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Zen Haiku.pdf

Zen Haiku.pdf

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Zen Haiku
Zen Haiku

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02/12/2014

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Sections

  • Part 4 - Haiku and Zen
  • Part 8 - Interviews with Haiku masters

HAIKU TECHNIQUES
Jane Reichhold

(As published in the Autumn, 2000 issue of
Frogpond, Journal of the Haiku Society of
America.)
In my early years of haiku writing, I easily
accepted the prevalent credo being espoused
on how to write haiku. This was, sometimes
implied and occasionally expressed, as being:
if the author's mind/heart was correctly
aligned in the "proper" attitude, while
experiencing a so-called "haiku moment", one
merely had to report on the experience to have
a darn-good haiku.
One reason for rejoicing in the acceptance of
this view, was that it by-passed the old 5-7-5
barrier crisis. This was certainly a plus for the
whole 70s haiku scene as there seemed a
danger of the entire movement bogging down
in fights, arguments and broken friendships.
Another advantage of this system of defining a
haiku was that it bestowed near-religious

honor on the author of a passable haiku. No
one knew exactly why a particular haiku was
'good' but it was clear from the ku that the
author had experienced a moment of
enlightenment (or satori for the Zen inspired).
If the moment was holy and the form fit in
with the group's philosophy publishing the ku,
the haiku was said to be an excellent one. This
happened more often if the person judging the
ku was a good friend of the haiku's author.
Another plus for this viewpoint was it allowed
endless articles to be written for magazines on
the Zen aspects of haiku writing, and even
fuzzier articles of how to prepare for, find,
recognize, and advertise one's haiku moments.
Books were even compiled around this semi-
religious idea.
However, many of us, recognized that "haiku
moments" were very much like other flashes
of inspiration which, when transported into
other media, became paintings, stories, dreams
or even new color schemes or recipes. And
many others shared the frustration of having a

truly life-altering moment of insight and then
never being able to write a decent haiku that
expressed the wonder and majesty of that
moment. They would ask, what was wrong
with me? Was I not spiritually prepared
enough? Was I too common? Too inattentive?
Too word-numb? Maybe too many of my
Christian beliefs kept me from the Zen nirvana
of haiku?
The truth is: probably all of the above can
weaken one's ability to write good haiku.
Ouch, that hurts. However, I felt rescued when
I came across Aware – a haiku primer written
by hand and illustrated by Betty Drevniok,
who was at the time she wrote the book (early
80s I am guessing as it has no date in it),
president of the Haiku Society of Canada.
Among the many great tips for writing haiku
(and obtaining the questionable Zenniness of
Zen) I came away with her precept: "Write
[haiku] in three short lines using the principle
of comparison, contrast, or association." On
page 39 she used an expression I had been

missing in the discussion of haiku when she
wrote: "This technique provides the pivot on
which the reader's thought turns and expands."
Technique! So there are tools one can use! I
thought joyfully.
And I practiced her methods with glee and
relative (to me) success and increased
enjoyment. Suddenly I could figure out by
myself what was wrong with a haiku that
failed to jell as I thought it should. I could ask
myself if there was a comparison, a contrast
or an association between the images and if
this relationship was clear and understandable
for the reader.
Slowly, over the years, I found by reading the
translations of the old Japanese masters and
the haiku of my contemporaries whom I
admired, that there were more factors than just
these three on which one could build a haiku.
However, there seemed a disinterest in others
wanting to study these aspects which I call
techniques. Perhaps this is because in the
haiku scene there continues to be such a

reverence for the haiku moment and such a
dislike for what are called "desk haiku". The
definition of a desk haiku is one written from
an idea or from simply playing around with
words. If you don't experience an event with
all your senses it is not valid haiku material. A
ku from your mind was half-dead and unreal.
An experienced writer could only smile at
such naiveté, but the label of "desk haiku" was
the death-knell for a ku declared as such. This
fear kept people new to the scene afraid to
work with techniques or even the idea that
techniques were needed when it came time to
write down the elusive haiku moment.
At the risk of leading anyone into the quasi-
sin of writing dreaded desk haiku, I would like
to discuss and illustrate some of the haiku
writing techniques which I have recognized
and used. In order to avoid my seeming to
accuse others of using techniques, the ku
quoted are all my own.
The Technique of Comparison - In the
words of Betty Drevniok: "In haiku the

SOMETHING and the SOMETHING ELSE
are set down together in clearly stated images.
Together they complete and fulfill each other
as ONE PARTICULAR EVENT." She rather
leaves the reader to understand that the idea of
comparison is showing how two different
things are similar or share similar aspects.
a spring nap
downstream cherry trees
in bud
What is expressed, but not said, is the thought
that buds on a tree can be compared to flowers
taking a nap. One could also ask to what other
images could cherry buds be compared? A
long list of items can form in one's mind and
be substituted for the first line. Or one can
turn the idea around and ask what in the spring
landscape can be compared to a nap without
naming things that close their eyes to sleep.
By changing either of these images one can
come up with one's own haiku while getting a
new appreciation and awareness of

comparison.
The Technique of Contrast - Now the job
feels easier. All one has to do is to contrast
images.
long hard rain
hanging in the willows
tender new leaves
The delight from this technique is the
excitement that opposites creates. You have
instant built-in interest in the most common
haiku 'moment'. And yet most of the surprises
of life are the contrasts, and therefore this
technique is a major one for haiku.
The Technique of Association - This can be
thought of as "how different things relate or
come together". The Zen of this technique is
called "oneness" or showing how everything
is part of everything else. You do not have to
be a Buddhist to see this; simply being aware
of what is, is illumination enough.
ancestors

the wild plum
blooms again
If this is too hard to see because you do not
equate your ancestors with plum trees, perhaps
it is easier to understand with:
moving into the sun
the pony takes with him
some mountain shadow
Does it help for me to explain how this ku
came to be written? I was watching some
ponies grazing early in the morning on a
meadow that was still partially covered with
the shadow of the mountain. As the grazing
pony moved slowly into the sunshine, I
happened to be focused on the shadow and
actually saw some of the mountain's shadow
follow the pony – to break off and become his
shadow. It can also be thought that the pony
eating the grass of the mountain becomes the
mountain and vice versa. When the boundaries
disappear between the things that separates
them, it is truly a holy moment of insight and

it is no wonder that haiku writers are educated
to latch on to these miracles and to preserve
them in ku.
The Technique of the Riddle - this is
probably one of the very oldest poetical
techniques. It has been guessed that early
spiritual knowledge was secretly preserved
and passed along through riddles. Because
poetry, as it is today, is the commercialization
of religious prayers, incantations, and
knowledge, it is no surprise that riddles still
form a serious part of poetry's transmission of
ideas.
One can ask: "what is still to be seen"
on all four sides
of the long gone shack
The answer is:
calla lilies
Or another one would be:
spirit bodies

waving from cacti
plastic bags
The 'trick' is to state the riddle in as puzzling
terms as possible. What can one say that the
reader cannot figure out the answer? The more
intriguing the 'set-up' and the bigger surprise
the answer is, the better the haiku seems to
work. As in anything, you can overextend the
joke and lose the reader completely. The
answer has to make sense to work and it
should be realistic. Here is a case against desk
haiku. If one has seen plastic bags caught on
cacti, it is simple and safe to come to the
conclusion I did. If I had never seen such an
incident, it could be it only happened in my
imagination and in that scary territory one can
lose a reader. So keep it true, keep it simple
and keep it accurate and make it weird.
Oh, the old masters favorite trick with riddles
was the one of: is that a flower falling or is it a
butterfly? or is that snow on the plum or
blossoms and the all-time favorite – am I a
butterfly dreaming I am a man or a man

dreaming I am a butterfly. Again, if you wish
to experiment (the ku may or may not be a
keeper) you can ask yourself the question: if I
saw snow on a branch, what else could it be?
Or seeing a butterfly going by you ask
yourself what else besides a butterfly could
that be?
The Technique of Sense-switching - This is
another old-time favorite of the Japanese
haiku masters, but one they have used very
little and with a great deal of discretion. It is
simply to speak of the sensory aspect of a
thing and then change to another sensory
organ. Usually it involves hearing something
one sees or vice versa or to switch between
seeing and tasting.
home-grown lettuce
the taste of well-water
green
The Technique of Narrowing Focus - This is
something Buson used a lot because he, being
an artist, was a very visual person. Basically

