COMMENTARY from Gregory Stephenson

Half a century old this fall, Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, first published in October of 1958, has sustained itself through five decades of changing cultural and literary fashions to become acknowledged as a modern classic. Condescendingly or contemptuously dismissed by most reviewers upon publication, The Dharma Bums has proven to be a novel of enduring value and perennial interest – remaining continuously in print for fifty years – and one that continues to be embraced by contemporary readers as a book that speaks pertinently to our era.
Although Asian religious terms and concepts are today no longer quite as exotic to readers as they were when The Dharma Bums first appeared, it is still likely that a number of the Buddhist references made in the novel will be unfamiliar to many readers. At the same time, it is also likely that certain of the literary allusions and various other references, including those to the popular culture of the 1930s and 40s, will be obscure to the common reader today. It is my hope, then, that these “Explanatory Notes to the Dharma Bums” will provide readers concise and helpful information with regard to the Asian sources and the American and European roots invoked in the novel.
The notes may also, it is to be hoped, serve to throw into relief aspects of the conceptual substrata of the novel. For isolating from the body of the text those elements of the novel which derive from the author’s eclectic knowledge in areas such as jazz and blues, slang and folklore, history and literature, popular culture and the spiritual traditions of East and West, serves to highlight these same elements, permitting us to see more clearly the diverse currents joined by Kerouac to form the distinctive vision of self and spirit that shapes The Dharma Bums.

Page references are to the Penguin Classics edition, London: 2000.

p. 7

Camarillo where Charlie Parker’d been mad and relaxed back to Charlie Parker (1920-1955) American jazz alto saxophonist. One.of the central figures in the development of bop. A nervous breakdown combined with addiction to heroin and alcohol caused his confinement at.the Camarillo State Hospital from June 1946 to January 1947.

Parker.commemorated his stay at Camarillo in a 1947 composition titled “Relaxin’ at Camarillo.”

.the highball whistle: a signal to go.

a poor-boy of Tokay: a small size bottle, probably a half pint.


p. 8

the Diamond Sutra: a short Buddhist text from the “Perfection of Wisdom”.corpus (prajnaparamita), composed around 300 A.D. The full title is “The .Diamond-Cutter Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.” The Diamond Sutra is a summary of the doctrine of emptiness (sunyata) or voidness, and the thought to have the power to cut through ignorance like a diamond for.those who study it and reflect upon its meaning.

bhikku: a Buddhist monk, mendicant holy man or priest.

.the wheel of the True Meaning, or Dharma: the way, the law, .righteousness, reality.

.Saint Teresa: Teresa of Lisieux (1873 – 97). A Carmelite nun who under.obedience wrote her autobiography, describing the “little way,” that is the.following of Christ in little things.
.......The shower of roses which Saint Teresa promised to let fall from heaven.after her death is a metaphor for the help which she hoped to extend,.after death, to those on earth.

.yard dicks: railroad yard detectives or guards.

p. 9

the S.P.: the Southern Pacific railroad.


p. 10

Avalokitesvara: “the lord who looks in every direction” or “the lord of.what is seen.” The supremely compassionate helper, often represented as eleven headed and having a thousand eyes and a thousand arms.

.ten thousand great chilicosms …a couple umpteen trillion sextillion .…unnumberable number: In the Parable of the Physician, from the Lotus.Sutra, the Buddha speaks of “infinite, boundless, hundreds, thousands, myriads, kotis, nayutas of kalpas” multiplied by “hundreds, thousands,.myriads, kotis, nayutas of numberless kalpas.” See The Teachings of the..Compassionate Buddha edited, with commentary, by E.A. Burtt, N.Y..Mentor Books, 1955 (p. 158). This is a paperback collection that was.owned and read by Jack Kerouac.


p. 12

the Zen Lunatics of China and Japan: Zen, from Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese ideograph Ch’an, a school of Buddhism which came to Japan from China, teaching “self-discipline, deep meditation, and the.attainment of enlightenment by direct intuitive insight into a self-validating.transcendent truth beyond all intellectual conceptions and (which).characteristically expresses its teachings in paradoxical and nonlogical.forms.” (Webster’s III)

..I.W.W.: Industrial Workers of the World, known also as Wobblies, an ..organization of revolutionary labor unions, founded in 1905 in Chicago...I.W.W. activities were often characterized by violence which resulted in.suppression. The influence of the organization waned after World War I.and came to an end during the 1920s.


