturbed: because we're like the
golden eternity pretending at playing the magic
cardgame and making believe it's real, it's a big
dream, a joyous ecstasy of words and ideas and
flesh, an ethereal flower unfolding a folding back,
a movie, an exuberant bunch of lines bounding
emptiness, the womb of Avalokitesvara, a vast
secret silence, springtime in the Void, happy young
gods talking and drinking on a cloud. Our 32,000
chillicosms bear all the marks of excellence. Blind
milky light fills our night; and the morning is


Give a gift to your brother, but there's no gift to
compare with the giving of assurance that he is the
golden eternity. The true understanding of this
would bring tears to your eyes. The other shore is
right here, forgive and forget, protect and
reassure. Your tormenters will be purified. Raise
thy diamond hand. Have faith and wait. The course
of your days is a river rumbling over your rocky
back. You're sitting at the bottom of the world
with a head of iron. Religion is thy sad heart.
You're the golden eternity and it must be done by
you. And means one thing: Nothing-Ever-Happened.
This is the golden eternity.


When the Prince of the Kalinga severed the flesh
from the limbs and body of Buddha, even then the
Buddha was free from any such ideas as his own
self, other self, living beings divided into many
selves, or living beings united and identified into
one eternal self. The golden eternity isnt "me."
Before you can know that you're dreaming you'll
wake up, Atman. Had the Buddha, the Awakened One,
cherished any of these imaginary judgments of and
about things, he would have fallen into impatience
and hatred in his suffering. Instead, like Jesus on
the Cross he saw the light and died kind, loving
all living things.


The world was spun out of a blade of grass: the
world was spun out of a mind. Heaven was spun out
of a blade of grass: heaven was spun out of a mind.
Neither will do you much good, neither will do you
much harm. The Oriental imperturbed, is the golden


He is called a Yogi, his is called a Priest, a
Minister, a Brahmin, a Parson, a Chaplain, a Roshi,
a Laoshih, a Master, a Patriarch, a Pope, a
Spiritual Commissar, a Counselor, and Adviser, a
Bodhisattva-Mahasattva, an Old Man, a Saint, a
Shaman, a Leader, who thinks nothing of himself as
separate from another self, not higher nor lower,
no stages and no definite attainments, no
mysterious stigmata or secret holyhood, no wild
dark knowledge and no venerable authoritativeness,
nay a giggling sage sweeping out of the kitchen
with a broom. After supper, a silent smoke. Because
there is no definite teaching: the world is
undisciplined. Nature endlessly in every direction
inward to your body and outward into space.


Meditate outdoors. The dark trees at night are not
really the dark trees at night, it's only the
golden eternity.


A mosquito as big as Mount Everest is much bigger
than you think: a horse's hoof is more delicate
than it looks. An altar consecrated to the golden
eternity, filled with roses and lotuses and
diamonds, is the cell of the humble prisoner, the
cell so cold and dreary. Boethius kissed the Robe
of the Mother Truth in a Roman dungeon.


Do you think the emptiness of the sky will ever
crumble away? Every little child knows that
everybody will go to heaven. Knowing that nothing
ever happened is not really knowing that nothing
ever happened, it's the golden eternity. In other
words, nothing can compare with telling your
brother and your sister that what happened, what is
happening, and what will happen, never really
happened, is not really happening and never will
happen, it is only the golden eternity. Nothing was
ever born, nothing will ever die. Indeed, it didnt
even happen that you heard about golden eternity
through the accidental reading of this scripture.
The thing is easily false. There are no warnings
whatever issuing from the golden eternity: do what
you want.


Even in dreams be kind, because anyway there is no
time, no space, no mind. "It's all not-born," said
Bankei of Japan, whose mother heard this from her
son did what we call "died happy." And even if she
had died unhappy, dying unhappy is not really dying
unhappy, it's the golden eternity. It's impossible
to exist, it's impossible to be persecuted, it's
impossible to miss your reward.


