Thursday, June 29, 2017

Carpe Diem's Time Travel, Ancient Japanese Poetry To Inspire You #3 Hyakunin-isshu, A Hundred Verses From Old Japan

!! Open for your submissions next Sunday July 2nd at 7:00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new "weekend-meditation". This time I love to inspire you through the ancient Japanese poetry. Haiku is a very classical (and ancient) Japanese poetry form, but before haiku became renown in ancient Japan it was mostly the "waka" that was used as The poetry form. The "waka" is the pre-ancestor of what we now know as Tanka, a 5 lined Japanese poetry form following the syllables count 5-7-5-7-7. What we call syllabes however are "on" or "onji". These are the "sounds" of the Japanese language.

For this "Time Travel" episode I have chosen an anthology which was translated by William N. Porter back in 1909, the Hyakunin-isshu, A Hundred Verses From Old Japan. The Hyakunin-isshu is a collection of 100 specimens of Japanese Tanka poetry collected in the 13th Century C.E., with some of the poems dating back to the 7th Century. This edition was illustrated with Japanese woodblock prints of an unknown artist. I hope to share a few of these woodblock prints here too.

This woodblock print is titled "seashore" and was used as a kind of cover for this anthology. All the Tanka in the Hyakunin-isshu are on themes such as nature, the round of the seasons, the impermanence of life, and the vicissitudes of love. There are obvious Buddhist and Shinto influences throughout.

An example of the Tanka in Hyakunin-isshu created by Emperor Tenchi (7th century):

Aki no ta no
Kari ho no iho no
Toma wo arami
Waga koromode wa
Tsuyu ni nure-tsutsu.

OUT in the fields this autumn day
They're busy reaping grain ;
I sought for shelter ’neath this roof,
But fear I sought in vain,—
My sleeve is wet with rain.

A very nice Tanka I would say. It's written in a very sophisticated style that fits the Emperor. I especially like the rhyme in the last two lines. As you all know (maybe), it is "not done" to use rhyme in Tanka, but in this one it seems that it had to be that way. It gives the Tanka "style".

Pheasant woodblock print (found on Pinterest)
I found an other nice Tanka, this time created by the Nobleman Kaki-no-Moto (7th century):

Ashibiki no
Yamadori no o no
Shidario no
Naga-nagashi yo wo
Hitori ka mo nemu.

LONG is the mountain pheasant's tail
That curves down in its flight;
But longer still, it seems to me,
Left in my lonely plight,
Is this unending night.

As I read this Tanka another nice poem came in mind, the following haiku by Buson:

osokihi ya kiji no oriiru hashi no ue 

In these lengthening days
Pheasants settle
Upon the bridge.

In the Tanka the theme is the longest night (the winter solstice) and in the haiku, Buson refers to the longest day (the summer solstice). Both poems are beauties.

Yamato Province is renown for its cherry blossoms
Why this image of cherry blossoms in Yamato province? Well it has to do with the verse (tanka) I extracted from Hyakunin-isshu to inspire you, maybe the image will help you to imagine the Tanka written by Korenori Saka-no-Uye a not so well known poet from the 10th century.

Ariake no tsuki to
Miru made ni
Yoshino no sato ni
Fureru shira yuki.

SURELY the morning moon, I thought,
Has bathed the hill in light
But, no; I see it is the snow
That, falling in the night,
Has made Yoshino white.

And here is my response, maybe also to help you a little bit to imagine the scene:

on the mountain slopes
fragile cherry blossom petals fall
it seems to snow

© Chèvrefeuille

To conclude this episode "in style" here is another woodblock print from this classical anthology full of beautiful Tanka.

Moon Viewing 
Well ... I hope you did like this new episode of "Time Travel" and I hope to have inspired you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

More from The Hyakunin-isshu? HERE

This episode is open for your submissions next Sunday July 2nd at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 7th at noon (CET). Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Carpe Diem #1211 The 14th Dalai Lama

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It is with sadness, but also with a kind of joy, that I present to you our new episode, the last episode of our wonderful magical experience through Tibet. To end this month I have chosen to tell you a little bit more about the 14th Dalai Lama, Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (as is his real name).

The 14th Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lamas are the manifestations of the Bodhisattva (Buddha) of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate to serve the humanity. This Dalai Lama is the 14th Dalai Lama. He is the 74th manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, the enlightened Buddha of compassion. Tibetans normally refer to His Holiness as Yeshe Norbu, the Wishfulfilling Gem, or simply Kundun - The Presence.

The present Dalai lama was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama at age two. In order to confirm his identity, Tibetan monks tested Gyatso by asking him to identify certain articles of clothing that belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama. He passed the series of tests, then changed his name, took the throne at age four and became a monk at age six.

The name Dalai lama is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning "ocean" and the Tibetan word (bla-ma) meaning "guru, teacher, mentor". He was a vegetarian for a short time, but he developed jaundice. He had to go back to eating meat. Because of the lack of farming land in Tibet, meat has been a staple of their diet for many centuries.
The Dalai Lama enjoys collecting and repairing watches and is fascinated by science and has said that if he had not become a monk, he would have become an engineer.