p. 13

Bodhisattva: beings who are at a stage of spiritual development where.they could at will achieve Buddhahood and enter Nirvana, but who refrain from doing so in order to help others to attain liberation.


p. 14

Mahayana: “… a branch of Buddhism made up of various syncretistic sects that are found chiefly in Tibet, Nepal, China, and Japan, have .vernacular scriptures based on a Sanskrit canon, believe in a god or gods, and usually teach the bodhisattva ideal of compassion and universal salvation – called also Great Vehicle ….” (Webster’s III)

Hinayana: literally, in Sanskrit, the Lesser Vehicle. One of the major sects of Buddhism, earlier than Mahayana, based on the Pali Canon of scriptures, and now surviving mainly in Burma, Ceylon, and Thailand.

Sakyamuni’s four noble truths: Sakyamuni is a title of the Buddha denoting.that he stemmed from the Sakya tribe which inhabited a region of .present-day Nepal. The four noble truths are the foundation of Buddha’s .teaching. The first truth is the recognition of transience, and the suffering that is its inevitable consequence. The second truth is the recognition is desire, the pursuit of satisfaction in things, which gives rise to suffering. The third truth is that suffering can be brought to cessation by the eradication of desire. The fourth truth sets forth the means to that eradication: the Eightfold Path.

the Lankavatara Scripture: one of the most influential early scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, it is also revered in Zen Buddhism. Date and authorship are unknown. The essence of the teaching of the scripture is that all external phenomena are due to a wrong interpretation of inner experience, and that the apprehension of ultimate reality is reached by a sudden revelation in which the truth bursts upon the yogi.


p. 16

Hsuan Tsung the great Chinese monk: also known as San-Tsang, T’ang-seng, (ca. 600 – 64 ), a Chinese Buddhist monk and pilgrim who through his translations of Sanskrit texts was a major influence on the development of Buddhism in China. His famous pilgrimage to India in search of the sources of Buddhist teachings is described in Ta-t’ang hsi-yu chi, (Record of the Western Journey).


p. 17

‘Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?’: This is a classical Zen koan, also phrased as “What is the meaning of the Buddha’s coming from the West?” and “Why did Bodhidharma come to China?” Bodhidharma (470 – 532) was an Indian Buddhist monk who traveled by boat from India to China and there established the Buddha-Mind-School, which is also called Ch’an or in Japanese, Zen. As the founder of the school of Ch’an, Bodhidharma is also known as the First Patriach.


p. 18

Blyth: R.H. Blyth or Reginald Horace Blyth (1898 – 1964), born in Essex, England. Later emigrated to Japan where he became Professor of English Literature, and tutor to Crown Prince (later Emperor) Akhito. Author of four volumes of haiku translations and commentaries, published between 1949 and 1952, and of Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, Tokyo: 1948.


p. 19

the complete works of D.T. Suzuki: Daisetz Taitaro Suzuki (1870-1966), was an important scholar of Mahayana Buddhism and Japanese religion in general. In the West, he is chiefly known for his writings on Zen Buddhism, including Essays in Zen Buddhism, First, Second and Third Series, New York: 1949 – 1953.

Han Shan: A Chinese hermit and poet who, during the 7th century, practised Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism according to his own style. Together with his companion, Shih-te, he has be come a symbol of the lay approach to enlightenment.


p. 20

the Book of Tea …a scholarly treatise: written by Kakuzo Okakura (1862 – 1913) and published in 1906. In Chapter II of The Book of Tea, the author quotes from a poem titled “Thanks to Imperial Censor Meng for his Gift of Freshly Picked Tea” written by the Tang Dynasty poet Lu T’ung, known also as Master Jade Spring. In this poem the poet extols the drinking of tea in a passage which reads: “The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, -- all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realm of the immortals. The seventh cup – ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? (i.e. the Isles of the Immortals) Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.”


p. 21

Matterhorn: Matterhorn Peak is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the eastern portion of the state of California. Elevation: 12, 244 feet.


p. 22

yabyum: In Tibetan Buddhism the iconographical representation of two deities in ritualized intercourse. With the active female astride and facing the passive male, the two figures make an ontological whole, representing the indivisibility of the two truths, ultimate truth and relative truth.


