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The Practice of the Wild: Essays

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,856 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
The nine captivatingly meditative essays in The Practice of the Wild display the deep understanding and wide erudition of Gary Snyder in the ways of Buddhist belief, wildness, wildlife, and the world. These essays, first published in 1990, stand as the mature centerpiece of Snyder’s work and thought, and this profound collection is widely accepted as one of the central tex ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Counterpoint (first published 1990)
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Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gary is not an armchair ecologist. He earned his title, Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology, by cutting line on wildfires, losing himself in wilderness, reading science and the great poets of Japan and China, and winnowing the wheat from the chaff by diving into Void.

In this seminal, important collection he writes of the etiquette of freedom, and how that relates to wildness. He has learned Nature's great lesson: that wilderness, and wild mind, are not chaotic and out of control, but self-governing.
Nic King
Sep 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perpetual evil has been at work destroying the nurturing, life-endowing planet, stripping it of its resources since the fifth century with the rise of small cities. Humans began to detach themselves from nature, associating the wild with a negative connotation. The idea that nature as sacred shortly existed during the Romantic period and throughout the ten years after this book was written humanity once again sees nature as something worth protecting, preserving, and connecting with.
This curr
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to put my hands up and say, sorry Gary, it's not you it's me, well maybe it is a little bit you. I wanted to love this so much more (not just because it is one of my wife's favourite books). This is clearly a hugely important, far-reaching, and profound treatise on what the wilderness means, the myths and practices surrounding the wild that continue to inform us and the lessons we ought to learn from them. Snyder writes compassionately, with wisdom and eloquence, and the essays combine ...more
Tim Weakley
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Snyder has, in this collection of essays, written from the heart and the soul about his passion for the wild places. I am not a wilderness type, but reading this book makes plain his passion and spiritual commitment. I placed this book on my Buddhist shelf as well because of the author's repeated touching on those principles with regards to the wild. It has a real sense of thusness about it.
Jun 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: deep-thoughts
A diverse and interesting melange of essays that is part memoir, poetry, and philosophy about man and his relationship to the natural world. There are elements from China, Japan, and Native American cultures. It's like a Zen Thoreau. The essays at times seem unrelated to each other but at other times you can sense a seam uniting them. This book was written over twenty years ago and I wonder how the author feels now as it seems his message has been completely ignored. This is one of those books t ...more
Jimmy Quenelle
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gary Snyder has long been one of my favorite poets. His calls to incorporate neolithic wisdom in our modern lives are important. Snyder has long fostered a deep sense of place in his works. It's a delight for me to read Snyder's prose, which is colored by the fact that he is primarily a poet. He has an amazingly extensive body of work, from his Rip Rap and Cold Mountain Poems in 1956 to his Pulitzer Prize winning Turtle Island (1975) to this book, which is a literary culmination of the world vie ...more
Robert Dietrich
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Foundational book for me. Snyder's ideas regarding nature, wildness and wilderness should inform our national conversation regarding environmental policies. Which is not to suggest this is dry, academic stuff, on the contrary, it has wisdom flying off of every page. It speaks to the human condition and it's relation to, and reliance on, the non-human. One you can return to over and over again and gain something different each time.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
West Coast zen + Eastern philosophy + PNW nature writing + hard ecology idealism + esoteric Japanese poetry + personal anecdotes + beat phrasing + Native American mythology + advocacy + moral outrage + regionalism = Gary Snyder.

Not that he's a formula, but, you know.

He's his own genre, folks.
Fike Fike
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my bible!
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this.
Tom Morgan
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the best book I've ever read.
Tyler Wilcox
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the best western flowering of the dharma ive found
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The same week I was reading this book I was trekking the St. Mary's riverbank daily and watching the progress of a huge tunnel sewer project that's supposed to stop our city from pouring untreated sewage into the river. Two of the three huge bald cypress trees that were brilliantly planted by the parks dept. in a low lying spring flood area were gone, bulldozed into oblivion. I could still smell them even though all that was left was a raw gaping maw where they'd been. My immediate response was ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Maybe it's because of too high expectations (built on the dozens of appreciative mentions by other environmental thinkers), but this book somehow didn't resonate with me. I couldn't help comparing it to David Abram's writings which always stir my blood. Whereas reading Synder's essays didn't move me at all and sometimes I even had to force myself to read further.