what you do is to start with a wide-angle lens
on the world in the first line, switch to a
normal lens for the second line and zoom in
for a close-up in the end. It sounds simple, but
when he did it he was very effective. Read
some of Buson's work to see when and how he
did this.
the whole sky
in a wide field of flowers
one tulip
The Technique of Metaphor - I can just hear
those of you who have had some training in
haiku, sucking in your breath in horror. There
IS that ironclad rule that one does not use
metaphor in haiku. Posh. Basho used it in his
most famous "crow ku". What he was saying
in other words (not haiku words) was that an
autumn evening come down on one the way it
feels when a crow lands on a bare branch. I
never understood this hokku until one day I
was in my tiny studio with the door open. I
was standing so still I excited the resident
crow's curiosity causing him to fly down

suddenly to land about two feet from my
cheek on the tiny nearly bare pine branch. I
felt the rush of darkness coming close, as
close as an autumn evening and as close as a
big black crow. The thud of his big feet hitting
the bare branch caused the tiny ripple of
anxiety one has when it gets dark so early in
the autumn. In that moment I felt I knew what
Basho had experienced. It is extremely hard to
find a haiku good enough to place up against
Basho's rightly famous one, so I'll pass giving
you an example of my ku. But this is a valid
technique and one that can bring you many
lovely and interesting haiku.
The Technique of Simile - Usually in English
you know a simile is coming when you spot
the words "as" and "like". Occasionally one
will find in a haiku the use of a simile with
these words still wrapped around it, but the
Japanese have proved to us that this is totally
unnecessary. From them we have learned that
it is enough to put two images in juxtaposition
(next to each other) to let the reader figure out

the "as" and "like" for him/herself. So
basically the unspoken rule is that you can use
simile (which the rule-sayers warn against) if
you are smart enough to simply drop the "as"
and "like". Besides, by doing this you give the
reader some active part that makes him or her
feel very smart when they discover the simile
for him/herself.
a long journey
some cherry petals
begin to fall

The Technique of the Sketch or Shiki's

Shasei - Though this technique is often given
Shiki's term shasei (sketch from life) or
shajitsu (reality) it had been in use since the
beginning of poetry in the Orient. The poetic
principle is "to depict as is". The reason he
took it up as a 'cause' and thus, made it
famous, was his own rebellion against the
many other techniques used in haiku. Shiki
was, by nature it seemed, against whatever
was the status quo. If poets had over-used any
idea or method his personal goal was to point

this out and suggest something else. (Which
was followed until someone else got tired of it
and suggested something new. This seems to
be the way poetry styles go in and out of
fashion.) Thus, Shiki hated word-plays, puns,
riddles – all the things you are learning here!
He favored the quiet simplicity of just stating
what he saw without anything else having to
happen in the ku. He found the greatest beauty
in the common sight, simply said. And 99% of
his haiku were written in his style. And many
people still feel he was right. And there are
some moments which are perhaps best said as
simply as it is possible. Yet, he himself
realized, after writing very many in this style
in 1893, that used too much, even his new idea
can become boring. So the method is an
answer, but never the complete answer of how
to write a haiku.
evening
waves come into the cove
one at a time
The Technique of Double entendre (or

double meanings) - Anyone who has read
translations of Japanese poetry has seen how
much poets delighted in saying one thing and
meaning something else. Only insiders knew
the secret language and got the jokes. In some
cases the pun was to cover up a sexual
reference by seeming to speaking of
something commonplace. There are whole
lists of words with double meanings: spring
rain = sexual emissions and jade mountain =
the Mound of Venus, just to give you an
sampling. But we have them in English also,
and haiku can use them in the very same way.
eyes in secret places
deep in the purple middle
of an iris
The Technique of using Puns - Again we can
only learn from the master punsters – the
Japanese. We have the very same things in
English but we haiku writers may not be so
well-versed as the Japanese are in using these
because there have been periods of Western
literary history where this skill has been

looked down upon. And even though the hai
of haiku means "joke, or fun, or unusual"
there are still writers whose faces freeze into a
frown when encountering a pun in three lines.
a sign
at the fork in the road
"fine dining"
The Technique of Word-plays - Again, we
have to admit the Japanese do this best. Their
work is made easier by so many of their place
names either having double meaning or many
of their words being homonyms (sounding the
same). Still (there is one meaning 'quiet' or
'continuation') we have so many words with
multiple meaning there is no reason we cannot
learn to explore our own language. A steady
look at many of our cities' names could give
new inspiration: Oak-land, Anchor Bay, Ox-
ford, Cam-bridge and even our streets give us
Meadowgate, First Street, and one I lived on –
Ten Mile Cutoff.
moon set

now it's right – how it fits
Half Moon Bay
The Technique of Verb /Noun Exchange -
This is a very gentle way of doing word play
and getting double duty out of words. In
English we have many words which function
as both verbs and nouns. By constructing the
poem carefully, one can utilize both aspects of
such words as leaves, spots, flowers,
blossoms, sprouts, greens, fall, spring, circles
and hundreds more. You can use this
technique to say things that are not allowed in
haiku. For instance, one would not be admired
for saying that the willow tree strings
raindrops, but one can get away with making
it sound as if the strings of willow are really
the spring rain manifested in raindrops. This is
one of those cases where the reader has to
decide which permissible stance the ku has
taken.
spring rain
the willow strings

raindrops
The Technique of Close Linkage - Basically
this could come as a sub-topic to association
but it also works with contrast and comparison
so I like to give it its own rubric. In making
any connection between the two parts of a
haiku, the leap can be a small and even a well-
known one. Usually beginners are easily
impressed with close linkage and experiment
first with this form. They understand it and
feel comfortable using the technique.
winter cold
finding on a beach
an open knife
The Technique of Leap Linkage - Then as a
writer's skills increase, and as he or she reads
many haiku (either their own or others) such
'easy' leaps quickly fade in excitement. Being
human animals we seem destined to seek the
next level of difficulty and find that thrilling.
So the writer begins to attempt leaps that a
reader new to haiku may not follow and

therefore find the ku to espouse nonsense. The
nice thing about this aspect, is when one
begins to read haiku by a certain author, one
will find some of the haiku simply leave the
reader cold and untouched. Years later,
returning to the same book, with many haiku
experiences, the reader will discover the truth
or poetry or beauty in a haiku that seemed
dead and closed earlier. I think the important
point in creating with this technique is that the
writer is always totally aware of his or her
'truth'. Poets of the surrealistic often make
leaps which simply seem impossible to follow
(I am thinking of Paul Celan) where the reader
simply has to go on faith that the author knew
what he was writing about. This is rare in
haiku. Usually, if you think about the ku long
enough and deeply enough, one can find the
author's truth. I know I have quickly read a
link in a renga and thought the author was
kidding me or had gone off the deep end.
Sometimes it is days later when I will go,
"Ah-ha!" and in that instant understand what

the ku was truly about.
wildflowers
the early spring sunshine
in my hand
The Technique of Mixing It Up - What I
mean here is mixing up the action so the
reader does not know if nature is doing the
acting or if a human is doing it. As you know,
haiku are praised for getting rid of authors,
authors' opinions and authors' action. One way
to sneak this in is to use the gerund (-ing
added to a verb) combined with an action that
seems sensible for both a human and for the
nature/nature to do. Very often when I use a
gerund in a haiku I am basically saying, "I am.
. . " making an action but leaving unsaid the "I
am". The Japanese language has allowed poets
to use this tactic so long and so well that even
their translators are barely aware of what is
being done. It is a good way to combine
humanity's action with nature in a way that
minimizes the impact of the author but allows

