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The Dharma Bums

The Dharma Bums

Poems  speak of beauty and loneliness at their core. And for me, both are in the mountains.

 

Do you know that feeling:

You are standing in front of a ravine, dimmed light comes through the trees and you look around.

Long forgotten pictures come to your mind. From dwarves, from the “Hutzelmännchen” or a nature spirit. Dozens of memories from your childhood, of long gone days and joys.

You seem lost from the world and for a moment you don’t know where you come from or who you are.

And then you leave.

You take the first step and happiness flows through your veins.

 

Beauty is in the mountains, in every moment, but we will never grasp it.

Because they are hostile to us.

They walk alone through the millennia and hardly notice our hasty step.

Is there a greater enmity for us?

 

A mountain is a Buddha to me, you know. Think of the patience of sitting there for hundreds of thousands of years and being completely, completely quiet…” 1

 

In the mountains you feel the loneliness. No one sees you, no one speaks to you. No strange hand is reaching for you.

But no noise to scare you either. No people, no cars or cell phone tunes. Just silence. Silence.

It’s so quiet, your heartbeat is pounding in your ears.

 

And in this silence the stones begin to speak.

Because the mountains are a place for poets.

 

I used to run through the woods in a hurry and climb every mountain as fast as I could. Always off the beaten track, in any weather and long after sunset.

To see what no one’s ever seen before me.

And yet blind.

 

But the poets can open our eyes.

“The sparrow jumps down the porch. His feet are wet.” 2

Do you see it?

Seal. Poetry like an old, crippled tree clinging to a mountain slope for a hundred years.

A pale skeleton that opens our eyes.

 

I used to be lonely in the mountains.

Nobody shared my longing. After the words, after friendship or the sun on a hot rock.

But in Kerouac’s book, I met her: Han Shan, Shiki, Japhy and John Muir. And the Zen-obsessed poets of America.

I found out there were people out there who understood me.

And that’s how I lost my loneliness.

 

They’re still out there somewhere.

The people climbing in the mountains. The people who stay out of the world. Sitting in old inns, laughing with the girls.

People who drink wine, lose themselves in their dreams, wrapped in old jackets and a touch of freedom.

Without smartphone. Without YouTube or video shooting. Because they don’t want to be famous or rich.

But simply “being”.

 

And somewhere out there are also the poets.

Not the word twists that smear a few lines on paper between television and smartphone, with an empty heart and without strength.

But people like Ranke-Graves, Han Shan or Thoreau, who went into solitude to aim their arrows directly at our heart from there.

 

Kerouac found it on the west coast of America. And he ended with a heart full of poems on “Desolation Peak”, the mountain of solitude.

 

If we’re lucky, we’ll find this place.

In the solitude of our dreams, from which true beauty springs.

 

 

1. J. Kerouac, “Dharma Bums”
2. Masaoka Shiki, Haiku

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Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse, the misunderstood dreamer, who always started a new journey.

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