Eight hundred and four thousand myriads of Awakened
Ones throughout numberless swirls of epochs
appeared to work hard to save a grain of sand, and
it was only the golden eternity. And their combined
reward will be no greater and no lesser than what
will be won by a piece of dried turd. It's a reward
beyond thought.


When you've understood this scripture, throw it
away. If you cant understand this scripture, throw
it away. I insist on your freedom.


O everlasting Eternity, all things and all truth
laws are no- things, in three ways, which is the
same way: AS THINGS OF TIME they dont exist because
there is no furthest atom than can be found or
weighed or grasped, it is emptiness through and
through, matter and empty space too. AS THINGS OF
MIND they dont exist, because the mind that
conceives and makes them out does so by seeing,
hearing touching, smelling, tasting, and
mentally-noticing and without this mind they would
not be seen or heard or felt or smelled or tasted
or mentally-noticed, they are discriminated that
which they're not necessarily by imaginary
judgments of the mind, they are actually dependent
on the mind that makes them out, by themselves they
are no-things, they are really mental, seen only of
the mind, they are really empty visions of the
mind, heaven is a vision, everything is a vision.
What does it mean that I am in this endless
universe thinking I'm a man sitting under the stars
on the terrace of earth, but actually empty and
awake throughout the emptiness and awakedness of
everything? It means that I am empty and awake,
knowing that I am empty and awake, and that there's
no difference between me and anything else. It
means that I have attained to that which everything


The-Attainer-To-That-Which-Everything-Is, the
Sanskrit Tathagata, has no ideas whatever but
abides in essence identically with the essence of
all things, which is what it is, in emptiness and
silence. Imaginary meaning stretched to make
mountains and as far as the germ is concerned it
stretched even further to make molehills. A million
souls dropped through hell but nobody saw them or
counted them. A lot of large people isnt really a
lot of large people, it's only the golden eternity.
When St. Francis went to heaven he did not add to
heaven nor detract from earth. Locate silence,
possess space, spot me the ego.

"From the beginning," said the Sixth Patriarch of
the China School, "not a thing is."


He who loves all life with his pity and
intelligence isnt really he who loves all life with
his pity and intelligence, it's only natural. The
universe is fully known because it is ignored.
Enlightenment comes when you dont care. This is a
good tree stump I'm sitting on. You cant even grasp
your own pain let alone your eternal reward. I love
you because you're me. I love you because there's
nothing else to do. It's just the natural golden


What does it mean that those trees and mountains
are magic and unreal?- It means that those trees
and mountains are magic and unreal. What does it
mean that those trees and mountains are not magic
but real?- it means that those trees and mountains
are not magic but real. Men are just making
imaginary judgments both ways, and all the time
it's just the same natural golden eternity.


If the golden eternity was anything other than mere
words, you could not have said "golden eternity."
This means that the words are used to point at the
endless nothingness of reality. If the endless
nothingness of reality was anything other than mere
words, you could not have said "endless nothingness
of reality," you could not have said it. This means
that the golden eternity is out of our word-reach,
it refuses steadfastly to be described, it runs
away from us and leads us in. The name is not
really the name. The same way, you could not have
said "this world" if this world was anything other
than mere words. There's nothing there but just
that. They've long known that there's nothing to
life but just the living of it. It Is What It Is
and That's All It Is.


There's no system of teaching and no reward for
teaching the golden eternity, because nothing has
happened. In the golden eternity teaching and
reward havent even vanished let alone appeared. The
golden eternity doesnt even have to be perfect. It
is very silly of me to talk about it. I talk about
it simply because here I am dreaming that I talk
about it in a dream already ended, ages ago, from
which I'm already awake, and it was only an empty
dreaming, in fact nothing whatever, in fact nothing
ever happened at all. The beauty of attaining the
golden eternity is that nothing will be acquired,
at last.


