The Narrow Road (13) – Choka – December 20, 2015


in the willow world
praying, they sway, their tears fall
walking a narrow road
outcasts these orchids must go
travelling alone
drifting on the ancient sea
of rain and clouds
renewing their lifeless vows
with the setting sun
these wilted flowers are cast-off
at dawn with moon-set
as white froth beats on the shore

lonely travellers
go on as all travellers go
seeking redemption
in the warmth of the Saviour
follow then the middle road

© G.s.k. ‘15

* Wu-Wei – in Taoism (which Zen incorporates) this is cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly aligned with the flow of life. It is also often translated as “the middle road” by some.

Carpe Diem #883 journey through the rough north of Honshu: a rough sea; in one house

Exhausted by the labor of crossing many dangerous places by the sea with such horrible names as Children-desert-parents or Parents-desert-children, Dog-denying or Horse-repelling, I went to bed early when I reached the barrier-gate of Ichiburi. The voices of two young women whispering in the next room, however, came creeping into my ears. They were talking to an elderly man, and I gathered from their whispers that they were concubines from Niigata in the province of Echigo, and that the old man, having accompanied them on their way to the IseShrine, was going home the next day with their messages to their relatives and friends.

I sympathized with them, for as they said themselves among their whispers, their life was such that they had to drift along even as the white froth of waters that beat on the shore, and having been forced to find a new companion each night, they had to renew their pledge of love at every turn, thus proving each time the fatal sinfulness of their nature. I listened to their whispers till fatigue lulled me to sleep. When, on the following morning, I stepped into the road, I met these women again. They approached me and said with some tears in their eyes, ‘We are forlorn travelers, complete strangers on this road. Will you be kind enough at least to let us follow you? If you are a priest as your black robe tells us, have mercy on us and help us to learn the great love of our Savior.’ ‘I am greatly touched by your words,’ I said in reply after a moment’s thought, ‘but we have so many places to stop at on the way that we cannot help you. Go as other travelers go. If you have trust in the Savior, you will never lack His divine protection.’ As I stepped away from them, however, my heart was filled with persisting pity.

in the same house
prostitutes, too, slept:
bush clover and moon

© Basho (Tr. David Landis Barnhill)

Time Class Challenge – Wu Wei – March 9, 2015


beckoning softly
the garden’s invitation
wu wei

© G.s.k. ‘15


Wu Wei WuWei

This is one of the fundamental principles of Taoism and therefore Zen Buddhism which is a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism.  Literally it means non-doing, non-action … or  “the morality of no morality,” “the knowledge of no knowledge,” … of course it’s a paradox as are many of the Taoist principles …  here is an extract from a discussion on wu wei … and I’ll put the link HERE so that if you’re interested you may go and read the whole page.  The subject of wu wei is rather complicated in its simplicity and is very foreign indeed to our ways of organizing our life.  From the gentle art of calligraphy to the art of archery going through the famous tea ceremony … in fact all aspects of Zen art … wu wei is the goal … that is to do without doing … action in inaction:

    “It is significant that one finds the same paradox in other Asian traditions which maintain the nonduality of subject and object. Not surprisingly, it is most common in Chinese Buddhism, where Taoist influence is to be expected. However, that wei-wu-wei is a paradoxical synthesis of nonaction in action is more clearly recognized in Buddhism. Seng Chao maintained in the Chao Lun that action and nonaction are not exclusive: Things in action are at the same time always in nonaction; things in nonaction are always in action. [28] This claim is expounded in the first chapter, “On the Immutability of Things,” but the point is important enough to be repeated in chapter four, “Nirvana is Nameless”: “Through non-action, movement is always quiescent. Through action, everything is acted upon, means that quiescence is always in motion.” [29] One of the earliest Ch’an texts, the Hsin Hsin Ming of the third patriarch Seng-ts’an, states twice that the awakened mind transcends the duality of rest and nonrest, [30] echoing the argument of Nāgārjuna that both motion and rest are incomprehensible and hence unreal (śūnya). [31] Probably the best-known example, definitely not derived from Taoism, is found in a passage from the Bhagavadgītā which explicitly describes action which is yet no action:

He who in action sees inaction and action in inaction — he is wise among men, he is a yogin, and he has accomplished all his work.
Having abandoned attachment to the fruit of works, ever content, without any kind of dependence, he does nothing though he is ever engaged in work. (IV, 18, 20) [32]

The Sanskrit word for action, karman, suggests an interpretation of these verses which sees them as recommending action that does not bring karmic results. In answer to the Buddhist and Yogic emphasis on withdrawal from the world of social obligation, the Gītā claims that action too may lead to Krishna because no karman accrues if an act is performed “without attachment to the fruit of action.” “

This post is linked to Carpe Diem Haiku Kai – Time Glass Challenge

The Dinner – Haibun Thinking: Week 10

Each time she did anything, she always questioned whether it was the best she could do or if maybe there was just one thing more that could be done to make that job better.  Strangely enough, the cake she’d bake just didn’t come out quite right, or the story she wrote was just too word perfect.  She’d been an overachiever all her life.

One day, she had exactly an hour to prepare dinner for a guest her husband had invited at the last moment.  She more or less through the ingredients into the pot making an impromptu spaghetti sauce.  Then ran to get the salad ready.  Put the pasta water on to boil and threw made a fresh fruit salad for dessert.

She’d just finished setting the table when the front door opened and in walked Paul and his friend Gregory.  They sat back and enjoyed an aperitif as the dinner finished cooking.  Then they ate and had a great evening listening to music and talking about Gregory’s life in Germany.

The evening over, she asked herself how it was possible that everything had been so perfect, when she’d been unable to organize and plan.

wu-wei – doing not thinking
living one’s worth


To have the sense of one’s intrinsic worth … is potentially to have everything
~ Joan Didion

haibun4plus21I wrote this for Haibun Thinking – Week 10 and chose the quote that I wrote above.

 Haibun Thinking Week 10