Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived
www.blamingjaphyrider.com
Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D.
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New  review for Blaming Japhy Rider:

July 5, 2012

http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/5125/1/Blaming-Japhy-Rider-Memoir-of-a-Dharma-Bum-Who-Survived-Reviewed-By-John-Cowans-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html

  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Blaming Japhy Rider, Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived Reviewed By John Cowans of Bookpleasures.com

Blaming Japhy Rider, Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived Reviewed By John Cowans of Bookpleasures.com

John Cowans

Reviewer John Cowans: John was a University, College, and School English teacher for over 40 years, John Cowans now lives in retirement in Chester., Nova Scotia.

View all articles by John Cowans

Follow Here To Purchase Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived

Author: Philip Bralich

AISBN 978-1-4525-4052-8

I supposed we are, as Dickens wondered, the heroes of our own stories, but the real question is whether these stories are enough significance to support the heroes they contain. Someone else said something about there being only one person in a hundred who is boring and that person is interesting because he is boring.

All of this points to the many dangers inherent in writing autobiography, or memoir as some quibblers call it. The major danger here is that we may think our life story is interesting, but others may beg to differ. Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived is a case in point.  I am  not saying that this story is uninspiring; that assessment I leave to you , the reader; I have always thought that writers of ‘memoir’ should write first for themselves and then, if others show interest, then all well and good. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I do have the feeling that this is the case with this book which might have acted as a form of therapy of the author.

Philip Bralich’s story begins in West Africa where he and his  wife are sent by the Peace Corps in 1978. Unfortunately a serious motorcycle accident takes his wife’s life and leaves the author partially crippled. For the next thirty years Bralich travels the world spending time in Japan and Hawaii trying to come to terms with his wife’s loss eventually settling in Monterey , California where he now lives.

Most important, Blaming Japhy Rider is a spiritual journey wherein Bralich attempts to assuage the affects of post traumatic stress disorder caused by his accident through the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist disciplines which he experiences in his travels. Bralich is also influenced by the writings of Kerouac , Ginsberg and other Beat writers. Japhy Ryder, a character in Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums, is the fictional name for Gary Snyder who introduces Kerouac to Buddhism, and Allan Ginsberg’s poem Howl acts as recurring theme linking the episodes of this story together.

Blaming Japhy Rider is an interesting account of one man’s struggle against formidable psychological odds, and for anyone suffering with PTSD this story will provide reassurance and hope. As Bralich makes clear, PTSD is not only caused by the terrors of warfare; there are other terrors, just as severe which can assail anyone who has been faced with trauma in any of the battlefields of life.

Follow Here To Purchase Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived

From Peace Corps World Wide (May 12, 2012):

http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/pc-writers/2012/05/30/review-blaming/

Peace Corps Worldwide

where returned Volunteers share their expertise and experiences

Review of Philip Bralich’s Blaming Japhy Rider

Posted by John Coyne on Wednesday, May 30th 2012     

Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived
by Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D. (Togo 1978)
Balboa Press
$17.99 (paperback); $35.95 (hardcover)
248 pages
2012

Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)

PHILIP BRALICH HAS WRITTEN A BRAVE BOOK. His memoir, Blaming Japhy Rider, depicts the unsettling tale of his struggle to recover from a tragedy that occurred during his Peace Corps service.

In 1978 in their first year in Togo, West Africa, he and his wife, newly married before entering the Peace Corps, set off for home in Lama Kara on their motor scooter after a party with other Volunteers. He was driving, with her riding on the back, along a rutted dirt lane when they were hit by an oncoming car sending them flying off the road into a dried river bed. He heard her calling for help but he couldn’t move or even turn over to see where she was. His leg was broken and the bone had been thrust through the muscle and flesh of his calf. He woke in a hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany with life-threatening and excruciatingly painful wounds to his leg. But worse than his physical anguish was what he learned next; his wife had died five days before from her own improperly attended to injuries. She had succumbed to shock and gas gangrene of her leg.

What followed were months and then years of recovery, scores of operations and daily debridement of his leg to cut back dead and dying flesh and bone, procedures that had to be endured for medical safety with minimal or no anesthesia. They are almost unbearable to read about and as such left this reader in awe of what he was able to withstand. But what finally overwhelmed him was his psychic pain. Though he lost most of the use of his leg, his biblical agony was that he had been the driver and he had survived while his wife hadn’t.