an interaction between humanity and nature.
end of winter
covering the first row
of lettuce seeds
The Technique of Sabi - I almost hesitate to
bring up this idea as a technique because the
word sabi has gotten so many meanings over
the innumerable years it has been in Japan,
and now that it comes to the English language
it is undergoing even new mutations. As
fascinated as Westerners have become with
the word, the Japanese have maintained for
centuries that no one can really, truly
comprehend what sabi really is and thus, they
change its definition according to their moods.
Bill Higginson, in The Haiku Handbook, calls
sabi – "(patina/loneliness) Beauty with a sense
of loneliness in time, akin to, but deeper than,
nostalgia." Suzuki maintains that sabi is
"loneliness" or "solitude" but that it can also
be "miserable", "insignificant", and "pitiable",
"asymmetry" and "poverty". Donald Keene
sees sabi as "an understatement hinting at

great depths". So you see, we are rather on our
own with this! I have translated this as: sabi
(SAH-BEE)- aged/loneliness - A quality of
images used in poetry that expresses
something aged or weathered with a hint of
sadness because of being abandoned. A split-
rail fence sagging with overgrown vines has
sabi; a freshly painted picket fence does not."
As a technique, one puts together images and
verbs which create this desired atmosphere.
Often in English this hallowed state is sought
by using the word "old" and by writing of
cemeteries and grandmas. These English
tricks wear thin quickly.
rocky spring
lips taking a sip
from a stone mouth
or
coming home
flower
by flower
The Technique of Wabi - the twin brother to

sabi who has as many personas can be defined
as "(WAH-BEE)-poverty- Beauty judged to be
the result of living simply. Frayed and faded
Levis have the wabi that bleached designer
jeans can never achieve." Thus one can argue
that the above haiku samples are really more
wabi than sabi – and suddenly one
understands the big debate. However, I offer
one more ku that I think is more wabi than
sabi because it offers a scene of austere beauty
and poignancy.
parting fog
on wind barren meadows
birth of a lamb
The Technique of Yûgen - another of these
Japanese states of poetry which is usually
defined as "mystery" and "unknowable depth".
Somehow yûgen has avoided the controversy
of the other two terms but since deciding
which haiku exemplifies this quality is a
judgmental decision, there is rarely consent
over which ku has it and which one does not.
In my glossary I am brave enough to

propound: "One could say a woman's face
half-hidden behind a fan has yûgen. The same
face half-covered with pink goo while getting
a facial, however, does not." But still haiku
writers do use the atmosphere as defined by
yûgen to make their ku be a good haiku by
forcing their readers to think and to delve into
the everyday sacredness of common things.
(In a letter from Jeanne Emrich, she suggests
one can obtain yûgen by having something
disappear, or something appear suddenly out
of nowhere, or by the use of night, fog, mist,
empty streets, alleys, and houses. Using the
sense-switching technique can create an air of
mystery because of the information from the
from the 'missing' sense.) Some English
writers have tried to create yûgen by using the
word "old" which became so overused there
was an outcry against the adjective. Others
tried to reach this state by writing about ghosts
or 'spooky' subjects which did not impress the
Japanese at all. Jeanne's suggestions seem, to
me, to bring the writer closer to this goal.

tied to the pier
the fishy smells
of empty boats
The Technique of the Paradox - One of the
aims of the playing with haiku is to confuse
the reader just enough to attract interest. Using
a paradox will engage interest and give the
reader much to think about. Again, one cannot
use nonsense but has to construct a true
(connected to reality) paradox. It is not easy to
come up with new ones or good ones, but
when it happens, one should not be afraid of
using it in a haiku.
climbing the temple hill
leg muscles tighten
in our throats
The Technique of The Improbable World -
This is very close to paradox but has a slight
difference. Again, this is an old Japanese tool
which is often used to make the poet sound
simple and child-like. Often it demonstrates a
distorted view of science – one we 'know' is

not true, but always has the possibility of
being true (as in quantum physics).
evening wind
colors of the day
blown away
or
waiting room
a patch of sunlight
wears out the chairs
The Technique of Humor - This is the
dangerous stuff. Because one has no way of
judging another person's tolerance for
wisecracks, jokes, slurs, bathroom and
bedroom references, one should enter the
territory of humor as if it is strewn with land-
mines. And yet, if one is reading before a live
audience nothing draws in the admiration and
applause like some humorous haiku. Very
often the humor of a haiku comes from the
honest reactions of humankind. Choose your
terms carefully, add to your situation with
appropriate leaps, and may the haiku gods

smile on you.
dried prune faces
guests when they hear
we have only a privy
The Above as Below Technique. Seeming to
be a religious precept, yet this technique
works to make the tiny haiku a well-rounded
thought. Simply said: the first line and the
third line exhibit a connectedness or a
completeness. Some say one should be able to
read the first line and the third line to find it
makes a complete thought. Sometimes one
does not know in which order to place the
images in a haiku. When the images in the
first and third lines have the strongest
relationship, the haiku usually feels 'complete'.
For exercise, take any haiku and switch the
lines around to see how this factor works or
try reading the haiku without the second line.
holding the day
between my hands
a clay pot

This ku is also using the riddle technique.
In searching for these examples, I found so
many more of my haiku which did not fit into
any of these categories, which tells me there
are surely many more techniques which are in
use but are waiting for discovery, definition
and naming. I stop here, hoping I have given
you enough to pique your interest in the quest
and new ways of exploring the miracles of
haiku.
Blessed be!

Zen Poems and Haiku - A selection from a
'non-zennist'

!

SOME CLASSICS

Enlightenment is like the moon
reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the
water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle
an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the
grass.

Dogen

Those who see worldly life as an
obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of
Dharma.

Dogen

It is as though you have an
eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates
everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know
itself?

Foyan

Who is
hearing?
Your physical
being doesn't
hear,
Nor does the
void.
Then what
does?
Strive to find
out.
Put aside your
rational
Intellect,
Give up all
techniques.
Just get rid of
the notion of
self.

Bassui

!
!

What is this
mind?
Who is hearing
these sounds?
Do not mistake
any state for
Self-realization,
but continue
To ask yourself
even more
intensely,
What is it that
hears?

Bassui

Enlightenment is like the moon
reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the
water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle
an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the
grass.

Dogen

Those who see worldly life as an
obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of
Dharma.

Dogen

It is as though you have an
eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates
everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know
itself?

Foyan

Who is
hearing?
Your physical
being doesn't
hear,
Nor does the
void.
Then what
does?
Strive to find
out.
Put aside your
rational
Intellect,
Give up all
techniques.
Just get rid of
the notion of
self.

Bassui

!
!

What is this
mind?
Who is hearing
these sounds?
Do not mistake
any state for
Self-realization,
but continue
To ask yourself
even more
intensely,
What is it that
hears?

Bassui

Enlightenment is like the moon
reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the
water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle
an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the
grass.

Dogen

Those who see worldly life as an
obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of
Dharma.

Dogen

It is as though you have an
eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates
everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know
itself?

Foyan

Who is
hearing?
Your physical
being doesn't
hear,
Nor does the
void.
Then what
does?
Strive to find
out.
Put aside your
rational
Intellect,
Give up all
techniques.
Just get rid of
the notion of
self.

Bassui

!
!

What is this
mind?
Who is hearing
these sounds?
Do not mistake
any state for
Self-realization,
but continue
To ask yourself
even more
intensely,
What is it that
hears?

Bassui

Enlightenment is like the moon
reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the
water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle
an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the
grass.

Dogen

Those who see worldly life as an
obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of
Dharma.

Dogen

It is as though you have an
eye
That sees all forms
But does not see itself.
This is how your mind is.
Its light penetrates
everywhere
And engulfs everything,
So why does it not know
itself?

Foyan

Who is
hearing?
Your physical
being doesn't
hear,
Nor does the
void.
Then what
does?
Strive to find
out.
Put aside your
rational
Intellect,
Give up all
techniques.
Just get rid of
the notion of
self.

Bassui

!
!

What is this
mind?
Who is hearing
these sounds?
Do not mistake
any state for
Self-realization,
but continue
To ask yourself
even more
intensely,
What is it that
hears?

Bassui

Few people
believe their
Inherent
mind is
Buddha.
Most will
not take this
seriously,
And
therefore
are
cramped.
They are
wrapped up
in illusions,
cravings,
Resentments
, and other
afflictions,
All because
they love the
cave of
ignorance.

Fenyang

Hell is not
punishment,
it's training.

Shunryu Suzuki

!
!

