Buddhism at Millennium's Edge - Seminar 1

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Copyright 1998 by Gary Snyder - Unedited Preview Cassette


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the year before welcoming like for me
your hobbies are they helping with zero
rebuild our staff has fallen
and stuff and now with this benefit and other things that were doing we can begin to those some housing so that we can actually be here in the next millennium
which is so we just recently
anyway in this this ah yesterday i think it's really really true that i don't have to is very slender everybody knows yeah and what he's done and what he has to offer us so i will say the has just turned over to him and let's have a great day a dialogue and learning and studying together
thank you know will thank you all for coming
it must have known about down edge would drive and are there alternative ways to get over the hill here
and i imagine we'll be having some people trickling in still as he quit about tongue on twenty people law short of what we're expecting to have come so we will let that bother us
i think it's exactly a year to the weekend or that i was at green gulch
nineteen ninety six ninety ninety seven
and did a reading here and the zendo from mountains and rivers without end and then the following warning did a half day kind of workshop how many if you were here at get anybody gosh
well good
today is going to be longer and thereby more leisurely and thereby more thorough and
i trust them by no means necessarily repetitive although some of the same things may come up again and and i'm sure there are some questions they've got launched last time that to are still in people's minds
how many were at the reading last night oh my gosh yeah well guys are wasting all weekend here
on i so
yeah you could be out in the raid right
so we're not we're all in this together
in i'm very glad to be i love doing things in this end up your space and i like doing things with zen center so i'm glad to be able to do this
the rick did you know that i read from layer book a point last night he just heard
i asked if you were in the audience this is rick feels and i said if rick is here i've been to his permission to read some of his points but you weren't there
so i wouldn't write ahead
thank you for those powerful points
ah ah i when asked what i was going to call this thing today i said well call a direct conversation
that was probably because i hadn't a clue as to what i was going to do anyway
and of basically that's what a dharma practice and reflection years since a kind of a conversation sometimes with ourselves are various selves and the history of what we call buddhism is innocence the history of a long set of near it
is and conversations over twenty five hundred years or longer
and reflections on the possibility seltzer
a buddha dharma and sangha the possibilities of enlightenment the teaching of enlightenment and communities that are formed around that or maybe don't have to be formed around it just exist when i really would call a roughly what i'd like to follow through today semantically are present and invite you to talk about
our with we have is the the buddhist community
in the brothers in the broadest sense historical a historically and
also personally
and of course personally a includes practice i we're going to follow what kind of a schedule that were not a kind of schedule is going to be rigid folks
what am i say kaido schedule
erica follow schedule we're starting a little eight ten o'clock
ten to eleven thirty
i'll hold forth but not as a solid block of
of talk i'd like to launch them ideas tell a couple of stories
and then
respond to you and you know have some conversations back and forth about what issues though seem to touch on or what
can be explored further in that area aren't f so ten o'clock to eleven thirty level thirty two eleven forty five will take a break
level forty five to one or more seminar it's like a seminar will call it that person
from one to two thirty is this hour and a half staggered lunch and ah
if the weather we're better we can all go down and look at the big waves on the beach but maybe you could do that anyway you want you could walk down through there if it isn't to flooding
ah hang out in the dining room set here at the zendo ah
and i'll be sitting around the corner part of that time you know to pick up threads of talk with you and to talk to old friends from a to thirty two four o'clock again will launch ourselves into this forty four fifteen a break
for fifteen to five a kind of a formal wrap up and as a to o'connell said and five the normal closing time for most seminars except for zen buddhists who are tireless
get up at three seven article six
and then party
five o'clock we'll we'll end the formal part of that and i'll love stay around to oh we have conversations with folks that don't want to touch base
and i have to be outta here are six myself so that's a that's a schedule for the day
please do feel free to raise your hand
and throw a thought in our a question in at any time
whether i seem to be in the middle of i'm talking about something or not as i say i'd like to
keep this possibly on the level of conversation
and i consider it to my sense of videos we have a an old and very interesting by old i mean you know forty five fifty years old of west coast dharma culture that is emerging
it is very west coast in many of its details
ha and i know many of you here have been part of that because i know you for many years some of you are newer to it
we can have a certain confidence in our course
and that it is
west coast dharma culture that appreciates and joyce and relates to a number of formal a buddhist centers and groups and ah specifically designated song but it is bigger than that
it's it's social it belongs to the society that we're growing into it has a broader stretch of interests it includes many people who are in the arts and a number of whom are in teaching and in universities and somewhere in many professions and some who are driving cabin pounding nails
us in keeping bees and tried to sell organic garlic molecules of good things
so that's that's the culture that
ah i feel at home in and
it's the culture that i would nourish as well as any all huge culture as well
but someone asked me a few years ago what i thought you know in terms of be a poet who i thought my poetry audience was and as a writer and i said well you know every writer would like to think they had a universal audience at least of everybody who speak the english language potentially that's true
if you're a writer in the english language you have potentially the largest audience in the world
have any language you have potentially the largest audience that anybody's ever had in history you know just with the english language we english is far and away the most widely used language in the world
but my audiences really west of the rockies
from northern british columbia to the data ah
people of the western states and the western slope
who have been thinking about ah
alternative political and community possibilities and the dharma here on the west side for the last half century
and my some of my mentors in that going back our kenneth rexroth robinson jeffers alan watts and others that we can think of
for me as a young man
ah okay and some of this going to be a bit personal are autobiographical maybe why not
so what i want to open up with is the thought beings are numberless
ah in the rest of the a vow is i vowed to enlighten them
shoujo mu here say gondola
looking back on in my own case i realize that i was a pretty normal person
as a young person
in i say that because for years i thought i was eccentric
and ah what was normal about me was and i'm sure many of you share this probably most of you that was normal about me it was i felt considerable empathy ah and sympathy and engagement with and critters and with
the rest of the human world the read the rest of the non-human world that i had a sense of a kind of life in things
i was
