Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Carpe Diem #1165 roses

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the first episode of CDHK March 2017. After our trip through Japan we are now visiting Persia, today Iran, to explore the relationship with poetry. Recently I read a wonderful article about the love for poetry of the Iranian people. As you all know Iran was called Persia and Persia had great poets for example Rumi and Hafez (or Hafiz). The people of Iran live with poetry. They all can recite the poems of their poets especially the beautiful poems of Hafez (Hafiz), but there were more poets from Persia, so let us start reading the first poem I have chosen for this month. This poem written by Rumi is the "namegiver" for this month. The theme I have chosen for this month is "praise the emptiness" it's from the following poem by Rumi:


This World Which Is Made of Our Love for Emptiness
Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence: 
This place made from our love for that emptiness!
 Yet somehow comes emptiness, 
this existence goes.
 Praise to that happening, over and over! 
For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.
 Then one swoop, one swing of the arm, 
that work is over.
 Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope, 
free of mountainous wanting.
 The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw 
blown off into emptiness.
 These words I'm saying so much begin to lose meaning: 
Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:
 Words and what they try to say swept 
out the window, down the slant of the roof.

© Rumi

What a wonderful poem. I had to try to extract a haiku from it ... so here it is:

piece of straw
blown off into emptiness
a new beginning

© Chèvrefeuille

rice straw Japan

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Mevlânâ/Mawlānā ("our master"), Mevlevî/Mawlawī "my master"), and more popularly simply as Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi's influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions: Iranians, Tajiks, Turks, Greeks, Pashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the "most popular poet" and the "best selling poet" in the United States.

Until I started preparing this new month of CDHK I only knew Rumi. I didn't knew Hafez (or Hafiz) and Saadi. I really wasn't aware of other Persian poets than Rumi. So this month will be a real adeventure. We (at least I) will dive into an unknown world of poetry ... will be a great experience I think.

This episode I have called "roses" and it is extracted from another poem by Rumi that I love to share here with you:

O you who've gone on pilgrimage -
              where are you, where, oh where?
Here, here is the Beloved!
              Oh come now, come, oh come!
Your friend, he is your neighbor,
             he is next to your wall -
You, erring in the desert - 
              what air of love is this?
If you'd see the Beloved's
              form without any form -
You are the house, the master,
              You are the Kaaba, you! . . .
Where is a bunch of roses,
              if you would be this garden?
Where, one soul's pearly essence
              when you're the Sea of God?
That's true - and yet your troubles
              may turn to treasures rich -
How sad that you yourself veil
              the treasure that is yours!

© Rumi

A beautiful poem to start this month with. The first poem was to introduce this month, this second poem by Rumi is the poem you have to use for our challenge: Create a haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form from this poem.

Here is my attempt:

along the road
thrown away roses
a lost treasure

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this episode and that it will inspire you to create a new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. 

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 5th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our next episode, nightflower, later on. For now ... have fun!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Carpe Diem #1164 Onsen the hot springs of Japan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I am a bit sad, but I am also happy ... this is our last episode of February, so we will leave the land of the Rising Sun, the Mother land of Haiku, Japan and first I thought I will create a kind of departure episode, but than I thought ... "maybe I have to do an episode about Onsen or the hot springs of Japan. I think visiting an Onsen will bring us in peace and into relaxation before we leave the country which we all love dearly.

So today in our last episode I love to tell you a little bit more about the hot springs of Japan or Onsen. Even in Basho's time (17th century) there were already hot springs were the Japanese people could find relaxation and peace of mind. Basho wrote several haiku about the hot springs for example this one:

tonight my skin
will miss the hot spring
it seems colder

Yamanaka Hot Springs

at Yamanaka
it’s not necessary to pluck chrysanthemums
hot spring fragrance

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. As a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of onsens scattered throughout all of its major islands. Onsens were traditionally used as public bathing places.

Onsens are a central feature of Japanese tourism, typically found in the countryside, but there are also a number of popular establishments found major cities. They are a major tourist attraction drawing Japanese couples, families, or company groups who want to get away from the hectic life of the city to relax. Japanese often talk of the virtues of "naked communion" for breaking down barriers and getting to know people in the relaxed atmosphere of a ryokan with an attached onsen. 

