Saturday, 18 February 2012

Tao Te Ching and Dharma Bums

Today I'm reading Tao Te Ching, which I do every year, and Dharma Bums. I do like Kerouac, but so far I've only read On The Road, which was recommended to me by my friend Rich.

I used to work with him about seven years ago. We worked in the pub, and it was, to be all Dickensian - the best of times and the worst of times. I loved working with him, but my God, I didn't like working there. Saturdays with him were the best day. And it was he who encouraged me to check out Tao Te Ching, The Buddhist Scriptures (which I'll also be delving into later, too), and Jack Kerouac. He also got me into pizza toasties, but this is a book blog after all so I'll just leave that one. But yes, I'm forever indebted to him for opening me to all of these, and not just the pizza toastie. Or cigars and port, for that matter.

I've said before, rightly or wrongly, I don't like "rating" religious texts, but I will say I like reading Tao Te Ching. It is simple, though at the same time hard to grasp sometimes. My favourite passage is Chapter 29,

Those who wish to take the world and control it / I see that they cannot succeed / The world is a sacred instrument / One cannot control it / The one who controls it will fail / The one who grasps it will lose / Because all things: / Either lead or follow / Either blow hot or cold / Either have strength or weakness / Either have ownership or take by force / Therefore the sage: / Eliminates extremes / Eliminates excess / Eliminates arrogance 
But then, I have a lot of favourite passages, and one can't help but feel reading it all does a person some good. "Returning to the source is serenity", again from the Tao Te Ching, was written on the order of service for Rich's funeral. He died six years ago; six years ago tonight. The world lost an awesome, kind, gentle dude. I'm older than him now, which is one of the many hundreds of things I never understand about death. How could I be older than a dude who was two years older than me. And the age old question, where do these people go? I'll never know. But I hope it's to serenity.

 I'll finish with this song, one of his favourites, one we used to play over and over on the pub jukebox. Makes me cry, but it's great. If you listen to it, do me a favour - turn it up loud.


  1. Now I understand why you said today was a sad anniversary!
    The question with the age has always been a mystery to me too, my sister died when she was just a baby, exactly one year before I was born, and I have never known whether I should think of her as my little or my big sister. It doesn't really matter but still, I'm wondering.
    I know it's little consolation, but Rich could not have asked for a better friend than you. And if we want to stay with Dickensian metaphors a little longer; I completely believe that he's gone to a far, far better rest.
    Take your time to mourn and know that my heart is with you.
    Oh, and by the way: I turned my speakers up as loud as they would go!

  2. I turned mine up too! I used to listen to this song a lot when I was a teenager and it was released. It took me a long time to figure out all the references. I'm sorry about your friend; it's good that you have so many fond memories of him.

  3. Love that Kerouac collage! And I'm glad you like The Dharma Bums. :)

    I'm sure your friend is in a better place now. xx



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