naturally nobody told me this to do to be this way i was naturally cautious about insulting things like logs or boulders
i had a natural sense that there was some integrity in presence in all of the material and immaterial natural world that called for attention and respect
and on this was a just part of my being i lived in the country applauds the seattle i was out a lot
into the woods and which was just over the fence from our cow pasture and i was working a lot with both the cows and chickens to i had
morning chores i got up every morning it like a farm kid i was a from kid i got her money and six and helped my father finish up milking and then shoveled the manure out of the backs of the still of the stalls for the dairy cows and to care about other dairy chores carried the milk up to the house and then when i not milk delivery using my by
and then came back and took care of my chicken flock which was my own personal flock i and eighty rhode island red hens that were layers that was my project and that's how i made a little money for myself was my own chicken business mount inc business i did that for years up north of seattle but dumb also there's a lot while land around and i was
constantly probing and exploring into the wild land
what i've just described as a attitude or outlook on the world
which i thought was eccentric because i looked at in a judeo christian capitalise culture in which those are not the standard ideas about the nature of the world
is that that's the way most people in the world of always seen the world that your basic low level peasant animism
the sense of the world that ordinary
possibly uneducated working farmers peasants subsistence people have always had everywhere
in a more refined version it is japanese shinto
in a more refined version slightly more refined with specific stories and specific little ceremonies here and they're attached to it we call it folk religion
but folk religion is based on an old perception of the world as alive which is generally shared by children and his plot or
conditioned out of children
as they grow older
by an educational system which of course does not honor values of that sort nor does it honor the imagination the imagination is not something that is stimulated talked about or exercised in formal education although it's one of our most powerful learning tools and problem solving tools
ah we use it by default
rather than by a permission unless you major in art
and then you get a special territory
ah so this is a going on to answer a question of the somebody raised last night which i declined to answer because it would take too long so i'm doing it now
why was i attracted to sell
well so what i'm saying is i was not attracted to send because i didn't never religion i had a religion
and by the time i was thirteen or fourteen i knew i had a religion
i was quite aware of it
and i had my own little rituals and i had my own little shrines in the woods that i designed and place there was some kind of american indian reading said i'd done you know so i put on shell and a little beadwork and some feathers and prayers stick that be my shrine in the woods
and then when i started doing snow peak mountaineering in the pacific northwestern i was fifteen my first dopey climb
and i became a mountaineering fanatic over night
i felt that down far from just getting onto the top of the dead old volcano
i first peak was mount st helens ah that i was being instructed somehow
by buddhists except i didn't call a buddhist the i just knew they are a great beeps
and there was something magical in being out above timberline above the clouds into the blue upper air on the ice that was some deeply moving and deeply inspiring and exhilarating
to which i can only imagine some kind of
magical meaning good i couldn't put it where do
so why does one become a buddhist
good question
why the peasants become buddhists
ah y l where are the limits of paganism
pick on his on the religion of the country of the peace the countryside place ah no
that's all a pagan means it was countryside religion of the ancient mediterranean
the countryside religion is it happened to be taken over by
ruling class people in greece and rome became a rather elaborate of the rome it became an elaborate data religion of the state but originally but in its origins it's one of that variety of
life affirming and shall we say biodiversity affirming
a religious fundamental ancient religious outlooks
biodiversity affirming all sentient beings with that imparts already in me
from my own intuitive perception of the world i was a offended
when i tried out lutheran sunday school my parents were left wing atheists socialists
what they were torn broad-minded and they said well maybe you should have a christian experience just see what this cultures like and i was up for it so i started to walking go down to the lutheran church about a mile from the farm or for sunday school on sunday morning so i don't hold i was probably eight or nine
and of i've told this story before we had a heifer that i was fond of they've got sick and died and so one day in sunday school or the question of heaven and who gets to go to heaven came up
and i asked the sunday school teacher well what would the heifer go to heaven and i was told no
yeah i thought about that and you know i pursued this this it never occurred to me before
that animals didn't get the what happened to what the heck would ever be like without a media wildlife
you ever think of that you want to live in a city where streets paved with gold and no animals
the alternative vision of course is the garden of eden and that's another story that's another whole line of christianity which is largely considered heretical at any rate that was what the end of my exploration of christianity
when i couldn't crack the
the insistence of the sunday school teacher that have the heifers and cows and chickens didn't go to heaven so i e i never went back and of
but i kept my ears tuned as i learned and read and i became aware that
not only a native american religion with which i was fascinated and reading a quite a bit and
ah hanging out with fascination in the university's yeah this was up to seattle the university of washington anthropology museum full of great carvings great totem poles great woven she'll get blankets ah hammered copper plates bit wood boxes with the killer
whale designs and raven designs on them i just don't i was totally fascinated by nap
i also had a sense that it wasn't really open to me as a white kid
but when i heard about hinduism and buddhism world religions you know and let i'm one of the things about the hinduism and buddhism is that in their sense of the grand drama of the universe
enlightenment all beings are part of the game
i thought that makes sense
and so it was from that standpoint
that i was drawn towards the east eastern religious thought and a ultimately buddhism
oh not so much on on account of the idea of reincarnation though but simply the ethical
a allowance the the l actually the ethical insistence that nonhuman beings be given respect and g by nineteen forty four forty five everybody is hearing about mahatma gandhi to and gandhi as a imminent world
a spokesperson for nonviolence for ahimsa ah ah as an ethical principle
ha a little later i learned that the buddhism had as his first ethical precept the first precept are hibs up the same term as gandhi was using in fact gandhi got it for buddhism as it turns out
non violence a non literally harming
not harming
and i fought eminently sensible why didn't they think of that in the occidental world you know where were they what kind of a clock cod where they slipping in the year fifteen hundred b c
when the roots of western monotheism er shaping up that they didn't include the non-human i still don't get it because it seems obvious
but that's the history that we are so to speak dealing with
in i also realized because i had dug up the habit of reading widely in a lot of curiosity i realized that of what needed a an international perspective a world perspective
