Tracing Buddhism In Jack Kerouacs Novel English Literature Essay Free Essay

Jack Kerouac being of the most influential authors of 1950s became an graven image for the ill-conceived and baffled young person of the post-war epoch in the USA. A decennary before Civil Rights Movements, the publication of his novel On the Road helped his celebrity to make its extremum. Of all Kerouac ‘s 18 books, On the Road is likely the best and for many people it is the ground for Kerouac ‘s celebrity throughout the old ages following WWII and afterwards ( Charters 286 ) . The novel is praised for its success in exposing about every facet of Kerouac and his friends ‘ wildly fun, bizarre and conflicting escapades and how good it reflects the life style of the Beat Generation. In this paper, I will analyze the idealised manner of life Kerouac displays though the life of the supporter Sal Paradise from an facet that has non been explored to much extent. My focal point will be on researching the effects of Buddhism, a spiritual belief Kerouac adopted later in 1950s, on his novel On the Road and analyse the relationship between Sal Paradise ‘s journey and the instructions of Buddhist worldview.

It is widely known that On the Road is a novel of all in subculture motion and the chief influence is regarded to be taken from Beatnick ; doctrine of populating life as a holy being as every minute is cherished. On the Road put a mirror to the “ restless, idealistic young person ” who are in hunt of something more than the submissive conformance. ( Warren 43 ) . While reflecting the civilization of his clip Kerouac besides allowed his readers of all clip experience the exhilaration of what the chief character of the fresh “ Sal Paradise, a immature author in New York City ” proverb and experienced all through the escapades he carried out with his friends. When we look at the existent life histories of Jack Kerouac, we will see that through this novel, what Kerouac did was really to narrate his personal experience in chase of freedom and a religious journey. As people began to be fascinated by his worldview and the figure of people who identified themselves with the wild, independent and energetic characters of the novel grew, Kerouac became an icon and finally a cultural hero for giving a spirit to his age disputing the norms and conformance of the 50s ( Swartz 3 ) .

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This nonconformity inspired by the novel was n’t met with approbation by the conservative community of the fiftiess. The unfavorable judgments failed to see the novel ‘s religious nature and the characters were convicted of avoiding soul-searching, self-awareness, and thought. However, this hunt for care-free idling is excessively meaningful to be regarded simply as an irresponsible flight without any moral concerns ( Warren 43 ) . Kerouac, merely like all the other authors of the Beat Generation, was in hunt of a religious release that rejected American middle-class values, which really explains why he was convicted by the mainstream civilization. Yet, his desire to interrupt free from the American communal values stems from their failure to supply people with any way or humane values. For him America is a land of corruptness and lip service ( Charters 281 ) . Sal Paradise ‘s journey was the incarnation of Jack Kerouac ‘s ain dreams, experiences and religious hunt. Therefore, Sal ‘s experiences during the journey uncover what Kerouac is after in his personal life. In order to understand the religious facet of the novel ‘s flow of the events, we need to look into the existent histories of Kerouac ‘s life.

Jack Kerouac, although has been rebellious against Christian church one time indoors, he had ne’er broke his ties with faith and spiritualty. When he began to read about Buddhism and Buddhist literature, he was so absorbed in the faith that he finally became a practician of this faith. After he had engaged in Buddhism in 1953 he enlarged his vision of the universe and life itself by integrating his Christian belief with Zen-Buddhism ( Giamo 85-87 ) . Zen Buddhism is based on the thought that all worlds have a Buddha nature inside them and to recognize this nature, all human being has to make is hunt for his ain inner ego. Zen, which means “ speculation ” is the truth realized in action and it requires a rigorous subject. This subject may affect difficult labour or travel ( Weiss 21 ) . In conformity with this doctrine, Kerouac employs “ the route ” as a means to supply him the invariable enduring both physical and religious. Therefore, in On the Road, he puts Sal Paradise through a invariably switching province of head and spirit. It is non hard to spot the ‘sorrow ‘ invariably felt by Sal during the flow of the events in the novel. Kerouac repeatedly uses “ sad ” and “ American ” in depicting Sal and his friend ‘s experiences, as in ; “ our sad play in the American dark ” which is the representation of an full American civilization of that clip. Fascinated by the joyous and foolhardy Dean Moriarty, Sal leaves his stable and comfortable life behind and engages in loony and restless escapades going to the West. This could be resembled to America as a state which promises everything but delivers nil. Peoples who are driven by the enticements of American dream terminal in letdown and sorrow. Similarly, Sal ca n’t happen what he looked for neither in Dean nor in their aimless escapades. Another minute of sorrow when Sal stands on the pavement in San Francisco ; he feels bliss, at hand decease and an consciousness of past lives in a deep religious hurting. In Sal ‘s hunt for significance, there is ever melancholy, non joy. His words upon geting in Times Square explicate this melancholy:

