Wake Up (Episode Four)

Shakyamuni Buddha: A Life Retold

Jack Kerouac

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The first three installments of Wake Up, Jack Kerouac's previously unpublished life of the Buddha, recounted the story of Prince Siddhartha leaving his father's palace and taking up the homeless life. In Episode Three, while meditating under the Bodhi Tree, Siddhartha discovered the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path and became fully enlightened, a buddha. This episode, the fourth of nine to be published in Tricycle, opens just after Shakyamuni Buddha has attained liberation, while he is still seated beneath the tree. The complete manuscript of Wake Up will appear in a volume entitled Some of the Dharma, due to be published by Viking Penguin in 1995. Note: All of Kerouac's original spellings and usage have been retained.


© 1993 Geoffrey Clements, Whitney Museum of American Art, New YorkNow arrived the most critical moment in the life of the Blessed One. After many struggles he had found the most profound truths, truths teeming with meaning but comprehensible only by the wise, truths full of blessing but difficult to make out by ordinary minds. Mankind were worldly and hankering for pleasure. Though they possessed the capacity for religious knowledge and virtue and could perceive the true nature of things, they rushed to do other things and got entangled in deceptive thoughts in the net of ignorance, like puppet dolls that were made to jiggle according to some ignorant opposing arbitrary ideas that had nothing to do with their own essential and enlightened stillness.

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