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Allen Ginsberg on Buddhism and The Beats



From analyzing American Indian languages to experimenting with hallucinogens, the quest for enlightenment and spirituality is synonymous with The Beats. For many of those involved in the movement, the root of these ambitions rested with Buddhism. In this 1975 interview, recorded at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado; Allen Ginsberg discusses his, as well as his contemporaries's, paths towards holistic lifestyles.

The poet explains how each writer delved into different spokes of existentialism; for example, Neal Cassady began to study Edgar Cayce and William Burroughs dabbled in Scientology. Ginsberg himself traveled to India and observed monks in practice, an experience that manifested itself in his literary work, pedagogy, and performances.

At the center of The Beats's practice was an exploration and preoccupation with "immediacy" and methods for confronting "the void." Ultimately, what unified them was the idea that poetry surpassed philosophy because it was, in and of itself, a link to daily life. To them, poetry was prophetic and allowed them to practice self reflection, which was fundamental to their explorations.
 

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