WKD - ZEN, Buddhism and Haiku


Zen and Haiku

More knowledge people have written about this subject.
Here are just a few of my own musings and a few links on the subject.

Buddha meditates –
the hungry folk
just want food

Five Buddhas and one Tanuki
© Photo and Haiku by Gabi Greve

I have a museum with artefacts of Bodhidaruma, the founder of Zen Buddhistm.

The Daruma Museum, Japan

Daruma and Haiku

And read about the Japanese ZEN temple Eihei-Ji.

The Zendo in Kamakura : Sanboo kyoodan Zen
and the Way of the New Religions
by Robert H. Sharf


“A haiku is the expression of a temporary enlightenment
in which we see into the life of things.”

R.H. Blyth

Well, this is just one opinion.

enlightenment ...
all it takes is

or maybe

all it takes is

temporary enlightenment -
just a bunch of

. . . . . .

en LIGHT enment
just how LIGHT
can it be ?


. . . . . .

enlightenment -
my Daruma squeezed
into a lightbulb

Gabi Greve, January 2011


Zen and Haiku from my Gallery

Zen Riddles with BEE ..

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Haiku and Zen Moments ... some fun

KOAN and Haiku (01) .. 公案と俳句
KOAN and Haiku (02) .. Dreams 夢
KOAN and Haiku (03) .. Original face and Immortality

Quietude and the Galactic Ant  静けさと蟻のクシャミ
..... The Sound of Wind, Sound of Clouds (essay)

Stone Buddhas .. 石仏

Voice of Buddha .. .. Frogs Farting :o) 。。蛙の屁

. Wordless Poem, Wordless Smile  

Carpet Meditations 2007


The Haiku Moment

Composition of a poem must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a dangerous enemy. It is also like cutting a ripe watermelon with a sharp knife or like taking a large bite at a pear.
Matsuo Basho

Basho here is referring to that sudden insight into the hidden nature of things which he called "inspiration." While he certainly revised his own poems and those of his students, his meaning here may be taken to be that if the poem does not contain inspiration at the beginning, does not capture the true impact of a moment, then it will fail. Later revision may perfect the expression, but only by composing spontaneously can one learn to grasp the flash of inspiration as it happens

Haiku in English
by Barbara Louise Ungar

Translating the haiku moment ... back to Japanese :
haiku no shunkan ? 俳句の瞬間 ?
Not a word commonly used in Japanese.

The AHA MOMENT ... more of my musings !!!


“Notes on Self-Transcendence East and West:
Jorge Guillén and Haiku”

by Rupert Allen

During the second half of this century we have seen an enormous growth in the literature on self-transcendence. The phenomena associated with “centered,” non-ego awareness have been described in a number of fields including ethnology, depth psychology, comparative religion, parapsychology, and the vast literature on meditative techniques.
Particularly relevant to our understanding of the seer as poet (rather than as prophet) is the classical haiku, the poetry of Zen consciousness, for here we have the deliberate esthetic cultivation of transcendental reality, resting on the solid theoretical foundation of Zen Buddhism.
That we Westerners are generally oblivious to the existence of the “other” world is indicated by the fact that we do not know how to read haiku without special training in altered consciousness. Once this training is undergone the content of the haiku becomes accessible, and the impressive world of Japanese beauty is seen for the miracle that it is.
source : terebess.hu DOC


Basho, thought by many Japanese to be their finest haiku writer and greatest poet, lived from 1644 to 1694. Like almost all noted haiku writers he knew Zen, practicing discipline under the master Butcho in Kashima, with whom, according to Dr. D. T. Suzuki, he had the following exchange:

How are you getting along these days?

Since the recent rain moss is greener than ever.

What Buddhism was there before the moss became green?

Resulting in enlightenment and the first of his best-known haiku:

Leap-splash - a frog.

Whether or not they undertook discipline, haiku writers thought themselves living in the spirit of Zen, their truest poems expressing its ideals. To art lovers the appeal of haiku is not unlike that of a sumie (ink-wash) scroll by Sesshu, and many
haiku poets, like Buson, were also outstanding painters.

