Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Since I was 13 or 14 I had kept journals with my thoughts, writing, everything. Over the past few years, I'd gotten away from keeping them mainly because I stopped writing poetry. Partly because my main journal-like activity has been the journal I keep about Zen mediation and the koans I'm working on. And partly because I have been inexplicably jock-ish for several years now. Yesterday, for the first time in over a year, I made an entry in the 'current' journal.

Many of the things I realize or learn while sitting in zazen create an urge in me to write them as poetry. I've tried it, but the poems always come off poorly. The other day I thought the problem might be that these epiphanies need to be communicated with the simple immediacy with which I experience them or they will come off as canned or insincere.  I hit on the idea of writing them as haiku. That would force me to crystallize them, and it would also help make the ideas 'stick' since what I learn in zazen should be carried into my everyday life.

Like any poet, I've attempted haiku in the past. The results were largely disastrous. However, I feel as though through Zen I have a better appreciation for what a haiku should do functionally. I also have a hardcover book of the complete haiku of Basho - the master of the form - who lived in Japan during the second half of the 1600s (his gravestone is picture here). So between having a better understanding of the spirit of haiku and with Basho's work as an inspiration and guide, I thought I would give haiku another try.  I'll start posting the haiku I write and, hopefully, if I continue with it there will be a notable improvement in my handling of the form over time!

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