Traditionally, onsens were located outdoors, although a large number of inns have now built indoor bathing facilities as well. Onsens by definition use naturally hot water from geothermally heated springs. Onsens are different from sentō, indoor public bath houses where the baths are filled with heated tap water.

The legal definition of an onsen includes the requirement that its water must contain at least one of 19 designated chemical elements, including such minerals as iron, sulfur, and metabolic acid, and have an average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) or warmer at the point of release. 

Onsen somewhere in Japan

The volcanic nature of Japan provides plenty of springs. When the onsen water contains distinctive minerals or chemicals, the onsen establishments typically display what type of water it is.

Some examples of types of onsen include:

Sulphur onsen
Sodium chloride onsen 
Hydrogen carbonate onsen 
Iron onsen

In Japan, onsen are said to have various medical effects. Japanese people believe that a good soak in proper onsen heals aches, pains and diseases, and visit onsen as part of the treatment for such ailments as arthralgia, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, constipation, menstrual disorders, and so on.

These medical benefits have given onsens a central role in balneotherapy which is called "Onsen Therapy". Onsen Therapy is a comprehensive bathing treatment conducted to maintain health, normalize dysfunctions, and prevent illness.

Onsen ... a wonderful place to relax and come in contact with your inner self. Relax ... let the hot springs of Japan cherish you and help you to be strong and healthy again to step in to a new month of CDHK in which we will read the wonderful poetry from Persia (nowadays Iran)

hot springs hidden
deep inside the holy mountain
giving new life

hidden in the forest
I ran into a secret hot spring -
Ah! that sweet scent

falling in love
while enjoying the warm water - 
secret hot spring 

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... this was the last episode of our journey through Japan ... I hope you did like the trip and of course I hope to see you again next month.

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 4th at noon (CET). I hope to publish our new episode, roses, later on.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Carpe Diem #1163 geisha, the beauty of Japan

!! Our prompt-list for March is complete, you can find it in the menu above !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at the penultimate episode of CDHK February 2017. This month we were "in a way" on a journey through Japan, the Mother land of Haiku. We have visited this wonderful country and we discovered the beauty of Japanese Art. Earlier this month we had an episode about the samurai and I just felt the need to bring also an episode about the geisha.

Recently I saw "Memories of a Geisha" for the third time I think. It's an awesome movie in which we can see the geisha culture of ancient Japan. I loved that movie, not only for its story, but also for the wonderful scenes of Japan.

Scene from "Memoires of a Geisha"
Geisha, geiko or geigi are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games and conversation, mainly to entertain not only male customers but also female customers today.
Geisha, like all Japanese nouns, has no distinct singular or plural variants. The word consists of two kanji, 芸 (gei) meaning "art" and 者 (sha) meaning "person" or "doer". The most literal translation of geisha into English would be "artist", "performing artist", or "artisan."

Apprentice geisha are called maiko (literally "dance child") or hangyoku "half-jewel" (meaning that they were paid half of the wage of a full geisha), or by the more generic term o-shaku, literally "one who pours (alcohol)". The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A woman entering the geisha community does not have to begin as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha. Either way, however, usually a year's training is involved before debuting either as a maiko or as a geisha. A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community.

As I was preparing this episode I ran into an article about male geisha or Taikomochi I wasn't aware of the fact that there would be male geisha too, so I was intrigued by that, so I love to tell you also a little bit about the Taikomochi. (Source: Taikomochi, the male geisha)

Taikomochi Arai, the only taikomochi living today

The taikomochi, or the houkan, were the original male geisha of Japan. The Japanese version of the jester, these men were once attendants to daimyo (feudal lords) from the 1200s, originating from the 'Ji Sect of Pure Land Buddhism' sect which focused on dancing. These men both advised and entertained their lord and came to be known as doboshu ('comrades'), who were also tea ceremony connoisseurs and artists. By the 1500s, they became known as otogishu or hanashishu (storytellers), where they focused on story telling, humor, conversation. They were sounding boards for military strategies and they battled at the side of their lord.
A time of peace began in the 1600s and the otogishu and hanashishu no longer were required by their lords, and so they had to take on a new role. They changed from being advisors to becoming pure entertainers, and a number of them found employment with the yujo, high class Japanese courtesans.

