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


bonsai pine
every twist dictated
by the gardener


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


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


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


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)

Poem: The Serpent – Monday Prompt #14

 Bamboo "forest"

This is a look at the different approach between the East and the West in regards the serpent.

The Serpent

Whilst walking down the beaten path
Just minding my own business
I came upon the oddest sight
A serpent in a bright kimono!

He bowed to me and then he smiled.
He said: “Hello fair mistress!
Can I be of some service to thee,
maybe answer for you a question?”

My first instinct was to fly away
but curiosity got the best
and so I replied most warily
“Are you the devil’s best?”

“Oh no!” He cried, quite distressédly,
“No such creature ever existed!
If you’d known your Taoist philosophy
you’d know that I am wisdom!

“For ages since that Moses guy
wrote his wondrous history
I’ve been trod upon by everyone
except for a certain Gadsden.”

“Now I don’t know why the western folks
so hate the thought of knowledge.
But it’s clear to me as I read that book
that women held the wisdom.”

“So, listen to me, if just this once
and then relay the tale.
Knowledge is the forbidden fruit
for those who aren’t dominant!”

The serpent in his gaudy robes
then bowed to me and said
“Wisdom and knowledge are the only tools
to build a people’s freedom.”

The serpent slithered into the woods
leaving me to ponder
just how I’d tell his tale to you
and not be called a liar!


Prompt: Using the poetry form of your choice, take a well-known and verifiable fact and turn distort it.  For example, it is well-known (and verifiable) to all of us that if you jump, you will fall, as you are subject to the Law of Gravity.  What you would do with this fact is distort it into something fanciful, something totally unbelievable.  That is, tell a nontruth about this fact.  Make something up – anything!  And don’t be shy!  Make this as farfetched as you like.  The point here is to push yourselves as far beyond outright ridiculousness as you can while still creating a meaningful piece.