Potala Palace, the residence of the Dalai Lama

In 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his work advocating nonviolent means to free Tibet from China. The residence of the Dalai Lama , Potala Palace and Norbulingka, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

When the Dalai Lama was asked on his website what is the purpose of life, he answered "to be happy".

As you have seen in the above episode I have used two images, one of the Dalai Lama and one of his residence, Potala Palace (Nepal). I love to challenge you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on these images. Say a kind of "Carpe Diem Imagination".

like an eagle's nest
high up in the Himalayas
a safe haven

© Chèvrefeuille

full of compassion
notwithstanding the annexation
the Dalai Lama smiles

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... now it is up to you my dear Haijin, visitors and travelers to let the images inspire you.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until July 3rd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new "weekend-meditation", a new episode of our Time Travel feature, later on. Have fun!

Background information found HERE.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Carpe Diem #1210 Tibetan Book Of Dead (Bardo Thodol)

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

This wonderful journey through Tibet is almost over and i think we have had a really wonderful and magical experience here. So it is with sadness that I am creating this penultimate (regular) episode. Today I love to inspire you through the Tibetan Book of Dead, not that one we had for our first Theme Week last year, but that original one in which the rituals are described to give peace to the dying and in which the soul is guided to the right realm were it will wait to be reborn.

Earlier this week I wrote an episode about Shambhala, that magical kingdom somewhere in the Himalayans. Shambhala isn't a physical place in my opinion it is the place were our souls are waiting to become reborn. Another episode was about reincarnation and those two prompts are interconnected with our prompt for today ... the Tibetan Book Of Dead. (Downloadable  HERE)

Tibetan Book Of The Dead

Let me tell you a little bit more about The Tibetan Book Of Dead:

It is meant to be a guide for those who have died as they transition from their former life to a new destination. The work has been traditionally attributed to Padma-Sambhava, an Indian mystic who was said to have introduced Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. Legend has it that while visiting Tibet, Padma-Sambhava found it necessary to conceal sanskrit works he had arranged to be written.The Tibetans of that time were not ready for the spiritual teachings contained therein, so he hid his texts in strange and remote locations, leaving them to be discovered at a later time when their spiritual message could be received by those with an open mind.

The most famous of those that discovered and revealed Padma-Sambhava's writings was Karma Lingpa who was born around 1350 CE. According to his biography, Karma Lingpa found several hidden texts on top of a mountain in Tibet when he was fifteen years old. Within those texts, he found a collection of teachings entitled: The Self-Emergence of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities from Enlightened Awareness. These teachings contained the texts of the now famous Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Bardo. The Tibetan Book of the Dead was first published in 1927 by Oxford University Press, London. (Source:

Tibetan Book Of The Dead (original)
The above image shows  the part of The Tibetan Book Of The Dead in which the passed away man or woman will be facing the demons to challenge him / her to be "weighted". I think this phase is similar with what in other religions is called "judgement" or "limbo", but that I don't know for sure.

Here is a "quote" from this part of The Tibetan Book Of The Dead:

[...] "O nobly-born, listen undistractedly. Not having been able to recognize when the Peaceful [Deities] shone upon thee in the Bardo above, thou hast come wandering thus far. Now, on the Eighth Day, the blood-drinking Wrathful Deities will come to shine. Act so as to recognize them without being distracted." [...]

life weighted by the gods
to be reborn

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... it is not an easy task I think this time, but I am looking forward to your responses on this prompt.

By the way ... next month we will have all kigo for summer for prompts, classical and non-classical. So that will be another great month of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I hope to publish our new prompt-list later this week.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until July2nd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Dalai Lama, later on. For now .... have fun!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Carpe Diem #1209 reincarnation the Tibetan Vision

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our wonderful Haiku Kai. this month it is all about Tibet, a Magical Experience, we have seen already the beauty of Tibet and we have read wonderful poems written by the renown Tibetan poet and yogi Milarepa and today we are going to look a little bit closer to one of the "pillars" of Budhism, reincarnation.
In our first CDHK Theme Week the one about the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, we have already had a quick look at reincarnation, but for this episode I decided to dive into the matter of reincarnation (especially Tibet ideas) a bit more. However ... I couldn't really find a good background on this and so I had to decide to search the Internet. I ran into a nice essay about Tibetan ideas on reincarnation which I love to share here with you.

As you maybe know in Tibetan Buddhism the only one who can recognize a reincarnation is His Holiness The Dalai Lama. His last recognition (as far as I know) was on July 9th 2013. He then recognized a Tibetan boy born in Nepal as the reincarnation of one of his teachers and former head of Nyingma, the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Tibetan spiritual leader gave his seal of recognition to Ngawang Tenzin Choekyi Lodoe Rabsel, a Tibetan boy born to Choeling Trulku Ngawal Choepal Gyatso and Paylung Tsewang Dolma in Kathmandu on July 25, 2013.

The announcement was made on July 6, 2015 to coincide with the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Ngawang Tenzin Choekyi Lodoe Rabsel, the recognized reincarnation of Trulshik Rinpoche of
It is a bit stronge to see a young boy (above) as the reincarnation of one of the Heart Lamas of Nyingma, the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. As this little boy was recognized as a reincarnated spiritual teacher he was just 2 years. From the moment of recognition the life of this young boy and his family will change drastical. However the parents of this young boy will be grateful and honored that their son will become one of the leading Tibetan Lamas.