Zenists have always associated the two arts:
"When a feeling reaches its highest pitch," says Dr Suzuki, Zen´s most distinguished historian,
"we remain silent, even 17 syllables may be too many. Japanese artists ... influenced by the way of Zen tend to use the fewest words or strokes of brush to express their feelings. When they are too fully expressed no room for suggestion is possible, and suggestibility is the secret of the Japanese arts´.
Like a painting or rock garden, haiku is an object of meditation, drawing back the the curtain on essential truth. It shares with other arts qualities belonging to the Zen aesthetic - simplicity, naturalness, directness, profundity - and each poem has its dominant mood:

sabi (isolation),
wabi (poverty),
aware (impermanence) or
yugen (mystery).

If it is true that the art of poetry consists in saying important things with the fewest possible words, then haiku has a just place in world literature. The limitation of syllables assures terseness and concision, and the range of association in the finest examples is at times astonishing. It has the added advantage of being accessible:
a seasonal reference, direct or indirect, simplest words, chiefly names of things in dynamic relationships, familiar themes, make it understandable to most, on one level at least.

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter
Lucien Stryk, Takashi Ikemoto
source : books.google.co.jp

. Zen Master Butchoo, Butchō 仏頂和尚 Butcho, Temple 雲岸寺 Ungan-Ji .
(1643– 1715)


. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Bashō and Religious Traditions

Of course the fact that Bashō chose not to become an official member of a religious tradition does not mean that those traditions are irrelevant. While he is not, for instance, a Buddhist in the conventional sense of the term, his world view and way of life exhibit certain Buddhistic qualities, only one of which can we mention here.
As we have seen, an important aspect of Buddhist thought is nonduality.

Nonduality applied even to the distinction between the deluded state and enlightenment, as seen in Buddhist phrases such as "enlightenment is found in the world of passions" (bonnô sunawachi bodai naru) and "the deluded mind is itself Buddha" (môjin soku butsu). The Zen master Dōgen is famous for insisting on the nonduality of means and end. For him, zazen is not a technique one engaged in for the purpose of achieving enlightenment, it was the enactment of enlightenment.

Bashō also experiences, in a unique way, the nonduality between imperfection and perfection and means and end. His travels are not like pilgrimages, which are temporary journeys directed toward a specific end. His wayfaring is endless: the journey itself is home.

... The nonduality of means and end extends to his attitude toward himself. Because his practice is never concluded, he sees himself as forever incomplete, like the asunarô tree, which appears to be the valuable cypress but is not.

"Tomorrow I will be a cypress!" an old tree in a valley once said. Yesterday has passed as a dream; tomorrow has not yet come. Instead of just enjoying a cask of wine in my life, I keep saying "tomorrow, tomorrow," securing the reproof of the sages.

sabishisa ya - Loneliness:
hana no atari - among the blossoms
asunarō - an asunarô

The name asunarô literally means "tomorrow I will become..." with the context implying "...a cypress." But the tree will never become a cypress, and Bashō will never complete his journey either. While in several passages Bashō exhibits self-denigration about his incompletion, ultimately this is not condemnation but realization: reality fundamentally is an endless journey with no climax or completion. But there is, perhaps, something of a Pure Land Buddhist tone in his self-recrimination and sense of imperfection, and the possible affinities between Pure Land and Bashō are worth careful attention.

While Bashō's mode of being is Buddhistic in some ways, they depart from traditional Buddhism in other ways. Buddhism began to lose its hold as the predominant religious tradition in the seventeenth century, and Bashō's departure from (and in some cases criticism of) Buddhism may be an example of this. The notion of karma, so important to medieval Buddhism, is absent in his works. In fact, early in The Record of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton Bashō encounters a situation that seems to be presented in a way that the reader expects a reference to karma: an abandoned baby by the roadside. After tossing the child some food and composing a mournful poem, he continues his speculation on the cause of the situation.
“Why did this happen? Were you hated by your father or neglected by your mother? Your father did not hate you, your mother did not neglect you. This simply is from heaven, and you can only grieve over your fate.” Traditional Buddhism would call for an explanation based on past lives that would affirm the cosmic justice of deserved suffering. For Bashō there is no cosmic justice in the normal sense, only the ever-present imminence of death shared by all wayfarers.