I had traveled eight 1000 stat mis around the American continent and I was back on Times Square ; and right in the center of a first-come-first-serve hr, excessively, seeing with my guiltless road-eyes the absolute lunacy and antic horror of New York with its 1000000s and 1000000s hustling everlastingly for a vaulting horse among themselves, the huffy dream – grabbing, taking, giving, suspiring, deceasing, merely so they could be buried in those atrocious graveyard metropoliss beyond Long Island City ( Kerouac 52 ) .

Buddhist doctrine which requires action for the truth to be realized finds form in the motions of Sal Paradise. As we can see what Sal Paradise does is non taking a “ care-free, cheerful publicity ” of an irresponsible life on the route which poses a possible danger to the traditional American life as Warren French defines it in his book Jack Kerouac ( 42 ) . Alternatively, he draws upon this journey as a way that would take him to enlightenment and nirvana. To make enlightenment, he had to endure. Ann charter writes that he ‘was deeply in understanding with the first Noble Truth of the Buddha ‘s instruction, that is, all life is enduring ‘ ( Charters 1995, 581 ) . Ben Giamo in his celebrated book The Word and The Way puts these into words really good as follows ;

Both inspiration and device blended into an uniform whole as Kerouac sought a signifier of original Mahayana Buddhist ‘ rapture that would non merely offer solace for letdown, enduring and loss, but provide agencies and conditions necessary for presenting one from the trepidations of “ moral hopelessness ( 88 ) .

The author continues that Kerouac was attracted to Buddhism because it offered “ solace for letdown, enduring and loss ” . ( 89 ) In the novel, Sal ‘s inordinate esteem and unprompted disposition toward his joyous friend Dean Moriarty and his unstable life brings him a immense letdown and he returns to his inner ego in the terminal. Sal Paradise says in the thick of his trip back and Forth across the continent- ” the route is life ” . Harmonizing to Buddhist rules life must keep within a brotherhood between “ ecstasy and agony, elation and dejection ” ( Giamo 23 ) . Sal, during the class of fresh involves in different provinces of head. When he sets off for this “ ocean trip of his life ” he is really aroused and after his experiments with different topographic points and different people particularly with Dean Moriarty, the hero of his life. He realizes that what he had been after all those times was really existing within himself non in any other topographic point or in another idealised individual. The route provides him the activity, a busy, ungratified, energetic side of a universe he has ever dreamed of nevertheless he ends in letdown and eventually returns place, so to himself once more. Therefore he suffers a batch ; foremost he is disappointed in San Francisco in his visit to Remi Boncoeur whom he loved so much but had to go forth in unhappiness. Here in his words his letdown becomes clear:

Here I was at the terminal of America-no more land-and there was nowhere to travel but backaˆ¦ ” ( Kerouac 66 )

Subsequently on he meets a Mexican miss named Terry with whom he falls in love but can non pull off to do a life together. So, he gets his 2nd letdown through love. He is all entirely once more puting off for New York go forthing Terry in Sabinal ( her hometown ) ( Kerouac 85 ) . Finally when he comes to New York, he is visited by his hero Dean Moriarty who turns out to be sentimental and excessively emotional interrupting all the images Sal had about him in his caput. He is dissatisfied with what he finds on the route.