The most
important thing is
to find out
what is the most
important thing.

Shunryu Suzuki

Well versed
in the
Buddha
way,
I go the non-
Way
Without
abandoning
my
Ordinary
person's
affairs.
The
conditioned
and
Name-and-
form,
All are
flowers in
the sky.
Nameless
and
formless,
I leave
birth-and-
death.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real
self.
It has no form, no
appearance,
No root, no basis, no
abode,
But is lively and
buoyant.
It responds with
versatile facility,
But its function cannot
be located.
Therefore when you
look for it,
You become further
from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it
all the more.
- Linji

!
!

Few people
believe their
Inherent
mind is
Buddha.
Most will
not take this
seriously,
And
therefore
are
cramped.
They are
wrapped up
in illusions,
cravings,
Resentments
, and other
afflictions,
All because
they love the
cave of
ignorance.

Fenyang

Hell is not
punishment,
it's training.

Shunryu Suzuki

!
!

The most
important thing is
to find out
what is the most
important thing.

Shunryu Suzuki

Well versed
in the
Buddha
way,
I go the non-
Way
Without
abandoning
my
Ordinary
person's
affairs.
The
conditioned
and
Name-and-
form,
All are
flowers in
the sky.
Nameless
and
formless,
I leave
birth-and-
death.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real
self.
It has no form, no
appearance,
No root, no basis, no
abode,
But is lively and
buoyant.
It responds with
versatile facility,
But its function cannot
be located.
Therefore when you
look for it,
You become further
from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it
all the more.
- Linji

!
!

Few people
believe their
Inherent
mind is
Buddha.
Most will
not take this
seriously,
And
therefore
are
cramped.
They are
wrapped up
in illusions,
cravings,
Resentments
, and other
afflictions,
All because
they love the
cave of
ignorance.

Fenyang

Hell is not
punishment,
it's training.

Shunryu Suzuki

!
!

The most
important thing is
to find out
what is the most
important thing.

Shunryu Suzuki

Well versed
in the
Buddha
way,
I go the non-
Way
Without
abandoning
my
Ordinary
person's
affairs.
The
conditioned
and
Name-and-
form,
All are
flowers in
the sky.
Nameless
and
formless,
I leave
birth-and-
death.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real
self.
It has no form, no
appearance,
No root, no basis, no
abode,
But is lively and
buoyant.
It responds with
versatile facility,
But its function cannot
be located.
Therefore when you
look for it,
You become further
from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it
all the more.
- Linji

!
!

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

Where
beauty is,
then there
is ugliness;
where right
is, also
there is
wrong.
Knowledge
and
ignorance
are
interdepend
ent;
delusion
and
enlightenm
ent
condition
each other.
Since olden
times it has
been so.
How could
it be
otherwise
now?
Wanting to
get rid of
one and
grab the
other
is merely
realizing a
scene of
stupidity.
Even if you
speak of the
wonder of
it all,
how do you
deal with
each thing
changing?

-Ryokan-

Thoug
h I
think
not
To
think
about
it,
I do
think
about
it
And
shed
tears
Thinki
ng
about
it.

Ryoka
n

Nobly, the
great priest
deposits his
daily stool
in bleak
winter fields

Buson

!
!

The monkey
is reaching
For the moon
in the water.
Until death
overtakes him
He'll never
give up.
If he'd let go
the branch
and
Disappear in
the deep pool,
The whole
world would
shine
With dazzling
pureness.

Hakuin

Food and
clothes
sustain
Body and
life;
I advise
you to learn
Being as is.
When it's
time,
I move my
hermitage
and go,
And there's
nothing
To be left
behind.

Layman
P'ang

!
!

A
world
of
dew,
and
within
every
dewdr
op
a
world
of
strugg
le

Issa

Look for
Buddha
outside
your own
mind,
and
Buddha
becomes
the devil.

Dogen

Old
pond,
frog
jumps
in
-
splash

Basho

!
!
!

How
reluct
antly
the
bee
emerg
es
from
deep
within
the
peony

Basho

Lightn
ing:
Heron'
s cry
Stabs
the
darkne
ss

Basho

Even though
I'm in Kyoto,
when the
kookoo cries,
I long for
Kyoto.

Issa

The past is
already
past.
Don't try to
regain it.
The present
does not
stay.
Don't try to
touch it.
From
moment to
moment.
The future
has not
come;
Don't think
about it
Beforehand
.
Whatever
comes to
the eye,
Leave it be.
There are
no
commandm
ents
To be kept;
There's no
filth to be
cleansed.
With empty
mind really
Penetrated,
the
dharmas
Have no
life.
When you
can be like
this,
You've
completed
The
ultimate
attainment.

Layman
P'ang
(740-808)

Just stop
your
wandering,
Look
penetrating
ly into your
inherent
nature,
And,
concentrati
ng your
spiritual
energy,
Sit in
zazen
And break
through.

Bassui

Cast off
what has
been
realized.
Turn back
to the
subject
That
realizes
To the root
bottom
And
resolutely
Go on.

Bassui

Look
directly!
What is
this?
Look in
this
manner
And you
won't be
fooled!

Bassui

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

1. Experience Chan!
It's not mysterious.
As I see it, it boils
down to cause and
effect.
Outside the mind
there is no Dharma
So how can anybody
speak of a heaven
beyond?
2. Experience Chan!
It's not a field of
learning.
Learning adds things
that can be researched
and discussed.
The feel of
impressions can't be
communicated.
Enlightenment is the
only medium of
transmission.
3. Experience Chan!
It's not a lot of
questions.
Too many questions is
the Chan disease.
The best way is just to
observe the noise of
the world.
The answer to your
questions?
Ask your own heart.
4. Experience Chan!
It's not the teachings
of disciples.
Such speakers are
guests from outside
the gate.
The Chan which you
are hankering to
speak about
Only talks about
turtles turning into
fish.
5. Experience Chan!
It can't be described.
When you describe it
you miss the point.
When you discover
that your proofs are
without substance
You'll realize that
words are nothing but
dust.
6. Experience Chan!
It's experiencing your
own nature!
Going with the flow
everywhere and
always.
When you don't fake
it and waste time
trying to rub and
polish it,
Your Original Self
will always shine
through brighter than
bright.
7. Experience Chan!
It's like harvesting
treasures.
But donate them to
others.
You won't need them.
Suddenly everything
will appear before
you,
Altogether complete
and altogether done.
8. Experience Chan!
Become a follower
who when accepted
Learns how to give up
his life and his death.
Grasping this
carefully he comes to
see clearly.
And then he laughs
till he topples the
Cold Mountain
ascetics.
9. Experience Chan!
It'll require great
skepticism;
But great skepticism
blocks those detours
on the road.
Jump off the lofty
peaks of mystery.
Turn your heaven and
earth inside out.
10. Experience Chan!
Ignore that
superstitious nonsense
That makes some
claim that they've
attained Chan.
Foolish beliefs are
those of the not-yet-
awakened.
And they're the ones
who most need the
experience of Chan!
11. Experience Chan!
There's neither
distance nor intimacy.
Observation is like a
family treasure.
Whether with eyes,
ears, body, nose, or
tongue -
It's hard to say which
is the most amazing to
use.
12. Experience Chan!
There's no class
distinction.
The one who bows
and the one who is
bowed to are a
Buddha unit.
The yoke and its lash
are tied to each other.
Isn't this our first
principle... the one we
should most observe?

Master Xu Yun

!

Good and evil have no
self nature;
Holy and unholy are
empty names;
In front of the door is
the land of stillness
and quiet;
Spring comes, grass
grows by itself.

Master Seung Sahn
However deep your
Knowledge of the
scriptures,
It is no more than a
strand of hair
In the vastness of
space;
However important
appears
Your worldly
experience,
It is but a drop of
water in a deep
ravine.

Tokusan

!
!

If you have never
taken
The principles of the
teachings to heart,
You have no basis
For awakening to the
hidden path.