something that would help one with the world perspective
as well as
ah being taken with the ravens and salmon and trout and of blue jays in your own backyard your own watershed mandola ah which i do think he's of
tremendous importance it will come back to that
don't go
as my heart
the cosmopolitan islam of buddhism was attractive i and the realization that he'd had worked its way up from not only into indian culture but sri lankan southeast asian tibet or nibali mongolian chinese korean self you
and or vietnam and japan you know that the capacity to do that was that it had done that was impressive
to me and that pulled me towards buddha's teachings or in investigating buddhist teachings
ah many questions at this point for answer some very interesting yeah i do not think of this as a unique story
no i think that this is historian in varying degrees all of this share are many of us share
and so one of the reasons i'm repeating it is maybe to call it to your own attention now that this might have been you know buried in your own
the about pretty seriously
okay so going to cut it off the field
the base of dharma cautious destiny
but the favorite desserts
can you hear people can just make a little louder and a little slower place because this is a conversation
after his better i was big bailouts a state
by the vista
photos numbers ideal

what a comeback to it later if you feel like it yeah well i work here he is
i was trying to find a frame of reference that makes sense you know to me and my best experience at first was just yeah the you know that three or four square miles of forest around the farm
and then you know i expanded it to the summit of mount st helens the summit of mt hood like literally get up on the summit of mt hood what do you see boy that world is big
that was before you know kids flu and airplanes i've never been up in an airplane and so that was like my experience or knowledge those mountains gave me the experience or knowledge of space big thing space big sky know emptiness they say
except i didn't know about that you know but you don't need to know about it
so my first to and the thing that first drew me towards buddhism was ethical
ah ah and not a perceived need to solve personal problems
ah but a perceived need for a philosophy
that fit the real ethical needs of the world
and the ethical needs of nature of the whole world of all beaks including human beings
of course all beings in a moving now into the buddhist story a little bit
again as a
a voracious reader
ah kind of like a bottom feeding fish with a big mouth
i sucked up a whole lot of information
pretty rapidly about hinduism tibetan buddhism new chinese buddhism taoism so forth and of no with a of a storyteller's mind and i saw i saw got a sense of what the narratives were
ah and filled that out
later by my own travels in east asia and in india
ah but let me say again you know my my sense of teachers originally was first it was stumped
ah big
twelve foot high eight foot diameter douglas first dumps
same size western red cedar stumps
ah those were scattered in the woods back of our farm we had them on our farm to r
some of those big stumps
and when i was a boy i was helping my dad get rid of you know we would done pack we get dynamite at the hardware store and packard or charged dynamite deepen to stump crotch down underneath dig under their put the dynamite minute get back and blow the stump up and then a neighbor with a team came in with his team of horses
as we would drag the shards of this giant stump each of which read weighed several thousand pounds no doubt we drag these charge of the team into a pile then we'd burn those brush piles on the stump shards in the summertime over several years we got all this dumps out of our pasture that's what everybody in the pacific northwest did
when you drive around the pacific northwest north sea between seattle and bremerton today and you look at the dairy farms and fields all nice and clear and greengrass every one of those was covered with stumps when i was a little boy and they were dynamite ng in burning the stumps that was like the next step in civilizing the place
ace the first step was clear cutting it
so at some point i realized i and so this is the instruction of the stops that something had happened here before that i didn't know about it suddenly it occurred to me those stumps mean something at first i just took them you know as part of the landscape like kids do
oh but then the spirits of the stumps in the hovering spirits of the vast trees maybe you know where whispering in my ear take a look at this what do you suppose happened here now i know they were logged in eighteen ninety five during the vast clear cutting that was taking place
between seattle and the canadian border and that they were part of the world's greatest temperate zone rainforest that they were so with the biggest temperate zone conifers the world as see you can still see a few of them on the olympic peninsula in olympic national park you can still see a few is some of the drainages
of north cascades national park the redwood trees on the north coast or something like that in bigger but these weren't redwoods
so a perception of what my society and already done finally came to me and then i was appalled
neighborhood in a sense where my teachers to and then the mountains i guess which took me out into a larger space
so i'm not going to say if few words about india
the distinction between something like stuff and enough
well you know there's a difference between a canyon rin and a ground squirrel
get both beaks but to very different and so when we say they're all beings we're not saying they're all the same
a first of of course you know they are all entities
yeah they are all small d dharmas they are phenomenal entities
are they have the same order
there are many orders just as in an ecosystem which is a really elaborate and complex neighborhood or community there are many many orders far more complex in their interrelationships than any human society because he would say is just a
or one species society programs or when you get multiple species society you've got something very rich to switch over a little bit to the metaphors of ecosystems here so i thought of for a long time in my have been a half assed scientific way or maybe a quarter asked
beyond my grasp of sciences rudimentary but i sure love it
oh so i was thinking for a long time of ecosystems as
ah organizations of sentient beings including plants i and done
several of the of my silliest rooms up at uc davis of people who i'm hang out with and i i love their presence of made it clear to me that an ecosystem includes an enormous amount of inorganic input
that an ecosystem includes the mineral flow that comes out through the soils and the carbon of course the oxygen the hydrogen the water
and then a true ecosystem is an exchange system not simply between different kinds of of a living creatures but as an exchange system between the organic in the inorganic world as well and it is specific you to a lot of it is specific to a given watershed
we've got patches of forest up where i live and work around the forest i live right in the middle of a huge forest some of it is like theoretically mind that most of it belongs to you guys public land
inicio mosaics you walk you go out for a walk in for a while you'll be under oak trees with an open understory blackhawks next thing you know you'll be in a series of manzanita thickets was an upper story upper canopy of ponderosa pine then you'll get into
a ponderosa pine canopy without any heavy manzanita understory than the next thing you'll know you'll be in some clusters of of grey oak and rule rather than ponderosa pine lecco what's going on
lot of it is soils a lot of us is is what what minerals are produced in that particular mosaic of a soil type in all of these plants have got different tastes and they flourish in different places they know what they like and they know what they like right down to a north slope or south slope