Kindness and sympathy, understanding and
encouragement, these give: they are better than
just presents and gifts: no reason in the world why
not. Anyhow, be nice. Remember the golden eternity
is yourself. "If someone will simply practice
kindness," said Gotama to Subhuti, "he will soon
attain highest perfect wisdom." Then he added:
"Kindness after all is only a word and it should be
done on the spot without thought of kindness." By
practicing kindness all over with everyone you will
soon come into the holy trance, infinite
distinctions of personalities will become what they
really mysteriously are, our common and eternal
blissstuff, the pureness of everything forever, the
great bright essence of mind, even and one thing
everywhere the holy eternal milky love, the white
light everywhere everything, emptybliss, svaha,
shining, ready, and awake, the compassion in the
sound of silence, the swarming myriad trillionaire
you are.


Everything's alright, form is emptiness and
emptiness is form, and we're here forever, in one
form or another, which is empty. Everything's
alright, we're not here, there, or anywhere.
Everything's alright, cats sleep.


The everlasting and tranquil essence, look around
and see the smiling essence everywhere. How wily
was the world made, Maya, not-even-made.


There's the world in the daylight. If it was
completely dark you wouldnt see it but it would
still be there. If you close your eyes you really
see what it's like: mysterious particle-swarming
emptiness. On the moon big mosquitos of straw know
this in the kindness of their hearts. Truly
speaking, unrecognizably sweet it all is. Don't
worry about nothing.


Imaginary judgments about things, in the
Nothing-Ever-Happened wonderful void, you dont even
have to reject them, let alone accept them. "That
looks like a tree, let's call it a tree," said
Coyote to Earthmaker at the beginning, and they
walked around the rootdrinker patting their


Perfectly selfless, the beauty of it, the butterfly
doesnt take it as a personal achievement, he just
disappears through the trees. You too, kind and
humble and not-even-here, it wasnt in a greedy mood
that you saw the light that belongs to everybody.


Look at your little finger, the emptiness of it is
no different that the emptiness of infinity.


Cats yawn because they realize that there's nothing
to do.


Up in heaven you wont remember all these tricks of
yours. You wont even sigh "Why?" Whether as atomic
dust or as great cities, what's the difference in
all this stuff. A tree is still only a rootdrinker.
The puma's twisted face continues to look at the
blue sky with sightless eyes, Ah sweet divine and
indescribable verdurous paradise planted in
mid-air! Caitanya, it's only consciousness. Not
with thoughts of your mind, but in the believing
sweetness of your heart, you snap the link and open
the golden door and disappear into the bright room,
the everlasting ecstasy, eternal Now. Soldier,
follow me! - there never was a war. Arjuna, dont
fight! - why fight over nothing? Bless and sit


I remember that I'm supposed to be a man and
consciousness and I focus my eyes and the print
reappears and the words of the poor book are
saying, "The world, as God has made it" and there
are no words in my pitying heart to express the
knowless loveliness of the trance there was before
I read those words, I had no such idea that there
was a world.


This world has no marks, signs, or evidence of
existence, nor the noises in it, like accident of
wind or voices or heehawing animals, yet listen
closely the eternal hush of silence goes on and on
throughout all this, and has been gong on, and will
go on and on. This is because the world is nothing
but a dream and is just thought of and the
everlasting eternity pays no attention to it. At
night under the moon, or in a quiet room, hush now,
the secret music of the Unborn goes on and on,
beyond conception, awake beyond existence. Properly
speaking, awake is not really awake because the
golden eternity never went to sleep; you can tell
by the constant sound of Silence which cuts through
this world like a magic diamond through the trick
of your not realizing that your mind caused the


The God of the American Plateau Indian was Coyote.
He says: "Earth! those beings living on your
surface, none of them disappearing, will all be
transformed. When I have spoken to them, when they
have spoken to me, from that moment on, their words
and their bodies which they usually use to move
about with, will all change. I will not have heard