What is most original, and involving about Bralich’s story is his subsequent quest for salvation. He set out to find answers to his existential questions. Was he culpable in bringing about her death? Could he live with whatever truth he found? Could he possibly find resolution and even happiness again, or at least succeed in subduing the angry voices from within?

Bralich is a demonstrably brilliant man and one who is most comfortable with an intellectual quest. In the beginning instead of seeking solace in conventional western psychotherapy, he turned to eastern spiritualism, where he voraciously and assiduously read Zen and Tibetan Buddhist literature, gradually giving himself over to its rigorous healing practices. Through many years each step of this phase brought insight and comfort for a time, but inevitably after a period of peace the furies would rise up again and he would have to move on to the next possible cure for his sorrow. When he eventually turned to western thought, working his way through Jung and finally to Freud, he seemed to gain the deepest insights into the source of his psychic distress, which he self-diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. His superior intelligence served him well in this segment of his pursuit. His explication of Freud’s theories is extraordinary in its lucidity and insight, though the problem is that a major tenet of Freud’s talking cure is that one has to talk to another human being. You can’t do it all on your own.

Throughout the thirty years of his intensive search for mental wholeness he also manages to complete his PhD in linguistics, patent an original linguistics syntactical theory, develop an erudite computer program based on that theory, hold down a series of teaching positions, present academic papers at professional conferences, and be hired at the prestigious Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California as an Assistant Professor with the mandate to prepare members of the military for language training. By the end of his narrative he has compiled an impressive resume and comes close to having a long term relationship with a lovely, supportive Japanese woman. However, he never quite wins the battle over the accusing internal voices. The original trauma was too enormous, occurring at a vulnerable moment in his life, when, as an innocent, idealistic young man, he was adjusting to a new marriage, under the added pressures of living and working in a culture vastly different from his own.

Many of us suffered hard times during our tours of duty, thrown around by events that included blows to our developing sense of self, but I would conjecture there are few episodes in the 50 year history of the Peace Corps that compare to the dire severity of what Philip Bralich endured and that even fewer of us can purport to have been as brave and honest as he in confronting our own post-Peace Corps psychological frailty.

In closing it must be noted that the Peace Corps did their duty in his case. They saw that he got the proper care by med-evacing him to Germany, thus saving his life, and followed through with medical stipends and living subsidies during the long years of his rehabilitation. They are to be commended for that.

Marnie Mueller’s Peace Corps book, Green Fires: A Novel of the Ecuadorian Rainforest, was a winner of the Maria Thomas Award for Fiction and an American Book Award. The Climate of the Country, her second novel, is set in the Tule Lake Japanese American Segregation Camp, where she was born. My Mother’s Island, which takes place in Puerto Rico, was a BookSense76 selection and is currently under option for a feature film. She is at work on a non-fiction book, Triple Threat: The Story of a Japanese American Showgirl.

 

From SassyPeachReads Book Blog (May 17, 2012)

http://sassypeachreads.blogspot.com/2012/05/blaming-japhy-rider.html

 

Sassy Peach, Book Blogger

Food, shelter, books. The necessities of life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blaming Japhy Rider

I have to be honest with you--I wasn't quite sure what to expect with Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived by Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D. I ended up with a story of exactly what the subtitle says: a memoir of a dharma bum in search of spirituality.

Philip and his wife, idealists in their time, join the Peace Corps after college.  While in West Africa, about a year into their service, there is a motorcycle accident with Philip as the driver.  It kills Deb, his wife, and severely injures Philip. Over the course of several decades, Philip deals with his PTSD and searches for a spirituality for which he yearns.

I am very interested in the understanding of Buddhism (rather than New Age, as Bralich makes clear that he does not like--he also makes a clear distinction) so this book was interesting to read.  I am only peripherally familiar with this type of spirituality so I found Bralich's journey through spirituality to be intriguing and thought-provoking. 

The early story of Bralich's trip to West Africa and the tragedy that ensued only two years into his marriage was the most interesting part of this book for me; I was saddened when he lost his wife and was sent off on a journey to find himself.  I found his time in the Peace Corps to be particularly read-worthy and well-written as well.  It's a journey I myself won't be taking so it was lovely to live vicariously through this book. 

Posted by Nicole at 8:03 AM

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I live in New York City. I work in New York City. I am living the dream. Most of the time.

 

From Prison Dharma Network  (May 2012 Newsletter): 

http://www.justusfriends.org/wp-content/uploads/dharmafriendsnews/2012_05.pdf

And another gift - Philip gave us some free copies of his book that you can write for - we

just have a few, sorry, so first come, first served: 

Blaming Japhy Rider by Philip Bralich - A PTSD Survivor Discusses Spiritual Recovery in new book.

