The work contains autobiographical details, the narration is conducted from the first person. The narrator, Rey Smith, a young man from the beatnik generation, travels in America by passing cars and in freight trains, often stays in the open air and lives by casual earnings, contented with the few that Heaven and the Dharma Law will grant him.
Like many Beatles, Rei is fascinated by the religious and philosophical teachings of ancient India and China. He writes poetry and considers himself a follower of the Buddha, practices Non-Action and demands Samadhi – spiritual enlightenment, which leads the one who goes the true way to nirvana. For a whole year, Rey has been observing strict chastity, since she believes that “love passion is the immediate cause of birth, which is
In the autumn of 1955, on one of the streets of San Francisco, Ray met with Jeffrey Ryder, who is widely known in the circles of beatniki, jazz musicians and bohemian poets. Jeffrey, the son of a logger, grew up with his sister in the woods, worked in logging, farmed, studied in college, studied Indian mythology, Chinese and Japanese, and discovered the Zen Buddhism. Having refused a scientific career, he nevertheless maintains contact with philologists at the University of California, translates the poems of ancient Chinese poets, attends lectures in the Buddhist association, speaks poetry evenings with reading his own poems. Jeffy is an extremely popular figure. His experience with altered states of consciousness, which are achieved by drug use, a cheerful and carefree temper, wit, as well as relaxed treatment of the young adventurers involved in spiritual search and eager for “getting rid of attachments,” made Jeffie
Ray and Jeffrey become inseparable friends. Ray settles in the suburbs of San Francisco with the poet Alvaha Goldbook and spends time in meditation, drinking and reading, as the house is literally packed with books – “from Catullus to Ezra Pound.” Jeffy lives a mile from the Goldbook house, not far from the campus of the University of California. He shoots a summer house, the interior of which is characterized by extreme asceticism: on the floor lie wicker mats, and instead of a working table – boxes of oranges. One evening, Jeffrey comes to Ray and Alvaha on a bicycle, accompanied by a twenty-year-old girl who calls the Princess to show her friends the elements of sexual practice of Tibetan Tantrism, and when she willingly gives himself to him in front of Ray and Alvaha, Jeffy invites them to join him and join the practical wisdom of tantra. Rei is embarrassed, he has long liked the Princess, but he never made love in anyone’s presence. In addition, Rei does not want to break the vow of chastity. However, Jeffrey convinces Rhea not to trust either Buddhism, or any other philosophy that denies sex. In the arms of Princess Rey, she forgets that the manifested world is just an illusion and is engendered by ignorance and suffering. The girl considers herself a Bodhisattva, that is, “a being that seeks enlightenment,” and tells Ray that she is “the mother of all things.” Rei does not argue with her, because she understands that for the young beauty, the only way to find the Truth and merge with the Absolute is to participate in the mysterious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism,
Jeffy invites Ray to the mountains. They are taken in their car by Henry Morley, an inveterate mountaineer who works as a librarian at the university. Henry is an intellectual, but at the same time he is distinguished by his rather eccentric behavior and is extremely scattered. When they start climbing to the top of the Matterhorn, it turns out that Henry forgot his sleeping bag. But this does not upset him at all. He lags behind Ray and Jeffie and stays on the shore of a beautiful mountain lake, not intending to move on, because he just did not want to climb to the top. Rhea scares the desperate determination and fearlessness of Jeffrey, and he does not dare to follow his example when he climbs higher and higher. Rhea horrifies the greatness and emptiness of the surrounding space, and he recalls the saying of one of the patriarchs of Zen Buddhism: “Having reached the top of the mountain, continue to rise.” When he sees, As Jeffrey escapes with a giant leap from the conquered mountain, Rei experiences ecstasy and follows his example. Only now he discovers the true meaning of the Zen statement, and he joyfully accepts this terrible and beautiful world of mountains as he is.
Returning to the city, Rei dreams of securing his time and energy for prayers for all life in complete solitude, for he is convinced that in our world this is the only proper occupation for a person seeking spiritual development. His desire to leave is further strengthened after he visits his old friend Cody, from whom he learns that his girlfriend, Rosie, suddenly went mad and tried to open her veins. Rosa has an obsession that all her friends, including Jeffey and Ray, must be arrested for their sins. Rei tries to dissuade Rosie, but she stands on her own. After a while, she commits suicide, rushing from the roof of the house. Ray leaves for Los Angeles, but can not stay in the poisoned atmosphere of an industrial city and hitchhiking around the country. Christmas is coming, and Rey comes to a parental home in North Carolina, where his mother, brother and sister live. The house is located in a picturesque area, surrounded by coniferous forests, where Rey spends whole days and nights praying, meditating and meditating. One night he attains enlightenment and realizes that he is absolutely free and everything in the world is done for good, and the Truth is above the tree of the Buddha and the cross of Christ. Spring comes. In a state of tranquility, Rei realizes that it is this world that is Heaven, to which all aspire, as to something beyond. Rey tells himself that if he could completely abandon his “I” and direct his efforts toward the awakening, liberation and bliss of all living beings, he would comprehend that “ecstasy is what is”. The family of Rhea does not understand his spiritual aspirations and reproaches him, that he departed from the Christian faith in which he was born. Rei bitterly realizes that he can not get through to the souls of these people. Once, in a state of mystical trance, he clearly sees how to heal his mother, who suffers from coughing. The mother recovers from the remedy that Ray gives her. But Rei tries not to think about having done a “miracle”, and leaves for California to Jeffie, intending to return home the next Christmas.
Jeffrey is going to sail to Japan on a Japanese cargo ship, and his friends on this occasion arrange grandiose farewell. The fun lasts several days. All of Jeffrey’s girlfriends are going to, his sister Rhoda is arriving with the groom. Everyone drinks wine, the girls dance naked, and Rei reflects on the Path of all life, immersed in the flow of becoming and doomed to die. When the ship leaves, Jeffie exits the cabin, carrying her last girlfriend, whom she named Psyche. She begs him to take her with him to Japan, but Jeffy is implacable: he follows only one law – the Dharma. He throws it overboard, into the water, where her friends pull her out. No one can stop crying. Rhea misses Jeffie with his inexhaustible optimism. One night during meditation Rei sees Avalokiteshvara, who tells him that he, Rei, is ” is endowed with power and strength to remind people that they are absolutely free. “Rey goes to the mountains, and on the way back he turns to God with the words:” God, I love You. ” Take care of all of us. “