Friday, January 31, 2014

Carpe Diem #389, Ryozenji (Temple 1)

Youkoso at Shikoku dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Today we start with our Shikoku Pilgrimage and so I started this episode with "Youkoso", which means "welcome''. From this day on we will make a pilgrimage along the 88 temples on the Isle of Shikoku and will trod in the footsteps of thousands of O-Henro (pilgrims on Shikoku-route) and in the footsteps of Kobo Daishi (774-835).

Kobo Daishi (774-835) a.k.a. Kukai

So from today on, until the end of our pilgrimage next month, we will be O-Henro or pilgrims along the Shikoku temples-route. As O-Henro we have to wear special clothing as you can see in the photo hereafter.

O-Henro traditional clothing

And we have to learn the Heart-Sutra, which has to be sung at every temple.


Maka Hannya Haramita Shingyo


Kanjizai Bosatsu Gyo Jin Hannya Haramita Ji
Sho Ken Go Un Kai Ku Do Issai Ku Yaku Sharishi
Shiki Fu I Ku
Ku Fu I Shiki
Shiki Soku Ze Ku
Ku Soku Ze Shiki
Ju So Gyo Shiki Yaku Bu Nyo Ze
Sharishi Ze Sho Ho Ku So Fu Sho Fu Metsu
Fu Ku Fu Jo Fu Zo Fu Gen Ze Ko Ku Chu
Mu Shiki Mu Ju So Gyo Shiki
Mu Gen Ni Bi Zets' Shin I
Mu Shiki Sho Ko Mi Soku Ho
Mu Gen Kai Nai Shi Mu I Shiki Kai Mu Mu Myo
Yaku Mu Mu Myo Jin Nai Shi Mu Ro Shi
Yaku Mu Ro Shi Jin Mu Ku Shu Metsu Do
Mu Chi Yaku Mu Toku I Mu Sho Tokko
Bodaisatta E Hannya Haramita
Ko Shin Mu Ke Ge
Mu Ke Ge Ko Mu U Ku Fu
On Ri Issai Tendo Mu So Ku Gyo Nehan
San Ze Sho Butsu E Hannya Haramita
Ko Toku A Noku Ta Ra Sanmyaku Sambodai
Ko Chi Hannya Haramita Ze Dai Jin Shu
Ze Dai Myo ShuZe Mu Jo Shu
Ze Mu To Do Shu
No Jo Issai Ku Shin Jitsu Fu Ko
Ko Setsu Hannya Haramita Shu
Soku Setsu Shu Watsu
Gyate Gyate Hara Gyate
Hara So Gyate Boji Sowa Ka
Hannya Shin Gyo

O-Henro at one of the 88 temples on Shikoku Island



Heart of the Great Wisdom Sutra


When a sincere truth seeker attains the wisdom of enlightenment, he realizes that all the five senses are empty and he transcends every suffering.
Listen: All things are no different from emptiness; emptiness is not different from all things. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness are also like this.
Listen: The original nature of all things is neither born nor extinguished. There is no purity, no defilement; no gain, no loss.
In this world of emptiness there is no form, no feelings, perceptions, impulses, or consciousness. No eye, ear, tongue body, or mind. Therefore, no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, or thought. The world of form does not exist, nor the world of the mind or of ignorance; no old age and no death.
Yet there is continuous ignorance, old age, and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering; no wisdom and no attainment because there is nothing to be attained. The compassionate truth-seeker depends upon the wisdom of enlightenment.
When the mind does not become attached to anything, there are no obstacles and fear does not exist. This mind goes beyond all disruptive views and attains Nirvana. All the Buddhas of the past, present and future depend upon the wisdom of enlightenment--and so attain the supreme, wisdom of enlightenment as the great unexplainable true word, the great shining true word that is able to remove all suffering. It is true, not false. This true word of wisdom says:
Gyate Gyate Hara Gyate Hara So Gyate Bodhi Sowa Ka.



Of course none of the O-Henro, a few maybe, knows these words completely from his/her mind, so we will meet O-Henro who are chanting the Heart Sutra with a little booklet in their hands and maybe ... that's what we have to do too.

O-Henro chanting the Heart Sutra

Well ... as we are prepared now I say again "Youkoso" and I bow for you. In my heart I chant the Heart Sutra to become in tune with Shikoku. We are on our way and will start at the first temple Ryozenji at Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture. It is here were the pilgrimage starts.

