Tag Archive: Gary Snyder

Meditate Only for Its Own Sake

Last night I had the singular pleasure of hearing Gary Snyder read his poetry at the Folger Shakespeare Library.  At the end of the reading, Mr. Snyder answered a few questions.  In response to one question about advice he gives to aspiring poets, he said:  “Don’t be journalists.  Do hard physical labor that leaves y0ur mind open.”  This is not surprising advice, coming from one who has chosen a life requiring regular manual labor.  “Meditate only for its own sake,” he added, in an apparent non sequitur and without elaboration.

Gary Snyder’s poetry is evidently influenced by his dedicated study and practice of Buddhism.  The insight and clarity of his poetry surely reflects not only his intellectual study, but the deep wisdom of a dedicated, long-standing, and steady meditation practice.  The advice to “meditate for its own sake” seemed almost the offering of a koan by the master (poet) to his pupils.  Meditation, in my experience, definitely  enhances clarity, insight, creativity, and health.  Meditation is not meditation, though, unless when engaging in meditation that is all one is doing and without any goal (like the “actionless action” of the Bhagavad Gita).  It is the deepest of practices to engage fully, but not be doing except for the sake of doing itself (and in alignment with the deepest truths).


Great Gary Snyder Quote (and Sadhana)

My friend Dan just posted on his blog a great Gary Snyder quote on the need to do maintenance (of the self) in order to be most creative.  The idea that we need to maintain our tools and toolbox, as it were, in order to be most creative, is exactly what we are taught about the tantric yoga sadhana  — practice.  With our yoga practice, diet, lifestyle, work, consumption, participation in community, we seek to live progressively more in alignment with the undulating fabric of space, time, and apparent world so that we have maximum well-being best to serve ourselves and others with delight. In our sadhana, we include both study and experience (experience includes meditation, asana, and pranayama).  As both John Friend and Paul Muller-Ortega teach, we engage in the practices and studies to learn with ever expanding insight how to see and experience the highest first and live from that place.  Living and practicing with such an intention is, I think, the maintenance done so we can live out all of our lives as a reverential and creative act.

Dan–I look forward to reading the sermon.