Awesome ... I really didn't know about the existence of Taikomochi, the male counterpart of the Geisha.

Ah! the beauty of nature -
geisha, peonies in her hair,
playing the Shakuhachi

© Chèvrefeuille

And I found another haiku about geisha in my archives. This one can be seen as a haiku with a hidden meaning according to what I wrote above about the male geisha, the Taikomochi, but than you have to think back about the more erotical meaning of morning glory.

morning glories -
geisha in her silken kimono
rustles along them

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... with this "double thought"-haiku I love to conclude this episode. This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 3rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our last episode of February later on.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Carpe Diem #1162 Ueno Iga Province, birthplace of Basho

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First I have to apologize for being two days off-line, there were other circumstances that needed my attention, so I am sorry that I couldn't publish.
Today we will visit the region in which Matsuo Basho, my haiku master, and the most famous haiku poet ever was born. Basho was born in Iga Province near (nowadays) Ueno. Basho's birth-place is now in Mie Prefecture.

Here at CDHK we have read a lot about Basho, because of the fact that I see him as my haiku master. His famous "frog pond" haiku was the first ever haiku I read and I immediately fell in love  with this little poem and the beauty of Basho's haiku. This all took place in the late eighties, so I am a haiku poet for almost thirty years.

I love to visit his birth ground together with you here at CDHK. So let us first take a look at the impressive nature of this Prefecture

Rice terraces Mie Prefecture
Maybe Basho wrote the following haiku as he saw these wonderful rice fields:

these fireflies,
like the moon
in all the rice paddies

the scent of early rice - 
cutting through the fields, on the right,
the Rough Shore Sea.

© Matsuo Basho (Tr. Barnhill)

Another nice view of Mie Prefecture we have seen here earlier. And Basho created haiku about it too. These are the so called "Wedded Rocks":

Wedded Rocks

a clam
torn from its shell
departing autumn

© Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

To explain why this haiku points to the "wedded rocks" we need the Romaji translation of it. I will give it here:

hamaguri no   futami ni wakare   yuku aki zo

"futami" is the name of a port in Mie Prefecture were you can find the above "Wedded Rocks", it's a sacred place for Shintoism.

And to conclude tthis episode about the beauty of Basho's place of birth another wonderful image from one of the bays of Mie Prefecture.

Mie Prefecture coast line
And maybe Basho saw the beauty of this bay and worshiped it as a true haiku poet through the following haiku:

doubt it not:
the blossoms of the tide also show
spring upon this bay

© Basho (Tr. Barnhill)

What to say more ... Basho's birth-place is truly wonderful. How can I ever catch that beauty in my haiku? Well .... I have given it a try:

while the sun descends
the silvery moon ascends the black sky
listen ... a Nightingale

© Chèvrefeuille

I hope you did like this episode and I hope I have inspired you to create haiku or tanka. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until March 2nd at noon (CET). I hope to publish our new episode later on. For now ... have fun!

PS.: Remember our "Cherry Blossom" kukai runs until March 4th 10.00 PM (CET)
PPS.: Maybe you have seen it already, but I have published our prompt-list for March, it is still under construction, but you can already read what is coming up next month.
PPS 2.: There will be no new Universal Jane or Namaste this week. I hope to share those features next month starting March 3rd with a new episode of Namasté.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Carpe Diem #1161 Matsuyama City birth-place of Shiki

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Shiki was born in Matsuyama City in Iyo province (present day Ehime prefecture) to a samurai class family of modest means. As a child, he was called Tokoronosuke; in adolescence, his name was changed to Noboru. His father, Tsunenao, was an alcoholic who died when Shiki was five years of age, but his mother, Yae, was a daughter of Ōhara Kanzan, a Confucian scholar. Kanzan was the first of Shiki's extra-school tutors.
At age 15 Shiki became something of a political radical, attaching himself to the then-waning Freedom and People's Rights Movement and getting himself banned from public speaking by the principal of Matsuyama Middle School, which he was attending. At this school he became friends with Natsume Soseki (maybe you remember him from one of our Theme Weeks).
Shiki was the name-giver of our beloved haiku, before him, haiku was mostly named “hokku” or “haikai”. With Shiki haiku entered the 20th century.

