2-06-09 - Nailing down the Gary Snyder quote about
there being two jobs for a monk: sitting and sweeping the temple -
as discussed here on
cuke in the past - five years ago. Thanks to Andrew Main
Last October I read on Cuke about the New Yorker
article on Gary Snyder and wanted a copy, so I watched the free magazine
rack at the Library for a while, but didn't see one, and forgot about it.
Today a friend brought me a copy; he didn't know I was looking for it, only
that I was interested in Snyder.
I've noticed things happen that way a lot; if I want something it'll come to
me if I just relax and wait long enough. Long term illness has slowed me
down enough to experience this fairly regularly -- and to see that the pace
nearly all of humanity lives at is so speeded up that most people, so
accustomed to "pushing the river" and stressing and working and struggling
to get everything they want, never get to experience this natural function
of the universe, which I suspect might be widely recognized if the world
would get off coffee (tea, coca, etc.) and "Daylight Saving Time" and other
forms of compulsive speed. Not going to happen any time soon, I suppose.
I remember reading somewhere once that Bushmen in Africa "work" maybe 20
hours a week, then spend the rest of their time sitting around telling
stories, etc. Progress, isn't it great?
Anyway, by a curious coincidence, today I also received in the mail, sent to
me by another friend, a copy of the June 1977 East West Journal ($1.00,
$1.20 Canada) with an interview of Snyder by Peter Barry Chowka. I was at
Tassajara that year, and a subscriber to EWJ, and I remember reading this
excellent interview with much interest. And here is probably the first place
I ran across that quote we were trying to track down a while ago (pg. 38):
"I would take this all the way back down to what it means to get inside your
belly and cross your legs and sit -- to sit down on the ground of your mind,
of your original nature, your place, your people's history. Right Action,
then, means sweeping the garden. To quote my teacher Oda Sesso: 'In Zen
there are only two things: you sit, and you sweep the garden. It doesn't
matter how big the garden is.' That is not a new discovery; it's what people
have been trying to do for a long time."
I believe this interview was reprinted in a book sometime later.(I also see
in this issue of EWJ an ad for a "5 day Intensive Training Session" at
Karmê-Chöling with Ösel Tendzin, "the first American to be empowered as the
embodiment of Tibetan buddhism." Been a while, I guess.)