Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seeking Spiritual Guidance: Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder is poet whom I love to read even though often feeling that I'm not really understanding what he is saying; yet, the not-understood poems somehow elevate me spiritually.  Because of this elevation, I've often felt like writing a poem right after laying down a book of his poems.  Of the twenty, thirty, or forty poems I've written (or if I could find and gather them all would there be fifty?), three of them mention Gary Snyder.

I've also liked things Gary Snyder says in one interview or another. Lately I've been feeling that I waste time, don't reach my aims (one of which may be to simply post a blog), have too little energy ... malaise, perhaps. Today, looking through old notebooks, I find something from the mid-seventies I called 'Anecdote from Gary Snyder Interview':

          During the first year or two that I was at Daitoku-ji 
          Sodo [a Japanese zen monastery], out back work-
          ing in the garden, helping put in a little firewood,
          or firing up the bath, I noticed a number of times
          little improvements could be made.  Ultimately I
          ventured to suggest to the head monks some labor-
          or time-saving techniques.  They were tolerant of
          me for a while.  Finally, one day one of them took
          me aside and said, "We don't want to do things any
          better or any faster, because that's not the point --
          the point is that you live the whole life.  If we speed
          up the work in the garden, you'll just have to spend 
          that much more time sitting in the zendo and your
          legs will hurt more."  It's all one meditation.  The
          importance is in the right balance, and not to 
          save time in one place or another.

Is there, in sitting in the same chair from noon until ten p.m. watching highly-defined basketball on a large flat-screened television, as I did yesterday and expect to do today, any possible connection with meditation?

I don't think so.  I think I would be asked to leave the monastery.

1 comment:

  1. "It's all one meditation." ...the whole gig George..whether you're flat screen watching, checking out a blade of grass, feeling a toothache, or having a spoonful of cake batter from the mix before baking...

    of this and that...all one meditation..

    You simply CAN'T leave the monastery until the last breath time...this I doth believe :-)