Let us visit the region were Shiki was born, Iyo Province (nowadays Ehime Prefecture).

Ehime Prefecture is known for its waterfalls, mountains and meadows and for sure those were an inspiration for Shiki and I think we can be inspired through the beautiful nature of Ehime Prefecture too.

Ehime Prefecture
shaded by cherry trees
high up on the mountain
desolate castle

© Chèvrefeuille

Is this in Shiki's style? I don't know but I think it could have been written by Shiki, because Shiki was a master in using the haiku writing technique "shasei" or "depicting the thing as it is". (More on "shasei" you can find HERE.

An example of a "shasei"- haiku by Shiki:

come spring as of old
when such revenues of rice
braced this castle town! 

© Masaoka Shiki

© photo Ehime Prefecture
A wonderful "natural" bridge. This wooden bridge is all covered with green leaved bushes and makes it one with nature like a chameleon.

that bridge looks alive
green leaves

© Chévrefeuille

Ehime Prefecture looks awesome and to conclude this episode I love to share an image to inspire you, say a kind of Imagination.

Machu Picchu in the East
The above image shows you what is called "Machu Picchu of the East", it's excavation side in Ehime Prefecture were you can see how ancient life was in Japan. It's a side like Machu Picchu in Peru.

ancient ghosts
wandering through the streets
colorful leaves

© Chèvrefeuille

Well I hope you did like this episode. It's open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 27th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, about the region were Basho was born, later on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Carpe Diem #1160 Kema, birth-place of Yosa Buson

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of CDHK. We are on a journey through Japan and today I love to visit the region in which Yosa Buson (1716-1784) was born. Buson, is also one of the haiku poets which I love to call "the big five" (Basho, Issa, Buson, Chiyo-Ni and Shiki).

Yosa Buson was born in Kema Settsu Province, nowadays known as Kema-cho, Miyakojima Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture. Buson's original family name was Taniguchi. Nature around his birth-place is gorgeous and I think it was a rich source of inspiration for him.

Kema-cho, Osaka Prefecture, in autumn
An example of a haiku which could have been inspired by this scene, but not in autumn, but in spring:

from far and near
hearing the sounds of waterfalls
young leaves
© Buson
Around Kema-cho, Osaka Prefecture, there are a lot of waterfalls and they are all wonderful. Must be awesome to be there listening to the sound of falling water, very relaxing I think. So another beautiful image of a waterfall in the region of Buson's birth-place.
Another waterfall somewhere around Kema-cho

the waterfall
ah! that sound ...

© Chèvrefeuille
Well it has become a short episode, but I think I have given an idea about the region were Buson was born. And I hope it will inspire you to create haiku or tanka.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, about the birth-place of Shiki, later on.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Carpe Diem #1159 Matto, birthplace of Chiyo-Ni

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This month we are travelling through Japan, the Motherland of Haiku. Yesterday we started with visiting the birthplace of Issa and today we are going to visit Matto, a village in Kaga Province, now Hakusan Ishikawa Prefecture, were another great haiku poet was born in 1703. Today we are visiting the birthplace of the most famous female haiku poet ever, Chiyo-Ni (1703-1775).