a west slope as well you know what kind of sun comes in how the breeze blows how the soil tastes it is so refined
and that is a model for the world that's not that is the natural world we need to understand that
that richness and complexity a little better as a model that would apply to our own human social life as well so your question was are these guys all beings yeah they are they all have different stories different perhaps meetings or what does a huge or douglas first don't say to us
it raises a lot of questions how did i ever get to be so big how come naturally that's so big what's that history what is it what is it that enables this being to become so huge
what was it it's own nature that enabled it to do that what was in the soil in the weather that enabled it to do that
when you get a whole bunch of them together
five thousand square miles them what does that mean what does that create what world is that what mundelein is that do you know this this from chris maser in his wonderful book primeval forest a he's a a blm force i had stuff in corvallis
in ancient forests and big old forests on the west coast are there is a as he it almost all force there's a very deep and necessary michael rises symbiotic relationship between the reds at the conifers and fungi
and without certain fungi these trees can't live the phone guy plays the nutrient exchange role in the soils they speed up nutrient exchange they service the roots in ways that the rich care service themselves without fungi trees don't get don't get big so mom can even live there is a symbiotic relationship that goes back to
millions of years and is particularly true apparently in the ancient forests
there is a species of flying squirrel that lives in the ancient forests of the west the west coast
that is so arboreal it lives in the top of the canopy in the top of the canopies two hundred feet three hundred feet up there four hundred feet in some cases he lives in the top of the canopy and it has a life in the canopy that goes on for dozens or even hundreds of generations without the squirrel ever touching the ground
though squirt
are they carry however in their feces the spores of the necessary mushrooms or fungi that makes a michael rise relationships in the understory
ah and when they do touch the ground as they do sometimes they'll sail all the way down to the ground for some reason or another maybe they'll fall when they fall they don't get killed they just spread their wings or flaps
if they dedicate on the ground they have planet spores in the ground so they say after a huge stand destroying fire such as will come even in the forest of the west coast maybe once in a millennium
a storm destroyed far as well it takes all the trees down it will be the flying squirrels dropping into the bird from adjoining standing trees that will we inoculate the soil with the fungi that will enable the big trees to come back that that's part of the rich story of ancient forest that's all
part of the story of this stuff the other part of the story of the stone is the iww
the industrial orders the world trying to organize the lawyers who are working in very unsafe conditions at very low wages during the clear cutting and got a living a life which is so structured that they'll never be able to get married or have a family because they have to work in these
remote camps and they're not paid enough to save up enough money even in a lot of my fins or swedes or norwegians
they barely speak english in many cases so what did they do they remember socialism from europe and they organize and they start labor reunions and then they start the industrial workers of the world now that's another story of the stuff that's the story my grandfather was part of he was an iww organizer
so yeah there's a lot of history terrible human and non-human
maybe you're asking the question or maybe implicit in your question is are all critters equal
to all do all critters
call forth equal moral regard this is a big debate you know in ecological ethics
in animal rights people are not so much in deep ecology which which he steps aside from that question or in buddhism which does not take that question on is a serious question buddhism doesn't say
ah himself not harming as a little harm as possible okay first don't hurt human beings right no murder second
gorillas their kind of like us me especially nice to them
third cows and horses they do work for us to give milk they have vertebrae so you can be sort of nice to them and you get down the scale it was so then bought some people say well i don't eat red meat i don't eat chicken anymore
and i've quit eating fish but i oysters and clams because they don't scream and they don't try to run away from you
actually i heard somebody say that
working down the scale of sentient moral responsibility
the would point
the song of the taste hey good point i'll do it i don't just a second is a matter of fact
this is a get i get the streamer which you just said ah what
what about the moral principles that i grew up with that
what house is whether a beam feel pain we ought to attend to that so it is difficult to imagine that shrimp screeches but it isn't so difficult to imagine that a dog screeches thing
yeah no doubt no reason why we shouldn't cover this were talking about the ethics of the non-human and i'm this further on apart by egypt's look at a lot of he said that he was gonna hurt you know good over john for anything but hey cockroaches they go out and
whatever we are carnivores but it was around after
we all have some kind of bad karma
of it as part of the of of the arguments and discussions of of ecological ethicists there's a journal you know called ecological ethics or environmental ethics it's been going out for fifteen years and academic journal called environmental ethics comes out of love
a north texas state university and denton texas is it's a very good journal and and it has it does all the book reviews and it covers all these arguments over the end of the decades to real resource for people who are now beginning you know formerly even in universities in some philosophy departments to include the quest
of of environmental ethics as a serious ethical territory the ethics of the non-human and there's a tremendous resistance to it also in a formal academic philosophy a generally in the academic world as a whole there's a tremendous resistance to it it is still dismissed as
touchy feely counterculture stuff
or sentimental stuff
you know what happens those kids that love trees
like i was still am they decide to go into forestry i thought i might go into forestry at one time they've got a forestry school the inner forestry school say at the university of montana i heard this refrain to the university to montana
our first day in forestry class
the instructor says
how many of you here love trees lots a little hands go up
just how many of you you think that you might be so as big tree huggers a few tentative hands go up
and he says i'll tell you something folks were here not to teach you about trees not to help you like trees not to help you save trees we're here to talk about fiber and how to get it out boy they cut all the people out of
forestry class very quickly that think they love nature and they get into engineers and fiber producers road builders a timber mensuration measurement experts etc etc that has been the forest service and the timber industry for years now
that's the way it works ok so on
the the questions about degrees of pain are one way that people can talk about ah another way the that can be approached and i heard it just recently said very beautifully by the south africa novelists james gucci
who gives a to talks at stanford this fall what was called the animals than the philosophers the second one was called the animals and the poets i didn't get to attend the lectures but my friend mark government sent me the tapes and up the fascinating as one of the questions of course that he deals with the