Tibetan reincarnation (tulku)?

The reincarnation system (tulku), a distinguishing characteristic of Tibetan Buddhism, is based on the theory that Buddha's soul never vanishes, but reincarnates in succession to lead his followers and to accomplish his mission. One of the first reincarnations among the Buddhist monks in Tibet is Karma Pakshi. In 1193, before Dusum Chenpa, a religious leader, the first Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, passed away, he told his disciples that he would return as a reincarnated being. His disciples soon led a search for his infant reincarnation in accordance with his will. Several years later, Karma Pakshi turned out as the first reincarnation in Tibet and trained to be Karma Kagyu leader. After Karma Pakshi's reincarnation, the reincarnation system was adopted by other sects gradually to keep a consistent religious leadership. By applying the system, heirs for hundreds of Gyalwas (Living Buddhas) were selected, among whom the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are the most prestigious. The Yellow Hat sect, Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism also applied the system to hand down the titles conferred on the third Dalai Lama and the fourth Panchen Lama to keep their established religious and secular title and power. By the end of the Qing Dynasty there were 160 high lamas registered with the Board for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs, each applying the reincarnation system to identify their next successors.
Lhamo Latso Lake

Religious methods and rituals are used to identify a reincarnation of a late high lama. A search party headed by another high lama begins the search. After a religious retreat, lamas, dispatched in disguise, scour Tibet for special signs: new mothers who had unusual dreams, children who have special knowledge without being taught, and special physical traits, such as big ear lobes. The lamas refer to oracles, portents, dreams and  the late lama's prophesy in order to aid them in their search. Some lamas are sent to Lhamo Latso, the Oracle Lake, to look for prophetic visions to help locate the reincarnation.
Once the High Lamas have found the home and the boy they believe to be the reincarnation, the boy undergoes a series of tests to affirm the rebirth. They present a number of artifacts, only some of which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, and if the boy chooses the items which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, this is seen as a sign, in conjunction with all of the other indications, that the boy is the reincarnation.

Many believe the Dalai Lama to be an earthly manifestation of Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig). Eventhough this thought was only recently formulated by the fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso ( 1617 -1682 ). It is said that Padmasambhava prophesied that Avalokiteśvara will manifest himself in the Tulku lineages of the Dalai Lamas and the Karmapas. Another Tibetan source explains that Amitabha Buddha gave to one of his two main disciples, Avalokiteśvara, the task to take upon himself the burden of caring for Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara came into existence from a single tear shed by Chenrezig. When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake, and a lotus opening in the lake revealed Tara. In another version of this story, Tara emerges from the heart of Chenrezig. In either version, it is Chenrezig’s outpouring of compassion which manifests Tara as a being.

As I was preparing this episode I also sought for haiku on reincarnation and I ran into a nice haiku written by Martha Magenta:
each raindrop
lost at sea

© Martha Magenta

And I found another nice haiku on reincarnation by Rajkumar Mukherjee:

future born in me
with love of present for past
who knows what he holds

© Rajkumar Mukherjee

By the way I couldn't find a way to contact them to ask their permissions, so if you know these two poets or you are one of these two poets, please let me know if you are okay with it.

Reincarnation (Dutch website)
Here are a few poems I wrote on reincarnation or related themes:

several lives
once lived and re-lived -
Lotus blooms again
reaching for a new day of life
cherished by the sun
the final frontier
to become newly born -
conquering death
phoenix spreads its wings
after the dark cold winter night
finally spring
© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until July 1st at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Tibetan Book of Death, later on.


Carpe Diem Sunflower kukai, the judging begins

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I have gathered all the entries for the Sunflower kukai and today the judging starts. You can find all the submitted haiku (without names of course) above in the menu.

You can give points to three of the submitted haiku, of course not your own. You can give 3 points for the best haiku, 2 points for the second best haiku and 1 point for the third best haiku.

You can email your points to our email-address: please write "judging sunflower" in the subject line.

The judging starts right now and closes on July 10th at 10:00 PM (CET)



Here is the theme for our next kukai:


You can submit a maximum of three haiku themed "departure" to our emailaddress please write "kukai departure" in the subject-line. The kukai closes on Sunday July 23rd at 10:00 PM (CET).

Have a great week.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Carpe Diem #1208 Shambhala, the mystical and mysterious kingdom

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend and I hope you are ready for an all new week of haiku-ing here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I had a good weekend, I was on the night-shift, but that is part of my job of course.

Today I love to tell you a little bit more about Shambhala, or Shambala (I don't know which to use, because there are several different ways of writing it). As you (maybe) know I have written a novel several years ago, a kind of fantasy-storty like Tolkiens Ring, and in that novel I used also Shambala as a kind of after world, or heaven. And that is exactly what Shambala is I think. Shambala, as legend tells us, is a mystical kingdom somewhere in the Himalayans, but I don't think it's a real kingdom actually, I think it's more a "kingdom" like "Heaven" and you only can reach that kingdom through dead and living in the righteous way.