Kuei-shan Ling-yu

Whether you are going
or staying or sitting or
lying down,
the whole world is
your own self.
You must find out
whether the
mountains, rivers,
grass, and forests
exist in your own
mind or exist outside
it.
Analyze the ten
thousand things,
dissect them minutely,
and when you take
this to the limit
you will come to the
limitless,
when you search into
it you come to the end
of search,
where thinking goes
no further and
distinctions vanish.
When you smash the
citadel of doubt,
then the Buddha is
simply yourself.

Daikaku

!
!
!

When mortals are
alive, they worry
about death.
When they're full, they
worry about hunger.
Theirs is the Great
Uncertainty.
But sages don't
consider the past.
And they don't worry
about the future.
Nor do they cling to
the present.
And from moment to
moment they follow
the Way.

Bodhidharma

!
!

There are thousands
upon thousands of
students
who have practised
meditation and
obtained its fruits.
Do not doubt its
possibilities because
of the simplicity of the
method.
If you can not find the
truth right where you
are,
where else do you
expect to find it?
Dogen

!

All sentient beings are essentially Buddhas.
As with water and ice, there is no ice without
water;
apart from sentient beings, there are no
Buddhas.
Not knowing how close the truth is,
we seek it far away
--what a pity!

Hakuin Ekaku Zenji

NOT-SO CLASSICAL

Not
believin
g in
anything
I just sit,
listening
to my
breathin
g
After
thirty
years
It still
goes in
and out.

Albert
Coelho

!

One
step
A
hun
dre
d
cric
kets
Jum
p

Jerr
y A
Lev
y

Adding
father's
name
to the
family
tombst
one
with
room
for my
own.

Nichol
as
Virgilio

When
you hear
your
inner
voice,
forget it.

Hyoen
Sahn

in one
gust
the last
leaf
decides:
gone

Robert
Henry
Poulin

!

first on a track
night spider
webs
catch my face

Yao Feng
(Tasmania)

Brown mimosa seed
where blossoms
once invited
hummingbirds to
feed.

Ethel Freeman

trou
bled
nigh
t
no
resti
ng
plac
e
for
my
thou
ghts

Phil
Ada
ms

Look!
The
beggar'
s
shoutin
g
fingers
find no
listener'
s eye.

Owen
Burkha
rt

loud
window
thud
in my
cupped
hand
the little
bird
dies

Yao
Feng
(Tasman
ia)

Empty morning
streets
Cold path to the
castle
Castle colder
still

pierre42@aol.c
om

!

Not
believin
g in
anything
I just sit,
listening
to my
breathin
g
After
thirty
years
It still
goes in
and out.

Albert
Coelho

!

One
step
A
hun
dre
d
cric
kets
Jum
p

Jerr
y A
Lev
y

Adding
father's
name
to the
family
tombst
one
with
room
for my
own.

Nichol
as
Virgilio

When
you hear
your
inner
voice,
forget it.

Hyoen
Sahn

in one
gust
the last
leaf
decides:
gone

Robert
Henry
Poulin

!

first on a track
night spider
webs
catch my face

Yao Feng
(Tasmania)

Brown mimosa seed
where blossoms
once invited
hummingbirds to
feed.

Ethel Freeman

trou
bled
nigh
t
no
resti
ng
plac
e
for
my
thou
ghts

Phil
Ada
ms

Look!
The
beggar'
s
shoutin
g
fingers
find no
listener'
s eye.

Owen
Burkha
rt

loud
window
thud
in my
cupped
hand
the little
bird
dies

Yao
Feng
(Tasman
ia)

Empty morning
streets
Cold path to the
castle
Castle colder
still

pierre42@aol.c
om

!

Not
believin
g in
anything
I just sit,
listening
to my
breathin
g
After
thirty
years
It still
goes in
and out.

Albert
Coelho

!

One
step
A
hun
dre
d
cric
kets
Jum
p

Jerr
y A
Lev
y

Adding
father's
name
to the
family
tombst
one
with
room
for my
own.

Nichol
as
Virgilio

When
you hear
your
inner
voice,
forget it.

Hyoen
Sahn

in one
gust
the last
leaf
decides:
gone

Robert
Henry
Poulin

!

first on a track
night spider
webs
catch my face

Yao Feng
(Tasmania)

Brown mimosa seed
where blossoms
once invited
hummingbirds to
feed.

Ethel Freeman

trou
bled
nigh
t
no
resti
ng
plac
e
for
my
thou
ghts

Phil
Ada
ms

Look!
The
beggar'
s
shoutin
g
fingers
find no
listener'
s eye.

Owen
Burkha
rt

loud
window
thud
in my
cupped
hand
the little
bird
dies

Yao
Feng
(Tasman
ia)

Empty morning
streets
Cold path to the
castle
Castle colder
still

pierre42@aol.c
om

!

bang!
robin feathers stuck to the frosty window
-- just the cat's tail moves

rhahn@u.washington.edu

!

!

SOME OF MY OWN ZENNISH
ATTEMPTS

A cross-
legged monk
Silent
awareness
A battle for
peace.

!

!

The cry of
a child
The cry of
an
ambulance
The cry of
a newborn.

I am so
tiny
The
Univer
se so
endless
All my
creatio
n

!

Yellow young
spring
Sky full of
hope
Future won't
come.
Frenzy of
insects
Heat of our
star
The past has
dissolved.
Red humid
forest
Light rays in
fog
Shattering
silence.
Black naked
trees
White
topping of
snow
A perfect
year gone.

A dinner
with
friends
Love,
laughter
and trust
Dukkha
disguised.

!

Grasping
attachmen
t,
Insisting
on
trouble:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping
a Path,
Insisting
on my
view:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping,
Insisting:
Fool.

School
yard
with
childre
n
Shamel
ess
screami
ng and
fun
When
did I
loose
that?

!
!

Thunde
ring
silence
Colorfu
l
darknes
s
Wantin
g to be
free

Buddha is
dead
Not even
born;
Light without
darkness.

Dust from the mirror
Cleansed with much
care
Gone is the mirror.

!

Wit
h
met
ta
to
act
Wit
h
wis
do
m
to
be
The
stru
ggl
e to
end
.

All is so many
All is but One
None.

!

Nowhe
re is
here
Never
is now
End of
the
tunnel
No
tunnel
No me.

!

Who
am
I?
Am
I?
Am?
.

!

!

A tree in
the wind
The wind
in a tree
All in me.

A cross-
legged monk
Silent
awareness
A battle for
peace.

!

!

The cry of
a child
The cry of
an
ambulance
The cry of
a newborn.

I am so
tiny
The
Univer
se so
endless
All my
creatio
n

!

Yellow young
spring
Sky full of
hope
Future won't
come.
Frenzy of
insects
Heat of our
star
The past has
dissolved.
Red humid
forest
Light rays in
fog
Shattering
silence.
Black naked
trees
White
topping of
snow
A perfect
year gone.

A dinner
with
friends
Love,
laughter
and trust
Dukkha
disguised.

!

Grasping
attachmen
t,
Insisting
on
trouble:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping
a Path,
Insisting
on my
view:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping,
Insisting:
Fool.

School
yard
with
childre
n
Shamel
ess
screami
ng and
fun
When
did I
loose
that?

!
!

Thunde
ring
silence
Colorfu
l
darknes
s
Wantin
g to be
free

Buddha is
dead
Not even
born;
Light without
darkness.

Dust from the mirror
Cleansed with much
care
Gone is the mirror.

!

Wit
h
met
ta
to
act
Wit
h
wis
do
m
to
be
The
stru
ggl
e to
end
.

All is so many
All is but One
None.

!

Nowhe
re is
here
Never
is now
End of
the
tunnel
No
tunnel
No me.

!

Who
am
I?
Am
I?
Am?
.

!

!

A tree in
the wind
The wind
in a tree
All in me.

A cross-
legged monk
Silent
awareness
A battle for
peace.

!

!

The cry of
a child
The cry of
an
ambulance
The cry of
a newborn.

I am so
tiny
The
Univer
se so
endless
All my
creatio
n

!

Yellow young
spring
Sky full of
hope
Future won't
come.
Frenzy of
insects
Heat of our
star
The past has
dissolved.
Red humid
forest
Light rays in
fog
Shattering
silence.
Black naked
trees
White
topping of
snow
A perfect
year gone.

A dinner
with
friends
Love,
laughter
and trust
Dukkha
disguised.