his narrative his lecture really as narrative salt was framed like a short story or so that he doesn't make himself into the person who argues on behalf of animal rights but he has a woman lecturer
the mother of a professor and a small college who is a well known writer
and allows kids to distance himself a little bit but the the the responses this and this is basically right we don't know enough about the animals
to talk about which well has more consciousness in which has less we don't know a darn thing about it we don't even know what consciousness is we have a very narrow humanoid definition of a certain kind of consciousness which is our self awareness
ah to think that we can apply the standards that we have in regard to human consciousness to other animals and degrade them accordingly is outright arrogance and ignorance normally do nor do we understand pain
ah or what pain is to who are how much anybody feels it
we do know that practically all these organisms right down to the smallest have nervous systems which respond to stimuli to probes to touch taste smell they are sentiment
so it is healthier and more honest to say okay let's say they are all conscious in some degree they all love their own lives
and they feel pain and so what we're gonna do inevitably inextricably is we're going to have constant big let's just be aware of it was just acknowledge it
and then there are of course you know personal food choices this is not like trying to get into the philosophy of what's the right kind of moody there are personal food choices and dumb
the vegetarian joyce is a very wise and sensible choice and a very prudent choice nothing wrong with that
it's an elegant choice
but one would want to avoid be too judgmental about other people have done and cultures who did not make the vegetarian choice of since most of the world it's all it can do to get enough to eat you know by whatever strategy by whatever means and then there are a few people in the way
world a very tiny number who are gluttonous and who he thinks they don't have the that's true to ah why and we could say that gluttony whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian is not terribly attractive
the big meat eaters the world are the north americans on the argentinians the new zealanders and australians ah nobody else in the world it's anywhere as much meat that
you asked the average chinese person are you a vegetarian his own know how much me today one pound a year
as the average amount of meat in per year for a chinese peasant but they would call this a vegetarian because they're looking forward to that little treat
that they might get once a year
so there's quite a range of degrees possible in this whole thing yeah
the have pointed to that
and i
out of their diet is based upon
as one
yeah hands an animator
technology that universal energy
doing yeah nothing
another nemesis

yes no quite so that ah
as consumers of food we are all consumers and food one of the few things we can do is be mindful and be grateful
and practice our hips are non harming by some kind of intelligent sense of what is the least harmful diet
in some larger picture the least harm causing diet is a larger picture and in any case to be grateful to our food whether it's a carrot or whether it's a tail feather of a chicken
so yeah same grace is
the a short cut way of describing the ceremonial and mindful response to the are almost you might say moral human dilemma moral not even humanist moral organic dilemma of all living beings that all living beings eat and then it has a minute
balik were world in which we are all food for each other i know that's the larger picture of that is that we are all animal
he wants to take pleasure in the fact
since somebody else will take pleasure in it
reading other day
that i actively one of the states it was that led to contain the girls that are also a planet
which sounded fine i guess that i live over the five and being somewhat of an eccentric is partially because i'm pretty few ten
he was very scared to the stone miro also something
it's just the this little differently and get all the
well it's a different beast
paying attention
and to say that is used that even sale has a he listened to the soil and remedies posted
thank you that's exactly where i was going to open up open it up to you know next
me on ken wilber of ken wilber does think hierarchical
very much so he has a graded since of a progressive idea about evolution like they are dish shut damn did leading to higher and higher realms and leaving material worlds behind
and he's basically a rationalist it's it's all very cut and dried logical rational judgmental theory
i got it to look kind of an argument and a party at somebody's mansion on lake tahoe once with good wilbur
first time last time i ever met him he's a brilliant guy i mean he's just like a whip that guy i just incredibly sharp
richard baker i told me not to one go about visiting kid wilbur get whole and he said you know how that guy lives first of all you didn't live with anybody he lives alone so he gets up at four and first he writes didn't he works out in his personal gym for a couple of hours then he meditates
it's did he writes that he eats just the kind of food he likes that he feels is just right and in your he has it's incredibly disciplined life of writing researching and working out in is jim
what a guy
ha ha
i'm not making fun of him
i sort of envy of you can figure out how to do that myself but yo yo is the just at the argument we were talking about evolution and a kid was saying that that the process of evolution is into the spiritual into the know sphere that the the mind realm and
is a toward a higher and higher spirituality i said okay okay said but are we going to say that all of the animals through time we're just steps on the ladder
and had no no integrity in their own right
some dinosaur does not exist for the purpose of us
the dinosaur exists entirely for its own purposes the dinosaur is complete in itself the dinosaur
is a buddha complete and they're now in its own time it doesn't exist for some past purpose or some future purpose who said that
no game
this is joe gans answer to a hierarchical search of the evolution
an artist's answer is we do not listen to a symphony for the purpose of getting to the end of it

which is the best part of the music
is the end better than the beginning
give us a break
every step this is under this little doggie and on or some go on to every step on the way of the dharma is equal
as a social call on
the first step is as much of an accomplishment as the last step
and so we should think of sentient beings in that light and we should think of evolution in that light that in every point of the universe has been complete and it's not that there is some higher purpose that will
come into being through time salvation in time salvation by via history which is a judeo christianity of marxism salvation through history know as we know from the dharma our dharma practices
the any enlightenment theories there's always going to be in this moment
and this moment is the perfection that will be
oh okay where am i going next with this yeah nonsense beings here at one of the email me think that one of the arguments that emphasis used defensively environment is the idea of intrinsic value and gets a little bit fuzzy particularly political rally started talking about authentic day how would you
you i would you view the notion of intrinsic value how you'll be able to argue that in a more realistic wage
working and working in communities where allocated
intrinsic value he's asking about of the the scale on grades of intrinsic value which are part of environmental emphasise the vocabulary possible argument
i'm not quite sure which territory of intrinsic value you're talking about are you talking about like qualification potential qualification of dangers that were i think that we're getting it to is that we're now look at ecosystem and say
here's a given species what sponge with the of living and we lose it
interstate evolution correctly
