For literature you can go with Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation and most early stuff by Jack Kerouac. Dharma Bums and On the Road being the two big ones in my mind.
On the Blue Sky you get selected poems and passages from the big B's, Kerouac, Burroughs, and Ginsberg. You also get quite a few less known writers like Ferlinghetti, Snyder, and Welch. Thumbing through it I've come across a great work by Kerouac that he wrote. He's describing the four noble truths...life is shit, shit comes from wanting stuff, you don't have to want shit, follow the Noble eightfold path. After listing the traditional big four he writes:
"Not knowing it could just as well be:
(1) All Life is Joy
(2) The Cause of Joy is Enlightened Desire
(3) The Expansion of Joy can be Achieved
(4) The Way is the Noble Eightfold Path
since what's the difference ,in supreme reality, we are neither subject to suffering nor joy-Why no?-Because who says?"
I see enlightenment as being severely overrated. Once you get enlightened there's no where else to go besides bugging other people to get enlightened and that's just annoying.
... the debt that each generation owes to the past, it must pay to the future."
~ Abigail Scott Dunaway
Works on the Creative Commons by me. Go ahead, steal something. Now with pictures!
"Enlightenment" is what buddhists are selling, mostly to 20-somethings, so they can say "I've tried enlightenment" when they're 40-somethings, during discussions about how they've tried "all the religions." Before they got smart and purchased healing crystals and Carlos Castaneda books. And Tony Robbins videos.
Two core texts on the subject:
The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (also just called "The Heart Sutra") - just a few pages long, unless you want it explained by a lama.
The Way of the Bodhisattva - in verse form, a very old text in which the teacher explores logical paths of reason by which awareness and compassion must travel together. There are nice modern English translations that are not hard to follow.
For a funnier, post-beat, Gen-X version of the whole business, watch the movie "I Heart Huckabees."
but i'm a little cynical about the whole "who's enlightened/who's not" thing, because i've seen and heard instances of it becoming almost a political thing within zen centers. people can get competitive about it. anyway, the process is more important than the goal. it's not like you get a prize at the end.
Blab enlightenment is like getting socks for Christmas lol
Last edited by Scott; 05-23-2010 at 01:39 PM.