!

Grasping
attachmen
t,
Insisting
on
trouble:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping
a Path,
Insisting
on my
view:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping,
Insisting:
Fool.

School
yard
with
childre
n
Shamel
ess
screami
ng and
fun
When
did I
loose
that?

!
!

Thunde
ring
silence
Colorfu
l
darknes
s
Wantin
g to be
free

Buddha is
dead
Not even
born;
Light without
darkness.

Dust from the mirror
Cleansed with much
care
Gone is the mirror.

!

Wit
h
met
ta
to
act
Wit
h
wis
do
m
to
be
The
stru
ggl
e to
end
.

All is so many
All is but One
None.

!

Nowhe
re is
here
Never
is now
End of
the
tunnel
No
tunnel
No me.

!

Who
am
I?
Am
I?
Am?
.

!

!

A tree in
the wind
The wind
in a tree
All in me.

A cross-
legged monk
Silent
awareness
A battle for
peace.

!

!

The cry of
a child
The cry of
an
ambulance
The cry of
a newborn.

I am so
tiny
The
Univer
se so
endless
All my
creatio
n

!

Yellow young
spring
Sky full of
hope
Future won't
come.
Frenzy of
insects
Heat of our
star
The past has
dissolved.
Red humid
forest
Light rays in
fog
Shattering
silence.
Black naked
trees
White
topping of
snow
A perfect
year gone.

A dinner
with
friends
Love,
laughter
and trust
Dukkha
disguised.

!

Grasping
attachmen
t,
Insisting
on
trouble:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping
a Path,
Insisting
on my
view:
My life as
a fool.
Grasping,
Insisting:
Fool.

School
yard
with
childre
n
Shamel
ess
screami
ng and
fun
When
did I
loose
that?

!
!

Thunde
ring
silence
Colorfu
l
darknes
s
Wantin
g to be
free

Buddha is
dead
Not even
born;
Light without
darkness.

Dust from the mirror
Cleansed with much
care
Gone is the mirror.

!

Wit
h
met
ta
to
act
Wit
h
wis
do
m
to
be
The
stru
ggl
e to
end
.

All is so many
All is but One
None.

!

Nowhe
re is
here
Never
is now
End of
the
tunnel
No
tunnel
No me.

!

Who
am
I?
Am
I?
Am?
.

!

!

A tree in
the wind
The wind
in a tree
All in me.

Zen Haiku

Haiku is one of the most popular and highly

regarded forms of Japanese poetry. Although
the form of haiku evolved over time, in it's
current form it is composed of a 17-syllable
verse, broken into units of 5, 7, and 5
syllables. Most haiku describe a single image
or moment, often from nature.

Haiku traditionally contain a kigo, or season
word, that indicates which season the haiku is
set in. So for example, a blooming flower or
cherry blossom would indicate Spring, snow
or ice Winter, buzzing mosquitos Summer, or
brown leaves Fall. In general, haiku does not
use metaphor or simile. A frog is a frog, and a
bird is a bird. But there are exceptions,
especially among modern haiku poets.

Because of the strict form, haiku can be
difficult to translate. Translators must choose
whether to stay true to the syllabic structure or
the image and meaning of the poem. (The
translations I've chosen below do the latter.)

While all haiku are not Zen, several prominent
haiku poets, particularly Matsuo Basho (1644
- 1694) and Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1828),
were Zen trained. Their haiku, and others of
the Edo period of Japan, often centered on
Buddhist themes, and under their influence
this increasingly became true of haiku in
general.

One of these Buddhist themes is transience or
impermanence (annica), one of Buddhism's
three marks of existence, as in these two
examples:

Clouds appear
and bring to men a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.

Basho

A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this -

and it passes by.

Issa

Another theme is stillness or silence, and
especially stillness within activity or
movement, as in these haiku:

On a rock in the rapids
sits
a fallen camellia.

Miura Yuzuru

Deep within the stream
the huge fish lie motionless
facing the current.

J.W. Hackett

A particularly Zen theme is that of sudden
awakening, of which there are two types often
referred to in Zen literature - satori and
kensho. Satori is typically associated with
years of practice, occurring after many smaller

kenshos, or moments of awakening or
epiphany. Kensho moments are often
represented by a surprise or sudden movement
within the haiku, as in this famous example:

Old pond,
frog jumps in
- splash.

Basho

Kensho is also sometimes evoked through an
explicit reference to becoming 'awake', as in
this example:

A pattering of rain
on the new eaves
brings me awake.

Koji

Zen and the Art of Haiku

Ken Jones

What is it about haiku that imparts that
mysterious little whiff of insight, so difficult
to describe and yet so strangely satisfying? I
would like to offer some pointers from my
experience as a long term Zen Buddhist for
whom the Way of haiku has become a valued
part of my practice.
Characteristically we endeavour to secure and
console our fragile self-identity by processing,
shaping and colouring the raw experience of
existence. Even - or especially - in the face of
discouraging external circumstances, our
minds strive to maximise the 'feel good' factor
both emotionally and intellectually, helped
and amplified by a social culture which
includes plenty of imaginative literature. The
worst of this offers merely escape from who
we really are; the best offers a sometimes
magnificent creative and cathartic treatment of
our existential evasion. However, as
imaginative literature, it remains ultimately

subjective in the sense used by R. H. Blyth as
"the state of mind in which a man looks at the
outside world, or at himself, as he would like
it to be"' The example he quotes from Byron
would be hard to beat:

And Ardennes waves above them
her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops
as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate
e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave. (1)

For Buddhism our root unease originates in
the countless and subtle ways in which we try
to evade, by action, thought and emotion, the
totally open experience of just how it is and
how we are. Trying to make it otherwise has
been described as a life-long lawsuit against
reality, which we can never win. Spirituality
itself, even Zen Buddhism, may be
expropriated by the needy ego as the ultimate

evasion. Here is a beautiful warning from the
eighteenth century Zen Master Hakuin:

At the north window, icy
draughts whistle through the
cracks,
At the south pond, wild geese
huddle in snowy reeds.
Above, the mountain moon is
pinched thin with cold,
Freezing clouds threaten to
plunge from the sky.
Buddhas might descend to this
world by the thousands,
They couldn't add or subtract
one thing. (2)

Ultimately the only effective remedy is, in
Blake's words, to learn to "cleanse the doors
of perception" and let reality flood in. As all
the spiritual traditions affirm, this brings a
sense of joy and release and an ability to live
more fully and freely in the world - and in the

moment. Zen is a school of Buddhism
concerned with the cultivation of a profound
down-to-earth awareness of this 'suchness',
unmediated by doctrine or other concepts.
Haiku are the most thoroughgoing expression
of literary Zen. They are also one of the
several meditative 'Ways' (like calligraphy and
the minimal ink paintings, zenga and haiga)
whose form both gives expression to insight
and helps to deepen it. The 'haiku moment' is
thus no less than a tiny flash of an ultimate
reality which in fact is just what is under our
noses. Haiku which most clearly embody
'suchness' as the ground of our being I shall, in
the Blyth tradition, call 'Zen haiku' and it is
with these that I am particularly concerned.
Exceptionally they may be quite didactic, like
this from George Swede (which sums up the
argument so far):

After the search for meaning
bills in the mail

Empty of Self-Need

It follows that haiku must spring from a mind
open and unobstructed by any urge to make
something of the reality that has come to the
poet's attention. Those who go searching after
haiku will find them shy and few and far
between. Look for them and you will not find
them.. Don't look for them, and they are not to
be found. Of subjective meddling the 13th
century Zen Master Dogen observed, "When
the self withdraws the ten thousand things
advance; when the self advances, the ten
thousand things withdraw". And Basho
advised: "When composing a verse let there
not be a hair's breadth separating your mind
from what you write; composition of a poem
must be done in an instant, like a woodcutter
felling a huge tree or a swordsman leaping at a
dangerous enemy." (3)

Just washed
how chill

the white leeks!

