Monday, November 2, 2015

Carpe Diem #850 Tsengel (volcano)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Haiku has, as you maybe know, mostly a deeper spiritual or philosophical layer and this month I hope to discover that deeper layer in our haiku during our journey through the Altai Mountains. These mountains are covering four countries, Kazachstan, China, Russia and Mongolia. We are traveling this month through the Mongolian part of the Altai Mountains.

Mountains are breathtaking by their own beauty already, but as we look at their deeper meaning then the mountains are becoming more ... alive, more spiritual and breathtaking as we would think. Today we are visiting a volcano named Tsengel Hairhan which means "delight holy mountain" in Mongolian. I do belief that mountains are in a way "holy". I am not that familiar with mountains, because in my country (The Netherlands) we have no "real" mountains, but I have seen mountains once.

I remember that I had a so called "language-trip" to Austria, it was meant to be a one week lesson of the German language. I think I was 16 or 17 years of age when I had that trip to Austria. It was than ... the first time I saw "real" mountains and I was overwhelmed with their beauty. Mountains are really holy ... yes our Creator did a great job with the creating of mountains. I can only belief that the Mongolian people are proud on their mountains, especially the Altai Mountains, because of their spiritual beauty. Must be awesome to climb to the top of the mountain ... and to be treated with that mighty view over the surrounding peeks, valleys and the world. At the top of a mountain you really feel one with nature, one with God ... and that's what makes us who we are just humble people living in a wonderful world full of beauty and maybe ... just maybe ... we, haiku poets, can see that true beauty and give words to that beauty through our haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry forms.

Altai Mountains
Maybe you can remember that I published a story about a Mongolian shaman and his apprentice (you can find that post HERE) which was based in the beautiful world around the Altai Mountains. In that story ... the old shaman and his young apprentice go into the Altai Mountains and there high up in the mountains the old shaman dies. Here is that fragment:

[...] Several years later somewhere high in the Altai Mountains an old shaman and his apprentice sat down on a rock. They sat there for a few days looking over the steppes and the mountains. "Maidar". The apprentice looked at his old master. "It's time. Can you hear the cry of the Eagle?" Maidar nodded. "Yes my master I can hear the cry of the Eagle". As he looked at his master he saw that his spirit was already gone, had left his body. Then he heard and saw the Eagle. In his mind he heard the last words of his master, Batbayar. "You have become a great shaman Maidar and I know that you have finally regained your helpful strength and a lot more ... use it well ..." [...]

Isn't it beautiful ... to be in such a way one with nature, one with the holiness of the mountains. Maybe ... just maybe ... the above scene (in the fragment) could be easily on the Tsengel, on the "delight holy mountain".

We are reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho during this wonderful journey straight through the Altai Mountains. The main character in this story is a man who is on a quest to find hid wife, Esther, and he finally finds her somewhere in the Altai Mountains. While on his trip he discovers the "Spirit of the Steppes" or "The Spirit of the Mountains" and this is what he says about that:

[...] "A sense of paradise descends from the skies. And I am aware that I am living through an unforgettable moment in my life; it is the kind of awareness we often have precisely when the magic moment has passed. I am entirely here, without past, without future, entirely focused on the morning, on the music of the horses’ hooves, on the gentleness of the wind caressing my body, on the unexpected grace of contemplating sky, earth, men. I feel a sense of adoration and ecstasy. I am thankful for being alive. I pray quietly, listening to the voice of nature, and understanding that the invisible world always manifests itself in the visible world." [...] (The Zahir by Paulo Coelho, p. 174)

That "magic" I hope to bring to you this month. The Altai Mountains and the Mongolian culture are really gorgeous and full with spirituality.

Altai Mountains surrounded by the steppes where the wind is the only spirit

I couldn't come up with a new haiku ... I am still in awe and breathless ... the result of these beautiful Altai Mountains and their spiritual power. So I ran through my archives and found a few haiku which will fit this episode like a glove.

whispering leaves
telling all wisdom of the steppes -
cry of an eagle

©  Chèvrefeuille

deep meditation
high up in the mountains
a Buddhist monk

a Buddhist monk
even he violates chastity
watching a geisha

watching a geisha
monk from high up in the mountains
he's also a man

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope this episode will inspire you to write an all new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until November 5th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, an all new episode of our Carpe Diem Haiku Writing Techniques, later on.

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