The 14th Dalai Lama (Lhamo Dondrub)

As the 14th Dalai Lama noted during the 1985 Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya, Shambhala is not an ordinary country:

[...] “Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.” [...]

Shambhala ... the mystical invisible place of peace somewhere in the Himalayans.

Shambhala, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “place of peace” or “place of silence”, is a mythical paradise spoken of in ancient texts, including the Kalachakra Tantra and the ancient scriptures of the Zhang Zhung culture which predated Tibetan Buddhism in western Tibet. According to legend, it is a land where only the pure of heart can live, a place where love and wisdom reigns and where people are immune to suffering, want or old age. (Sounds like Heaven or the New Jerusalem).

The legend of Shambhala is said to date back thousands of years, and reference to the mythical land can be found in various ancient texts. Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age. The Buddhist myth of Shambhala is an adaptation of the earlier Hindu myth. However, the text in which Shambhala is first discussed extensively is the Kalachakra.
The Kalachakra refers to a complex and advanced esoteric teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Shakyamuni Buddha is said to have taught the Kalachakra on request of King Suchandra of Shambhala.
As with many concepts in the Kalachakra, the idea of Shambhala is said to have outer, inner, and alternative meanings. The outer meaning understands Shambhala to exist as a physical place, although only individuals with the appropriate karma can reach it and experience it as such. The inner and alternative meanings refer to more subtle understandings of what Shambhala represents in terms of one's own body and mind (inner), and during meditative practice (alternative). These two types of symbolic explanations are generally passed on orally from teacher to student.

Kalachakra sand mandala (33th Kalachakra Empowerment 2014)
The concept of Shambhala plays an important role in Tibetan religious teachings, and has particular relevance in Tibetan mythology about the future.  The Kalachakra prophesies the gradual deterioration of mankind as the ideology of materialism spreads over the earth. When the “barbarians” who follow this ideology are united under an evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift to reveal the snowy mountains of Shambhala. The barbarians will attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the king of Shambhala will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "dark forces" and usher in a worldwide Golden Age.
Though the Kālachakra prophesies a future war, this appears in conflict with the vows of Buddhist teachings that prohibit violence. This has led some theologians to interpret the war symbolically – the Kālachakra is not advocating violence against people but rather refers to the inner battle of the religious practitioner against inner demonic tendencies.

Over many centuries, numerous explorers and seekers of spiritual wisdom have embarked on expeditions and quests in search of the mythical paradise of Shambhala, and while many have claimed to have been there, no one has yet provided any evidence of its existence or been able to pinpoint its physical location on a map, however most references place Shambhala in the mountainous regions of Eurasia.
In Altai folklore, Mount Belukha is believed to be the gateway to Shambhala. Modern Buddhist scholars seem to conclude that Shambhala is located in the higher reaches of the Himalayas. Some legends say that the entrance to Shambhala is hidden inside a remote, abandoned monastery in Tibet, and guarded by beings known as the Shambhala Guardians.

Somewhere in the Himalayans according to legends you will find Shambhala
It's a wonderful story, a mysterious kingdom hidden somewhere in the Himalayan Mountains ... well it all sounds like a dream, but ... well if there is nothing left to dream of what will be there ...?

It was really a joy to do the research for this episode and I have found a lot about Shambhala all over the Internet. I used several sources for this episode. I will give you the URL's at the end.

high in the mountains
through the streets of Shambhala
the cry of an eagle
welcoming new citizens
who finally found their path

© Chèvrefeuille

I love it as a tanka works ... in this case it wasn't easy to create it, but ... well ....

Used sources:

Ancient Origins
Collective Evolution

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 30th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, reincarnation, later on.

Chèvrefeuille's Gift To You To Celebrate Our First Luster Of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai #5 Use That Quote

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I had some spare time so time again for a new episode of "Chèvrefeuille's Gift ..." This episode I love to challenge you to create a haiku or tanka inspired on a quote given. Maybe you can remember our special feature "Use That Quote"?

Today I have a nice quote for you by one of my favorite philosophers Rabindranath Tagore:

[...] "Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." [...]
© Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941), was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal", Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal.
Tagore wrote wonderful prose, poetry and songs. In his "Gitanjali" (Song Offerings) he included lots of beauties with a deep spiritual meaning. For his "Gitanjali" he got the Nobel Prize in Literature and I just love to reproduce one of his songs taken from the "Gitanjali":

On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.
Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.
That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to me that it was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.
I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.

Well ... I hope you did like this "gift" and that it will inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on the quote given.
This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 30th at noon (CET).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Carpe Diem Extra June 24th 2017 "writer's block"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

I love to ask you something if you don't mind? I have a kind of "writer's block", because I have not a clue what theme I could use for our next month of haiku-ing. Do you have an idea for prompts for our upcoming month July. Please share them with me through the comments field.

Thank you for participating in CDHK.


Chèvrefeuille your host

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Carpe Diem's Writing and Enjoying Haiku #1 Introduction

Cover / Logo

!!! Open for your submissions next Sunday June 25th at 7.00 PM (CET) !!!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It is with pleasure and pride that I introduce to you an all new feature for the "weekend-meditation". Recently I tried the "Haiku Puzzler" as a "weekend-meditation", but it was a too difficult "puzzler" or you didn't like the idea of a "Haiku Puzzler" for the "weekend-meditation", so I decided to skip the "Haiku Puzzler" and bring up our new feature in honor of Jane Reichhold (1937-2016).
Maybe you know her hands-on-guide for haiku "Writing and Enjoying Haiku", from which I have extracted the title of this new "weekend-meditation" feature.

