When I was a little kid in Oregon I didn't feel that I was an American at all, with all that suburban ideal and sex repression and general dreary newspaper gray censorship of all our real human values but and when I discovered Buddhism and all I suddenly felt that I had lived in a previous lifetime innumerable ages ago and now because of faults and sins in that lifetime I was being degraded to a more grievous domain of existence and my karma was to be born in America where nobody has any fun or believes in anything, especially freedom.
Colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middleclass non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets is each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness to hear the voice crying in the wilderness, to find the ecstasy of the stars, to find the dark mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization.
By God, you're right, all those sedentary bums sitting around on pillows hearing the cry of a triumphant mountain smasher, they don't deserve it.
See the whole thing is a world full of rucksack wanderers, Dharma Bums refusing to subscribe to the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn't really want anyway such as refrigerators, TV sets, cars, and general junk you finally always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of them imprisoned in a system of work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume, I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with rucksacks, going up to mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad, making young girls happy and old girls happier, all of 'em Zen Lunatics who go about writing poems that happen to appear in their heads for no reason and also by being kind and also by strange unexpected acts keep giving visions of eternal freedom to everybody and to all living creatures.
Only one thing I'll say for the people watching television, the millions and millions of the One Eye: they're not hurting anyone
"Pray tell us, good buddy, and don't make it muddy, who played this trick, on Harry and Dick, and why is so mean, this Eternal Scene, just what's the point, of this whole joint?" I thought maybe I could find out at last from these Dharma Bums.
"Maybe I'll be rich and work and make a lot of money and live in a big house." But a minute later: "And who wants to enslave himself to a lot of all that, though?"
So the party was divided into three parts all the time: those in the living room listening to the hi-fi or thumbing through books, those in the yard eating and listening to the guitar music, and those on the hilltop in the shack brewing pots of tea and sitting crosslegged discussing poetry and things and the Dharma or wandering around in the high meadow to to go see the children fly kites or old ladies ride by on horseback. Every weekend was the same mild picnic, a regular classical scene of angels and dolls having a kind of flowery time in the void...
Who were all these strange ghosts rooted to the silly little adventure of earth with me? And who was I?
Japhy, do you think God made the world to amuse himself because he was bored? Because if so he would have to be mean.
I really don't know, Ray, but I appreciate your sadness about the world.
I got him off talking about his trouble to talk about the Last Things and he said, "Yeah, those who're good stay in Heaven, they've been in Heaven from the beginning," which was very wise.
And suddenly I saw that the Northwest was a great deal more than the little vision I had of it of Japhy in my mind. It was miles and miles of unbelievable mountains grooking on all horizons in the wild broken clouds, Mount Olympus and Mount Baker, a giant orange sash over the Pacific-ward skies.
Every time I felt bored I rolled another cigarette out of my can of Prince Albert; there's nothing better in the world than a roll-your-own deeply enjoyed without hurry.
It was the realer-than-life Japhy of my dreams, and he stood there saying nothing. "Go away, thieves of the mind!" he cried down the hollows of the unbelievable Cascades.
Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, "God, I love you" and looked up to the sky and really meant it. "I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or another."
Then I added "Blah," with a little grin, because I knew that shack and that mountain would understand what that meant, and turned and went on down the trail back to this world.