I was smelling flowers in the yard, and when I
stood up I took a deep breath and the blood all
rushed to my brain and I woke up dead on my back in
the grass. I had apparently fainted, or died, for
about sixty seconds. My neighbor saw me but he
thought I had just suddenly thrown myself on the
grass to enjoy the sun. During that timeless moment
of unconsciousness I saw the golden eternity. I saw
heaven. In it nothing had ever happened, the events
of a million years ago were just as phantom and
ungraspable as the events of now, or the events of
the next ten minutes. It was perfect, the golden
solitude, the golden emptiness, Something-Or-
Other, something surely humble. There was a
rapturous ring of silence abiding perfectly. There
was no question of being alive or not being alive,
of likes and dislikes, of near or far, no question
of giving or gratitude, no question of mercy or
judgment, or of suffering or its opposite or
anything. It was the womb itself, aloneness, alaya
vijnana the universal store, the Great Free
Treasure, the Great Victory, infinite completion,
the joyful mysterious essence of Arrangement. It
seemed like one smiling smile, one adorable
adoration, one gracious and adorable charity,
everlasting safety, refreshing afternoon, roses,
infinite brilliant immaterial gold ash, the Golden
Age. The "golden" came from the sun in my eyelids,
and the "eternity" from my sudden instant
realization as I woke up that I had just been where
it all came from and where it was all returning,
the everlasting So, and so never coming or going;
therefore I call it the golden eternity but you can
call it anything you want. As I regained
consciousness I felt so sorry I had a body and a
mind suddenly realizing I didn't even have a body
and a mind and nothing had ever happened and
everything is alright forever and forever and
forever, O thank you thank you thank you.


This is the first teaching from the golden


The second teaching from the golden eternity is
that there never was a first teaching from the
golden eternity. So be sure.

BUDDHAHOOD IS A MEDICINE---It's the True Cure...
It has cured me of a hundred ailments,...
But I better not rush out of my sickbed before I'm well.--

For even a 4-year-old child knows that life is a punishment for something, for accumulated Karma made incarnate---You wanted teeth? now let them decay & hurt.
You wanted love?
Now be you lorn.
You wanted death?
Now be you born.
You wanted life?
Now you be shorn.

The child knows
that life is no
"gift" & no reward

Buddhahood has cured me of life.
Desire for life, cured. Thinking, cured.
Anxious literary ambition, cured.
Madness for riches, cured. Greed, cured.
Chasing after women, cured. Lust, cured.
Seeking out friends, cured. Egoism, cured.
Alcoholism, cured. Drughabits, cured.
Sorrow, controlled. Joy, controlled.
My blood disease, controlled, cured.
Fear of the heat & the cold, cured.
Fear of death, cured. Fear, cured.
Need to act, cured. Need, cured.


The Saha-Tripleness is a dream
The chemical solidarity is a dream
Smells are a dream
Bonfires are a dream
Pain is a dream
Defecation is a dream
My gray page Legend is a dream
All my various pencils were dreams
All erections were dreams
Pa, Gerard were a dream
Ma, Nin, Paul are dreams
Allen is a dream
I am a dream
This moment is a dream
This couch is a dream
I'm glad it's only a dream
God is a dream
Buddha is a dream
Mind is the dreamer.


Little Paul is a visionary flower in the air
The hand of man is a visionary flower in the air
Allen and Neal are visionary flowers in the air
The tobacco weed is a visionary flower in the air
Bob's doghouse is a visionary flower in the air
My phlebitisis a visionary flower in the air
I am a visionary flower in the air
All things are visionary flowers in the air
Buddha is a visionary flower in the air
Death is a visionary flower in the air
Eternity is a visionary flower in the air
Conception is a visionary flower in the air
The Visionary Flower is the Mind

from some of the dharma Jack Kerouac

My conclusion is that I am
yet to be cured of dreaming of guiding visionary donuts
in the air through the air to my mouth. Also having
trouble with ordinary pistachios. john

