The Year in Rearview and Words of Hope From Gary Snyder

Now is when writers compose their summaries of the outgoing year, and I wanted to weigh in too.  Problem was, I kept discarding drafts as my inner parental voices chimed in with, “Quit whining.”  Eliminate whining, and it’s hard to come up with things to say about 2011.

Fortunately, I found a spot-on analysis by another blogger, badlandsbradley, who wrote:  “2011 sucked. It was a big stupid year full of big stupid things. All around, it was just stupid.”  http://badlandsbadley.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/2012-a-look-ahead/

Now that we have that out of the way, what’s left?  I sometimes compose gratitude lists at turning points in the year, and I find it a worthwhile practice, but I think people have to do this for themselves.  I started one list by writing, “We survived,”  which brought to mind several good people who didn’t.  Sometimes the things we are grateful for are weighty, things to “ponder in our hearts,” as the Christmas story puts it.

In the middle of these reflections, a phrase I hadn’t thought of for years came to mind:  “Drown their butts, crush their butts.”  This stanza comes from Gary Snyder’s marvelous, Smokey the Bear Sutra. When found it online, I stopped to appreciate these words at the end of the poem:

(may be reproduced free forever).

Those five simple words of generosity opened a real wellspring of gratitude for me, so now I want to share this poem, one of my favorite by this Pulitzer Prize winning poet.  May reproducing it here benefit beings everywhere.

*****

Gary Snyder

Smokey the Bear Sutra

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings — even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

“In some future time, there will be a continent called
America. It will have great centers of power called
such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels
such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over
its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of
its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature.”

“The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings
of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and
granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that
future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure
the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger:
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it.”

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and
    watchful.

  • Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless
    attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

  • His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display — indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

  • Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a
    civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

  • Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains —

  • With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of
    those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

  • Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

  • Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and
    totalitarianism;

  • Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes;
    master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten
    trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will
Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or
slander him,

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham nam

“I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND
BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED”

And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television,
or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out
with his vajra-shovel.

  • Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

  • Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.

  • Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.

  • Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.

  • Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

  • AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT.

    thus have we heard.

    (may be reproduced free forever)

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