The Dharma Bum's Guide to Western Literature: Finding Nirvana in the Classics

The Dharma Bum's Guide to Western Literature: Finding Nirvana in the Classics

by Dean Sluyter


Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on March 29, 2022


Reveals the profound, often surprising ways the literature we love conveys the awakening we seek

Suppose we could discover enlightenment teachings in Macbeth, The Catcher in the Rye, Moby-Dick, The Bluest Eye, and The Cat in the Hat . . . read Hemingway as haiku . . . learn mindfulness from Virginia Woolf and liberation from Frederick Douglass . . . see Dickinson and Whitman as Buddhas of poetry, and Huck Finn and Gatsby as seekers of the infinite.

Some of us were lucky enough to have one passionate, funny, inspiring English teacher who helped us fall in love with books. Add a lifetime of teaching Dharma — authentic, traditional approaches to meditation and awakening — and you get award-winning author Dean Sluyter.

Sluyter’s habit of finding enlightenment in unexpected places started at the age of twelve, when Mad magazine triggered his first glimpse of deep transcendence. He went on to discover how “Eastern” spirituality — the light of nirvana — illuminates all the big questions of birth and death, hope and despair, love and fear that Western literature explores.

With droll humor and irreverent wisdom, the Guide unpacks the Dharma of more than twenty major writers, from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. It will inspire readers to deepen their own spiritual life and see literature in a fresh, new way: as a path of awakening.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608687695
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 03/29/2022
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author

Dean Sluyter (pronounced “slighter”) has led meditation workshops and retreats throughout the U.S. since 1970, at venues ranging from Ivy League colleges to maximum-security prisons. For thirty-three years he taught English and developed the Literature of Enlightenment program at The Pingry School in New Jersey. Sluyter has trained with sages in several traditions, including Vajrayana Buddhism, Advaita, Bhakti Yoga, and Umbanda. His previous books include Natural Meditation, Cinema Nirvana, and The Zen Commandments. He lives in Santa Monica, California, where he sings with the Threshold Choir, cohosts the Filmosophers podcast, plays ukulele, and happily zips about on his Vespa.

Table of Contents

Let’s Take Our Shoes Off

1. William Blake
Eternity’s Sunrise

2. F. Scott Fitzgerald | The Great Gatsby
Unutterable Visions

3. Frederick Douglass | The Slave Narrative

4. Thoreau, Emerson & Friends
Future Buddhas of America

5. Dr. Seuss | The Cat in the Hat
Have No Fear

6. Virginia Woolf | To the Lighthouse
Plenty for Everybody

7. Ernest Hemingway | A Farewell to Arms
Pebbles and Boulders

8. Samuel Taylor Coleridge | Kubla Khan
The Milk of Paradise

9. John Donne | A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Let Us Melt

10. Mark Twain | Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn
Betwixt Two Things

11. John Keats

12. Edwin Abbott Abbott | Flatland
Upward, Not Northward

13. William Shakespeare | Macbeth
What’s Your Hurry?

14. Samuel Beckett | Waiting For Godot
Thanks For Nothing

15. Rodgers & Hammerstein | Oklahoma!

16. Gerard Manley Hopkins
Flame Out

17. Toni Morrison | The Bluest Eye
Love Nonetheless

18. Herman Melville | Moby-Dick

19. Emily Dickinson
I’m Nobody

20. Walt Whitman
I Am Large

21. J. D. Salinger
Ah, Buddy

22. Key, Rogers & Franklin | Three Anthems
Look Again


Selected Bibliography

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