Oftentimes, post traumatic stress disorder is attributed to soldiers in the military who had experienced terrible circumstances throughout their tours of duty. PTSD however can be experienced by anyone, not just soldiers, who may have endured awful situations. For author Philip A. Bralich, it spurred from his time in West Africa as a Peace Corps member, a time he details in his new book Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived(published by Balboa Press).

Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, this memoir details Bralich’s psychological and spiritual triumph over severe psychological difficulties caused by a series of traumas he endured in the Peace Corps in West Africa in 1978.

Surveying the spiritual landscape of America through the ‘70s to the present in Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, New Age and Christian movements, this memoir describes the journey of my life beginning as a 20-something, leftist, married, ‘70s idealist in the Peace Corps in West Africa through an accident which cost his wife her life and him much of the use of his left leg.

“Unlike much of Kerouac, this book is grounded in wide reading, wide practice and training in the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist disciplines, and an adherence to academic principals of reporting and describing phenomenon,” explains Bralich.

Those who suffer from PTSD, or just have spiritual interests are sure to find Blaming Japhy Rider both revealing and helpful.

 

Guest Author Post

http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/2012/04/philip-bralich-blaming-japhy-rider.html.   

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Philip Bralich - Blaming the Japhy Rider - Guest Post

My thanks to Philip Bralich for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for a guest post about his book, Blaming the Japhy Rider.

Guest Post

My book was first conceived in 1983 after a one-year, ESL teaching trip in Japan. It took me 28 years of reading, study, and contemplation to actually get to it. The core subject matter has to do with my efforts to resolve rather deep and complex psychological issues that arose after an accident in the “bush” in Peace Corps West Africa which cost my wife her life and me much use of my left leg, my home, my career and much else. Of major importance to this theme, one that will be recognized to others working through such traumas is a discussion of how the original pattern of the trauma repeats and how trauma victims must constantly watch out for these repetitions (in my case the loss of spouse, home and career) until the trauma is properly metabolized and resolved. Here are more details.

Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and surveying the spiritual landscape of America through the 70s to the present in Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, New Age and Christian movements, this memoir describes the journey of my life beginning as a twenty-something, leftist, married, 70’s idealist in the Peace Corps in West Africa through an accident in the bush which cost my wife her life and myself much of the use of my left leg, and through the growing and debilitating psychological difficulties that are finally resolved through a wide reading and personal experience of many of the spiritual and psychological movements of those four decades. The book commences in West Africa in 1978 but also goes back to as early as 1973, just four years after Jack Kerouac died.

The journey begins in Africa, goes through the Air Force med evac hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, to the states, through two years in Japan, cross country jaunts, graduate school and teaching in Hawaii, one drive through Europe from Dundee, Scotland to Rome and then to Bonn, Germany, retreats at many spiritual centers and many conference presentations around the country. In between these national and international trips, there are many stops at Buddhist retreat centers, the Naropa institute, meetings with Allen Ginsburg and other beat poets and their cohort as well as commentary on the spiritual landscape of America over these thirty years as seen through the eyes of someone whose eyes the reader is not sure can be trusted due to the frank descriptions of psychological confusion. In the course of my studies and travels I had an inadvertent but much loved run-in with the Beats, which motivated the form the book took when I began to write. This is described in the book, and the appendix has a copy of a hand-written letter from Allen Ginsberg commenting on my poetry.

The memoir also describes my practice experience with Zen and Tibetan masters and the growth of my experience over 25 years from basic sitting to the highest yoga tantras to the Six Yogas of Naropa, all attained legitimately through years of practice and study and the completion of all necessary preliminary practices in the correct order. My resistance to becoming a teacher or a guru and my insistence on remaining an ordinary American rather than a new age rebel provides a somewhat different perspective on these practices and disciplines. The memoir is also cautious not to make claims at particularly wondrous successes with these practices. It focuses instead on occasional and convincing, minor experiences rather than dramatic breakthroughs or new age discoveries.

Of particular importance are the descriptions of the spiritual and psychological debilitation that was precipitated by the shock of the initial accident and for years was exacerbated as I sought out spiritual and psychological solutions. The descriptions of these states and the growing psychological awareness throughout the book give the readers an opportunity to explore their own psychologies and their spiritual beliefs while gaining insight into available faiths, practices and centers.