This passage is patterned very closely on the writings of the Taoist Chuang-Tzu, and Bashō's notion of fate is far closer to classical Taoism than it is to traditional Buddhism. In fact, Chuang Tzu is alluded to in his writings more often than any other religious thinker. Bashō's self-portrait has several Taoist aspects. The Chuang Tzu contains numerous images of wayfaring and flying as the ideal, especially in the first chapter, "Free and Easy Wandering." The Record of a Travel-Worn Satchel begins with a description of Bashō as a fûrabô, and the image in the first sentence is taken directly from The Chuang Tzu.

Among these hundred bones and nine holes there is something. For now let's call it "gauze in the wind" (fûrabô). Surely we can say it's thin, torn easily by a breeze. It grew fond of mad poetry long ago; eventually, this became its life work.
This life's work, he relates elsewhere, is quite "useless," a major theme in Chuang Tzu's writings.

Bashō, then, experiences life as an inheritor and participant in the meditational Buddhist, classical Taoist, and shamanistic yugyô hijiri traditions. Indeed he most likely saw them as three complementary streams, all of them parts of one religious complex of ideas, attitudes, and practices. This particular mode of being-in-the-world presents to the reader a sophisticated world view and way of life that becomes for us an ato, a trace of his life that we can appropriate in our particular way as we travel our own endless journey.

source : Barnhill


Meditation - Dhyana

ZEN and Haiku - some thoughts
... more on the Haiku Moment (haiku no shunkan?)

ZEN and Haiku - short musing

ZEN and Zen-isch, McZen - Cold at Temple Eihei-Ji

EGO, Zen and Haiku
.......... Zen and the Art of Haiku. Ken Jones !!!!!

Words do not make a man understand;
You must get the man, to understand them.

ZENRIN KUSHU Poetry Collection 禅林句集 English


. . . . . . . . . . . T A O

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Tao, Dao and Haiku 道教と俳句
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Tao of a useless tree  


External LINKS

Zen Poems and Haiku - A haiku selection from a 'non-zennist'

Zen and Haiku GOOGLE

Zen and Haiku YAHOO


A Haibun

Leaving the noisy, busy city behind for a while, I go into the quiet museum to see an exhibit of zen portrait paintings. Entering the dimly lit galleries, I find myself in the midst of a gathering of sages!

Gazing intently around me, I soon enter into the spirit of things. I come down the mountain with Shakyamuni, both of us smiling, smiling from head to toe, smiling at the universe. I sit down next to Bohdidharma, determined to stay awakened, however long it takes, eyes unblinking! I wander aimlessly with Hotei, balancing my bag of stuff with my belly, laughing at nothing and everything, heedless of appearances. After a while, tired from all this traveling to distant times and places, I rest my head peacefully beside Hanshan's, the warm body of a sleeping tiger for our pillow, with not a care in the world!

Where today can you find such characters? I'd like to meet them.

fine spring day--
a bum dozes outside
the zen painting show

Larry Bole, April 2007


I exist,
I only just exist here -
snow is falling

tada oreba oru tote yuki no furi ni keri

Kobayashi Issa, 1805
Tr. Gabi Greve


ZEN is not the only form of Buddhism with an influence on culture, poetry and haiku.

"Henro Haiku " by pilgrims of Shikoku
There are even kigo with this phenomenon
Esoteric Buddhism 密教 and Kukai Kobo Daishi

. Henro Haiku 遍路俳句 .

Kobayashi Issa and his Pure Land Buddhism
. Kobayashi Issa (小林一茶) .

Pure Land Buddhism
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Nichiren Buddhism  日蓮宗 and related kigo
. Saint Nichiren 日蓮 .

and all the observance kigo related to
Buddhist festivals and religious persons

. Observance SAIJIKI .


Not everything is ZEN in haikuland.

. Zooka, zouka, zōka 造化 zoka
The Creative Power and Basho .

Haiku Theory Archives



Anonymous said...