lost over ninety percent of all that have come to pass on become so there's a precedent for saying graphic is visit to do go and if that case then how do we rationalize which pieces go by rank them is work
did you hear that
i'm afraid to couldn't hear it that's what do you stand up turn around and say that again because because this is really interesting
the one of the arguments that i i'm getting concerned about it that we began to argue about perturbations the ecosystem the the rational side of a saying well how do we begin rank those figures within a given system such that if we say that we know from history through science if you are science right
we know that we do species over time back over ninety percent of all species have come to pass on the planet labs or what why should we get upset about losing a few more and then an average guy what they're saying is we shouldn't go in and say which species in the system is really playing a vital role that system can we take out of your face that will me be intact
and then the other people are arguing well wait a minute know everything that value and then to chip or shut that
okay so you're using intrinsic value thank you very much you a biologist ecologist i'm a gary snyder reader
well you must have you must have another life
because i never said that guy
a little boy that's always an excuse
also your sense of intrinsic value there is is the ecosystem manager sense of is of intrinsic value what is the value of the species that the system yeah that's only one of several kinds of what you might call intrinsic value
that that that is an ecosystem managers mindset what he was describing
ecosys ecosystem managers are kind of a new thing around right now
as the understanding and knowledge of ecosystems has grown and it has grown enormously just in the last twenty years
land managers the professionals who take care of
grazing lands forest lands deserts and so forth on public lands it also you know people who are hired to do that on a large private land holdings
i have come to realize that they need to understand ecosystems now you might think there's kind of late in the game for something like to us for service that has been managing forests for over one hundred years now to suddenly discovered that a not to think about ecosystems but it has and also when they're honest they confess is one of their tahoe national forest biologists my chapels
said to me he says the truth is gary we don't know a goddamn thing about forest ecology and we've been doing this for a hundred years well so they're beginning to learn the new mandate from the department of agriculture to the u s forest service and to the bureau of land management in regard to a man
judgment issues management
issues is ecosystem management and now you know everybody's trying to figure out what that means everybody was in the agencies
and it does mean although it's not been really big very clear it means a kind of holistic view of land minerals all species plants animals interactions with the since that the biodiversity this is also a new idea
be maintained of the species array should be maintained but not doing so
they say that you don't say that buddhism became a state religion of the united states under
the dalai lama was in the white house or
that maybe on the cabinet
cabinet member and
they were really getting serious about not killing sentient beings and maintaining biodiversity will actually something like that happened in the united states we got the endangered species act how we met did we ever get that it was a total accident
so to speak
the congressmen etc who voted it in in the early seventies didn't have a clue as to what the implications of it were but it sounded good at the time
and i i would argue this is a little self surrey maybe but i would argue that the energies of the sixties set it up
so that civil rights was going strong the environment was just being discovered paul ehrlich's book was out they'd had the first earth day nature was was apple pie and mom as far as american politics were concern for a few years in the early seventies and the endangered species act got past is not another nation on earth
that has anything like the endangered species act they're smarter than that they know that they've got to make money and that they've got to survive and that they can't you know screw up their corporations you think peel them are
as a law like that forget it
the wilderness act to you know we it's it's a remarkable little turn in the american psyche that that those things slipped by and that's part of another story about the american psyche like how the world as we ever get henry david thoreau role where did he come from
the american experience has produced so remarkable eccentrics who took on the challenge of the new continent in deep and unexpected ways who brought a lot of intelligence to bear on it and touched a chord in the american mind
which confronted with vast richness of the new world and its diversity loved it so we have a split consciousness in this country and have had four five hundred years between a sensing a need to use and exploit and on the other side a pro
creating the sheer beauty of it you find that all the way through the literature and you find it in the very same people sometimes that split so you because playing on that split and plane on a certain kind of ignorance we got the endangered species act and the endangered species act now is just endless mischief
and there it also you know it's not very well framed in many ways and so everybody's trying to find a way to re-frame it ecosystem management the concept of which is one of the ways of trying to think about a it and intelligently so in that to save species you don't just same species you
don't say individual species you've gotta save the context in all like go hillary clinton would say to save children you don't just save children you gotta see families to save families you've gotta save communities it takes a village it's the same thing in nature you've gotta save the whole community or
good chunk of the community of before you can actually make species a species happened to have to have a place to live
so arrogantly in ignorantly ecosystem managers with their half baked sense of things are trying to do tree eyes in literal cases like brush lands down near san diego where there's an endangered bird or another cases where they're looking at it and seeing we've got to look at developers
do x y z we've gotta keep species a be maybe we'd do without species see maybe the system will stay together it's a naughty way of thinking
in the analogy that ninety percent of the species that have lived on earth are now gone is not a real analogy or because from ecosystem thinking
from the standpoint of ecosystem thinking you don't think species you think niches
who plays the function the species are gone the niches are eternal
the seat in the mandela is always there
different guys and gals come and sit in it the seat is there
and that's true in species is to ecosystem functions of so the niches haven't gone away
right right

and if you have very good karma you will be reborn as as adults
after that you'll get to always set
although they say you know mountains are always city
if not walking
i'm getting there
this idea
yeah that's that's in the young
the six gotti of six paths of existence
psychological ecosystem thinking from r buddhism
okay let's talk about the ecosystem what is in the ecosystem that is not handled or taken into account by ecosystem managers
this is the shock coming the shortfall of ecosystem management thinking
pardon me
no that is part of their thinking that is their thing
well it's so far you're right it is it is limited in the sense that is based on human self interest
and most ecosystem management still even though they'll they'll put out gotta go through this like every day right now with the tahoe national forest this is like what is right on my tray is a new logging a proposal well they call it the vegetation management plan
they don't call 'em timber sales anymore