In "Writing and Enjoying Haiku" Jane brought up the idea of haiku writing as a kind of meditation and a way to find spiritual peace. And that's what the goal is of this new "weekend-meditation" feature.

Jane Reichhold, Queen of Haiku and Tanka
A few years ago I was send a gift by Jane for my birthday, a nice box full of books written by her. For example she gave me "Basho, the complete haiku", one of her best books in my opinion, but she also gave me a copy of her Hands On Guide "Writing and Enjoying Haiku". This small book was an eye-opener ... I had never looked at haiku as a way of finding peace, but after reading it I was overwhelmed by her beautiful mind and her knowledge. So it was then that a seed was sown for a new feature. I never had thought that I would use this idea that soon ... well it was through her death that this idea started to grow and finally blossomed ....

I love to start with a quote taken from the back-cover of Jane's Hands On Guide:

[...] "Writing and Enjoying Haiku shows how haiku can bring a centered, calming atmosphere into one's life, by focusing on the outer realities of life instead of the naggings of the inner mind, by gaining a new appreciation for the world of nature, and by preserving moments, days, and events so that they are not lost forever in the passage of time." [...]

the passage of time
[...] "Though the word "enjoying" is the third word in the title (of this book), for me enjoying anything and everything is the primary function of our lives. True, the function (of this book) is to teach you how to write haiku, but I want you to first learn to touch a point of pleasure within yourself with haiku.
To do this, you will need to open the arms of your mind to take in some haiku already snapped up out of the art and written down." [...]

The above quote is from the introduction of Jane's Hands On Guide and she already gives us a task in these words "learn to touch a point of pleasure within yourself with haiku". Let us start again with being a "rookie" in haiku world and let us learn to appreciate haiku right now by reading a few beauties collected from Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. To learn to appreciate haiku we have to learn how to read again, and re-read again ... making the haiku come to life and let it be part of you, let it be your pleasure ... maybe while reading these examples you have the urge to change something ... feel free to do so ... bring the haiku to life through your mind, your heart and your pencil.

goosefeather pen (image found on Pinterest)
I have the following haiku for you to "contemplate" and "meditate". Read and re-read them and try to bring the scene(s) to life. Try to become one with the haiku.
And as I wrote earlier in this post ... feel free to change the haiku if you have the urge to change them, that you can only achieve through "living" the haiku.

wisteria sways -
pendulous blossoms in breeze
unspoken promise

© Jazzy

petal lanterns —
a waterfall of flowers
her lips touch mine

© Hamish

scent of summer
jasmin blooming on the fence
bees hum in the daisy bush

© Cressida

summer heat
no shadows to turn to
rain at last

© Chèvrefeuille

Four haiku extracted from our CDHK E-book "Petal Lanterns". Written by four of our CDHK family members (including myself).

What is the goal of this "weekend-meditation"? Well to "learn" to read  haiku, to become one with haiku and trying to be the haiku. And if you had the urge to change something than share your "re-done" haiku with us. The second goal is to create haiku (or tanka) in which the reader can find, feel, touch, hear or see the scene as you have seen it and maybe your readers will also try to become one with your haiku, or will give words to their urge to change something.

Well ... I hope you did like this new "weekend-meditation" feature in honor and tribute of Jane Reichhold.

!!! Submissions for this "weekend-meditation" can be linked to the linking widget next Sunday, June 25th at 7.00 PM (CET). and will remain open until June 30th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, Shambhala, later on. For now ... have fun and have a wonderful creative weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Carpe Diem Theme Week "The Songs of Milarepa" (4) like a summer flower

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at this last episode of our Theme Week about "The Songs of Milarepa", a renown Tibetan poet and yogi. I think I have made a nice selection this week and today I love to share another beauty written by Milarepa.

This song is part of the bigger song "The Fleeting Bubbles" a song about Dharma:

Youth is like a summer flower -
Suddenly it fades away.

Old age is like a fire spreading
Through the fields - suddenly 'tis at your heels.

The Buddha once said, "Birth and Death
Are like Sunrise and sunset -
Now come, now go."

Youth is like a summer flower (image found on Pinterest)

Sickness is like a little bird
Wounded by a sling.
Know you not, health and strength
Will in time desert you?

Death is like an oil-dry lamp
(After the last flicker).

Nothing, I assure you,
In this world is permanent.

© Milarepa

In this poem you can read what we all know ... we all live in a fleeting world, nothing is permanent. Nothing is permanent at all ... so enjoy your life ...

It was really a joy to create this Theme Week for you all and I hope you did like it. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 26th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new "weekend-meditation" later on. For now .... have fun!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Carpe Diem Theme Week "The Songs of Milarepa" (3) The Shepherd

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Maybe you can remember our CDHK month in which I used prompts extracted from "Manuscript Found In Accra", by Paulo Coelho in July 2013, or maybe you know "The Prophet" written by Khalil Gibran. Both are books in which people question prophets or spiritual people, or just wise people. This Theme Week "The Songs of Milarepa" the prompts are extracted from "Hundred Thousand Songs by Milarepa". This book is written in the same way as the both I mentioned above.