Ryozenji, the first temple at Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture

Ryozenji Temple is also known as "Vulture Peak" which refers to one of the sermons the Buddha once gave on a mountain with the same name. It was on that mountain that Buddha started with his religion and wrote the Heart-Sutra and e.g. the Lotus-Sutra.
So this first temple is in every way the start of our Shikoku Pilgrimage.
In the upcoming episodes of our Shikoku Pilgrimage I will try to tell you all more about Buddhism as one of the roots for our beloved haiku. As you maybe know ... in the classical rules of haiku is said that there has to be a Buddhistic layer in haiku. Of course I will use haiku examples written by the classical haiku-poets and sometimes written by modern haiku-poets.
OK ... let us start with our Shikoku Pilgrimage and I love to share my first haiku for this new month with you and I am looking forward to all our new insights and wonderful haiku.

Vulture Peak India

pilgrims chanting
the Heart Sutra to honor Kukai -
cry of a Vulture

cry of a Vulture
breaks through the serene temple -
pilgrims chanting

Well ... I hope you like this 'kick-of' haiku and I hope to read wonderful haiku written by you all my dear O-Henro ...

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 2nd 11.59 AM (CET). I hope to post our new episode, that will be our first Special episode of this month in which we will follow in the footsteps of Paulo Coelho as he is on "The Way of St. James" (The Pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela, Spain).

PS.: This month I will have no Tan Renga Challenges for you, because the posts about Shikoku and Paulo Coelho's Pilgrimage will take a lot of my time.

Carpe Diem #388, Shikoku

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First my excuses for the late publishing of this last episode of January, but ... as you know I am in the nightshift and couldn't prepare it earlier.
Today we are closing our journey straight through the Soviet Union by Trans Siberian Railroad and with this last episode we enter our next part of the journey ... a pilgrimage along the 88 temples on the Isle of Shikoku.

I have published our new promptlist for February 2014 HERE. I think I have made a wonderful list of prompts and I think that you all will be surprised, because I have no Special featured haiku-poet upcoming month, but another Special feature ... I hope you all like that new one ..

Shikoku is one of the four main islands (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) that make up Japan. The island is located between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are four prefectures located there: Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi. Tokushima has close political, economic, and cultural ties to the Kansai region of Honshu, which includes cities like Osaka and Kyoto. In recent years, three bridges spanning the Seto Inland Sea have created land routes between Honshu and Shikoku. One connects Kobe to the city of Naruto in Tokushima via Awaji Island on the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway (the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge). The second route connects Okayama Prefecture's Hayashima with the city of Sakaide in Kagawa via the Seto-Chuo Expressway (the six Seto-Ohashi Bridges; this route also features a rail line). The third connects Hiroshima's Onomichi with the city of Imabari in Ehime via the Nishi-Seto Expressway (the three Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridges; this route is also accessible on foot or by bicycle). With the construction of these routes, travel between Honshu and Shikoku via expressway and railway (Seto-Ohashi Bridge) has become more convenient than ever before.
Iya Kazurabashi Bridge, Takushima Prefecture Shikoku

The Pacific side of the island, which consists of the portion located to the south of Shikoku's mountain range that runs east to west, sees more than its share of rain, but the climate of the entire island is relatively warm.
There are plenty of wild and natural spots, scenic and historic places, and traditional festivals.
Naoshima, where nature and contemporary art coexist, Mt. Ishizuchi, one of the highest peaks in West Japan and a popular destination for hikers, the Naruto whirlpools, one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the thatched traditional house known as Chiiori which is located in the Iya valley, known as one of the three most remote places in Japan and the place where the defeated Heike warriors took refuge at the end of the 12th century, the Shimanto River which is called Japan's last clear stream where local people enjoy river recreation., Kompira Shrine which is home to the god of the sea, Dogo Hot Spring which is one of Japan's oldest hot springs with several thousand years of history, Awa Odori summer festival which attracts 1.3 million people annually, Kochi prefecture's summer Yosakoi festival which attracts 1 million people, Kochi's outdoor Sunday Market which is one of Japan's largest, and many many other attractions are what make up Shikoku.
There are lots of unique traditional foods made with the abundant produce from land and sea. Sanuki udon is made with wheat noodles and a soup stock made from soy sauce and seafood. Tai meshi is made by cooking rice together with a whole sea bream. Tokushima ramen has a thick, rich broth made from pig and chicken bones. Katsuo no tataki is made by grilling the surface of raw bonito tuna and is served with a variety of strong-tasting accompaniments including slices of raw garlic, green onions, and ginger. Each region has its own unique local dishes, and the variety of tastes is a joy to explore

Kan Henro
mysterious Island
dedicated to the Path of Enlightenment
four countries as one

(c) Chèvrefeuille

(note: Shikoku means literally "four countries")

Well ... we have started almost with our new journey along the 88 temples on the Island Shikoku and I hope you all will enjoy this journey, this pilgrimage.
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 1st 11.59 AM (CET). I hope to have time to publish our first episode of our new journey on Shikoku later on today. For now ... have fun, be inspired and share your haiku, senryu, tanka or kyoka with us all here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Carpe Diem #387, Pilgrim

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am sorry that this post was delayed, but time flows through my fingers like water and I am in the nightshift ... so ... the next posts I can't garantee that they will be posted on time.

