Some personal comments after 124 pages of Jack Kerouac’s “some of the dharma”-
Methodology alone does not produce enlightenment. Ceremonies and rituals without a broader view of the world (and human nature) is no more than repetitive exercise. While these practices provide comfort thru familiarity to the believer, they achieve no other purpose. At some time we have all seen the image of the faithful Buddhist as they climb toward some temple atop a steep hill on their hands and knees while repeating the same prayer with each movement of their arms and legs. This seems somehow just quaint when you realize they probably have no knowledge about how fast a modern elevator can whisk people to the top of a seventy story building. Likewise, the closed minds of people who consider themselves enlightened yet refuse to climb even a single stair step as long as an elevator is available to carry them, may have found their “true nature” (dharma?) but will never see the true light and are unlikely to recognize it if they do.
We all know J.K. abandoned everything he set forth as instructions or guidelines to any followers (and their were many – the entire beat, hipster, counter-culture comes to mind…wannabe Buddhists or just non-conformists?) By his own frequent admission he had a tough time following any of it himself. The world doesn’t need leaders/prophets who preach “do as I say, not as I do”. Many of J.K.’s disciples have overlooked that and many other flaws in his philosophy.
With the rate at which the world changes (minute by minute it seems) the idea of enlightenment while living the monastic life seems oxymoronish. Knowing yourself is admirable but knowing how that self fits in to the bigger picture, even if you still choose to be a hermit, is better. A cloistered lifestyle is a legitimate alternative for anyone but don’t assume just living like a monk is the only route to a better life. Enlightenment can come in many forms and has different meaning for everybody. Constant (inner and outer) exploration with time to reflect more likely to reveal one’s true nature, purpose for existence or, if you like, dharma.