In "The Songs of ..." Milarepa answers different questions by people around him and today I love to share a part of "The Songs of ..." in which a young shepherd asks him a question:

[...] A young shepherd boy came to Milarepa and said:, "Dear Lama, last night I tried to find out what my mind is and how it works. I observed it carefully and found that I have only one mind. Even though one wants to, one cannot kill this mind. However much one wishes to dismiss it, it will not go away. If one tries to catch it, it cannot be grasped; nor can it be held by pressing it. If you want it to remain, it will not stay; if you release it, it will not go. You try to gather it; it cannot be picked up. You try to see it; it cannot be seen. You try to understand it; it cannot be known. If you think it is an existing entity and cast it off, it will not leave you. If you think that it is non-existent, you feel it running on. It is something illuminating, aware, wide-awake, yet incomprehensible. In short, it is hard to say what the mind really is. Please be kind enough to explain the meaning of the mind." 

Tibetan shepherd
In response, Milarepa sang: 

Listen to me, dear shepherd, the protector [of sheep)!
By merely hearing about sugar's taste, 
Sweetness cannot be experienced; 
Though one's mind may understand 
What sweetness is, 
It cannot experience directly; 
Only the tongue can know it. 
In the same way one cannot see in full the nature of mind, 
Though he may have a glimpse of it 
If it has been pointed out by others.
If one relies not on this one glimpse, 
But continues searching for the nature of mind, 
He will see it fully in the end. 
Dear shepherd, in this way you should observe your mind. 

© Milarepa

The boy then said, "In that case, please give me the Pointing-out-Instruction*, and this evening I will look into it. I shall return to-morrow and tell you the result." Milarepa replied, "Very well. When you get home, try to find out the color of the mind. Is it white, red, or what? What is its shape? Is it oblong, round, or what? Also, try to locate where in your body it dwells."
The next morning when the sun rose, the shepherd drove the sheep before him, and came to Milarepa, who asked, "Did you try last night to find out what the mind is like?" The boy replied, "Yes, I did." 
"What does it look like?" [...] (Source: The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, page 123 & 124)

*) Lit.: "Through the 'Pointing-out-Instruction' one may glimpse it." The Pointing-out-Instruction is an essential practice of Mahamudra. The main concern of Mahamudra is the unfoldment of the essence of one's mind. To accomplish this, the disciple is given by his Guru the "Pointing-out" demonstration. This can be done in different ways with different gestures-a smile, a blow, a push, a remark, etc. This is strikingly similar to the “koan”-tradition of Zen, though the style and process appear somewhat different.

An amazing song ... I hope to read wonderful haiku and tanka inspired on this Song by Milarepa in which we can see the hidden spiritual meaning of our nature, of our beautiful little poems.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 25th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our last episode of this Carpe Diem Theme Week, an other song by Milarepa, later on. For now ... have fun!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Carpe Diem Theme Week "The Songs of Milarepa"(2) "flying clouds"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at our second episode of this month's Theme Week "The Songs of Milarepa". This week I will share a few of the poems (or part of the poems) written by the renown Tibetan poet and yogi Milarepa. All poems (or partial poems) are extracted from "The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. In this wonderful book the life of Milarepa is told and his wisdom shared. Milarepa's Songs are full of secret and sacred wisdom ... and for sure it isn't easy to "run" through his wisdom to find a poem suited for here at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, but today I found another nice poem. The part I share here is about the wisdom of Milarepa which he shared to converse Lodun, a Scholar.

Versatile are flying clouds, 
Yet from the sky they're not apart. 
Mighty are the ocean's waves, 
Yet they are not separate from the sea. 
Heavy and thick are banks of fog, 
Yet from the air they're not apart.
Frantic runs the mind in voidness, 
Yet from the Void it never separates. 
He who can "weigh" Awareness 
Will understand the teaching 
Of Mind-Riding-on-the-Breath.
He who sees wandering 
Thoughts sneaking in like thieves, 
Will understand the instruction 
Of watching these intruding thoughts. 
He who experiences his mind wandering outside, 
Will realize the allegory 
Of the Pigeon and the Boat at Sea*.

© Milarepa

*Flying off from a boat in the sea, a pigeon cannot fly very far before it is forced to return to the boat because no landing-place is in sight. This metaphor alludes to the fact that wandering thoughts, no matter how wild and uncontrollable they are, will eventually return to the Mind-Essence, as there is nowhere else to go.

Imagine this ... see the story unfold in front of you and she the meaning of this partial poem. All is One and inseparable. Isn't that what we, haiku (and tanka) poets see in the world, the nature around us? Are we not all one with nature ... all created with God-stuff.

through the mist
I hear the cry of an eagle
seeking for prey
aware of his surroundings
he catches a little mouse

© Chèvrefeuille

Hmm ... not as strong as I had hoped, but well ... I have given it a try. And now ... it is up to you. This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 24th at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, our third Theme Week episode, later on. For now .... have fun!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Carpe Diem's Theme Week: The Songs Of Milarepa (1) Introduction

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at this month's Theme Week. This month while we are discovering magical and spiritual Tibet I have included a nice Theme Week. This Theme Week it's all about Tibet's renown poet and yogi Milarepa and is titled "The Songs of Milarepa".