Today our prompt is Pilgrim and of course we are all pilgrims on a journey through life on a quest to find the path. We have had a wonderful journey straight through the Soviet Union and our upcoming posts are to open the path already to our next Carpe Diem month in which we will go on a pilgrimage along the 88 temples on the Isle of Shikoku. Than we will be really pilgrims, or as they are called on Shikoku O-Henro.


on a pilgrimage
a quest to the truth of life -
skylarks sing their song

skylarks sing their song
giving the O-Henro new energy
on their pilgrimage

(c) Chèvrefeuille

Well ... ? This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until January 31th 11.59 AM (CET). I will post our last episode of this month, Shikoku, later on today (I hope).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Carpe Diem 387 delayed

Sorry guys ... again our new episode is delayed ... hope to publish tomorrow asap.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Carpe Diem #386, Tengri, the Spirit of the Steppes

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Tengri was the chief deity worshipped by the ruling class of the Central Asian steppe peoples in 6th to 9th centuries (Turkic peoples, Mongols and Hungarians).  It lost its importance when the Uighuric kagans proclaimed Manichaeism the state religion in the 8th century. Tengri was the main god of the Turkic pantheon, controlling the celestial sphere.

The most important contemporary testimony of Tengri worship is found in the Old Turkic Orkhon inscriptions, dated to the early 8th century. Written in the so-called Orkhon script, these inscriptions record an account of the mythological origins of the Turks. The inscription dedicated to Kul Tigin includes the passages (in the translation provided by the Language Committee of Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan): "When the blue sky [Tengri] above and the brown earth below were created, between them a human being was created. Over the human beings, my ancestors Bumin Kagan and Istemi Kagan ruled. They ruled people by Turkish laws, they led them and succeeded" (face 1, line 1); "Tengri creates death. Human beings have all been created in order to die" (face 2, line 9); "You passed away (lit.: 'went flying') until Tengri gives you life again" (face 2, line 14).

Khan Tengri, an important mountain in Tengrism

"Tengrism" is the term for a revival of Central Asian shamanism after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 
In Tengriism, the meaning of life is seen as living in harmony with the surrounding world. Tengriist believers view their existence as sustained by the eternal blue Sky, Tengri, the fertile Mother-Earth, spirit Eje, and a ruler who is regarded as the holy spirit of the Sky. Heaven, Earth, the spirits of nature and the ancestors provide every need and protect all humans. By living an upright and respectful life, a human being will keep his world in balance and maximize his personal power Wind Horse.
It is said that the Huns of the Northern Caucasus believed in two gods. One is called Tangri han (that is Tengri Khan), who is thought to be identical to the Persian Aspandiat and for whom horses were sacrificed. The other is called Kuar, whose victims are struck down by lightning.
Tengriism is actively practised in Sakha, Buryatia, Tuva and Mongolia in parallel with Tibetan Buddhism and Burkhanism.

Nazar, "The Evil Eye"

Tengrism, is also an theme in one of the novels by Paulo Coelho. In his novel "The Zahir", he's on a quest to find his beloved wife who has left him without letting him know where she is. His wife, in the novel a war-correspondent, has left him to find herself back. He meets Michael, a young charismatic man, who is telling stories about love and performs rituals with a few other friends of him. During the story Paulo and Michael become friends and finally they decide to go on a quest together. Michael returning back to his Mongolian roots taking Paulo with him. As they arrive in Mongolia Paulo learns about Tengrism and finds his beloved wife back somewhere in a village on the steppes.

As we already have find out during our journey with the Trans Siberian Railroad ... Tengrism uses Shaman-rituals and initiations and it also is familiar to Tibetan Buddhism. Buddhism is one of the main backgrounds for haiku and that's why we will soon start our pilgrimage on the Japanese Isle of Shikoku. This pilgrimage is similar with the Hajj of the Muslim. The Muslim have to go to Mecca, a Hajj, once in their lifetime. To Buddhists that's why they go on a pilgrimage along the 88 temples/shrines situated on Shikoku once in a lifetime. It follows the path of the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo Daishi or 'Kukai'.

