Gary Snyder


American Zen Poet (associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), Essayist, Lecturer, and Environmental Activist, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, translates literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese

Author Quotes

Having a place means that you know what a place means... what it means in a storied sense of myth, character and presence but also in an ecological sense... Integrating native consciousness with mythic consciousness.

In the mountains it's cold. Always been cold, not just this year. Jagged scarps forever snowed in woods in the dark ravines spitting mist. Grass is still sprouting at the end of June, leaves begin to fall in early August. And here I am, high on mountains, peering and peering, but I can't even see the sky.

The blue mountains are constantly walking. D?gen is quoting the Chan master Furong. -- If you doubt mountains walking you do not know your own walking. -- D?gen is not concerned with sacred mountains - or pilgrimages, or spirit allies, or wilderness as some special quality. His mountains and streams are the processes of this earth, all of existence, process, essence, action, absence; they roll being and non-being together. They are what we are, we are what they are. For those who would see directly into essential nature, the idea of the sacred is a delusion and an obstruction: it diverts us from seeing what is before our eyes: plain thusness. Roots, stems, and branches are all equally scratchy. No hierarchy, no equality. No occult and exoteric, no gifted kids and slow achievers. No wild and tame, no bound or free, no natural and artificial. Each totally its own frail self. Even though connected all which ways; even because connected all which ways. This, thusness, is the nature of the nature of nature. The wild in wild. So the blue mountains walk to the kitchen and back to the shop, to the desk, to the stove. We sit on the park bench and let the wind and rain drench us. The blue mountains walk out to put another coin in the parking meter, and go down to the 7-Eleven. The blue mountains march out of the sea, shoulder the sky for a while, and slip back to into the waters.

Having a place means that you know what a place means...what it means in a storied sense of myth, character and presence but also in an ecological sense...Integrating native consciousness with mythic consciousness

In Western Civilization, our elders are books.

The Buddha taught that all life is suffering. We might also say that life, being both attractive and constantly dangerous, is intoxicating and ultimately toxic. 'Toxic' comes from toxicon, Pendell tells us, with a root meaning of 'a poisoned arrow.' All organic life is struck by the arrows of real and psychic poisons. This is understood by any true, that is to say, not self-deluding, spiritual path.

I have a friend who feels sometimes that the world is hostile to human life--he says it chills us and kills us. But how could we be were it not for this planet that provided our very shape? Two conditions--gravity and a livable temperature range between freezing and boiling--have given us fluids and flesh. The trees we climb and the ground we walk on have given us five fingers and toes. The place (from the root plat, broad, spreading, flat) gave us far-seeing eyes, the streams and breezes gave us versatile tongues and whorly ears. The land gave us a stride, and the lake a dive. The amazement gave us our kind of mind. We should be thankful for that, and take nature's stricter lessons with some grace.

It gave a sense of the possibilities of an alternative culture. And it wasn't just poetry that moved people. It was the sense of a community, of people with a vision.

The mercy of the West has been social revolution; the mercy of the East has been individual insight into the basic self/void. We need both. They are both contained in the traditional three aspects of the Dharma path: wisdom (prajna), meditation (dhyana), and morality (sila). Wisdom is intuitive knowledge of the mind of love and clarity that lies beneath one’s ego-driven anxieties and aggressions. Meditation is going into the mind to see this for yourself — over and over again, until it becomes the mind you live in. Morality is bringing it back out in the way you live, through personal example and responsible action, ultimately toward the true community (sangha) of “all beings.”

I have lived at Cold Mountain these thirty long years. Yesterday I called on friends and family: more than half had gone to the Yellow Springs. Slowly consumed, like fire down a candle; forever flowing, like a passing river. Now, morning, I face my lone shadow: suddenly my eyes are bleared with tears.

It was really a blessing. It helped even out the conditions across the course.

The other side of the sacred is the sight of your beloved in the underworld, dripping with maggots.

After weeks of watching the roof leak. I fixed it tonight by moving a single board.

I hold the most archaic values on earth ... the fertility of the soul, the magic of the animals, the power-vision in solitude.... the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe.

It won't address every student every day, but we want to reach each one over the course of 180 days,

The size of the place that one becomes a member of is limited only by the size of one’s heart.

All that we did was human, stupid, easily forgiven, Not quite right.

I never did know exactly what was meant by the term "The Beats," but let's say that the original meeting, association, comradeship of Allen Ginsberg, myself, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip Whalen, who's not here, Lew Welch, who's dead, Gregory Corso, for me, to a somewhat lesser extent (I never knew Gregory as well as the others) did embody a criticism and a vision which we shared in various ways, and then went our own ways for many years.

It's about establishing a collaborative professional learning community,

There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea.

All this new stuff goes on top turn it over, turn it over wait and water down from the dark bottom turn it inside out let it spread through Sift down even. Watch it sprout. A mind like compost.

I recalled when I worked in the woods and the bars of Madras, Oregon. That short-haired joy and roughness— America—your stupidity. I could almost love you again.

Lay down these words before your mind like rocks placed solid by hands in choice of place, set before the body of the mind in space and time: Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall riprap of things: Cobble of milky way. Straying planets, these poems, people, lost ponies with dragging saddles -- and rocky sure-foot trails. The worlds like an endless four-dimensional game of Go. Ants and pebbles in the thin loam, each rock a word a creek-washed stone granite: ingrained with torment of fire and weight crystal and sediment linked hot all change, in thoughts, as well as things.

There is nothing in human nature or the requirements of human social organization which intrinsically requires that a culture be contradictory, repressive and productive of violent and frustrated personalities. Recent findings in anthropology and psychology make this more and more evident. One can prove it for himself by taking a good look at his own nature through meditation. Once a person has this much faith and insight, he must be led to a deep concern with the need for radical social change through a variety of hopefully non-violent means….

All those years and their moments—crackling bacon, slamming car doors, poems tried out on friends, will be one more archive, one more shaky text.

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American Zen Poet (associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance), Essayist, Lecturer, and Environmental Activist, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, translates literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese