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By Brianna Wiest
Around the mid 1950s, as the golden age of Eastern philosophy for Western minds dawned, iconoclast and beat icon Jack Kerouac stepped away from his often self-conscious, subjective, spontaneous prose, and in private letters to his dearest and most trusted companions, articulated the eternal concepts of Zen in a way so original and expansive and precise, it’s compelling us to listen, even now.
The short film below is based on one such letter, to his wife, Edie Kerouac Partner, penned in 1957. He is almost meditative in his simple instruction for connecting with your inherent source, speaking of the soul’s infinity, the temporary concept of “mind,” and how it separates us from our true, blissful essence of being:
I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.
He also touches on the illusory nature of reality, and the way we are most compelled and obedient to it: the concept of self.
We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenedhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born.
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