Shikoku, O-Henro sign

flying high
above Khan Tengri
cry of an eagle

cry of an eagle
resonates through the temples -
Shikoku Island

Shikoku Island
pilgrimage to Enlightenment -
becoming a Henro

Not a strong set I think, but I think it says what the post says in just a few words. With this post we have entered the realm of the Pilgrim ... our first step to become a Henro (Shikoku pilgrim).

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will remain open until January 30th 11.59 AM (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode, Pilgrim, later on. Have fun, be inspired and be prepared to start our pilgrimage along the 88 temples/shrines in tribute to Kobo Daishi on Shikoku Island.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Carpe Diem #385, "Flight of the Eagle"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Yesterday we arrived at our last station of the Trans Siberian Railroad, Vladivostok, and we have had a great adventure that's for sure. As we have read earlier this week, Paulo and Yao visited a Siberian Shaman and were part of a shaman ritual. To go on with our adventure of this month I have to tell you something more about Siberian Shamanism (or Tengriism) and that's were this episode will tell you more about.

The meaning of the word ‘shaman’ is shrouded in linguistic mystery and various explanations have been put forward for its origin. One theory is that it is possibly derived from an ancient Chinese term for a Buddhist priest or monk. The Oxford English Dictionary defines its meaning as “a priest or witch-doctor [sic] of (a) class claiming to have sole contact with gods etc.” It says the word comes from the Russian “shaman” and is a translation of the Tungusion word “saman.” In Siberia and Mongolia, shamanism was known as Tengerism, meaning a reverence for sky spirits. It reflected an animistic belief system where everything in the natural world was alive, permeated by spirit force or, in simple terms, inhabited by spirits.
These spirits had to be respected and appeased or else the lan would become infertile and barren, the animals relied upon for food would disappear and eventually the world would come to an end. To achieve this essential and vital balance between humans, nature and the spirit world, a magical specialist was required and the shaman took that role. He or she acted as an intermediary or middle person between humanity and the Other, and a caretaker of cultural and magical tradition. Their job involved conducting blessings, especially on new-born babies, performing rituals of protection, divining the future, healing the sick, exorcising ghosts and demons, overseeing the burial of the dead, and generally communicating on behalf of the tribe with the spirit world and its denizens.

Shaman Initiation

Initiation into the shamanic cult could be achieved in severa different ways. The easiest was the hereditary route where magical knowledge, power and skill were passed down from grandfather or father to son or, more rarely, from grandmother or mother to daughter. Sometimes children were chosen at a very early age or even at birth by the spirits and instructed by them through the medium of visions and dreams. Young people who suffered a serious illness or disease or from epileptic fits, were introverted and dreamy, or had any form of mental condition or disability, were regarded as natural shamans who had been specially chosen by the spirits.
In later life those who felt a strong calling to become a magica practitioner would retreat from society, usually to a remote place in the wilderness, and undergo a vigil during which they invited the spirits to contact them and teach them the shamani ways. When a person was actually taken on by another shaman as his assistant or sorcerer’s apprentice, a formal initiation rite was often carried out. The candidate offered an animal sacrifice, called on the spirits to aid them in their task, took an oath of loyalty to their shamanic master or spiritual clan, and accepted the special ritual regalia of a shaman’s office.
Often these initiations by either another shaman or the spirit involved a traumatic visionary death and rebirth experience. Sometimes this included a journey to the underworld, meetings with deities and the would-be shaman’s body being dismembered an then put together again.
The ritual regalia given to the new shaman reflected the fac that he or she was a special person who was separate and different from other members of the tribe. Siberian shamans wore robes made from animal hide and fur and decorated with embroidery, bird’s feathers, silk tassels, ribbons, bells, small mirrors, jewellery representing symbolic motifs such as the World Tree, and assorted metalwork such as copper discs. Headwear consisted of a conical or pointed cap made from felt or fur or the antlers of a reindeer. Some shamans wore iron-shod fur boots so when they stamped their feet they could drive away evil spirits.