p. 23

the famous Ryoanji rock garden of Shokokuji monastery in Kyoto: fifteen rocks of various sizes and shapes set amid carefully raked white sand, placed in groups of seven, five, and three in such a manner that from any aspect one rock is hidden. See “Stone Garden” by Will Petersen, Evergreen Review Vol. 1, No. 4, 1957, pp. 127-37. (Will Petersen was the inspiration for the figure of Ron Sturlason in The Dharma Bums.)

koan: in Zen Buddhism a term used to describe a paradox or puzzle which can neither be understood in conventional conceptual terms nor resolved by the use of the intellect alone. The ultimate purpose of the koan is to create an awareness of identity with buddha-nature.


p. 25

flubbed up the name of Li Po by calling him his Japanese name: In Cathay (1915) Ezra Pound refers to Li Po as Rihaku, a transliteration of the Japanese pronunciation of his name. (For Li Po, see note for p.48.)


p. 29

the Everett Massacre: On November 5, 19l6, at Everett, Washington, a violent confrontation took place between members of the I.W.W. and local authorities, resulting in several deaths and numerous injuries, predominantly among the I.W.W. members.


p. 30

samadhi: profound meditation in which the mind has no awareness of itself. In Buddhism, samadhi is the final step in the Noble Eightfold Path, which leads to liberation from suffering and the achievement of nirvana, or final enlightenment.


p. 31

Dharmakaya: the cosmical body of the Buddha, the essence of all beings, synonomous with Tathata or “thusness,” that is the absolute and true nature inherent in all appearances.

satori: in Zen Buddhism, awakening, illumination, enlightenment.

samsara: the endless cycle of becoming, the life of beings in the phenomenal world; the opposite of nirvana.

Tathagata: According to Buddhist tradition, this is the title chosen for himself by the Buddha. Most often translated as “Thus-Gone,” that is one who has achieved liberation, transcended the world.


John Muir: (1838-1914) Scots-born, American naturalist, explorer and conservationist, who campaigned for the establishment of natural parks and the preservation of forests. Muir Woods National Monument and Muir Glacier were named in his honor. Muir’s works include: The Mountains of California (1894); My First Summer in the Sierra (1911); The Yosemite (1912); and Steep Trails (1918).


p. 37

Three Stooges: The Three Stooges, -- Larry, Moe and Curly – were slapstick comedians who appeared in numerous two-reelers (shorts) and feature films from 1934 to 1958. See Kerouac’s paean to the Three Stooges in Visions of Cody (N.Y. 1972), pp. 303 – 306.



Daisy Mae: a comic strip figure; the dumb-blonde girlfriend of Li`l Abner, in the strip of the same name. Created in 1934 by American newspaper cartoonist, Al Capp, Li’l Abner appeared until the 1970s.


p. 41

Ciardi and Bread Loaf Writers: John Ciardi (1916-1986) was an American poet, translator and teacher. From 1956 to 1972, he was director of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference which convenes yearly (since 1926) at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont.


p. 43

the eastern hems of Amida: the Pure Land, an untainted transcendent realm created by the Buddha Amitabha (Amida) into which his devotees aspire to be born in their next lifetime. Conditions in the Pure Land are conducive to enlightenment, so that those reborn there will achieve nirvana quickly and easily.


p. 48

Li Po: also known as Li Pai (701-762 ) was a Chinese Taoist poet, known for his wandering and his drinking.

John Burroughs: (1837-1921) was an American nature-writer whose publications in prose include: Birds and Poets (1877), Locusts and Wild Honey (1879), Whitman A Study (1902), Ways of Nature (1905), and Field and Study (1919). He was also the author of a volume of poetry: Bird and Bough (1905).

Paul Bunyan: an imaginary American folk hero, a lumberjack of prodigious strength who appears in humorous tall tales.

Kropotkin: Prince Pëtr Alexssevich Kropotkin (1842-1921) was a Russian revolutionary and one of the central theorists of anarchism. Kropotkin developed the theory of Communist anarchism or mutual aid, based on the abolition of nation states and all private property, and the transformation of human society into a federation of mutual aid communities.


p. 49

comparisons are odious …quoting Cervantes: The phrase “Comparisons are odious” occurs in Part II, Chapter XXIII, of Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605) by Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616).


p. 51

Chuangtse: also Chuang-tzu (ca. 370-286 B.C.), one of the founders of Taoism, best known for the work which bears his name: the Chuang-tzu. Chuang-tzu taught that the Tao, the primordial unproduced Producer of all that is, cannot be defined or limited, and that all life is subject to the unending transformations of the omnipresent Tao. Accordingly, followers of the Tao should free themselves from worldly attachments and entanglements, ambitions and preferences, cultivating instead a kind of enlightened fatalism, allowing things to follow their own course.