But maybe the expectations weren't too high, just misplaced. I probably expected more rigorous academic philosophy type of writing (an
Sep 22, 2017 rated it liked it
A series of beautiful and profound reflections on nature and wilderness, with particular emphasis on what we can learn from the experiences of pre-industrial cultures. For instance, I learned a lot about traditional Japanese culture.

I read the book for our church's upcoming Advent series "Voices in the Wilderness" but also found it affirming some of my teaching on Wendell Berry in my Philosophical Ethics class.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another nature read. I met Gary Snyder in the 70s and 80s in SF and at UC Davis and was more tuned into his poetry. Reading these essays helps me reconnect with nature and how makes me sad for the people who are so disconnected from the environment
Loved hearing the voice of a naturalist and Buddhist who also worked as a logger. This was the first Gary Snyder work I’ve read and will definitely pick up another.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much! So many great, meaningful metaphors about nature and humanity. It's like zen with nature. The writing is lovely. I will read more of his work for sure!
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Minick
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many powerful and beautiful essays here.
Jeff D
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The preeminent beat poet takes a look at human presence on Earth, reminding us of our guest status and the fact that we are neither alone or in control.
Edward Sullivan
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Thoughtful, eloquent meditations on wilderness and the interrelationship between culture and nature with occasional infusions of Buddhist spirituality.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild."
Erik Akre
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bioregionalists; wild men and women; lovers of land and place; those who appreciate Snyder's work
This book is truly the perennial philosophy, applied to our time.

It says, (my own paraphrase), "Become a person of place! Dig in where you are; learn the people, animals, and plants. Love the water, air, and land. Know where it came from, and where it's going, and how it affects you and your family. Imbue the land with sentience and soul, and respect it foremost as your own life-blood." This is a call we are learning again, as it comes around, and it seems again in reach.

There are so many ways t
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
p4-there will be enough pain in the world as it is. p8-supernatural is a name for phenomena which are reported by so few people as to leave their reality in doubt. p10-wild societies maintained by force of consensus and custom. p12-human beings came out of wholeness. p13-natural societies:people who lived without church or state. p16-the world is our consciousness.the conscious-agenda planning ego occupies a very tiny territory. p17-we cannot as individuals or even species take credit for langua ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He's Gary Snyder what more could you effing want in a review of his work? I thought of this book because I'm currently reading Mark Bittner's memoir 'The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill A Love Story... With Wings' and Bittner mentions the reason he moved to North Beach was because he wanted to experience what the beats were all about. Go Bittner.

As an aside, I once met Gary Snyder while I was an under graduate at UC Davis. I was working at a Border's Bookstore and I cashiered his transaction of p
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To me, Practice of the Wild is a book difficult to describe. There's a lot of deep thought put onto it. The kind of thought that years of meditation, work and experience can only yield. It's not a book that talks about nature or wilderness from a scientific or conservationist point of view, but from a spiritual perspective. The main conclusion I drew from the essays was that we should protect nature so we can be inspired by it, by going to mountains and woods and living it. As every human being ...more
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, wilderness
A collection of deeply reflective essays on the nature of nature, wilderness, the wild, and human culture. Snyder pulls deeply from Buddhist beliefs and teachings, and brings forward the teachings of many cultures.

Of particular interest to me where the essays on Place (The Place, the Region, and the Commons (ch 2,)) The PNW (Ancient Forests of the Far West (ch 6,)) and the respect we have forgotten towards our wild neighbors (The Woman Who Married a Bear (ch 8.))

A compelling read that forces you
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: su-library
This was my introduction to Snyder. I was reading it at the same time as I read The secret life of pronouns by Pennebaker so I found myself noticing things like he uses very few personal pronouns and hardly ever uses I. Which i suuppose fits with a Buddist world view. His views on the relationship between humans and wild animals was interesting to me. I never really thought about animals liking out music, still not sure what I think about that. He makes some strong spiritual arguments for the fr ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book because I felt such an affinity with Kerouac's Boddhisattva-esque caricatures of Snyder.
Reading "Practice of the Wild," I found the real Snyder in fact capable of boundless wisdom and compassion, and I learned far more than expected about the interrelation of wildness and culture. I hoped for a little more overlap with Buddhist teaching (a path I'm walking now), but when that overlap sprung up here and there, it was extremely insightful.
Pretty dry (these are essays, after all
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Gary Snyder is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Since the 1970s, he has frequently been described as the 'laureate of Deep Ecology'. From the 1950s on, he has published travel-journals and essays from time to time. His work in his various roles reflects his im ...more
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“In Western Civilization, our elders are books.” 42 likes
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