Shamanism, ritual drum

The majority of shamans carried a ritual drum similar in shape to the traditional Irish bodhran. These were made from an animal skin stretched over a wooden frame and decorated with feathers and magical symbols representing spirit journeys to the Otherworld or the shamanic cosmology. The drum was very important and represented the symbolic and magical steed that enabled the practitioner to travel from Middle Earth to the realm of the spirits. It was also a magical object in its own right that contained and focused spirit force or energy. By playing it the shaman could both attract spirits and exorcise them. In addition to the drum a magical staff was often carried. This was made of either wood or metal and was decorated with feathers, bells, ribbons and the pelts of small woodland animals.
In Siberian and especially Mongolian shamanism the yurt, a traditional dwelling constructed from a framework of wooden poles covered with animal skins and with a central smoke-hole in the roof, was a microcosmic symbol or representation of the universe. For this reason all movement inside the yurt was conducted, if at all possible, in a deosil or sunways direction. This also reflected the traditional direction of movement used in shamanic rituals and dances. The centre of the yurt, where a fire burnt in a hearth and was seldom extinguished, was symbolic of the actual centre of the world or universe. The column of smoke that drifted up from the fire and left the yurt through the central smoke-hole in the roof was symbolic of the axis mundi – the World Mountain, World Pillar or World Tree. This links the underworld below with the heavens above and ends at the North and Pole Star around which all the other stars revolve in the night sky.


The shamans believed in three worlds of existence connected together by the World Tree or Tree of Life. They were the lower world or underworld inhabited by the dead who are awaiting reincarnation, the middle world or Middle Earth, the material plane of existence in which human spirits are incarnated, and the upper world or Heaven, the dwelling place of the Gods. Numerous non-human spirits also inhabit each of these three worlds. The shaman can access these other worlds in trance by means of spirit travel. His soul body ascends the column of smoke from the fire and passes through the aperture in the roof of the yurt. It is interesting to note that in medieval times European witches were supposed to fly to their Sabbats by ascending the chimney on their broomsticks. It is obvious that this was not done physically so they also were practicing a shamanic type of spirit flight.
Shamans can also fly through the air when they spirit travel, either by shape shifting into the form of birds (such as geese) or by riding on the back of a flying deer, horse or some other large animal. Again, there are many woodcuts dating from the Middle Ages depicting witches riding through the night sky on the backs of goats and rams. Sometimes the shaman visited the spirit world by ascending the World Tree itself or by travelling along a rainbow. This is another symbol that is found in Northern European paganism where a rainbow bridge connects Midgard (Middle Earth) with Asgard, the realm of the Gods.

Shaman Eagle (female shaman)

One of the methods used by the Siberian shamans to achieve trance and spirit travel was the hallucinogenic fungi amanita muscaria or fly agaric. This red capped white-spotted toadstool has a symbiotic relationship with both birch and fir trees, which grow profusely in northern and arctic climes. It is so closely associated with magical properties in myth and fairy tales that it is frequently depicted in illustrations to modern children’s stories about woodland elves, faeries and goblins.
In common with indigenous folk beliefs in the West, it was accepted in shamanism that the spirit world was not entirely separated from the material one. There are special places in the natural environment – sacra loci – where the two realms meet and touch and interconnect. These can be a sacred mountain or hill, a stone, a river, a lake, a forest or any natural landmark in the countryside. While the shaman may be able to access such ‘gateways’ or ‘portals’ between here and there easily, lesser mortals may be unaware of them or, if they are sensitive, they may feel they are ‘different’ or ‘other’. Spooky places, whether natural sites in the landscape or buildings, associated with folklore, paranormal phenomena and hauntings are usually spirit gateways.


In shamanistic belief all inanimate objects were inhabited or possessed by spirit energy or force who controlled their environs. Some shamans taught that living beings, especially human ones, could have more than one spirit inhabiting their physical body. Many accepted that humans had an etheric, astral or spirit double and this could be projected in trance or spirit travel to roam over the Earth and also enter the Otherworld. The shamans believed that the soul of a human being resided in a spherical or ovoid energy field that surrounds each of us. (Source: New Dawn Magazine, Michael Howard's "Secrets of Siberian Shamanism

Maybe you have read one of the last posts by Managua Gunn in which he mentioned a new genre in haiku, shaman-haiku. I do like that name, so I am busy to create a new Special Feature about Shaman-Haiku.

lying down on my back
watching the deep blue night sky -
feeling my spirit

feeling my spirit
wishing to be free forever
like an eagle

like an eagle
free and high in the blue sky
my Inner Path

Well ... I am lookig forward to your reactions on this post. I hope to read wonderful haiku inspired on this post about Siberian Shamanism. This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 29th 11.59 AM (CET).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Carpe Diem Special #74, Alexey Andreyev's fifth "morning awakening"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This month of Carpe Diem is flowing to it's end and so I have to share a last haiku by our featured haiku-poet from Russia, Alexey Andreyev. I think I have selected a nice haiku written by him to conclude his featuring this month. I have found the Russian translation and will give the English translation afterwards. Here is the haiku which I love to share:

ЛМЙО УЕТПЗП ОЕВБ                   

morning awakening:
among window curtains' flowers
a blade of gray sky

(c) Alexey Andreyev

Flowers in a field

The goal of this Special is to write a new haiku in the same tone, sense and spirit as the one by Alexey Andreyev.

This Special episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until January 28th 11.59 AM (CET). I will publish our new episode, Flight of the Eagle, later on today. Have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us all.

Carpe Diem #384, Vladivostok

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a journey we have made. Together with Paulo and Hilal (and all his other companions) we crossed straight through the (former) Soviet Union with the Trans Siberian Railroad. We have experienced wonderful things, it was (at least to me) a very spiritual journey which brought me new insight on the Soviet Union and it's spiritual background. We have visited the most wonderful places and we were part of a Siberian Shaman Ritual and other rituals performed by Paulo and Hilal, e.g. "Ring of Fire".
Today we are arriving at our endstation of this trip, Vladivostok, we have made a trip of more than 9200 km by train and I enjoyed it a lot.

A little bit more about Vladivostok I will share here and then I will return to 'Aleph'.
The aboriginals of the territory on which modern Vladivostok is located are the Udege minority, and a sub-minority called the Taz which emerged through members of the indigenous Udege mixing with the nearby Chinese and Hezhe. The region had been part of many states, such as the Mohe, Balhae, Jīn Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, and various other Chinese dynasties, before Russia acquired the entire Maritime Province and the island of Sakhalin by the Treaty of Beijing (1860). Qing China, which had just lost the Opium War with Britain, was unable to defend the region. The Pacific coast near Hǎishēnwǎi was settled mainly by the Chinese and Manchus during the Qing Dynasty period. A French whaler visiting the Golden Horn Bay in 1852 discovered Chinese or Manchu village fishermen on its shore. The Manchus banned Han Chinese from most of Manchuria including the Hǎishēnwǎi area—it was only visited by illegal gatherers of sea cucumbers.

Railway Station of Vladivostok

During the Soviet Years, Vladivostok was closed for foreigners and this stayed until the 'Cold War' was over. In 2012 Vladivostok hosted an International event. T
he 24th Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. In preparation for the event, the infrastructure of the city was renovated and improved. Two giant cable-stayed bridges were constructed in Vladivostok, namely the Zolotoy Rog Bridge over the Golden Horn Bay in the center of the city, and the Russky Bridge from the mainland to Russky Island, where the summit took place. The latter bridge is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

Zolotoy Bridge, Vladivostok

As they arrive almost in Vladivostok, Paulo decides to make a walk through the Trans Siberian Express, which he sees as a city. He walks through that city,which stretched out like an ever-flowing river of steel, a city were he doesn't speak the local language. He heard all kinds of languages and sounds and notices that, as happens in all large cities, most people weren't talking to anyone, each passenger absorbed in his or her own problems and dreams, forced to share the smae compartment with three strangers, people they never will meet again. The Trans Siberian Express, is really a city ... and as in a normal city we live together with our neighbors, but ... do you know your neighbors really? 

After his walk through the train he writes a note, which I love to share here with you.

[...]I am not a foreigner because I haven't been praying to return safely home, I haven't wasted my time imagining my house, my desk, my side of the bed, I am not a foreigner because we are all travelling, we are all full of the same questions, the same tiredness, the same fears, the same selfishness and the same generosity. I am not a foreigner because, when I asked, I received. When I knocked, the door opened. When I looked, I found. [...]
(Source:'Aleph' by Paulo Coelho)

Paulo Coelho

With this quote by Paulo Coelho I will conclude our Trans Siberian Railroad journey. Dreams you have ... you have to fullfill, they are not negotiable. So ... go for your dream and let that dream come true.

another day ends
reaching for the stars and the moon
into the dreamworld

(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode will be open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and it will stay open until January 28th 11.59 AM (CET). I will publish our next episode, that will be a Special haiku written by our featured haiku-poet from Russia, Alexey Andreyev. As I was preparing this episode I over saw that we had another episode, Ussurysk, I have decided to let that episode go. So the last days of this Carpe Diem month looks somewhat different than planned:

January 27: Special by Alexey Andreyev
January 28: Instead of Vladivostok an episode about Shamanism which I have titled "Flight of the Eagle"
January 29: Tengri, the Spirit of the Taiga/Steppes
January 30: Pilgrim
January 31: Shikoku

I hope you don't mind these little changes (smiles).

Carpe Diem #383, Khabarovsk

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Again my excuses for the delay of this post, but I really hadn't time enough to write this episode of our Carpe Diem Journey straight through the Soviet Union.
We are almost at the last station of our trip, Vladivostok, today we arrive at Khabarovsk and finally Hilal will discover her common history with Paulo. Let me first tell you a little bit more about Khabarovsk.
Khabarovsk is a big city with more than half a million citizens located in the near China-border. It's an old city and was after the second world war the main city were the World War II trials took place.
So here we can see a relation with the story of Paulo and Hilal. Didn't they met at a heresy trial, the Inquisition? So this city is related to 'Aleph'.