Chiyo-Ni is most known for her haiku about Morning Glory for example this one, her most famous haiku I think:

morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water

(c) Chiyo-Ni
Let us take a look at Chiyo-Ni's place of birth. Matto unfortunately doesn't exist anymore because in 2005 it became part of the new town Hakusan. So to give you an idea of the region were Chiyo-Ni was born I have searched the Internet for a few images of Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture.
Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture's natural beauty (autumn)
Look at all those beautiful colors in the mountains of Hakusan in Ishikawa Prefecture, the birth region of the most famous female haiku poet Chiyo-Ni. Must be awesome to live there and I think Chiyo-Ni found a lot of inspiration in her birth region.
A few of her haiku, which she wrote, maybe the mountains on the above image were her inspiration:
lies within the listener -
a cuckoo’s call
on moor and mountain
nothing stirs
this morn of snow
(c) Chiyo-Ni
In Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, there is a shrine dedicated to Chiyo-Ni, she was buried in her birth place, which reflects what she once said:
[...] "Appreciate each moment; that's all there really is. Be simple. Let my haiku teach you how. Openness is all you need to understand my haiku. Just be open to each ringing of the bell, each kiss, each pain, each word, each wind. Follow the fearless path of white light, which covers everything, washes everything clean and white and illuminated like clear water--drink the sweet water!" [...]
Shrine dedicated to Chiyo-Ni
Chiyo-Ni's birth region is very spiritual, there are several shrines and temples. And Mount Hakusan is one of the three holy mountains of Japan (Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama, are the other two sacred mountains). At the peak of Mount Hakusan, which means by the way "White Mountain", there is an important shrine, Shirayama Hime-Jinja Oku-miya. This shrine is established in the 8th century by a Buddhist priest named Taicho. Taicho was the founder of what is called mountain climbing worship.  Taicho climbed Mt. Hakusan for the first time to practice aesthetic rites.

Shirayama Hime-Jinja Oku-miyaAdd caption

Around Mount Hokusan Japan created a National Park. Mountains are the greatest things to see there. On the slopes of the mountains you can find the most beautiful  flowers. The flora is a great source of inspiration and I think Chiyo-Ni was very inspired by the region of her birth.

flowers on the slopes of Mt. Hakusan

Maybe that second image was one of her inspirations, because it's a kind of Morning Glory you see on that image. So I have another beauty by Chiyo-Ni for you:
morning glories -
in the middle of a dream
morning glory -
the truth is
the flower hates people
(c) Chiyo-Ni
It was a pleasure to create this episode. I hope you did like it and of course I hope that it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry forms. 

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 25th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, about Buson's birth-place, later on. For now ... have fun!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Carpe Diem #1158 Kashiwabara, birth-place of Kobayashi Issa

!!! Sorry for being late with publishing, there were a few technical problems !!!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

First this: Maybe you remember the episode about the results of our "autumn" kukai (HERE) In that episode I invited you to create haiku themed on Cherry Blossom for our next kukai. This kukai runs until March 4th 10.00 PM (CET). You can still submit your haiku (only haiku and a maximum of three (3) haiku) to our email-address: carpediemhaikukai@gmail.com Please write "kukai cherry blossom" in the subject-line.

Second: As you have noticed earlier this week I published a survey for our fifth CDHK anniversary to get some insight in our haiku family members. (HERE)

Third: Earlier this week I told you that I will change a few things, just for my own health, my own time. These changes are not that big, but I will share the changes here:

1. Starting March 2017: I will only publish on weekdays.
2. I will bring Universal Jane and Namasté alternating eachother weekly on Fridays.
3. (NEW) To give you the change to be inspired in the weekend I will bring back the special feature "Time Glass", also on Fridays. The former idea was to respond within 24 hours, but because of the weekend inspiration I have changed that into 72 hours (three days).

Kashiwabara, Shinano Province, Nagano Prefecture

Kobayashi Issa (1763 – 1828) was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning Cup-of-tea. He is regarded as one of the five haiku masters in Japan, along with Bashō, Buson, Chiyo-Ni and Shiki — "the Big Five."
Issa was born and registered as Kobayashi Nobuyuki, with a childhood name of Kobayashi Yatarō, the first son of a farmer family of Kashiwabara, now part of Shinano-machi, Shinano Province (present-day Nagano Prefecture).
As a big fire swept the post station of Kashiwabara on July 24, 1827, according to the Western calendar. Issa lost his house and had to live in his storehouse, which is still kept in the town. Issa died on November 19, 1828, in his native village.
Issa's storehouse where he lived in the last years of his life
As I was preparing this episode I discovered that Issa was also a painter. This I didn’t know about him.