Buck Jones: screen name of Charles Frederick Gebhart (1891-1942), an American cowboy film acor. Jones starred in The Last Straw (1919), and in numerous other films and film serials.

Natty Bumppo: was the hero of a sequence of novels by James Fennimore Cooper, beginning with The Pioneers (1823) and ending with The Deerslayer (1841). Known also as Hawkeye” or “Leatherstocking,” Natty Bumppo embodies the natural man uncorrupted by civilization.


p. 52

Shiki: Masaoka Shiki (1867 – 1902) was the most influential haiku poet and theorist of the late nineteenth century.


p. 57

the Forest of Arden: located in that part of Warwickshire, England, to the northwest of the Avon. The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare’s play, As You Like It, where it is an Edenic, magical realm.


p. 58

to me a mountain is a Buddha: Similar sentiments are expressed by Japhy’s hero, John Muir, in his book, My First Summer in the Sierra (1911). On first viewing South Dome, Muir reflects that it is “a most noble rock, it seems full of thought …like a god.” (p. 129).


p. 6l

Nirmakaya: a Buddha in human form.

Sambhogakaya: Buddha in celestial form.


p. 64

Surangamy sutries: Japhy’s playful pronunciation of the surangama sutra, “Heroic Gate Sutra” or “Heroic Progress Samadhi Scripture,” one of the central texts of the Chan school of Chinese Buddhism. According to the Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, the sutra “emphasizes the power of Samadhi, through which enlightenment can be attained, and explains the various methods of emptiness meditation through the practice of which everyone can realize enlightenment.”


p. 65

the Paramita of Dana: generosity; one of the six (later ten) virtues developed by bodhisattvas.


p. 66

Who knoweth the spirit of man that looketh upward: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Ecclesiastes 3:21.


p. 68

David O. Selznick : (1902 – 1965) legendary Hollywood film producer and independent filmmaker, who created the most popular feature film of what has been called “the golden age of Hollywood,” Gone with the Wind (1939).


p. 82

Great Plum : Ta-mei Fa-ch’ang or Damei Fachang (752 – 839). A Ch’an master of the T’ang Dynasty. Ta-mei means « Big Plum » and refers to the mountain where he practiced in hermitage. Thus, “The plum is ripe” is a pun on his name, used in this context to express approval of Ta-mei’s views.

but Ou sont les neiges d’antan?: The refrain “Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan” (But where are the snows of yesteryear?) occurs in the poem “Ballades Des Dames Du Temps Jadis” by Francois Villon (1431-after 1463), appearing in his volume of poems, Le Testament (1461 or 62).


p. 83

Cheer up slaves, and horrify foreign despots: “The attitude of great poets is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots. The turns of their necks, the sounds of their feet, the motions of their wrists, are full of hazard to the one and hope to the other.” Walt Whitman in Preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass.


p. 84

zendo: a large hall in zen monasteries in which zazen is practiced. See entry for page 86 on zazen


p. 85

a Tinker Toy: a children’s construction set consisting of wooden sticks and spools, created in 1913 by Charles H. Pajeau and Robert Pettit.

Hakuyu: A cave dwelling hermit who advised Hakuin (see below) as to how to regain his health by means of the practices of visualization and concentrated breathing (as described in Japhy’s subsequent account of Hakuin and his encounter with “this old man who lived in a cave.”)

Hakuin: ordination name of Nagasawa Ekaku (ca.1685-1768 ), a major Japanese Zen master, painter and poet.


p. 86

Rahula: the son of Gautama, the Buddha, born near the time that Gautama resolved to leave his home in search of enlightenment. Rahula was later ordained as a novice and received teaching from the Buddha.

zazen: in Zen, the basic meditation practice. Sitting in the prescribed manner, the practitioner first regulates breathing and thereafter thought processes.


p. 89

the Master Switch: For a fuller treatment of this image, see Kerouac’s dystopian fable “CITYCitycity,” in The Moderns, An Anthology of New Writing in America, edited by LeRoi Jones, New York: Corinth Books, 1963, pp. 250 – 265.


p. 90

what the Chinese call do-nothing: not/non-doing, or wu-wei, is a mode of being and action in Taoism, an active inactivity which allows things to follow their own course. The practitioner of wu-wei undertakes no calculated activity, but only spontaneous actions that are in accordance with his or her own nature. “Tao invariably does nothing and yet there is nothing that is not done.”