Khabarovsk Cathedral

As Paulo returns from his experience with the Siberian shaman he goes back to his hotel. There Hilal enters his room in a very angry mood. She has discovered, with help of the shaman women, that she once loved Paulo and that he has left her alone at the moment she most needed him. She has given her life for him because she loved him, she gave her life to save him, being burnt on a pyre because she, as the Church thought, was a witch a devotee to the Devil.

It's a wonderful story which Paulo shared in 'Aleph' and we have travelled with him through his novel, through is life and his search for himself. We are almost at the end of this Trans Siberian Railroad trip and we have traveled 9300 km by train, but we also went back to a sad/bad period in the life of the Roman Catholic Church, the Inquisition. It's said that the Roman Church still has this kind of business, but if that's true? I don't know.

blindfold falls down
finally she sees the pyre -
cry of an eagle

(c) Chèvrefeuille

With this haiku I have tried to intwine the experiences of Paulo and Hilal as they both were part in a Siberian Shaman ritual.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will stay open until January 28th 11.59 AM (CET). I will publish our next episode, Vladivostok, right after this one. Have fun, be inspired and share your haiku with us. (I am still behind with commenting, I am sorry).

Carpe Diem #383 has delayed

Good day guys,

I am sorry, but I hadn't time to publish our new episode yesterday. I had a very busy day and couldn't find enough time to create the new episode. I hope to publish it later on today.
Sorry for the delay ...


Chèvrefeuille, your host.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge #28, "a silent cry"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This week's Tan Renga Challenge I have chosen for one of my own, very recent, haiku to start the Tan Renga with. This haiku was published early this week in response of our first encounter with the Siberian shaman in ''Aleph''. And I think it will inspire you all very much to write a continuation or completion towards it. (By the way I have asked several haijin if I may use their haiku for this Tan Renga Challenge, but I haven't noted them. So please if you were ask for let me know it in the comment-field of this episode.)

Here is the haiku which is the starting of this week's Tan Renga Challenge:

flight of the eagle
stepping into the world of dreams -
a silent cry

(c) Chèvrefeuille

flight of the eagle

The goal of this Tan Renga Challenge is to write a second stanza of 7-7 (no obligation) towards the first stanza to make the Tan Renga complete. Have fun, be inspired and share.
This CD Tan Renga Challenge will be open for your submissions until January 31th 11.59 AM (CET) and is NOW OPEN.

Carpe Diem 382, Amur River

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We have still a few days to go on our journey on the Trans Siberian Railroad, but our goal, reaching Vladivostok, is almost in sight. Yesterday we went with Paulo, Yao and Hilal to the shore of Lake Baikal to meet shaman. As we arrived there Hilal is told that she cannot come with them and has to stay on shore with a few other women.
Today we will go on a 'dream-flight' lead by the shaman, but first I love to tell you something more about Amur River, our prompt for today.

The Amur River or Heilong Jiang is the world's tenth longest river, forming the border between the Russian Far East and North-eastern China (Inner Manchuria). The largest fish species in the Amur is the Kaluga, attaining a length as great as 5.6 metres.
The Chinese name for this river, Heilong Jiang, means Black Dragon River in English, and its Mongolian name, Khar mörön , means Black River.

Amur-River (credits: Wikipedia)

The Amur arcs to the east and turns southeast again at the confluence with the Bureya River, then does not receive another significant tributary for nearly 250 kilometres (160 mi) before its confluence with its largest tributary, the Songhua River, at Tongjiang. At the confluence with the Songhua the river turns northeast, now flowing towards Khabarovsk, where it joins the Ussuri River and ceases to define the Russia-China border. Now the river spreads out dramatically into a braided character, flowing north-northeast through a wide valley in eastern Russia, passing Amursk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The valley narrows after about 200 kilometres (120 mi) and the river again flows north onto plains at the confluence with the Amgun River. Shortly after the Amur turns sharply east and into an estuary at Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) downstream of which it flows into the Strait of Tartary.

Bridge over Amur-River, the Khabarovsk Bridge (credits: Wikipedia)

The first permanent bridge across the Amur, the Khabarovsk Bridge, was completed in 1916, allowing the trains on the Transsiberian Railway to cross the river year-round without using ferries or rail tracks on top of the river ice. In 1941 a railway tunnel was added as well.