I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds.  

from On The Road, by Jack Kerouac      

I walked around, picking butts from the street. I passed a fish-'n-chips joint on Market Street, and suddenly the woman in there gave me a terrified look as I passed; she was the proprietress, she apparently thought I was coming in there with a gun to hold up the joint. I walked on a few feet. It suddenly occurred to me this was my mother of about two hundred years ago in England, and that I was her footpad son, returning from gaol to haunt her honest labors in the hashery. I stopped, frozen with ecstasy on the sidewalk. I looked down Market Street. I didn't know whether it was that or Canal Street in New Orleans: it led to water, ambiguous, universal water, just as 42nd Street, New York, leads to water, and you never know where you are. I thought of Ed Dunkel's ghost on Times Square. I was delirious. I wanted to go back and leer at my strange Dickensian mother in the hash joint. I tingled all over from head to foot. It seemed I had a whole host of memories leading back to 1750 in England and that I was in San Francisco now only in another life and in another body. "No," that woman seemed to say with that terrified glance, "don't come back and plague your honest, hard-working mother. You are not longer like a son to me -- and like your father, my first husband. 'Ere this kindly Greek took pity on me." (The proprietor was a Greek with hairy arms.) "You are no good, inclined to drunkenness and routs and final disgraceful robbery of the fruits of my 'umble labors in the hashery, O son! did you not ever go on your knees and pray for deliverance for all your sins and scoundrel's acts? Lost boy! Depart! Do not haunt my soul; I have done well forgetting you. Reopen no old wounds, be as if you had never returned and looked in to me -- to see my laboring humilities, my few scrubbed pennies -- hungry to grab, quick to deprive, sullen, unloved, mean-minded son of my flesh. Son! Son!" It made me think of the the Big Pop vision in Graetna with Old Bull. And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in the bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotuslands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn't in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn't remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water. I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; me feet tingled. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn't die, and walked four miles and picked up ten long butts and too them back to Marylou's hotel room and poured their tobacco in my old pipe and lit up. I was too young to know what had happened. In the window I smelled all the food of San Francisco. There were seafood places out there where the buns were hot, and the baskets were good enough to eat too; where the menus themselves were soft with foody esculence as though dipped in hot broths and roasted dry and good enough to eat too. Just show me the bluefish spangle on a seafood menu and I'd eat it; let me smell the drawn butter and lobster claws. There were places where they specialized in thick red roast beef au jus, or roast chicken basted in wine. There were places where hamburgs sizzled on grills and the coffee was only a nickle. And oh, that pan-fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shell crab of Fisherman's Wharf -- nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! Throw in the Market Street chili beans, redhot, and french fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that's my ah-dream of San Francisco. Add fog, hunger-making raw fog, and the throb of neons in the soft night, the clack of high-heeled beauties, white doves in a Chinese grocery window . . .

Jack Kerouac

American Haiku
(Copyright 1959)

"The American Haiku is not exactly the Japanese
Haiku. The Japanese Haiku is strictly disciplined
to seventeen syllables but since the language
structure is different I don't think American
Haikus (short three-line poems intended to be
completely packed with Void of Whole) should worry
about syllables because American speech is
something again...bursting to pop.

Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free
of all poetic trickery and make a little picture
and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi
Jack Kerouac

Early morning yellow flowers,
thinking about
the drunkards of Mexico.

No telegram today
only more leaves

boy smashing dandelions
with a stick.

Holding up my
purring cat to the moon
I sighed.

Drunk as a hoot owl,
writing letters
by thunderstorm.

Empty baseball field
a robin
hops along the bench.

All day long
wearing a hat
that wasn't on my head.

Crossing the football field
coming home from work -
the lonely businessman.

After the shower
among the drenched roses
the bird thrashing in the bath.

Snap your finger
stop the world -
rain falls harder.

too dark to read the page
too cold.