In Zen parlance there is no need to "put legs
on the snake" - not even poetic metaphysical
ones, as does Nicholas Virgilio:

Lily:
out of the water
out of itself

Similarly, Bruce Ross identifies a "tendency in
the fourth generation of American haiku
writers of the late seventies, eighties and early
nineties unfortunately to frequently offer
catchy moments of sensibility that often rely
on obvious metaphoric figures. These
American poets desire to create 'haiku
moments'. But a subjective ego, call it
sentiment or call it imagination, intrudes upon
their perception of the object".(4) Typical is
the poem by Steve Sanfield quoted later in this
paper in another context.
'How it is' doesn't come with meanings and
explanations attached to give us the illusion of

a more secure grip on it. Nor does it come
tricked out with distracting embellishments.
Allusive brevity is one invariable
characteristic of the haiku form. We have an
itch to add in order - as we fondly suppose - to
clarify. Too much verbiage muffles the spark:
the shorter the poem the more space for the
reader.
The insight of the haiku moment is fresh, new-
minted perception, though it may be so
ordinarily expressed as to risk failing the "So
What?" test unless the reader's reception is
similarly attuned, as with Shiki:

A single butterfly
fluttering and drifting
in the wind

If haiku were no more than a reflection of how
it is ("so what?") they would not engage our
attention as they do. But they express how it is
as experienced by a human being. Thus, in
Martin Lucas's words, they are "open

metaphors" for our human condition and
resonate with that condition. They offer a
glancing opportunity, without the poetic
prompting of another, to accept for ourselves
how it is. Such pure acceptance has qualities
of compassion, release, quiet joy, subtle
humour. It is well known to the mystics, like
Julian of Norwich: "All shall be well, and all
manner of things shall be well". However, as
T S Eliot observed:

For most of us, there is only
the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out
of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a
shaft of sunlight. (5)

Haiku moments offer a little bit of existential
therapy shared between writer and reader, a
little bit of mutual compassion. For of all
literary forms haiku are, in the current telltale
slang, the least 'in your face'; they have the

least 'attitude'. Indeed, they may leave us
momentarily suspended in an emptiness which
nevertheless feels authentic and moving, as
with Shiki:

The long night
a light passes along
the shoji (screen)

At the other extreme the reader may just
occasionally be prodded with a question, as in
this example from Basho:

In the dense mist
what is being shouted
between hill and boat?

The sense of metaphor may be particularly
strong when the poet has his own feelings in
mind.. In this example, old age is deeply felt
by Shiseki. He acknowledges the self-pity that
comes with it, but he does not massage this
feeling with any expressions of consolation:

My old thighs
how thin

by firelight

However, these 'open metaphors' retain their
power only so long as readers leave them open
and do not hasten to fill them with their own
meanings. R. H. Blyth warns: "Where Basho
is at his greatest is where he seems most
insignificant, the neck of a firefly, hailstones in
the sun, the chirp of an insect ... these are full
of meaning, interest, value, that is, poetry, but
not as symbols of the Infinite, not as types of
Eternity, but in themselves. Their meaning is
just as direct, as clear, as unmistakable, as
complete and perfect, as devoid of reference
to other things, as dipping the hand suddenly
into boiling water." (6)
Traditionally, haiku poets have taken nature as
their subject matter, as being more
contemplatively accessible. Presumably
human goings-on were assumed to be more
likely to excite the poet's impulse to comment.
But this is not necessarily so, as Jim Norton

demonstrates below. Zen is commonplace: the
ordinary is extraordinary when we are jolted
out of our habitual selves; there is no need to
hype it up. So it is with Jim Norton in a
Dublin tenement:

What blue! Coughing
through my dirty lace curtain
and the stranger upstairs
April nightcoughs, too

But when nature turns dramatic only the best
haiku poets can both express the drama and
retain the haiku spirit without tipping over into
subjective melodrama. In such highly tuned
haiku the translator also will be put to the test.
Here are two examples from Basho, translated
by Lucien Stryk, (7) with all the dramatic
down-to-earth energy of Zen:

Mogami river, yanking Shrieking
plovers
the burning sky

calling

darkness

into the sea around Hoshizaki
Cape

Varieties of Awareness

Undistorted by self-need, reality displays
characteristics of transience and
insubstantiality which, deeply experienced (as
at moments of lifetime crisis) may feel very
threatening. Meditation enables a gradually
prepared opening to them and joyful release
from the lifetime effort of denying them at a
deep existential level. When "how it
is" ('suchness', sono-mama) is 'empty' of the
weight of self-need we feel a sense of release,
of lightness of spirit. This is the karumi
experienced in miniature in haiku, many of
which give little intimations of this
'emptiness'. In some instances it may move us
very deeply: yugen - profound awareness to
which we cannot put words. In Japanese
culture certain mood responses, of elusive and
overlapping meaning, have been identified.

Unless appreciated in the spiritual context of
Zen these easily become no more than haiku
conventions or 'values', or Japanese
mannerisms. "Willow pattern haiku", haiku `a
la Japonaise, may result. Thus Bruce Ross
refers to "the stylistically self-conscious
underscoring of Zen-like experiences" to be
found in many contemporary American haiku
poets. (8)
Sabi is an acceptance of the 'emptiness',
insubstantiality and vulnerability of
phenomena (including oneself). But it is an
acceptance coloured with a gentle,
compassionate sadness, a delicate frisson, and
not of stoic indifference. In Brian Tasker's
words, "Sabi is a kind of pure and sublime
melancholy and detached emotion which is
not received in a self-centred way but simply
honoured for what it is - a symptom of the
human condition ... Sabi is the existential
aloneness that can only be resolved by

acknowledging its inevitability coupled with
the joy and gratitude that can arise from its
acceptance." (9) Consider the following
haunting example from Basho (loneliness,
deserted, aged, wild):

The loneliness
of this deserted mountain
the aged farmer
digging wild potatoes

On more superficial view sabi can refer to
anything that is old, worn, tranquil, mellow
and dignified. Like the other haiku 'moods', in
the absence of real insight it can all too easily
lend itself to tired and well worn 'oriental'
haiku.
Wabi essentially denotes respect for the
ordinary, the commonplace as opposed to the
sensational. Simplicity, restraint, austerity are
related meanings, with "rustic solitude" as a
rather more mannered expression. Here is a
nice contemporary example from Gary

Hotham:

coffee
in a papercup ---
a long way from home

When the self withdraws its confirming
sharpness and specificity of perception it
leaves space for a more subtle, subdued, low
key beauty to manifest. This is shibui, as in
the following from Martin Lucas (silent,
white, empty):

First darkness of dusk
silently a white owl
flies in the empty lane

Aware is the mood of transience, defined by
Makoto Ueda as "sadness or melancholy
arising from a deep, empathetic appreciation
of the ephemeral beauty manifested in nature,
human life, or a work of art".(10) It commonly
translates as a nostalgic sadness connected
with autumn, as with Marlene Mountain:

Faded flowers on the bed sheet

autumn night

Finally, another noteworthy haiku mood is
surely that of understated humour, sometimes
black or tinged with irony. It typically arises
when one of our cherished delusions impacts
with reality in the one haiku. Alexis Rotella
has many delightful examples:

Undressed -
today's role dangles
from a metal hanger

The Zen of the Cutting Line

The majority of haiku achieve their main
effect through a device called "the cutting
line" or "eye opener". Some Zen preliminaries
may help us to understand more profoundly
how this device works. In order to free their
students from the conventional self-assuring
perceptual patterns, Zen teachers commonly
resort to mutually contradictory words and
phrases: iron women give birth; the sun rises
at midnight, or, in this verse by the 15th c.

