The Practice of the Wild Gary Snyder. excerpts from the first chapter: The Etiquette of Freedom

Creatures who have traveled with us through the ages are now apparently doomed, as their habitat—and the old, old habitat of humans—falls before the slow-motion explosion of expanding world economies. If the lad or lass is among us who knows where the secret heart of this Growth-Monster is hidden, let them please tell us where to shoot the arrow that will slow it down.

Instead of making the world safer for humankind, the foolish tinkering with the powers of life and death by the occidental scientist-engineer-ruler puts the whole planet on the brink of degradation.

To be truly free one must take on the basic conditions as they are—painful, impermanent, open, imperfect—and then be grateful for impermanence and the freedom it grants us.

Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance of spirit and humility.

The world is watching: one cannot walk through a meadow or forest without a ripple of report spreading out from one’s passage. The thrush darts back, the jay squalls, a beetle scuttles under the grasses, and the signal is passed along. Every creature knows when a hawk is cruising or a human strolling. The information passed through the system is intelligence.

Why should the peculiarities of human consciousness be the narrow standard by which other creatures are judged?

Great insights have come to some people only after they reached the point where they had nothing left. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca became unaccountably deepened after losing his way and spending several winter nights sleeping naked in a pit in the Texas desert under a north wind. He truly had reached the point where he had nothing. (“To have nothing, you must have nothing!” Lord Buckley says of this moment.) After that he found himself able to heal sick native people he met on his way westward. His fame spread ahead of him. Once he had made his way back to Mexico and was again a civilized Spaniard he found he had lost his power of healing—not just the ability to heal, but the will to heal, which is the will to be whole: for as he said, there were “real doctors” in the city, and he began to doubt his powers. To resolve the dichotomy of the civilized and the wild, we must first resolve to be whole.


Essential Chan Buddhism Guo Jun

IN CHAN, YOU fall in love with your breath.
You think about the breath while you’re sitting, eating, and walking. After you finish your work, you think about the breath. The breath comes to your mind. You want to get close to the breath. There is a tenderness, sweetness, and intimacy that you want to share with the breath. You want to give your time to the breath; you want to give your whole self to the breath. You want to take care of the breath. The breath is very precious, just as the person you love is precious. You treat the breath with gentleness and care.

there is a tenderness, sweetness, and intimacy that you want to share with the breath

When you cannot find the breath, you don’t get angry, in the same way that when you cannot find the person you love, you don’t get angry; you just keep thinking: Where is she? Similarly, the breath, being your most loyal and loved one, will not desert you. It will not stop searching or looking for you when you are lost. It will find you; all you need to do is just be still, and it will come to you by your side.


Give yourself to the breath as if you are giving to the person you love. Give it your life. Your everything. Have this kind of intimacy, longing, and fondness for the breath. Forgive the breath when it becomes short and rough. Do not rise up in anger against it. Accept the breath as it is. Love and accept it.
Falling in love gives you energy. It is the same when you fall in love with your breath. You think about the breath when you wake up. You are enthusiastic. You have energy.

from the moment we are born until the moment we die, our most loyal friend is the breath

Falling in love with your breath is called the meditation of love. People sometimes think that in Buddhism love is something that is frowned upon and relationships are no good. This is because relationships necessarily involve attachment and grasping, and Buddhism often teaches us to detach. We should let go of intimate relationships because they are a constant struggle, and struggle is, inevitably, a source of suffering.
Chan teaches us to love with no attachment. To care without imposing. To love in the way we love the breath.
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Dharma bums Jack Kerouac

A peacefuler scene I never saw than when, in that rather nippy late red afternoon, I simply opened his little door and looked in and saw him at the end of the little shack, sitting crosslegged on a Paisley pillow on a straw mat, with his spectacles on, making him look old and scholarly and wise, with book on lap and the little tin teapot and porcelain cup steaming at his side. He looked up very peacefully, saw who it was, said, “Ray, come in,” and bent his eyes again to the script.
 ”What you doing?”
 ”Translating Han Shan’s great poem called ‘Cold Mountain‘ written a thousand years ago some of it scribbled on the sides of cliffs hundreds of miles away from any other living beings.”


Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation Elizabeth Pisani

When you first plop into a rice paddy off the bank, you feel like you’ll be sucked in. The mud squishes up be­tween your toes and cov­ers your an­kle; wa­ter sloshes up your calves but your foot con­tin­ues to sink. Then, sud­denly it hits bot­tom, not hard ex­actly, but bouncy-firm. You stop wor­ry­ing about the quag­mire, and start schlurp­ing your foot up and squish­ing it down a lit­tle fur­ther on. The mud oozes be­tween your toes again. It’s slow go­ing for a be­gin­ner, but fun. No one else at the Cen­tral Java field school was a be­gin­ner, of course. They had all grown up in the rice pad­dies and they had the squared-off feet of peo­ple who see shoes as an en­cum­brance. They were there to learn about bugs…


Memories, Dreams, Reflections Carl Gustav Jung

Al­though we hu­man be­ings have our own per­sonal life, we are yet in large mea­sure the rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the vic­tims and pro­mot­ers of a col­lec­tive spirit whose years are counted in cen­turies.