Kashiwabara, Shinano Province (nowadays Nagano Prefecture) was a long stretched, so called, poststation. Issa lived close to the poststation that burned down in 1827. He lost his house to that fire and had to go living in his storehouse.
Kashiwabara is one of the most attractive places to go skiing. I wonder if all the tourists are aware of the history that Issa, one of the best haiku poets ever, lived in this mountain village.
One of Issa's drawings (including a haiku):

niwa no chô ko ga haeba tobi haeba tobu

garden butterfly
as the baby crawls, it flies―
crawls close, flutters on

(c) Issa
Issa wrote a lot of haiku, more than 20.000. His body of work is 20 times bigger than that of the most famous haiku poet (and my haiku master) Matsuo Basho, who wrote around 1000 haiku.
The region were Issa lived is now one of the most beloved places to go on holiday every season. That's not strange, because the region around Kashiwabara is really wonderful as you can see on the images I have used in this episode.

Kashiwabara, birth-place of Issa, is a wonderful place to be.
To conclude this episode of Carpe Diem, in which we visited the birth place of Kobayashi Issa, I have a few nice haiku written by Issa about the Shinano Mountains.

Shinano's deep wooded mountains
even in Fifth Month...
cherry blossoms

sleeping side by side
Shinano's mountains too...
evening snow

deep wooded mountains--
home-grown in Shinano
glorious blossoms

Eighth Month--
a rainy night, pre-harvest moon
in the mountains of Shinano
(c) Kobayashi Issa (Tr. David G. Lanoue)

Grave of Issa in Kashiwabara
 I just had to create a few haiku myself inspired on this episode:
mountain peaks
covered in all colors of the rainbow
departing summer
I am a dreamer
wandering through Kashiwabara
I feel like Issa
(c) Chèvrefeuille
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until February 24th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our next episode about the birthplace of Chiyo-Ni later on.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Carpe Diem Namasté, The Spiritual Way #3 spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism

!! Namasté is open for responses for three days !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Namasté, the spiritual way, the special feature in which we are exploring the spiritual way, the spiritual background, of haiku (and tanka). Today I love to tell you a little bit about the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

We all know that haiku has roots in Zen-Buddhism. In Zen-Buddhism the only desire possible is to become enlightened ... does that mean that haiku poets may not have desires? I don't know ... but as I look deep inside myself, in my Higher Self, that pure energy which is our guardian in our life ... than as a haiku poet I have just one desire.
The only desire I have, not to become enlightened, but creating that one masterpiece in which I can read, see, feel and reveal the master, my master Basho, that's my only desire. I am aware of that desire and it's my lifelong goal to once create that masterpiece, maybe I have done that already, but I am not aware of it ...

Be aware of your desires ... don't feel ashamed when you discover your desires ... desires and being aware of them makes you human.

silent prayer
reaches for heaven
sunflowers bloom

© Chèvrefeuille

spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism

I discovered haiku in the late Eighties and I was caught immediately by its beauty. I fell in love with haiku, addicted to the beauty of nature, addicted to love. Haiku, however, wasn't my first love ... my first love was classical music especially the music by J.S.Bach. I played the organ and studied all the works of Bach. Through his music I learned to appreciate beauty.
Later I discovered painting and photographing. While I was busy learning to become a better painter and photographer I ran into haiku ... Haiku at that time gave me the opportunity to train my writing skills, to say more with less words.

What has "real love" to do with haiku? Let me tell you something about love in haiku.
As you all know tanka is more the poetry for love, but in my opinion, haiku is also about love. Love in haiku is universal and that means "haiku transcends everything even the love between people. Haiku is love and we can find that idea in the wonderful spiritual roots of haiku, Zen Buddhism.

Zen is love (real love) of the universe. Without this love, joy is uncertain, pain is inevitable, all is meaningless. Othello says:

[...] "When I love thee not, chaos is come again". [...]