When Sal and Dean are in Mexico City, Sal develops dysentery and Dean performs his concluding treachery by go forthing Sal behind, hectic and ill. Looking back, Sal ‘s travels appear to himself meaningless and Dean Moriarty is non every bit heroic as he was when he started these journeys. As Sal reflects:

When I got better, I realized what a rat he was, but so I had to understand the impossible complexness of his life, how he had to go forth me at that place, ill, to acquire on with his married womans and sufferings ( Kerouac 71 ) .

Life is merely a opportunity to turn a psyche. Sal grew from naivete to wisdom by traveling through a tough set of experiences. Therefore, what we should look for in Sal Paradise ‘s journey should be his experiment with enduring from east to west which would take him to eventual cognition, enlightenment or enlightenment as Buddhist principles requires.

Another facet of Buddhism in the novel ‘s character and flow of events is detachment from the restrictions of clip. Giamo indicates that Kerouac was immersed in Buddhism because it helped him to acquire off from the boundaries of “ prison of clip ” ( 89 ) . This is rather clearly observed in the novel ‘s memorable scenes. We see that clip is what he is in a challenge with, in malice of his running in front he is imprisoned in clip and at the terminal of this route ( which is clip itself ) awaits decease. So, all these adventures become a way for him to acknowledge that he can non crush clip or get away decease. During the class of these battles against clip, a sort of hunt for transcendency Begins for him as a Buddhist pursuit ( Giamo 23-27 )

Sal celebrated “ the route ” and “ Dean Moriarty ” because they together are the personifications of “ restlessness ” . However, Giamo suggests that these two besides inspire sorrow and a feeling of mortality. The route symbolizes the passing of clip and despite his velocity and hotfooting motions Dean is besides imprisoned in clip bondage ( Giamo 23 ) .This two most of import things proved to be beaten by clip and Sal, in the terminal, is awakened to the fact that he had lost and besides gained tonss of things from this journey. He is developed in that he realized he is within the prison of “ clip ” and with how Giamo defines it “ as clip beats Sal down it besides restores him ” ( 27 ) .

When he returns place it is really clear that he changed a batch. He traveled without nutrient, money or friends most of the clip and had the “ all in clip ” of his life and finally he is delivered from desperation and lay waste toing ennui of clip. Sal Paradise ‘s ocean trip had taken its roots from a ennui that clip brought upon him. If we turn back to the beginning of the fresh Sal ‘s ain words puts a mirror to his motivations to take this ocean trip:

Although my aunt warned me that he would acquire me in problem, I could hear a new call and see a new skyline, and believe it at my immature age ; and a small spot of problem or even Dean ‘s eventual rejection of me as a brother, seting me down, as he would make subsequently, on hungering pavements and sickbeds- what did it affair? I was a immature author and I wanted to take off. ( Kerouac 11 )

Giamo explains this as a motivation to travel beyond clip, to “ exceed ” because of the ennui clip brings upon a individual. From that on, one needs to be occupied with the metaphysical as a religious desire. Sal wanted to present himself from the “ prison of clip ” and besides mortality and to make the enlightenment he searched for he had to travel through this agony procedure. ( Giamo afterword 197 ) . He besides notes that harmonizing to Buddhist learning one has to either exceed beyond clip either through reincarnation or “ fade outing one ‘s being All-at- One ” ( 197 ) . Although his hunt for Buddhist enlightenment proved unsatisfactory in the terminal, Sal Paradise gained a new vision and order which would be his dependable counsel on how to handle clip in this new ordered life in forepart of him, every bit good as achieving wisdom which showed him the worth of his ain being.

All those ecstasy along with the letdowns he experienced “ on the route ” are justified by this new, transformed “ Sal ” who achieved to turn into himself to happen inspiration and deity. From all starvation and physical load he went thorough during this travel he emerged as an enlightened Buddhist pupil who found inspiration and the Buddha nature within himself.

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