the earth is a fresh planet: A paraphrase of or an allusion to the last sentence of Walden or Life in the Woods (1854) by Henry David Thoreau: “The sun is but a morning star.”


p. 97

Ma Rainey: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, born Pridgett, (1886 –1939). American blues singer known as the “Mother of the Blues.” Linking rural African-American folk music with urban blues, her songs were often characterized by earthy directness and bawdy double-entendre.


p. 98

a new Buddha-field: Possibly an allusion to Gleanings in Buddha Fields (1897) by Lafcadio Hearn.

Sinclair Lewis: (1885-1951), American novelist, best known for Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922), satirical accounts of small town life and conformist commercialism.


p. 99

a yard bull: a railroad police officer, guard or detective, (sometimes known as a cinder bull).


p. 100

reefer: a railroad refrigerator car.

the Digha Nikaya: one of a gathered collection of Buddhist texts, the Digha Nikaya, or the “Long Collection,” concerns ethical rules, the refutation of false views, and a code for lay Buddhists.


p. 103

Fuke the Chinese Sage: P’u-Hua, called Fuke in Japanese, (d. 860 ). A Ch’an master, celebrated for his unconventional style; founder of the Fuke School, stressing non-sutra activities, including flute-playing, and the model of the holy fool style of Zen.


p. 106

Roy Hamilton: (1929-1969 ) was a 1950’s recording artist, singing gospel-flavored songs that appealed both to R&B fans and a broader audience of popular music fans.


p. 114

Augustine: St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Christian father and doctor of the Church; author of numerous treatises, including The City of God, and Confessions.

Spade: a black person, from the expression “as black as the ace of spades.” Never used with racist connotation.

Francis: St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). A Christian ascetic, and founder of the Franciscan order, known for his magnanimity of spirit, and for his life of simplicity, compassion and joyous poverty. Author of numerous sermons and prayers, including the Canticle of the Sun.


p. 115

‘Let there be blowing-out and bliss forevermore,’ I prayed: The literal .meaning of the Sanskrit noun nirvana is “blown out.” Like a flame blown out, egoism, with all its inherent fears and cravings, is extinguished, and..the realization of the true nature of the mind is attained.


p. 117

Moab: In the Old Testament, the eldest son of Lot, begotten ..incestuously.


p. 121

the Triple Vehicle: “destruction of the habit-energy of karma, and the .hindrances of discriminative knowledge and human passion.” (The .Lankavatara Sutra.)

.the One Vehicle: “the Bodhisatva should retire by himself to a quiet, .secluded place where he may reflect within himself without relying on.anyone else, and there let him exert himself to make successive .advances along the stages …I call this the One Vehicle.” (The .Lankavatara Sutra).


p. 124

John L. Lewis: (1880-1969), American labor leader.

.the Dipankara Buddha: the first of the twenty-four Buddhas, predating the.historical Buddha in a world cycle long past.


p. 125

karma: the force – positive or negative – generated by a person’s .actions; the law of consequence.


p. 134

Coxie’s army: a protest march lead by Jacob S. Coxey (1854-1951) in .Washington, D.C. on May 1, 1894, to support legislation to create jobs..The protestors numbered about 500.

.the Sheriff of Cochise and Wyatt Earp: popular television programs of the .mid 1950s, both centered upon western lawmen, -- the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, and the historical figure, Wyatt Earp (1848-1929).


p. 138

Mara: also known as Namuci, the tempter. Hindu and Buddhist god of temptation and sensual pleasure


p. 143

Buddham saranam gocchami … Dhammam saranam gocchami … Sangham sarana gocchami: the Three Refuges, a formula repeated three times, meaning: “I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the dharma, I take refuge in the sangha (i.e. community, brotherhood).”


p. 146

the famous Bulls … an ancient Chinese cartoon: The set of illustrations known as the Ten Oxherding Pictures is perhaps the most widely known depiction in East Asia of Zen practice. The original set of pictures, each with an accompanying verse, is attributed to the Sung dynasty monk K’uo-an Shih-yüan (twelfth century). The original pictures are no longer extant, but numerous monks and painters have since taken up the theme.

an American Nat Wills tramp of 1905: Nat Wills was the stage name of American entertainer Edward McGregor (1873-1917), who in his popular vaudeville act frequently portrayed a tramp.

