Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Carpe Diem Special (3rd guest) Herman van Rompuy's 4th a clap of wings

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's it with something of sadness and sorrow that I present to you the last CD Special by our third guest, Herman van Rompuy, former president of Belgium and the first President of the EU. Herman van Rompuy, a politician who writes haiku ... unbelievable, but true. I had of course heard about him as a politician, but hadn't heard that he also is a very gifted haiku poet. A lot of his haiku have a political statement hidden in it, so maybe his haiku are more senryu, but that's not a problem.

Today I have a nice haiku for your inspiration and I think it's one of the best haiku by Van Rompuy that I shared here this month.

 Doves are very common in the low lands and so it wasn't a strange idea to find this birds in a haiku by Van Rompuy. In this haiku he combines also that other common thing here in the low lands bicycles.

a cyclist approaches
doves scatter from the corn
a clap of wings

© Herman van Rompuy

As I read this haiku another time there came a koan in mind, a very famous koan I think. Here is that koan ...

The Sound of One Hand

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master's room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.
Toyo wished to do sanzen also.
"Wait a while," said Mokurai. "You are too young."
But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai's sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.
"You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together," said Mokurai. "Now show me the sound of one hand."
Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. "Ah, I have it!" he proclaimed.

One Hand Clapping
The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
"No, no," said Mokurai. "That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You've not got it at all."
Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. "What can the sound of one hand be?" He happened to hear some water dripping. "I have it,"imagined Toyo.

When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.
"What is that?" asked Mokurai. "That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again."
In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.
He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused.
The sound of one hand was not the locusts.
For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.
At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. "I could collect no more," he explained later, "so I reached the soundless sound."
Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

A beautiful koan, just to share, because it came in mind as I was reading the haiku by Herman Van Rompuy.

sound of water the silence deepens
birds sing

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope I have inspired you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. This was our last CD Special by Herman Van Rompuy. I loved sharing his haiku here and I hope he will read it himself also. He hasn't responded yet, so I haven't yet permission to use his haiku. So if there is a problem, please let me know. I am grateful that I could share his haiku here with you all in our 4th anniversary month. Thank you Herman van Rompuy, you are a wonderful haiku poet.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 31st at noon (CET). I will try to post our next episode, fountain pen, later on. For now .... have fun!


  1. Carpe Diem Special " A Clap of Wings ":

    morning light
    a whir of wings
    pigeons leaving the mow

  2. Lavender scents fill
    The spring gardens heart - clapping
    Are butterfly wings