About the Book

Inspired by and responding to Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums, this memoir details the psychological and spiritual triumph over severe psychological difficulties caused by a series of traumas endured in the Peace Corps in West Africa in 1978. Surveying the spiritual landscape of America through the seventies to the present in Zen, Tibetan Buddhist, New Age and Christian movements, this memoir describes the journey of author Philip A. Bralich's life, beginning as a twenty-something, leftist, married, seventies idealist in the Peace Corps in West Africa, through an accident in the bush that cost his wife her life and himself much of the use of he left leg, and through the growing and debilitating psychological difficulties that were finally resolved through wide reading and personal experience of many of the spiritual and psychological movements of those four decades. The book commences in West Africa in 1978 but also goes back to as early as 1973, just four years after Jack Kerouac died.

Pages: 260 pages
Release Date: January 25, 2012
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, ebook
Publisher: Balboa Press
ISBN: 9781452540511
Price: $35.95 hardcover, $17.99 paperback, $3.99 ebook
Buy Links: Amazon (hardcover), Amazon (paperback), Kindle

Dedication

“This book is dedicated to the elucidation of ‘the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,’ to those who have sought to stop the madness rather than exacerbate it, to the best minds of the Eastern and Western traditions who never succumbed to the madness, and to the victims of those who did.”

Opening poem (a Beatish kind of a thing):

He*rd said.
He said she said that they said I said … but
What I really said
Is I think it’s you instead.


About the Author

Philip A. Bralich has a PhD in linguistics. He spent many years teaching ESL and essay and research writing. He has much experience presenting at professional conferences and publications in theoretical syntax, ESL, and computational linguistics, as well as with professional business presentations, business writing, and grant writing.

He is motivated by the tragic accident that took his wife's life and much of the use of his left leg; the memoir describes a thirty-year journey through western and eastern psychology, including much reading, practice, and an inadvertent but much loved run in with the word of the beats.

Bralich currently lives in Monterey, California, where he is writing screenplays and this memoir. After having been laid off once again from the best job of his life, he decided to take his meager savings and resolve his difficulties once and for all. The PTSD and survivor's guilt from his accident were finally resolved through this effort. His studies and travels began in Peace Corps in West Africa, and moved through years in Hawaii, two years in Japan, and approximately two years in group meditation retreats and many Buddhist centers across North America.

Profile

Tribute Books

Tribute Books celebrates its 8th year in 2012 as a independent publisher for independent writers.

I am proud to provide e-publication and book promotion for writers with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Publishing a book takes guts. An author needs to possess the courage to share his or her voice with the world. It is an investment of time, money and energy to transform a rough manuscript into a polished work. I applaud risk takers and strive to provide them with an outlet for their creations.

Email me:
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Amazon Reiews

Customer Review

 

     Inspiring   Read! Highly Recommended!, April 12, 2012

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BookLoverRome

This review is from: Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived   (Paperback)

Blaming Japhy Rider is an inspiring book   that can show all readers how not to give up. Philip A. Bralich shares his   story of loss, struggle, and triumph in his new book. Bralich shares his   worst times and best times and also shares his spiritual evolution through   Eastern religion practices and ideas.
 
  Easy to follow and understand, this work is emotional, inspiring, and truly   an enjoyable read.

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     Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a   Dharma Bum Who Survived 1452540519 Ph.D Philip A. Bralich BalboaPress   Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived Books Inspiring Read! Highly Recommended! Blaming Japhy   Rider is an inspiring book that can show all readers how not to give up.   Philip A. Bralich shares his story of loss, struggle, and triumph in his new   book. Bralich shares his worst times and best times and also shares his   spiritual evolution through Eastern religion practices and ideas.
 
  Easy to follow and understand, this work is   emotional, inspiring, and truly an enjoyable read. BookLoverRome April 12, 2012  

Overall:      5

 

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Jason Baldwin-stephens gave to:

 

Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived
by Philip A. Bralich

read in April, 2012

Inspiring Read! Highly Recommended!

Blaming Japhy Rider is an inspiring book that can show all readers how not to give up. Philip A. Bralich shares his story of loss, struggle, and triumph in his new book. Bralich shares his worst times and best times and also shares his spiritual evolution through Eastern religion practices and ideas.

Easy to follow and understand, this work is emotional, inspiring, and truly an enjoyable read. ( )

  | flag AmandaKerr | Apr 12, 2012 |

Amanda Kerr at Librarything.com