Maybe you can remember our first Theme Week in which we explored the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In the e-book that followed after that Theme Week I included a "song by Milarepa". In this Theme Week that starts today I have gathered a few wonderful "songs" by Milarepa to inspire you. So let's go!

Let me first introduce to you Milarepa:

Milarepa is one of the most widely known Tibetan Saints. In a superhuman effort, he rose above the miseries of his younger life and with the help of his Guru, Marpa the Translator, took to a solitary life of meditation until he had achieved the pinnacle of the enlightened state, never to be born again into the Samsara (whirlpool of life and death) of worldly existence. Out of compassion for humanity, he undertook the most rigid asceticism to reach the Buddhic state of enlightenment and to pass his accomplishments on to the rest of humanity. His spiritual lineage was passed along to his chief disciples, Gambopa and Rechung. It was Rechung who recorded in detail the incidents of Milarepa's life for posterity. The narrative of his life has thus been passed down through almost a millennium of time and has become an integral part of Tibetan culture.
Milarepa extemporaneously composed innumerable songs throughout his life relevant to the dramatic turns of events of himself and his disciples in accordance with an art form that was in practice at the time. These songs have been widely sung and studied in Tibet ever since and have been recorded as the Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa. His faithful devotion, boundless religious zeal, monumental forbearance, superhuman perseverance, and ultimate final attainment are a great inspiration today for all. His auspicious life illumined the Buddhist faith and brought the light of wisdom to sentient beings everywhere. (Source: Cosmic Harmony)

Red Rock Jewel Valley (Tibet/India)
Milarepa was not only a poet, but also a yogi who sang his teachings for his followers. These songs are gathered in "Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa", of course he didn't compose that much songs, but he composed a lot of them.

The song I love to share here for your inspiration is part of "The Tale of Red Rock Jewel Valley" in which Milarepa has to conquer demons. Here is the song to inspire you:

This lonely spot where stands my hut 
Is a place pleasing to the Buddhas, 
A place where accomplished beings dwell, 
A refuge where I dwell alone. 

Above Red Rock Jewel Valley 
White clouds are gliding; 
Below, the Tsang River gently flows; 
Wild vultures wheel between. 

Bees are humming among the flowers, 
Intoxicated by their fragrance; 
In the trees birds swoop and dart, 
Filling the air with their song. 

Image source
In Red Rock Jewel Valley 
Young sparrows learn to fly, 
Monkeys love to leap and swing, 
And beasts to run and race, 
While I practice the Two Bodhi-Minds
and love to meditate. 

Ye local demons, ghosts and gods, 
All friends of Milarepa, 
Drink the nectar of kindness and compassion, 
Then return to your abode

© Milarepa (Tr.: Garma C. C. Chang; Shambhala Publications, 1977)

And here is my inspired haiku. I hope you like it:

deep silence
inhaling the sounds of nature -
white clouds dance

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... I hope I have inspired you. This was our introductory episode of this Theme Week: "Songs Of Milarepa". I am looking forward to the upcoming days and your responses of course.

PS.: More reading? Follow this link and find out more about Milarepa.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until June 23rd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our nex Theme Week episode, later on. For now ... have fun

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Carpe Diem Time Travel #2 The Tale of Genji

!! Open for your submissions next Sunday June 18th at 7:00 PM (CET) !!

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of our "Time Travel" feature. This feature I have created especially for our "weekend-meditation" and its goal is to create new haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form inspired on poems from ancient times. For example: waka taken from the Man'yoshu, as we did in the first episode of this new feature.

This episode I love to introduce to you a well known Japanese novel from the 11th century, The Tale of Genji. And I will share a few poems from this Tale with you to inspire you. Let me (with help from Mark Cartwright) tell you a little bit more about this ancient Japanese novel.

Tale of Genji (by Mark Cartwright); published on 10 April 2017 at 

The 'Tale of the Genji' or Genji Monogatari, written in the 11th century CE by Murasaki Shikibu, a court lady, is Japan's oldest novel and possibly the first novel in world literature. The classic of Japanese literature, the work describes the life and loves of Prince Genji and is noted for its rich characterization and vivid descriptions of life in the Japanese imperial court. The work famously reproduces the line 'the sadness of things' over 1,000 times and has been tremendously influential on Japanese literature and thinking ever since it was written. The 'Tale of Genji' continues to be retranslated into modern Japanese on a regular basis so that its grip on the nation's imagination shows no sign of loosening.

