Bill and I drove down the freeway and passed a series of billboards depicting the wonders to be found at the famous San Diego Zoo. I recalled how visiting the Slater Park Zoo in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was one of my family’s regular activities when I was a child. It was free, and it was close. every few weeks we’d pile five kids and two parents into our metallic green Ford Grand Torino station wagon and off we’d go. The parents sat up front, the three sisters were stationed in the middle seat, and my little brother and I were assigned to the jump seat in the very back.

What makes Pass the Jelly unique?

I do think there’s an epidemic of seriousness in books on spirituality. Or perhaps “formality” is an even better way to put it. The side effect of this is often a lack of accessibility as well as lack of applicability to “real” life. If you’re not going to wear a robe and meditate in a cloistered temple for the rest of your life, what is one to do with many of the teachings out there?

It reminds me of a funny picture you may have seen. It’s of a bunch of Buddhist monks in robes riding on a rollercoaster. Their arms are tossed up in the air and they have terrified looks on their faces. And that’s Pass The Jelly — what happens when you toss people out of the temple? What spiritual concepts actually hold-up in our everyday lives? It’s a lot easier to appear “enlightened” when you don’t have a job, a spouse, kids, don’t interact with the craziness of the “real” world or pay the rent.

I like to think that by the end of the rollercoaster ride, half the monks want to run back to the temple and the other half are running to get in line for another ride. Pass The Jelly is written in the spirit of those monks who want another ride in “real” life.


Why the use the phrase Ordinary Enlightenment in the subtitle instead of just Enlightenment?

The characters I encounter in Pass the Jelly are ordinary people living their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways — people like Mr. Gooch or Little Joe. There’s a lot of wisdom in the places they’ve come to, but they’re ordinary places.

It goes back to bringing some concepts out of the temple and into the light of day. There’s a lot of dogma and semantic baggage around the word “enlightenment,” so I felt “ordinary enlightenment” might clarify things a bit.


Why do you say there’s great value in pointing out “what is not”?

I mean that our suffering in life often comes from assuming certain things to be true that upon investigation turn out to be completely false. There is great benefit in recognizing “what is,” but one must first see through “what is not” before one can truly reside in “what is.” Once you can see through “what is not,” the “what is” of life can be very joyful.


People tell me this is a funny book even before mentioning the other aspects. Why is getting your readers to laugh so important? How does that mesh with trying to convey important ideas?

It’s part of breaking down the seriousness of it all and creating a space where people can really engage with the ideas. Laughing, and laughing at ourselves, is actually a pretty good starting point for self discovery.


Has anything surprised you about the response to the book?

I’ve been thrilled that Pass the Jelly has appealed to such a wide range of people, and on different levels.  Maybe it’s because the human condition is, naturally, universal, so you don’t have to be a serious spiritual seeker to enjoy the book. So, whether it’s the refreshing insights or the laughs along the way, I’m glad people seem to be enjoying the ride.

Hopefully, Pass The Jelly adds a bit of wisdom and laughter to your life.


All the best,

Gary Crowley