Category Archives: Haiku

Yamabuki bloomed

Not last night
Not this morning
Yamabuki bloomed



Song of rice planters

Birth of art –
song of rice planters,
chorus from nowhere


If you are utterly silent, then everything that happens in that silence, takes a new color. It becomes the birth of very art.

”Song of rice planters, chorus from nowhere.” As far as he is
concerned he is utterly silent, so he wonders from where this chorus is coming. The whole existence has become a chorus, a beautiful symphony.

Our lives can be lived as music, as poetry, as art… as mystics. Those are the right ways to live our lives. Right, because to live those styles, you will have
to find your origin first.

Don’t weep, insects

Don’t weep, insects —
Lovers, stars themselves,
Must part.

– Kobayashi Issa

We can’t take an expansive view of existence without making room in our philosophy for that universal experience of death and the (apparent) separation that results. Issa’s short meditation on this terrible question is somehow sweet, even soothing. It places our personal experience within a vast community of reality — a quiet acknowledgment that great and small all share the same initiation of breathing out, of letting go.

It seems physical existence is, in some ways, an immense stage for the acting out of the two great dramas of being: learning to connect, and then learning to release. The first requires a heart that is open; the second requires a heart even more open.

Is this a melancholy meditation? When we look at this question with a steady gaze, a calm mind, and that open heart, we can glimpse a life within that doesn’t pale at parting even from the body itself. That un-flickering glow, that is us, our true self, the sustained self.

And it seems to me it is with that voice that Issa makes his observation of parting — a wholeness of being watching a passing phenomenon. Such universal rending should be a catastrophe in the soul, yet we don’t feel it that way as we read these lines. There is something fleeting and superficial in the haiku’s separation, and something eternal in the witness uttering its words.

Crying out truth

An old pine tree preaches wisdom
And a wild bird
Is crying out truth

Zen brings you to question that to be accidental is not your destiny. To be existential is your destiny. So drop following, just stand on your own feet and look inwards. Following is always looking outwards. Look inwards and you will find eternal peace. Of course, in that eternal peace you have to disappear, but it is a sheer joy to disappear.

To be is a tension.

Not to be is a relaxation.


Moon left behind

The thief
Left it behind –
The moon at the window.


One evening a thief visited Ryōkan’s hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him.

“You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”

O snail

O snail
climb Mount Fuji
but slowly slowly!


The highest and most sacred of Japan’s peaks, Mount Fuji, was the home of the great kami-sama or gods. Buddhists believed it was a mystical gateway between earth and heaven. The pyramid of meaning: this snail is climbing … Mount Fuji!

The Butterfly

The butterfly
Even when pursued,
Never appears in a hurry.