The love must be complete, - not that it aims at the universe as a whole, but that the personality as a whole is to be concentrated on the thing; the thing is to be suffused with the personality. Then we have the state, described abstractly by Dr. Suzuki in the following words:

[...] "When an object is picked up, everything else, One and All, comes along with it, not in the way of suggestion, but all-inclusively, in the sense that the object is complete in itself". [...]

lotus flowers
rising from the depths of the pond
everlasting love

everlasting love
like a river flows onwards
uncertain of its goal

uncertain of its goal
rising from the depths of the pond
lotus flowers

© Chèvrefeuille

The relation of love to poetry may be easy to make out, but that to Zen is much more difficult. Look at it like this ... If we are without self-love, greediness, without desire of gain, of happiness, of life itself, all this energy must overflow somewhere. It overflows into all things, including oneself, so that now no actions are selfish or unselfish, good or bad, but are like the sunshine or the rain, but with mind instead of mindlessness. 
We say that we see the beauty of the fine drops of rain, the glittering of the leaves in the sun, the stars in their calm, - but what we really see is the mind of man, our own mind, in all these things. Through our activity and cooperation, these inanimate things acquire mind and affection. The waves drown the shipwrecked sailor regretfully, the sun scorches the weary traveler with remorse.

This kind of love, then, is not the means, the first step, but the end and aim and consummation of our pilgrimage here (on this world). It is expressed in quite other ways than altruism and self-denial. It is effortless and continuous, unconscious and nameless, but we feel it and know it ourselves and others as the health of the soul.

Love is the only energy capable to bring peace to the world. The love for the tiniest things in nature are making us the haiku poets we are. We are all lovers of nature and that love is rooted in the Zen Buddhism background of haiku.

shepherd’s purse
trembles in the summer breeze -
bees seek for honey

© Chèvrefeuille

Well .... I hope you did like this new Namasté episode and I hope it will inspire you to create haiku and tanka in which we can find that spiritual love based on Zen Buddhism and our love for nature.


This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 10.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 20th at 10.00 PM (CET). Have fun. 

Carpe Diem #1157 Sakura, the national pride of Japan

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

What a joy to visit Japan in all its beauty. We have seen the beauty of Matshushima and the beauty of the diversity of Japanese art, but the most wonderful thing of Japan is their love for Cherry Blossoms. As you all (maybe) know I am a big fan of Cherry Blossoms and I write very often haiku (and tanka) about the Sakura in my backyard. Every year again I submit Cherry Blossom haiku for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival's "kukai". Sometimes I won and sometimes my haiku got no prizes at all, but that's nothing to be ashamed of, because there are a lot of haiku poets around the globe and ity is just fun to submit haiku for this Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

through the branches
of blooming Sakura trees
I see Fuji

© Chèvrefeuille

Today I love to take you on a trip along the beauty of Cherry Blossom, not only through haiku and texts, but also with beautiful images of Japanese Cherry Trees.

Let me first tell you al little bit more about the national pride of Japan ... the Sakura.

They are swooned over during picnics. They are painstakingly painted. They are obsessed over in poems. They are cited as a symbol of the transient nature of life. And they are sprinkled on Starbucks lattes.

Welcome to Japan’s pink and modern world of cherry blossoms. It is impossible to think of springtime Japan without an iconic image of a sea of cherry trees awash with perfect pink blooms instantly coming to mind.
As well as leading the way in robotics, sushi and skyscraper technology, the Japanese have long been celebrated as global leaders in the art of cherry blossom appreciation. From as early as the eighth century, elite imperial courtiers paused to appreciate the delicate pink cherry blossoms known as sakura before indulging in picnics and poetry sessions beneath the blooms. Fast-forward more than a millennium and the flowers that launched a thousand haiku are no less revered in modern-day Japan.

The First Cherry Blossoms appear in Okinawa
Today, as spring approaches, the entire nation turns a shade of pink. Months before they arrive, retailers switch into sakura mode – cue supermarkets filled with plastic cherry blossom flowers and cherry blossom-flavored innovations in convenience stores. The countdown excitement is heightened further by the televised Cherry Blossom Forecast which offers a petal-by-petal analysis of the advance of the blooms – known as the cherry blossom front – as they sweep from the south to the north of the archipelago.
When the blooms actually arrive (as confirmed by teams of meticulous cherry blossom officials), it is time to indulge in one of the nation’s all-time favorite pastimes – hanami, which literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the blooms.