Back to 'Aleph'. Where we are on a rock not so far from the shore to experience a shaman ritual. It doesn't really matter if the shaman is a male or a female, because they sure have the same powers, maybe the female shamans have even stronger powers than the male ones, but that's not the point here.
The shaman is lighting a fire in a hollow dug in the ground to protect the flames from the wind that continues to blow. He places a kind of drum next to the fire and opens a bottle containing some unfamiliar liquid.
By the way, the term 'shaman' originated in Siberia. So we are here at the 'birth-place' of shamanism. So it must be a strong ritual and I am looking forward to it.

Siberian Shamanism

The shaman starts beating on the drum gradually getting faster and faster. The wind is getting stronger. Even though Paulo is well wrapped up, it's not enough. His nose appears to have lost all feeling, small ice crystals gather on his eyebrows and beard. Yao, who's accompanying him, kneels his legs folded neatly beneath him. Paulo tries to do the same, but cannot find the right position. The flames dance wildly about, but do not go out. The drumming grows more furios. The shaman is trying to make his heart keep time with the beating of his hand on the leather skin, the bottom part of the drum being left open to let in the spirits.
The ritual continues, the drumming is getting louder and faster all the time. And than ... Paulo sees how the shaman is changing from an old man into a feminine young man. Paulo sees the moon rising which is reflected in the waters of the lake. He feels serene and further on in this strange mysterious and magical night Paulo learns that he and the shaman once were good friends in another life. The shaman also tells him, that what he already knew, that he and Hilal have known each other for a long time.
Paulo's body is still on earth, but his spirit is with the shaman high up in the sky, Paulo experiences the flight of the Eagle of Baikal and cherishes that moment until the end of the ritual.
As the wind is getting up again. The shaman bows to the earth and the sky. He thanks them ... the fire goes out. It's in the middle of the night. The moon on her highest point granting the earth her soft silverly light. Paulo notices that the shaman is an old man again and he realises that the ritual is over.
As they reach the shore it turns out that Hilal has gone back to the hotel.

Siberian Shaman

Wow! What an experience ... what a joy to have experienced the flight of the Eagle of Baikal.

above the lake
Spirit is showing me the way
my feet strong on earth

my feet strong on earth
forever in tune with her
in balance again

in balance again
my Spirit has turned back - there
above the lake

(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will be open until January 26th 11.59 AM (CET). I hope to post our next episode later on today. That will be Khabarovsk. Have fun, let the Eagle of Baikal pointing you the way to write an all new haiku inspired on this post.(I am hopelessly behind with commenting and I hope to catch up soon.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Carpe Diem #381, Birobidzhan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are almost 1000 km from Vladivostok as we enter the Railroad Station of Birobidzhan, a town in the Jewish Oblast of the (former) Soviet Union. It is here were Stalin once gave the Jewish people their own place to live in. It's not a very big town (a population about 78,000 people) and in this city you can see it's Jewish influences. For example the main square of Birobidzhan is dominated by a giant menorah.

Source: wikipedia

An awesome sight with those foutains around it. A 'celebration' of the Jewish culture. What a joy to see and read that Stalin once gave them their own place where they can feel free and in 'spiritual' touch with their homeland Israel.

As we read on in "Aleph" we read that Paulo and Yao are visiting a Shaman who can talk with the wife of Yao, who past away several years ago, and by whom Yao was in an earlier stage of his life. Hilal has asked if she could go with them, but the tradition of the shamans doesn't allow women at their rituals so Hilal has to stay alone accompanioned by a few other women. Yao says to her: 'You cannot go with us, but stay here on the shore of the lake. You will be part of the ritual ... just open your mind and you will feel if you were really there'. Hilal accepts that she cannot go and stays on the shore. Yao and Paulo are entering a boat which will bring them to an island, not even an island, but just a rock were the shaman will perform his "Eagle of the Baikal" ritual.
As they arrive at the rock they climb up to the top of the rock just in time to catch a last glimpse of red sky on the horizon. As Paulo looks around he only sees a few bare trees. On one of the bare trees, hanging from a bare branch he sees the remains of a carcass hanging. Paulo has a lot of respect for the wisdom of the shaman, but thinks he will not be shown new things.
I will tell you more about this ritual in our next post, which by the way will be published tomorrow around 10.00 AM (CET) I hope. My excuses for the delay of this new post.

flight of the eagle
stepping into the world of dreams -
a silent cry

(c) Chèvrefeuille


This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will stay open until January 25th 11.59 AM (CET). I will post tomorrow (24th) our new episode in which we will continue to follow the Shaman and our route straight through the Soviet Union.