Smokey the Bear Sutra by Gary Snyder

I came across the following in The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the First National Environmental Teach-In, edited by Garrett De Bell. I also found it on the web, with the note at the bottom “(may be reproduced free forever)”. Mr. Snyder, I hope it isn’t a problem that I’m reproducing it.

Smokey the Bear Sutra
by Gary Snyder

Once in the Jurassic, about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a great 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, were 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 great 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


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 only 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 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,


Thus his great Mantra:

     Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
     Sphataya hum traka ham mam

And he will protect those who love the 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, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S SPELL:


And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surly 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 ripened 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)

Sutra By Gary Snyder

2 thoughts on “Smokey the Bear Sutra by Gary Snyder

  1. I was going to make a comment on the last post about how the Mauly the Owlbear is the druidic forestry mascot, reminding mages that leaving magical detritus around leads to mudmen, and failure to curb your fire elemental can have dire consequences.

    But those meager offerings just aren’t on par with something like the Smokey Sutra. I mean that thing packs a 1-2 punch of comedy and profundity.

  2. You hit the nail on the head Dragon.

    …that thing packs a 1-2 punch of comedy and profundity.

    Smokey’s Sutra left me speechless too. I’ve had the post in the queue for a while, but I thought it was a particularly appropriate time to post it with all the Smokey talk going on.

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