Following each other
my cats stop
when it thunders.

Wash hung out
by moonlight
Friday night in May.

The bottoms of my shoes
are clean
from walking in the rain.

Glow worm
sleeping on this flower -
your light's on.

Back to Index

Jack Kerouac

The Northport Haiku (Copyright 1964)

Jack Kerouac wrote these haiku in Northport in 1964
at the home of the artist Stanley Twardowicz who was
also a good friend of his. Kerouac had been living
in Northport for some time and it is fortunate that
these rare haiku have been recorded and kept. They
are a section of a larger collection produced at the
time. They first appeared in the American small
press magazine STREET Volume 1 number 4 in the
Spring of 1975.

Close your eyes -
Landlord knocking
On the back door.

A quiet Autumn night
and these fools
Are starting to argue

Lonely brickwalls in Detroit
Sunday afternoon
piss call

O for Vermont again -
The barn on an Autumn night

Fiddlydee! -
Another day,
Another something-or-other!

Whatever it is, I quit
-now I'll let my
breath out -

How many cats they need
around here
For any orgy?

Tonight I'll lower
my tail --
I've seen them around town

In Haikkaido a cat
has no luck

Every cat in Kyoto
can see through the fog.

The birds start singing
but he is in the cat meadows

I'll climb up a tree
and scratch Katapatafataya

If I go out now,
my paws
will get wet

A car is coming but
the cat knows
It's not a snake

In London-town cats
can sleep
In the butcher's doorway.

I should have scratched
that spot before
I started to sleep

Haiku my eyes!
my mother is calling!

Back to Index

Jack Kerouac

Some Western Haiku

from Book of Haiku (Copyright 1968)

Arms folded
to the moon,
Among the cows.

Birds singing
in the dark
- Rainy dawn.

Elephants munching
on grass - loving
Head side by side.

Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway.

This July evening,
a large frog
On my door sill.

Catfish fighting for his life,
and winning,
Splashing us all.

Evening coming -
the office girl
Unloosing her scarf.

The low yellow
moon above the
Quiet lamplit house

Shall I say no?
- fly rubbing
its back legs

Unencouraging sign
- the fish store
Is closed.

Nodding against
the wall, the flowers

Straining at the padlock,
the garage doors
At noon

The taste
of rain
- Why kneel?

The moon,
the falling star
- Look elsewhere

The rain has filled
the birdbath
Again, almost

And the quiet cat
sitting by the post
Perceives the moon

Useless, useless,
the heavy rain
Driving into the sea.

Juju beads on the
Zen manual:
My knees are cold.

Those birds sitting
out there on the fence -
They're all going to die.

The bottoms of my shoes
are wet
from walking in the rain

In my medicine cabinet,
the winter fly
has died of old age.

November - how nasal
the drunken
Conductor's call

The moon had
a cat's mustache
For a second

A big fat flake
of snow
Falling all alone

The summer chair
rocking by itself
In the blizzard

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Jack Kerouac

from Heaven and Other Poems (Copyright 1977/Posthumous)

The little worm
lowers itself from the roof
By a self shat thread

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Jack Kerouac

from the novel Desolation Angels (Copyright 1965)

Desolation Angels is similar to a long haibun.
Some of the fragments make it as haiku while
others don't quite make it. I've included a
few that seem to be close to what we'd call
traditional American Haiku. (John Hudak)

A bubble, a shadow -
woop -
The lightning flash

Thunder in the mountains -
the iron
Of my mother's love

Mist boiling from the
ridge - the mountains
Are clean

Mist before the peak
- the dream
Goes on

as cold
water in a dell
on a dusty tired trail -

Girls' footprints
in the sand
- Old mossy pile

Wooden house
raw gray -
Pink light in the window

Neons, Chinese restaurants
coming on -
Girls come by shades

(thanks to Ron Patterson for supplying
the Kerouac haiku reference material)

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