to get drunk with the butchers: the last picture of the Ten Oxherding Pictures, the jovial sage with a protruding belly, carrying a wine gourd and a large sack, is traditionally a depiction of Master Hotei, a popular figure in Ch’an and Zen iconography. Based, it seems, on a historical person, Hotei is a joyous, humorous, bliss-bestowing Zen eccentric who mingles with fishmongers, rice merchants and others in the marketplace, touching the hearts of ordinary people. It may be that Kerouac is here remembering a remark made by D.T.Suzuki that the enlightened one “is found in company with wine-bibbers and butchers.” Essays in Zen Buddhism (First Series), New York: Harper and Bros., 1949, p. 34.


p. 152

the Chinese Book of Changes: the I-Ching or Yi-Ching, also known as the Scripture of Changes, is an ancient manual of divination based upon the symbolisms generated by broken and unbroken lines, forming trigramsand hexagrams. A philosophical commentary titled the Ten Wings waslater added to the work, reputedly by Confucius.


p. 154

grunge-jumper: the word grunge means any nasty substance or a dirty and distasteful person; whereas a jumper is a copulator. Hence, a grunge-jumper is one who is so indiscriminately or so desperately lascivious as to copulate with persons who are unclean or otherwise repellent.


p. 160

prajna: “wisdom” or “consciousness” in Sanskrit; the concept that right thought and right view constitute wisdom. The ultimate meaning of the term is direct awareness of the emptiness of self and all appearances.


p. 167

the Tennessee Valley Authority: a federal agency created by the U.S. Congress in 1933 to develop the Tennessee River and its tributaries. Alandmark of federal legislation both in terms of long-range development of natural resources and as an economic and social experiment in regional planning.


p. 169

Bo tree: or Bodhi tree, the tree under which the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment.

Maitreya: “the loving one” or “the embodiment of all-embracing love,” Maitreya, who is expected to come in the future, will be the fifth and last of the earthly Buddhas.

Dwight Goddard: (186l-1939), an American industrial engineer and Congregationalist minister who travelled in China and for a time lived and studied in a Zen monastery near Kyoto, Japan. Goddard wrote a popular introduction to Zen Buddhism, The Buddha’s Golden Path (1929), and edited a compendium of Buddhist teachings and sacred texts titled A Buddhist Bible (1932). The latter was a favorite book of Jack Kerouac.

Kwannon: the Japanese name for Avalokitesvara. See entry for p. 10.


p. 170

Walter the Penniless and Peter the Hermit: Walter the Penniless (Sans Avoir) was a knight and itinerant preacher, who in the eleventh century, led an unruly band of French peasants across Germany and Hungary to Constantinople, in what came to be called the Peasant’s Crusade. Near Dracon, their forces were ambushed and the crusade came to a tragic end. Peter the Hermit, also known as Peter of Amiens, (1050-1115), preached the crusade in France, and placing himself at the head of an undisciplined multitude of thirty thousand men, took part in the capture ofJerusalem in 1099.


p. 179

Ashvhaghosha: more commonly spelled Ashvaghosha, (ca. 80-1150 ), Indian poet, dramatist, philosopher, and orator. A convert to Buddhism, Ashvaghosha was the author of the Buddhacarita, the first complete lifeof the Buddha, religious texts including The Book of Great Glory and The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, as well as numerous plays and poems on Buddhist themes. .


p. 185

switch goat: a switching engine.

Casey Jones: John Luther “Casey” Jones (1863-1900) was a railroad engineer on the Illinois Central’s Cannonball Express train; a daredevil who raced his engine to remain on schedule. Jones attained the posthumous status of a folk-hero due to the manner of his death which occurred when in the face of an imminent collision, he steadfastly remained in his cab in order to pull the airbrake, thus saving the lives of his passengers and crew.


p. 187

Min’n’Bill: a comedy-drama film (1930) starring Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery in the title roles, portraying two colorful down-and-outwaterfront characters who struggle to keep Min’s daughter from being placedin care by the social welfare services.


p. 194

Dharmamega: literally “the clouds of Dharma;” the tenth and final stage in the progress toward bodhisattvahood.


p. 203

'‘Yar, but my she was yar!’ meaning my shack all summer: The phrase .“My, she was yar” occurs several times in the course of the film, The.Philadelphia Story (1940), starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn..The word ‘yar’ is a nautical adjective used to describe a boat, meaning that it is fit and beautiful.