Friday, January 13, 2012

Jack Kerouac and compassion

Reading the news of late usually makes me scratch my head in wonder at the cruelty of human beings, and then I think about whether it's just a natural state for us as a species. It's certainly a "typical" state, and has been for thousands of years. Jiddu Krishnamurti often pointed out the "fact" that we have not evolved one iota in this regard, that we continue right on with the killing, rape, wars, abuse and the rest of it.

What did Jack Kerouac think about compassion? He mentioned it often, and I would say that the overarching zeitgeist of his existence, and therefore of his work, revolved around his heartfelt compassion for the trials we all suffer. Compassion is at the heart of Buddhism, which of course Jack studied extensively and wrote about in several books (Some of the Dharma, Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity).

Jack is credited as saying the following in an essay in Playboy (June, 1959) titled, "The Origins of the Beat Generation":
Who knows, my God, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?
Since inception, I've mentioned compassion 16 times here on The Daily Beat. In particular, I'm proud of this piece I wrote in May 2009. I would encourage you to read Crystal's comment that follows, where she suggests loving "every other human being as if he were our favorite child."

My mom used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I." She didn't necessarily live that saying 100%, but who does?

At least we can aspire to compassion. That would be a start. Yes?

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