right that's nice to see your yet
looking for maximizing fiber or maximizing say dear because we've got hunters and so we do have to have a certain number of good dearie that becomes the self interest a part of ecosystem management and the hopeful thinking of ecosystem management type guys is and gals boy there's a lot of with
cmon now the envision wildlife in the forest service
viola if they're all through the the public lands business now clear up to national forest supervisor levels you know they're really in there and they're all the firefighting create a cruise to what we see your women with the agency's all the time know they're good you know when they think they run a lot of risks of so they're all trying to find a way ideally to
to provide some of the stuff that society needs like timber or deer and at the same time preserve as much or all of the biodiversity they can and they will use the language of that you suggested of intrinsic value although the deep ecology position is all things have equal intrinsic value
in nature because it's john muir said years ago in an essay
no creature exists for the benefit of human beings
creatures exist for the benefit of themselves they are in their own best interests and that's how we should understand them that they exist for their use is not for our uses primarily
so these arguments in these are very current and dumb
we we haven't seen the end of it by any means think that the and
land managers the exotic the leaves of the up okay we'll come back and that
i haven't made it yet though
thank you darwin
the endangered species act is going to be around it's it's a hot topic it's currently good is going to be argued for a long time to come and as i said to the people at the buddhist peace fellowship i was one of the founders the bpf
and we originally founded it with both and environmental and social ethic base and i i keep reminding them little notes to alex the nike and other folks i see don't forget nature and don't be drawn totally it's a social justice and all these wonderful problems that human beings have
oh there is no other religious group running around here in north america right now except buddhism and except the bps and know engaged group except the bpf who can also take it as their territory to speak up for endangered species as well as well as all these other question
the much better at that recently in the last few years like they said several countries of people up to be activists that the headwaters forest which i really admire and so on you know i'm not criticizing them they're doing with their limited resources extremely well and they are taking what i would consider as a mandate
to buddhist activists that they include the question of non-human nature and its fate in their work right alongside of these admittedly horribly urgent questions involving human beings younger but let's not separate about too much so what does the eco
ios to manager ignore
also jude beings what do all sentient beings include
humans they do actually ecosystem engines include humans that that's part of ecosystem management they don't draw the line anymore just at the national park or national forest turbulent boundary they look at where the ecosystem goes they say that's a yellow pine ponderosa pine manzanita forest it goes right on down the hill goes off our boundaries go
right on over to private land is over on that ranch over there the as far as the the bear of the cougar and the bridge go they don't know where the boundary is it's obviously an ecosystem for them they're going to go down there they're going to come back here with the them when they're on private land they don't know it's private land so we have to think about so-called private school
called public as part of the same picture it's all the same ecosystem and the ecosystem may reach all the way down to the berkeley hills in some cases so that is like an expansion that ecosystem management of of provides for us but you know to take the metaphor of ecosystem further what else is in the ecosystem is in boot
just thought and in india thought
spirits gods and spirits
demons nagas
naga girls
cynara us shah's yorkshire sees all of them are sentient beings those that's part of the realm of sentient beings so sentient beings include a less visible world of entities
that we are aware of but and who have effects on our lives but are not so present but they're part of the ecosystem also there are ghosts
and then there are hungry ghosts
there are demonic hold dweller somewhere in the ecosystem
that is the unions that is the indian and the indian buddhist way of thinking about ecosystems and then there are books
a buddhists in the ecosystem or out of the ecosystem
well there are diagrams of this
and the buddhas are out of ecosystem because they know how to do it
but also they come back into the ecosystem because then they're called bodies others would they the ecosystem to play some part in these marvelous chains
okay i'm we'll talk a little bit about india now
bharat india
the idea of reincarnation
is very widespread in the world
a lot of north american indians
pacific northwest coast klinger haida gwaii udall all those people have a strong belief in reincarnation
lots of other places too
and it's so it's one of the varieties of of folk religion and it's not universal but you eat crops up in folk religion here and there in the world
and apparently became a very strong part of indian thought quite widely quite early ah
so it is built into indian eschatology
to live in the belief in reincarnation
and the belief in past lives in a culture that believes that is quite remarkable
it has remarkable effects
and i have read had read plenty of puranas indian not stories from the vishnu lines and a shovel lines shiva lives before i ever went to india and could see in the put on a near audience ah how
reincarnation taken fairly literally played out with fantastic tale making and testing story making or you only have to think of the jataka tales of the previous lives of the buddha
very entertaining
in also quite moral
there are lessons in all of them and dumb
beautiful childlike stories
the parana stories are scarier is creepier and more dramatic than the jug tacos
so then you go to india
then you start hanging out with ordinary indian people with their considerable dignity and arrogance regardless of their station in life
confidence and arrogance their argumentative this
they're remarkable verbal articulateness
regarding who they are where they are you can argue with you
and a lot of them can do it in english
and their remarkable sense of being at home whoever they are
ah that has a lot to do with the belief in reincarnation
because when you live in a reincarnation belief culture
innocence the pressure is loss
you are not faced with the challenge of getting all the experiences that you think you want in this lifetime
ah you don't have to make a list of the great cities that you haven't visited yet or the birds that you haven't got on your life list
or whatever it is that you think you still want to have or do or be our experienced forget it
you will have experienced everything
there is no to experience
pick out a sort of ground the ground line of your belief in yourself i've already done everything i've been everything i've been everywhere i mean i remember it but there really isn't anything new to do
that's really what india has as a kind of strength of belief
it's inherent in the irresistible and so there's a kind of insouciance and
confidence and lack of neediness really at a certain sense that comes with that and that makes them in their own way at home or at home in their station in life in their cast in you know all these complicated different worlds the indian people live in such a complex society
so much more complex than europe and then all of europe
and you have to look at that
one of the threads that lies behind the evolution of buddhism
ah and a thread of course which includes the idea that we have been all sentient beings that you have lived out the experience of all the different animals that they are all familiar to you in some deep inner sense
