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Some of the Dharma Paperback – November 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Open market ed edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140287078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140287073
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Begun in December 1951 as a notebook for his Buddhist studies, this work records Kerouac's reactions to a variety of Buddhist texts. Over the course of five years, it grew to include poems, prayers, dialogs, meditations, and notes on his reading, as well as commentary on family, friends, and meaningful concerns in his life. Readers of Kerouac's novels may find some of the discussions of Buddhist doctrines tedious and repetitive, but those who persevere will be rewarded with interesting insights into Kerouac's struggle with alcoholism, his occasional thoughts of suicide, and his disturbing tendency toward misogyny. Long anticipated by Kerouac scholars, this major work belongs in all literature collections.?William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib.,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

More ersatz Buddhism from postwar America's most overrated author. ``Dharma'' is a Buddhist term meaning, roughly, ``law.'' Some of the Dharma purports to be a journal of meditations on that subject, but Kerouac is unable to keep his mind on track, resulting in a work that's ultimately chaotic. His technique seems sound enough: He takes a classic Buddhist philosophical statement and then decodes it for his own use. Unfortunately, his interpretations are usually far from the point, as Kerouac is unable to separate Hinduism, Taoism, and even Catholicism from Buddhism, with repeated incorrect assessments of how the Tao affects Buddhahood (it does not) or how Jesus was a Buddha-like figure (by most accounts he was not). Furthermore, Kerouac, by his own admission, is unable to stay sober long enough to attain any real enlightenment. He sets forth the goals of not drinking, meditating regularly, and abstaining from sex, but he makes lame excuses for his falling off the wagon, and his rationalizations for avoiding sex devolve into plain misogyny, such as his statement ``PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES F*** you all,'' or his observation that jazz cannot possibly be a high art form if women can perform it. Kerouac's various conceits, e.g., that he is a greater writer than Joyce (whose term for verse- -pome--he steals) or Burroughs (whose ``cut-up'' technique it appears Kerouac is trying to approximate), are downright absurd. Comparing himself as an artist to Mozart on the one hand, while unable to get his manuscripts published (a continual obsession in the journals) on the other, often renders Kerouac laughable. If the reader is left wondering what all this has to do with Buddhism, the answer is, very little. If you're searching for real Buddhism, pick up Suzuki; if you must indulge your guilty pleasures with more Kerouac, reread On the Road. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), the central figure of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922 and died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969. Among his many novels are On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, and Visions of Cody.

Customer Reviews

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The depth of Kerouac's understanding of Buddhism is impressive.
Publicagent
This is more than perhaps the all time best example of personal spiritual exploration by a major writer- it is a storage battery of spiritual energy.
OAKSHAMAN
Read it if you've been searching for something to help guide you in your life.
Sheila M. Trammel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I agree with most of my fellow reviewers that the Kirkus review is rather harsh. To attack Kerouac on the basis of his alcoholism, his Catholic upbringing, and his lack of being able to live up to the aspirations of Buddhism is more a critique of him as a person rather than him as a writer. This book (if you read the foreword) was more a series of personal notes to Allen Ginsberg, rather than a finished piece of work for publication. To compare it with, say, 'On the Road,' is like comparing Camus's 'First Man' with 'The Stranger'- one is a preliminary sketch, the other a polished novel. If you read this, read it as a study of someone who was struggling to understand buddhism within his own personal context, not as a manual to buddhism. Read it as poetry, not scripture. Value it as a personal journey, a personal struggle. If you want to view it as a text on buddhism primarily, view it as something which enriches your own faith and desire for liberation.
Learning to benefit from all things, good or bad, is part of the path to liberation. Learn to benefit from this, and you WILL benefit from it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
By way of providing a balance to Kirkus' rather grouchy review of Kerouac's "Book of the Dharma":
Kerouac's being unable definitively to seperate Buddhism from Hinduism and Taoism is hardly his fault. Early Hinduism is the religion which lies behind Buddhism, and all Vedic faiths. Tibetan Buddhism adopted and adapted Mongol imagery and concepts, and Sino-Japanese Buddhism is infused with Taoism and Confucianism. As for its connection with Catholicism, this is the religion Kerouac was brought up in, and which he struggled to reconcile with Buddhism for many years. It left him, perhaps with an overexaggerated sense of the first Noble Truth: "All life is suffering". The Buddhist text that Kerouac first encountered, Dwight Goddard's "A Buddhist Bible," is an eclectic collection of scripture drawn from all of these Buddhist traditions.
Christ claimed a path to redemption from suffering - so did Buddha - room for comparison at least?
Attacking Kerouac for his alcoholism is rather below the belt - can't a drunk be religious? Can he not aspire above his own weakness? Anxious and neurotic this text may be, even interminably confused, but then so is John Bunyan's "Confessions": at least it's vexedness indicates Kerouac's engagement with serious metaphysical questions.
Even so, one for die hard fans, I should imagine. B.Moderate.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of my all time favorite books. It's a journal that spans years, with thoughts that are illuminating. Not a book to be read cover to cover, it's a companion in a journey, and it will spark the light of truth in you...it's certainly added to my life and growth, for which I'm thankful. No one is perfect, and Kerouac never claimed to be. This is a record of his struggle and search for enlightenment. Should those who judge his method and life ever attain 10% of what this man achieved, it will surprise me. "The Book of Pure Truth consists of a bunch of mirrors bound in a volume". You tell 'em Jack !
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Bridgeman on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
He did not realize these notebooks would be published, so this is Kerouac at his very core. I have been an avid, hungry devotee of Kerouac's work not since reading On the Road, but since getting my hands of a copy of THIS BOOK. Some of the Dharma is the most inspirational book I own - dare I say even more inspiring than my Bible - his random poems about everything ranging from vulgar liquids all conjoined in your earthly body, to the serious issue of the Boddhisatva... Every writer, reader, English teacher, English learner should all read at least parts of this book at some point in their lives.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Some of the Dharma, a maze of journal entries, prayers, thoughts, meditations set in a typeset facsimile of the original manuscript by the author is so vast and informed, it is hard to key in on the text with just a perusory glance in time for the hasty review written anonymously by Kirkus.What it does is reveal Kerouac for the wandering soul he truly was. He was set apart from the writers of his time (other than his fellow Beat writers),so that his Buddhist texts were rejected in 1950's America.They are every bit as profound, mystical, and holy as those who practice Buddhism on a lifetime basis. Kerouac was an experimenter in his prose, his life, and his faith. That all religions tie into one Universal belief succintly displays Kerouac's objective in this book. It develops Kerouac's vast grasp of intellect in ways that On the Road doesn't. That is the true heart and gem of this book
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Eryn Roles on July 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
In all consideration, this Kirkus fellow sees Jack's work as something to be embarrassingly indulged in. I disagree wholeheartedly. Jack Kerouac could not be more insightful. He seems to express all the random feelings one would have in life. He explores language and snakes through the river of life in a completely authentic way. Some of the Dharma is just one example of his many masterpieces. To read any one of Kerouac's books is an adventure into a mind that not only wants to experience life but wants to be drunk and sick with it.
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