The col­lec­tive un­con­scious is com­mon to all; it is the foun­da­tion of what the an­cients called the “sym­pa­thy of all things.”

The psy­che is dis­tinctly more com­pli­cated and in­ac­ces­si­ble than the body. It is, so to speak, the half of the world which comes into ex­is­tence only when we be­come con­scious of it. For that rea­son the psy­che is not only a per­sonal but a world prob­lem, and the psy­chi­a­trist has to deal with an en­tire world.
 Nowa­days we can see as never be­fore that the peril which threat­ens all of us comes not from na­ture, but from man, from the psy­ches of the in­di­vid­ual and the mass. The psy­chic aber­ra­tion of man is the dan­ger. Ev­ery­thing de­pends upon whether or not our psy­che func­tions prop­erly. If cer­tain per­sons lose their heads nowa­days, a hy­dro­gen bomb will go off.

Ide­al­ism had to be aban­doned, for there are higher things than the ego’s will, and to these one must bow.

I have fre­quently seen peo­ple be­come neu­rotic when they con­tent them­selves with in­ad­e­quate or wrong an­swers to the ques­tions of life. They seek po­si­tion, mar­riage, rep­u­ta­tion, out­ward suc­cess or money, and re­main un­happy and neu­rotic even when they have at­tained what they were seek­ing. Such peo­ple are usu­ally con­fined within too nar­row a spir­i­tual hori­zon. Their life has not suf­fi­cient con­tent, suf­fi­cient mean­ing. If they are en­abled to de­velop into more spa­cious per­son­al­i­ties, the neu­ro­sis gen­er­ally dis­ap­pears. For that rea­son the idea of de­vel­op­ment was al­ways of the high­est im­por­tance to me.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections carl jung

Among the so-called neu­rotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neu­rotic — that is, di­vided against them­selves. If they had lived in a pe­riod and in a mi­lieu in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the an­ces­tors, and thus with na­ture truly ex­pe­ri­enced and not merely seen from out­side, they would have been spared this di­vi­sion with them­selves. I am speak­ing of those who can­not tol­er­ate the loss of myth and who can nei­ther find a way to a merely ex­te­rior world, to the world as seen by sci­ence, nor rest sat­is­fied with an in­tel­lec­tual jug­gling with words, which has noth­ing what­so­ever to do with wis­dom.

“The stone has no un­cer­tain­ties, no urge to com­mu­ni­cate, and is eter­nally the same for thou­sands of years,” I would think, “while I am only a pass­ing phe­nom­e­non which bursts into all kinds of emo­tions, like a flame that flares up quickly and then goes out.” I was but the sum of my emo­tions, and the Other in me was the time­less, im­per­ish­able stone.

The Tao Is Silent Raymond M. Smullyan

At all costs, the Chris­tian must con­vince the hea­then and the athe­ist that God ex­ists, in or­der to save his soul. At all costs, the athe­ist must con­vince the Chris­tian that the be­lief in God is but a child­ish and prim­i­tive su­per­sti­tion, do­ing enor­mous harm to the cause of true so­cial progress 1)↓. And so they bat­tle and storm and bang away at each other. Mean­while, the Taoist Sage sits qui­etly by the stream, per­haps with a book of po­ems, a cup of wine, and some paint­ing ma­te­ri­als, en­joy­ing the Tao to his hearts con­tent, with­out ever wor­ry­ing whether or not Tao ex­ists. The Sage has no need to af­firm the Tao; he is far too busy en­joy­ing it!


A math­e­ma­ti­cian friend of mine re­cently told me of a math­e­ma­ti­cian friend of his who ev­ery­day “takes a nap”. Now, I never take naps. But I of­ten fall asleep while read­ing — which is very dif­fer­ent from de­lib­er­ately tak­ing a nap! I am far more like my dogs Peek­a­boo, Peeka­too and Trixie than like my math­e­ma­ti­cian friend once re­moved. These dogs never take naps; they merely fall asleep. They fall asleep wher­ever and when­ever they choose (which, in­ci­den­tally is most of the time!). Thus these dogs are true Sages.
 I think this is all that Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy is re­ally about; the rest is mere elab­o­ra­tion! If you can learn to fall asleep with­out tak­ing a nap, then you too will be­come a Sage. But if you can’t, you will find it not as easy as you might think. It takes dis­ci­pline! But dis­ci­pline in the East­ern, not West­ern style. East­ern dis­ci­pline en­ables you to fall asleep rather than take a nap; West­ern dis­ci­pline has you do the re­verse. East­ern dis­ci­pline trains you to “al­low your­self” to sleep when you are sleepy; West­ern dis­ci­pline teaches you to force your­self to sleep whether you are sleepy or not. Had I been Laotse, I would have added the fol­low­ing maxim — which I think is the quin­tes­sence of Taoist phi­los­o­phy:

The Sage falls asleep not be­cause he ought to
Nor even be­cause he wants to
But be­cause he is sleepy.

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1. Lawrence Krauss & Richard Dawkins