Reprint: Anna Poplawska,
"Zen and the Art of Haiku"


“‘Tis better to be brief than tedious.”
.........................~ Shakespeare

In March the Jung Institute in Evanston invited David Rosen, MD, a Jungian analyst from Texas A & M University, to present a program entitled, “Haiku, Zen and Jung’s Psychology.”

Dr. Rosen considers haiku a spiritual art form that promotes deep spiritual healing among its practitioners (haiku composers) and readers. The art of writing haiku began with Japanese Zen monks; now, however, the form has spread all over the world. In Japan itself, it has become a folk art and a cultural icon. Most Japanese have written haiku, and in a culture more open to creative expression than our own, there are generally at least a few published in every Japanese newspaper.

Traditionally haiku are short poems of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. Due to language differences, haiku written in English, using this same syllable count, often include more information than would be possible in Japanese.

Thus, contemporary American poets are free to write shorter haiku with one to three lines and up to 17 syllables. The shortness of these poems is a reflection of Zen philosophy, which, like yoga, emphasizes being in the moment.

Unlike other poetry, haiku generally do not use metaphor or obscure imagery, nor do they reflect the feelings or inner life of the poet--at least in an obvious way. It is rather an expression of egolessness in which the poet turns outward to fully experience and capture the essence of being in a particular moment at a particular place.

Old pond
A frog jumps in–
The sound of water.

Most of us have seen this haiku by Basho (1644–1694). It’s probably the most famous haiku ever written. What we weren’t told by our high school or grade school English teachers is that haiku come out of the spiritual life of the writer, and the best ones speak to the spiritual life of the reader.

Dr. Rosen explained that the old pond represents a state of oneness with nature and a mind that has become still, egoless. Then the frog jumps in and the sound of water breaking the silence represents the something happening, satori, the moment of enlightenment.

The haiku makes no reference to a past or a future or to a real or imagined self. It describes something that is very ordinary. Yet in the process of capturing it, the ordinary is transformed into something extraordinary. The poet and the object have become one.

The spiritually healing effect of haiku derives from their ability to take us out of ourselves. For example, consider another Basho haiku:

On a leafless branch,
A crow comes to rest–
Autumn nightfall.

Dr. Rosen explained that if we are busy, if we are lost in our own thoughts, worrying about problems or planning tomorrow’s activities, we won’t even notice the crow on the branch. On the other hand, if we are alone and wandering in nature, our mind becomes free to contemplate and to be more deeply present in the moment.

Haiku are born out of this experience. Traditional haiku were written about nature, but modern practitioners don’t always adhere to this. It isn’t necessary to understand haiku or interpret them. Nor is it clear that all haiku can be interpreted. Rather, as readers, we are invited to share the experience of being in the moment with the poet.

Through this, we learn to appreciate the beauty inherent in our own lives. After all, “What is life but a collection of very ordinary moments?” asked Dr. Rosen. He then shared one of his own moments of transcendence:

A field of deep grass,
Its vibrant eruption
Of orange-red poppies.

One of the things that we gain from reading haiku--or any poetry--is a recognition of the universality of experience. This in itself is healing. Often when we have an experience, we think we are the only ones who feel this way. When we are lonely, it’s easy to think that other people have more friends or better friends. When we feel compassion, it’s easy to look around and see how the world is organized and think that other people don’t care the way we do.

When we sit down to write a haiku, a poem or a story, we are convinced that there is something wrong with us when we can’t find the right words. But then, we come across a haiku such as this one by Hokushi (1667–1718), and it sets us free from those feelings of inadequacy:

I write, erase, rewrite,
Erase again, and then
A poppy blooms.

We recognize that even Zen monks who wrote 300 years ago had trouble getting it right. This recognition enables us to accept our common humanity--one of the steps on the road to transcendence.

We then sit down to write our own haiku, understanding that we are really no different, no better or worse than Hokushi or Basho. We are merely living in a different century.

Haiku is a form that is deceptively simple. The apparent simplicity is part of the attraction many feel to writing them. We don’t feel intimidated. We don’t feel like we have to twist our brain cells into a metaphorical lotus posture to come up with complex, highfalutin commentary on life.