and that puts everybody at home in the larger ecosystem and of course the wheel of reincarnation the wheel of rebirth includes gods
deities demons hungry ghosts hell dwellers and so forth we've all done that too so heaven is not a particularly attractive place
it just has the virtue of have been a very long spark starting spot on one stays in the heavenly realms quite a bit longer than in any other realm
so what did they do in india with this
this sense of an ecosystem so to speak to that existed not only in space as we understand nature but in time as well
a temporal passage through interconnecting realms
by virtue of what they called reincarnation
oh what it brought about was understandably
the desire on the part of some people to get the heck out of it
and that's where india or indian religion a good part of indian religion comes on to our philosophical horizon is of about five hundred bc
you penny schaddick and to say the thinking of the upanishads and the yogic traditions
this of india and then the evolution the emergence of buddhism of the buddhist teachings of the buddhist teachings from within that in the context of a vision of the natural world
so conditioned by the sense of reincarnation and also by the ecosystem sense
which you can either take pleasure in are you can be neutral about are you can look on it as scary and awful
that everything he eats everything else is not a vegetarian universe
ah nature red in tooth and claw
we don't think of it quite that bleakly that was when eighteenth century nineteenth century that that was said that frazier
route was that tennyson as the nature red in tooth and claw other biggest hobbs and just
could have been hobbs
the civilized take the quote civilized western culture take on the natural world isn't course one of the takes his prior to the rise of hippie ecologists of the take on the world was that it was a brutal place
and the on the natural world that it was full of competition social and organic darwinism ah ah no pity no mercy
a short brief lives
ah ready to and claw and that what human beings had managed in their own way you know for their brief periods of time on earth was a little civil life a little civility
a hot running water and an indoor toilet you know good manners
a clean streets a chance not to have to live like you're quoted the jungle
i was the late nineteenth century early twentieth century since of brief sense of peace of mind before world war one when people thought they had actually accomplished sort of a civil world at least in the western european white realm and then all of that
fell apart as we know it continues to fall apart as we have horrendous problems in cities and a total lack of civility of almost total lack of civility in our public life
in by contrast the jungle now looks pretty good
ah but
so that you don't get too far on the i love the harmony of nature site
dick nelson marvelous ecologist and writer and anthropologists i was at a gathering on behalf of animals the dick was present at dekalb lived in the far north for many years and did research in in life together with
it'll be like eskimos wrote a book called the hunters of the northern ice
lived in for several years with the core yukon people in the yukon river as a baskin indians but another book called the hunters of the northern forest
best books on native american subsistence economies and hunting practices the electricity then you wrote another book called make prayers to the raven which he sums up the spiritual side of the views of these people in the far north and actually presents
how the spiritual and the economic uses and beliefs about animals and fish and birds are totally woven together
ah and you know to go back to what this gentleman over there said about a ceremony or ritual of gratitude how they really do it how they've got it down how they have a view that enables them flawlessly to kill to take life to use and to never miss a beat in their respect
for the many levels of that this creature has both as a physical entity as an archetype of character in their stories and as some kind of a spiritual be so it's a it's a remarkable picture of that life
and something like that was there in early india but also at some point in early india they lost hope for some people last hope for the ecosystem as a weight of is a place to be the the best comedians i've never lost that hope they love living in it they don't say i want to get out of this
but in india some people kinda to the point of saying we want to get out of that
and that became the inception of the yogic schools it also of the yogic schools founded by gautama which is which we know as buddhism and dot i'm going to wind this down at this point and pick up later we have five more minutes now
i'd take these remaining five minutes for a few more thoughts from you folks
that when i'm when we come back i want to continue a little longer on what i have come to understand in my own eccentric wait about early buddhism and it's anthropology and history and its relationship to these questions are and they will go on from there yes
name that south african author and to require j m coetzee c o e t z e very well no guy actually
touches of the yeah that is richard nelson
author of a number of books lives in sitka
just bought a new book out just two weeks ago called heart and blood living with deer in america
it's all about dear from what i've read review there is fascinating book he decided to move himself out as the wilds of alaska where he has done most of this writing and thinking and find out what it was like to have deer in the suburbs
what the interactions between people and deer are in all these different contexts which they never lived it before it's fastening
it also you know what we're learning about it
nine mentioned that you read about here
well i learned to read poetry and northern india
maybe now at time
well briefly in india they have a great tradition of poetry reading explosive or do in in hindi probably the far south they have an entire meal to they call a bush era
they've always done this you know oral literature is still alive and well in much of the world or the oral presentation of larger so a poetry reading in india starts at dusk they have a group of people maybe eight or ten or twelve poets that are going to read it's outdoors usually are under a tent
hundreds or even thousands of people will sit on rugs on the ground
they have candles on the states they might have a pa system if it's big enough and
snack in chai sellers samosa sellers little potato snacks they set up there stands around the edge of it and the poetry reading starts at dusk it runs till dawn
it's an all night affair
in people bring their kids and their kids fall asleep and in people fall asleep and they sleep you have the night
the most imminent in famous sports are safe to last
and so people will finally wake themselves up again if necessary yeah just before the sun breaks over the horizon they'll have the poet that they really wanted to hear baby
ah doesn't have another cup of chai and the sun breaks over the horizon and everybody scattered gone goes on i love that event first of all gives you enough time
that takes time that we try to cut short all of our artistic experiences in america the opera is the longest thing we ever experienced three hours meaning
you need you need things that last twelve hours sometimes so you get all all of the tbb you're allowed to sleep if you want to
and there are snacks to eat
and it is very social in a quiet way it's a group experience it's a community experience
and it just feels very very good it feels like one of the genuine contexts of experiencing art so we we've got all that stuff cut really short we were in a hurry so that's my ideal
the jazz festivals go on your right in the bluegrass festivals yeah that's true music festivals or have to take a lot of time drama and poetry they don't takes us such a long time anymore