Hand painted illustration from the Tale of Genji

Murasaki Shikibu

The work's author is considered to be a lady of the imperial court by the name of Murasaki Shikibu who wrote it over several years and completed it around 1020 CE during the Heian period (794-1185 CE). Murasaki is also known as To no Shikibu. Murasaki was a nickname and shikibu means 'secretariat,' which was the role of her father as in ancient Japan it was common to call a daughter by her father's position. She was a member of the Fujiwara clan. Her birth is accepted as around 973 CE and her death after 1013 CE, the date of the last mention of her in court documents. Details of her life are sketchy except that her father was Fujiwara no Tametoki, a provincial governor, and that she married a fellow Fujiwara clan member, one Fujiwara no Nobutaka, with whom she had one daughter, Daini no Sammi. Murasaki's husband died in 1001 CE, and she then became a lady-in-waiting (nyobo) to Empress Akiko (aka Shoshi) where she displayed great talent in the arts, particularly calligraphy, the harp (koto), painting, and poetry. Besides the novel, other surviving works by Murasaki include poems and her diary.

The novel describes life in the Japanese Imperial Court. Its etiquette & intrigues & above all the central character of Prince Genji. (Genji Monogatari)

The Japanese title Genji Monogatari may be translated as 'The Tale of Prince Genji.' It consists of 54 chapters and 750,000 words, although the final 13 chapters are regarded as a later addition by a minority of scholars principally because the story then no longer concerns Genji but his son Kaoru and takes on a darker tone. Neither do scholars entirely agree on the order of the chapters as many seem like later insertions by the author and several are parallel chapters or narabi where events occur not after but contemporary with the events described in earlier 'ordinary' chapters (hon no maki).

The novel describes life in the Japanese imperial court, its etiquette and intrigues, and, above all, the central character of Prince Genji who is the perfect gentleman in looks and deed. Genji's relations, love affairs, and transition from youth to middle age are all captured by Murasaki's astute writing which combines romanticism and realism in equal measure to capture a timeless treatment of human relations and the general impermanence of all things.

Scene from The Tale of Genji (Brooklyn Museum)

In her own words Murasaki describes this discovery:

"But I have a theory of my own about what this art of the novel happens because the storyteller's own experience of men and things, whether for good or ill - not only what he has passed through himself, but even events which he has only witnessed or been told of - has moved him to an emotion so passionate that he can no longer keep it shut up in his heart. Again and again something in his own life or that around him will seem to the writer so important that he cannot bear to let it pass into oblivion". (Mason, 96)

Murasaki Shikibu (978-1014) is seen as the inventor of the "Psychological Novel", as she shows in her Tale of Genji.

Murasaki Shikibu (978-1014)
Now we know a little bit about the background of The Tale of Genji and now we are looking to a few poems from this wonderful ancient Japanese novel.

In The Tale of Genji we see very often two characters speaking with each other through poems, so maybe we can say that The Tale of Genji was the first kind of Tan Renga. In the examples I will show you that.

This first poem is a stand alone poem:

since my departure for this dark journey,
makes you so sad and lonely,
fain would I stay though weak and weary,
and live for your sake only!

And here is a beautiful example of a "poem-conversation":

fain would one weep the whole night long,
as weeps the Sudu-Mushi's* song,
who chants her melancholy lay,
till night and darkness pass away

(the "answer"):

to the heath where the Sudu-Mushi sings,
from beyond the clouds one comes from on high
and more dews on the grass around she flings,
and adds her own, to the night wind's sigh.

* Sudu-Mushi are a kind of insects which sing in herbage grass especially in autumn evenings

Scene from The Tale of Genji
Another example of a "poem-conversation":

when on my fingers, I must say
I count the hours I spent with thee,
is this, and this alone, I pray
the only pang you've caused on me?
you are now quits with me

(the "answer"):

from me, who long bore grievous harms,
from that cold hand and wandering heart,
you now withdraw your sheltering arms,
and coolly tell me, we must part

Chrysanthemum (woodblock print)
A last example of what I have called here a "poem-conversation":

even this spot, so far to view
with moon, and Koto's gentle strain,
could make no other lover true,
as me, thy fond, thy only swain
one turn more!
stay not your hand when one is near,
who so ardently longs to hear you

(the "answer"):

sorry I am my voice to low
to match the flute's far sweeter sound,
which mingles with the winds that blow
the autumn leaves upon the ground

All wonderfully crafted poems in which we can sense the love between the characters. Strong emotions hidden in their words. The Tale of Genji, a psychological love story.

Cicada (woodblock print)

Here is the "poem-conversation" to work with. Let this "poem-conversation" inspire you to create haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form in which you try to catch the strong emotions hidden in the Tale of Genji.

where the cicada casts her shell
in the shadows of the tree,
there is one whom I love well
though her heart is cold to me

(the "answer"):

amidst dark shadows of the tree,
cicada's wing with dew is wet,
so in mine eyes unknown to thee,
spring sweet tears of fond regret

An awesome "poem-conversation" to work with I think. So I have given it a try with this tanka:

weeping willow
hides her red-stained eyes
behind broken roses
trampled with the foot he cherished
even kissed that last night

© Chèvrefeuille

Well ... sorry for this long episode, but I was on a roll. I hope you do not mind. This "weekend-meditation" is open for your submissions next Sunday June 18th at 7:00 PM (CET) and will remain open until June 23rd at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, the first of our Theme Week about Milarepa, the renown poet and yogi from Tibet, later on. Have a great weekend ... be inspired and enjoy creating your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form.

PS. You can find a pdf filed version of "The Tale of Genji" HERE