The recognition that writing haiku is something we can do is also a part of the healing effect. The simplicity of haiku is also what gives them the flexibility to be integrated into other related forms. For instance, haiku poets might also write haibun.

These are prose essays that might describe a situation in which healing is called for or the experience that led up to the writing of the haiku, and the haiku themselves are incorporated into the body of the essay.

A haiga is a work of art that is meant to be hung on a wall. The haiku is written out in calligraphy and a Japanese brush-painted image is used to illustrate it. Those who feel they need more syllables to express themselves might try writing tanka, which allow 31 syllables.

A tradition among prisoners sentenced to death is to be allowed to choose their last meal. A tradition among Zen monks is to write a last haiku when they know that they are about to pass out of this life. Some of these haiku have been collected into the book Japanese Death Poems by Yoel Hoffman. It includes this poem by Gozan, written on December 17, 1789, at the age of 71:

The snow of yesterday
That fell like cherry petals
Is water once again.

Asked to what extent Zen Buddhism continues to influence contemporary practitioners, Charlie Trumbull, president of the American Haiku Society, explained, “There are people who want to forget about Zen. They say that it’s an American form now, and we ought to let go of the Japanese aspects.

But I’m not one of them. Zen itself is kind of spongy and difficult to define, because the moment you think you’ve succeeded it’s not Zen anymore, so you really need to read the haiku themselves to see.

I think that the more Zen you find in a haiku, the more successful it’s likely to be. Because if it’s not Zen, then it’s probably intellectualization and wordplay, which are definitely not a part of haiku.” He gave the example of this well-known Zen-like haiku by Jack Cain (1969):

an empty elevator


Anonymous said...

sitting quietly, doing nothing,
spring comes,
and the grass grows by itself

It does seem "too good" to have been thought up by an American comic strip cartoonist, so I looked it up online ..

is a quote from Alan Watts' book, "The Way of Zen," Part II: Principles and Practices, Ch. 2: "Sitting Quietly, Doing Nothing."

Here is the relevant quote:

The mind, or the true nature, cannot actually be split. According to a Zenrin poem:

Like a sword that cuts, but cannot cut itself;
Like an eye that sees, but cannot see itself.

The illusion of the split comes from the mind's attempt to be both itself and its idea of itself, from a fatal confusion of fact with symbol.
To make an end of the illusion, the mind must stop trying to act upon itself, upon its stream of experiences, from the standpoint of the idea of itself which we call the ego. This is expressed in another Zenrin poem:

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.

This "by itself" is the mind's and the world's natural way of action,
as when the eyes see by hemselves, and the ears hear by themselves, and the mouth opens by itself without having to be forced open by the fingers. As the Zenrin poem says again:

The blue mountains are of themselves blue mountains;
The white clouds are of themselves white clouds.

[end of excerpt]

Compiled by Larry Bole




"Zenrinkushu" was compiled by Eicho (1429-1504), a disciple of Secco of Myoshinji. The items (4000 in all) are collected from about two hundred books, including various Zen writings:
"The Analects", "The Great Learning", "The Doctrine of the Mean", "Mencius", "The Means", "Laotse", "Chuangtse", "The
Hekiganroku", "Mumonkan", "Shinjinmei", the poetry of Kanzan,Toenmei, Toho, Ritaihaku, Hakurakuten.

The first 73 of the following are taken from the book: R.H.Blyth, "Haiku", vol.1, pp.25-33.
READ them all here

anonymous said...

Pearls of Dew: Transitional Phenomena and Haiku
by Beth Vieira

Haiku is the shortest and densest literary form. Most accounts of haiku rely on Eastern perspectives, such as, Zen Buddhism or Japanese aesthetics, to explain features unique to haiku. However, the literature is scant when it comes to uses of Western psychological theory to account for the very same features.

“Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena,”
D. W. Winnicott


facebook said...

John Tiong Chunghoo ‎..

sutras more than the bodhi leaves
can hold

Unknown said...

raccoons play
with Budha
in Gabi's garden.

I can have real image of your attractive garden where I have stood on.


Gabi Greve said...

Thank you, Sakuo san.
It is good to read about your memories.
Tomorrow will be a lot of snow in my garden ... brrrrr

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