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Big Sur

Big Sur


by Jack Kerouac

Big Sur Spirituality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

Marvelous opening moment in fact of the first afternoon I'm left alone in the cabin and I make my first meal, wash my first dishes, nap, and wake up to hear the rapturous ring of silence or Heaven even within and throughout the gurgle of the creek -- When you say AM ALONE and the cabin is suddenly home only because you made one meal and washed your firstmeal dishes -- Then nightfall, the religious vestal lighting of the beautiful kerosene lamp after careful washing of the mantle in the creek and carefuldrying with toilet paper, which spoils it by specking it so you again wash it in the creek this time just let the mantle drip dry in the sun. (5.4)

Jack imbues even the smallest of actions in Big Sur with spiritual significance. His time in Monsanto's cabin is as much a spiritual retreat as anything else.

Quote #2

With my mind even and upright and abiding nowhere, as Hui Neng would say, I go dancing off like a fool from my sweet retreat, rucksack on back, after only three weeks and really after only three or four days of boredom, and go hankering back for the city -- "You go out in joy and in sadness you return, " says Thomas a Kempis talking about all the fools who go forth for pleasure like high schoolboys on Saturday night. (10.1)

Hui Neng was a Chinese monastic; Kempis was a Catholic monk. It's interesting that Kerouac so easily mixes such different religions. Raised a Catholic, yet a serious student of Buddhism, Kerouac seems to have no trouble incorporating these different kinds of spirituality into his writing.

Quote #3

My feet are ruined and burned, it develops now into a day of complete torture, from nine o'clock in the morning till four in the afternoon I negotiate those nine or so miles when I finally have to stop and sit down and wipe the blood off my feet -- And then when I fix the feet and put the shoes on again, to hike on, I can only do it mincingly with little twinkletoe steps like Babe Ruth, twisting footsteps every way I can think of not to press too hard on any particular blister (10.4)

Jack's journey takes on the weight of a spiritual quest.

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