Thursday, October 3, 2013

Carpe Diem #313, Circle (provided by Lolly)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

"Running around in circles", is a proverb which means "you're lost, you can't find the way and are walking in circles endlessly. "Endless" or "Eternity" is the deeper meaning of circle. Marriage e.g. is also for eternity as is shown in the weddingring.
Maybe you know the custom of ancient/classical haiku poets (and other poets) to write a death-haiku or a death-poem. A death-haiku (or poem) is called in Japanese Jisei. In the death poem or jisei, the essential idea was that at one's final moment of life, one's reflection on death (one's own usually but also death in general) could be especially lucid and meaningful and therefore also constituted an important observation about life. The poem was considered a gift to one's loved ones, students, and friends. The tradition began with zen monks, but was also popular with poets, whose poems were often just as solemn as those of monks, or entirely flippant and humorous. The poems are often full of symbols of death, such as the full moon, the western sky, the song of the cuckoo, and images of the season in which the writer died.

I recall an article I once read about deathpoems and one of the examples was the deathpoem by Shinsui.
During his last moment, Shisui's disciples requested that he write a death poem. He grasped his brush, painted a circle, cast the brush aside, and died. The circle— indicating the void, the essence of everything, enlightenment— is one of the most important symbols of Zen Buddhism.

Deathpoem by Shinsui (* - 1769)

It made me emotional that article and I thought "Yes ... this is really a deathpoem". Our beloved haiku-master Basho wrote also a deathpoem. It describes what he had thought. He thought that he would die during one of his journeys.

on a journey, ill;
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields

(c) Basho 1694

Today we share haiku on the prompt circle (provided by Lolly) not an easy one I think, but ... worth a try. To me it wasn't possible to write a haiku at the moment of preparing this episode, so maybe later I will post my own haiku on circle.

This prompt will stay on 'til October 5th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our next episode, Vision Quest (provided by Maggie Grace), later on today around 7.00 PM (CET).
!! Circle is open for your submissions at 7.00 PM (CET) !!


  1. Oh that was a so good.. and the deathpoem like a circle is perfect...

  2. I just wanted to add a little on the "enso" or Zen circle. It stands for emptiness, but do be aware that emptiness in this context also means infinite possibility because the empty space could be filled with anything. When something is not full of baggage it is open to many different opportunities. Here's an essay I wrote a few years ago on it if people want more details:

  3. I think the enso is a perfect death poem, full of hope.

  4. Another inspiring and enlightening post for 'circle' ~ happy weekend ^_^

  5. What a great prompt. So behind on my readings of everyone's. Hopefully I'll have some time to circle back next week.

  6. I didn't think I'd EVER come up with an idea to work with...
    finally at the last moment...managed to post.
    Great challenge to think about Lolly...
    loved it.