Every year, a microcosm of society – from salary men and students to housewives and grannies – takes part in hanami picnics (some civilized, some rowdy) in every corner of the country.
The nation’s deep-rooted attachment to cherry blossoms goes far beyond buying a pink fizzy drink at 7-Eleven.
The flowers are deeply symbolic: their short-lived existence taps into a long-held appreciation of the beauty of the fleeting nature of life, as echoed across the nation’s cultural heritage, from tea ceremonies to wabi sabi ceramics. The blossoms also, quite literally, symbolize new beginnings, with April 1 being the first day of both the financial and academic year in Japan.

cherry blossoms
looking so fragile in the moonlight -
ah! the spring breeze

such sadness
the spring wind has molested
cherry blossoms

fading moonlight
caresses the fragile blossoms
finally spring

© Chèvrefeuille

In a nutshell? The cherry blossoms are not just pretty pink flowers: they are the floral embodiment of Japan’s most deep-rooted cultural and philosophical beliefs.

The nation prides itself on its devotion to the important task of forecasting the exact arrival of the first cherry blossoms. Since 1951, teams of meteorologists have been dispatched to monitor the advance of the cherry blossom front – sakura zensen in Japanese – as they burst into bloom across the country.
Officials traditionally observe the pale pink blooms of the yoshino cherry tree – Japan’s most common type – with the season declared open when at least five or six flowers have opened on a sample tree in any given area. 

The flowers only bloom for around a week before the so-called “sakura snow” effect starts and they float sadly off the trees.

The first blossoms generally appear in Okinawa in January and slowly move up the archipelago, passing through Japan’s central islands (including Kyoto and Tokyo) in late March and early April, before progressing further north and hitting Hokkaido in early May.

Cherry Blossom
Of course I cannot leave without a few haiku by the classical masters, for example this one by Issa:

Shinano's deep wooded mountains
even in Fifth Month...
cherry blossoms

© Issa

The part of Japan were Issa lived knows long winters and late springs, so sometimes the cherry blossoms started to bloom in June.

Or what do you think of this one by my master, Matsuo Basho:

how many, many things
they bring to mind — 
cherry blossoms!

© Basho (Tr. Robert Aitken)

[...] "Instilled in the Japanese mind is the association of the ephemerality of the cherry blossoms with the brevity of human life. Blooming for so short a time, and then casting loose in a shower of lovely petals in the early April wind, cherry blossoms symbolize an attitude of nonattachment much admired in Japanese culture." [...] (Source: A Zen Wave,Basho's Haiku & Zen  by Robert Aitken Published by Weatherhill, NY in 1996)

And another one by Buson:

these tired old legs -
is it for them that we stop, 
or the late cherry blossoms?

© Buson

Cherry Blossom Kyoto
And to end this episode with I have another nice haiku master who wrote about the cherry blossoms:

double cherry blossoms
flutter in the wind
one petal after another

© Shiki

And another one by a not so well known classical haiku poet, Onitsura:

the wild cherry:
stones also are singing their songs
in the valley stream

© Onitsura

Of course I can go on with this wonderful episode, but it must be fun to read and therefore I try to make the episodes not that big, but in this case ...

cherry blossom viewing
together with friends and family
celebrating spring

blossom haze -
walking in the middle
of falling petals

Ah! those cherries
have to let go their blossoms -
blossom haze

the cooing of pigeons
between blooming cherry trees -
the cool rain*

* written for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2012, I won a honorable mention.

© Chèvrefeuille
And to really conclude this episode I love to share a "twin-tanka" about Cherry Blossom:

cherry blossom petals fall
without sound
cherry blossom petals ride
on gusts of wind

on gusts of wind
cherry blossom petals, full circle,
the taste of cherries
helping me through the cold winter
Sakura blooms again

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... this episode became a little longer than I had thought, but I hope it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form. Have fun!

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until February 22nd at noon (CET).