Morning Haiku and Waka – priest and morning-glory (the Way) – May 5, 2015

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bonsai pine
every twist dictated
by the gardener

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contemplating life
morning glories and priests
in a bonsai pine
both beautiful and sad
this is often the ‘Way’

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the bonsai
never free never chooses
each leaf created
thus even the gardener
is often shaped by life

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Basho’s ancient pine
growing for a thousand years
over ‘Taima’ Temple
morning-glories and priests
pass but leave no echoes

© G.s.k. ‘15

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This morning Carpe Diem Haiku Kai‘s post was very rich speaking a little about Basho’s personal life before introducing us to today’s haiku.  

Today’s haiku gave me much to think about … below you will see both today’s haiku and  a mondo or teaching conversation between Chuang Tzu and his disciples about the ‘Way’ as Tao is often called.

Visiting Futakamiyama Taima Temple, I saw a pine tree about a thousand years old spreading its branches over the garden. It was so large it could have covered up the cattle as Chuang Tzu said in his story. It was very fortunate and precious that the pine, under the protection of Buddha, had escaped the penalty of being cut down with an axe.

priest and morning-glory
how many times reincarnated
under pine tree law

© Basho

(The above haiku and its introduction lead us to a lesson by the great Tao master Chuang Tzu.)

CHUANG TZU WAS WALKING in the mountains when he saw a huge tree, its branches and leaves thick and lush. A woodcutter paused by its side but made no move to cut it down. When Chuang Tzu asked the reason, he replied, “There’s nothing it could be used for!” Chuang Tzu said, “Because of its worthlessness, this tree is able to live out the years Heaven gave it.”

… “Yesterday there was a tree on the mountain that gets to live out the years Heaven gave it because of its worthlessness. Now there’s our host’s goose that gets killed because of its worthlessness. What position would you take in such a case, Master?”

… “I’d probably take a position halfway between worth and worthlessness. But halfway between worth and worthlessness, though it might seem to be a good place, really isn’t – you’ll never get away from trouble there. It would be very different, though, if you were to climb up on the Way and its Virtue and go drifting and wandering, neither praised nor damned, now a dragon, now a snake, shifting with the times, never willing to hold to one course only. Now up, now down, taking harmony for your measure, drifting and wandering with the ancestor of the ten thousand things, treating things as things but not letting them treat you as a thing – then how could you get into any trouble? This is the rule, the method of Shen Nung and the Yellow Emperor.

“But now, what with the forms of the ten thousand things and the codes of ethics handed down from man to man, matters don’t proceed in this fashion. Things join only to part, reach completion only to crumble. If sharp-edged, they are blunted; if high-stationed, they are overthrown; if ambitious, they are foiled. Wise, they are schemed against; stupid, they are swindled. What is there, then, that can be counted on? Only one thing, alas! – remember this, my students – only the realm of the Way and its Virtue!”

(The above is only a very tiny part of a long conversation, the rest can be found HERE)