Master Ikkyu:

Hearing a crow with no mouth
cry in the darkness of the
night
I feel a longing for
my father before he was born.
(11)

So characteristic of all spirituality, paradox is
only baffling, only paradoxical, to a mind
unable to step out of a logically structured
world of this defining that. In all spiritual
traditions, what is is the same as what is not;
one thing is all things and all things are one
thing:

The infinitely small is as
large as the infinitely great
when boundaries and
distinctions are forgotten;
The infinitely large is as
small as the infinitely minute
when its outlines are not seen

by any eye. (12)

There is all the solidity of the world of form in
"a wooden hen sits on a coffin warming an
egg" (Hakuin again). But it is empty of 'sense'
- 'pure nonsense' - in that the self cannot
confirm the self by making any sense of it. In
Buddhist terminology, form is in fact 'empty' -
of the order, solidity and permanence we need
to attribute to it. But, paradoxically, it is also
more real and factitious than the many ways in
which we dress it up to escape its sharp edges.
Ikkyu explains:

A well nobody dug filled with
no water
ripples and a shapeless,
weightless man drinks (13)

In Buddhist terminology, the power of Zen

haiku lies in their embodiment of form-and-
emptiness. The best of them come to us out of
the moment in an insight so right, yet so
beyond our ordinary habitual perception, as to
dumbfound us. We find ourselves saying more
than we mean and more than we know.
Two lines set the scene and a third, cutting
line throws them out of gear by switching
attention to a different perception, sparking
across the gap between the phrases and
momentarily illuminating the whole poem in a
fresh light. Our customary - and solidified -
perceptual associations are fractured. Self
momentarily loses its foothold. Selfless space
(emptiness) opens for an instant of naked
clarity. We have been caught off balance.
Trying to figure it out is like figuring out a
joke: we miss the point. Occasionally the
cutting line is wholly contradictory. Thus
Sodo (1641-1715) says:

In my hut this spring

there is nothing -
there is everything (14)

However, haiku are usually more subtle,
insinuating - and accessible - in their none-
sense, as in this from Yamei:

In one shrill cry
the pheasant has swallowed
the broad field (14)

It would be possible (though probably not
very useful) to attempt a classification of
different uses of the cutting line. There is, for
example, the double cutting line, where the
second line magicks the third into being as a
throwback illumination of the first. R. H.
Blyth (in a different connection) quotes
Kikaku:

The beggar wears
Heaven and Earth
as his summer clothes (14)

The cutting line provides a ready, specific
device in haiku making and lends itself to the

cleverness of what I call 'artful haiku' which
lie at the opposite end of a continuum from
'insightful haiku'. This doesn't make them
'better' or 'worse', even as a genre, let alone
individually. Most haijin probably write and
enjoy both. Good 'artful haiku' can be quite
clever at tweaking our fancy - and a bit more
as in this one by Steve Sanfield:

Sleep on the couch she says
cutting his fantasies
in two

Altogether different is the distinction I would
like to make between 'broad' and 'narrow' ends
of the spectrum of insightful haiku. The
broader profoundly illuminate our whole
human condition, and are what I have
specifically in mind as 'Zen haiku'; the
narrower do so in a more limited and specific
way. However the use of the words broad and
narrow is not intended to refer to the quality of
the haiku. Zen haiku are not necessarily good

haiku. Here are two examples, broad (about
the shortness.., and yet... of life) and narrow
(about the tedium of matrimony), from Buson
and Issa respectively:

In a short life Those two tired
dolls
an hour of leisure in the
corner there - ah yes,
this autumn eveningthey are
man and wife

Note that although Issa's is the narrow one it is
more than merely 'artful'. The man and wife
are dolls: the metaphor is open ...
Finally, there is a Zen perspective on the
optimum conditions for the making of haiku.
Two conditions seem to be needful. First there
is the priming and internalising of the form -
getting into haiku mood and haiku mode.
Hearing or reading haiku, and particularly
sharing in a group, are valuable in this respect.
For presumed contemplatives, haijin have

usually been a sociable lot. Secondly, and
more important, is opening to a contemplative
state of mind.
My own experience of solitary meditation
retreats of a week or more may be of interest
here. The meditation I use is that of 'bare
awareness' (shikantaza), in which the mind is
a mirror, not a lens. Whatever comes up is
simply observed, without mental comment,
and dissolves like a bubble. After some
practice the mind becomes still for quite long
periods. This transparency carries over from
the meditation periods. Primed with 'dry'
haiku (through reading) it translates into haiku
'readiness'. I am far from being either a gifted
meditator or haiku poet, and it is usually not
until the second or third day that haiku begin
to flow freely.

For company
an empty chair

Bruce Ross has argued that the writing of "the

fourth generation of American and Canadian
haiku poets ... attests to the presiding
importance of Japanese haiku values to the
haiku form as a whole."(15) Some awareness
of the Zen Buddhist tradition underlying those
values can be helpful. This is not a matter of
taking on board some oriental philosophy or
modelling classic Zen haiku; quite the
contrary. Zen would condemn that, again, as
"adding legs to a snake". It is rather a
deepening of contemplative sensibility that is
at the heart of the matter ...

The Wisdom of the Zen Haiku Masters

July 15th, 2008 | inspiration | Posted by tejvan
-

Haiku is a particular type of poem. A
traditional Haiku is 3 phrases with 17
syllables; Haiku became popular in Japan,
during the seventeenth century, and has
recently caught the imagination of the Western
World. Haiku gives the poet a unique
challenge to express themselves with the
minimum of language. There are different
aspects of the Haiku which can be particularly
instructive.

Paradox

The Haiku masters delight in the paradox,

mixing the mundane with the ethereal; the
beautiful with the ugly. In part this reflects the
quirky sense of humour the poet’s enjoyed.
“This Rooster
Struts along! as though
he had something to do.”
- Anonymous
But, there is also the deliberate effect of
mixing sublime truths in the most ordinary of
everyday objects. If a Zen master was to gain
enlightenment, it was just as likely to be
sweeping the floor as it was meditating in a
Himalayan cave. The paradox is a reminder to
see the extraordinary in the ordinary – the
infinite in a grain of sand.
“Where there are people
there are flies, and also
there are Buddhas”
- Issa

Read Between The Lines.

A Haiku is not a university lecture or list of 10
commandments; it is a riddle to be deciphered
by the reader. The poet invites the reader to
take the 17 words and create his own imagery
and own understanding. The process of
seeking beyond the literal words is in itself a
spiritual exercise. There is a similarity to the
zen koan ‘What is the sound of one hand
clapping’ A Haiku has the similar effect; we
need to work on understanding the meaning
and inspiration of the poem. It is a different
experience.
A flash of lightning
where there were faces
plumes of pampas grass.
- Basho

Humour

A characteristic of the Haiku Master is that
they never take themselves too seriously. Life

is something to be observed and enjoyed; but,
there is nothing we need to take too seriously,
even this business of enlightenment.
“From the nostril
of the Great Buddha
comes a swallow”
- Issa

“A thin layer of snow
coats the wings of mandarin ducks -
such stillness!”
- Shiki

The Divine in All.

Zen Haiku masters rarely refer directly to
God. In fact the Siddharta the Buddha
preferred not to mention the concept of God,
because he felt it was impossible to describe
the nature of God. But, Zen masters are able to
see the divine in all, especially living creatures

and the environment. To a Zen Master,
sacredness is not something to be confined to
the temple; the divine can be seen in all.
“Could they be hymns?
Frogs chanting
in the temple well.”
- Kansetsu

Impermanence.

The Haiku poets make us aware of both the
Divinity all around and the impermanence of
the material world.
“Mosquito larvae,
dancing a Buddhist chant
in the water by the grave.”
- Issa
The above poem captures many of the
essential elements of a Haiku poem – paradox,
impermance and juxtoposing unexpected
associations. We! associate Mosquito larvae

with bad things, our instinctive reaction is to
want to destroy them. But, look what happens
in the second poem, the poet unexpectedly
brings in the joyful idea of a ‘dancing a
Buddhist chant’. Even the mosquito’s are part
of creation; they too have a role to play in life.
Here the poet, tries to lift us from the realm of
‘good and bad’ and make us aware of the
underlying unity of all living things. The final
line continues the theme of paradox. Water
signifies life; grave signifies death. In these 12
words we have everything – life and death.
But, in the middle we have the beautiful image
of! ‘dancing a Buddhist chant’. The poet is
saying that in the middle of life and death
there is the bliss of creation; we just have to
go beyond our concepts of death, good and
bad.

Wisdom

Sometimes the poets explicitly share wisdom;
wisdom through the use of analogy. Here the

concept of non attachment is beautifully
explained with the simplest of examples.
“By the power
of complete non attachment
the frog floats”
- Jaso
We could write pages and pages of prose on
the issue of non-attachment, but here the poet
is able to conjure up an image revealing the
simplistic power of non attachment.

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