Jack Kerouac: The Dharma Bums

(559 words)

The Dharma Bums is Ray Smith’s account of his Buddhist endeavors to understand the way of the Dharma (spiritual, blissful truth). The narrative details his encounter with Japhy Ryder, an exponent of another type of Buddhism, more oriented towards Zen than Smith’s Mahayana Buddhism. The distinction between the two is not really clarified. Smith seeks to be more constantly contemplative and ascetic than Ryder, but he is never quite sure how much he wishes to remain celibate. At the start of his narrative, he explains how he has refrained from sex for some time, but early on he abandons this resolve, indulging in yabyum (a session of erotic sex) with Ryder, Alvah Goldbrook and a woman called “Princess”. After …

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Ellis, R. J.. "The Dharma Bums". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 April 2007
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1075, accessed 06 July 2015.]